It feels so appropriate to start our new blog with James Flint. Thank you to all of the lovely volunteers who contributed to making this transcript.
Special thanks to: @girlsavingworld, Mary Manderly @mmanderly, Saskia @saskisask, Karen Duff @bookaddict1973 and @dimplesflint for editing! (if you also contributed, please tell us so we can add you to the list!)
Enjoy the transcript! Click here for the podcast
[DAPHNE:] Welcome everyone, this is Fathoms Deep, a Black Sails podcast. I'm Daphne Olive and I am so sad to say that Elizabeth cannot be here this time because of the technical problems that just love to plague us when we have interviews. The good news is that I am about to chat with our captain. Toby Stephens is here with me. Welcome, Toby.
[TOBY:] It’s good to be here, Daphne.
[DAPHNE:] It’s so nice to have you. We certainly waited a long time.
[TOBY:] I know, I know. Well I’m sorry it's been such a long wait. I hope the wait is worth it, that’s all.
[DAPHNE:] You know, you're okay... So yeah, the listeners have no idea that this is happening, which is fun.
[DAPHNE:] I'm so happy to be surprising them with this and I thought we could just start, actually talking about them a little bit. I just wanted to tell you that – like, so we've been doing this podcast for... I should know...I think two and a half years and we had an amazing experience the whole time of that listeners have corresponded with us in so many different ways and... through email, and through Twitter, and calling us, and all these things, and one of the really amazing parts of what we've been able to do is that we have been a place where people talk about how meaningful this story is for them. And in particular Flint and I just wanted first of all to tell you this: your portrayal of this character has been so meaningful to so many people and I was curious what aspects of Flint have stuck with you or have been particularly meaningful for you.
[TOBY:] Well, firstly I want to say that I'm incredibly moved and touched that people have, you know, that this series has meant so much to so many people, and I felt that... recently I did a play in London and after each performance I'd come out of the stage door and there would be generally about 10 or 11 people waiting, all of whom had very personal reactions to the show. I found that incredibly touching and and a lot of them, you know, and also slightly overwhelming, because a lot of people were saying… he taught me so much about myself and he really helped me come to terms with who I am and my sexuality and all of these things and, you know, like, I'm an actor. I’m an avatar for this character and I… of course there's a lot of me in him, but there's also a huge amount of Jon Steinberg and it's incredibly touching, but also slightly, as I say, overwhelming because I'm like, well, look, I was just doing my job, you know, that's what I do. I mean, I was incredibly lucky to be cast in the part and it is one of those things where he very much became part of my life for five years, and that was a wonderful journey, but it was also pretty harrowing at times for me, and that sounds so pretentious from when actors go: you know it was so draining...
[DAPHNE:] Dude, we saw your face in 4.10 - we saw how drained you were.
[TOBY:] I look like I’m about seventy years old, you know, and, I mean, it really did and I was carrying that part around with me for five years I think and my life was you know it was both brilliant as as an acting experience, but it did take a toll on me. So, the whole process was an extraordinary journey and I will never – I remember, you know, standing on the set and at times and looking around me with all the great people I was working with. I mean, it was a fantastic family and I loved every single person on that set. It just really was such a wonderful group and I just went: this will never happen to me again, you know, this is probably the apex of my career in a way. It was just the scale of it, the quality of it, the writing, the camaraderie, and it was very difficult for me to say goodbye to it. At the same time I was relieved to say goodbye to him as well. But anyway, this isn't really answering your question.
[DAPHNE:] ...but I would have come back to it.
[TOBY:] It's just, I feel, I feel incredibly touched that people have had such a response to it and it makes it, all the work, more worthwhile, that we went through all of that stuff, because when you're making great quality stuff it shouldn't be easy, you know. Anyway, what was your question? I meandered around for like a good twenty minutes.
[DAPHNE:] I could spend two hours of the beauty of the show as a whole, but yes, let's talk about this marriage between you and Jon Steinberg. What aspects of the character that came out of it were meaningful for you personally?
[TOBY:] I suppose… so when I first spoke with Jon all those years ago and he basically told me the back story. And it was before I'd, you know, I was about to test for it and he said: look, I have to let you know, this is basically what the character is. And I just remember going: what a fantastic idea, to have this sort of totemic figure, that you know, like, masculine kind of, like, you know, enigmatic, charismatic… all of these things, and then – and literally to reveal the fact that all of that is just – you only get – you've only been seeing the surface of this person and then underneath that there's a whole other, you know, there are layers and layers and layers of this person, and that's what I loved about the fact that it like an unpeeling of this man and it was – he was a mystery – he was a mystery to everyone – he's a mystery to the audience, he's a mystery to himself. I, anyway, I just thought it was such a great idea. And then I came on board and I loved initially playing that part. I'd always wanted to play one of those kind of spaghetti western, Clint Eastwood characters where they are – and I love – movie stars who can – like, someone like Clint Eastwood – who can, who do very little – in fact they do very little, but yet they do an enormous amount. And it's really hard doing what they do and just that, just actually, you know, you’re present, but yet you are – you are not informing anybody about what is going on inside your head. There's only – there's just these – you can see in the eyes that there is something going on – there's something going on, but you're constantly going: what is it? What is he thinking? What's his attitude to this person? And I really enjoyed in the first season playing that, because I knew what the payoff would be and I think it frustrated the audience to a certain amount, but I found that gratifying because it was like well, great, I'm glad you're guessing at what his motivations are and what's going on inside his head and then as he kind of unpeeled, there was this revelation in the second season about his past and you kind of go: oh, well, now we know who he is and and and now we can kind of… we know where he's going and what his motivations are, but then it keeps on going. You keep on going: “why did you do that? And why are you doing this?” I loved that the fact that there is..this...there's just these, you know, Steinberg is a master of wrong footing audiences and not giving them what they want in a way. At the same time kind of giving them what they... he doesn't give them what they want, he gives them what they really want or what the story really requires to keep going and to have the kind of depth that it eventually had.
[DAPHNE:] yeah, I made that joke after season 3, when everyone kept hinting to us about about Silver's backstory or, you know, what we were going to...
[DAPHNE:] and that's what I kept joking to Jon about, was that he was basically doing to all of us what he did to the characters. That the characters would get what they thought they wanted, but it turned out that it wasn't at all what they wanted, and then they would learn something.
[TOBY:] yes, which is great, which is in all great literature, actually, and I always thought that Jon was actually writing – it was literature, really, what we were doing. Once we’d broken away from the initial kind of… the gratuitous kind of, you know, sex and kind of all that stuff, which I think was more of a kind of Starz, it was a Starz...imperative...
[DAPHNE:] You mean the really really really depressing sex in season one?
[DAPHNE:] ...we have spoken with Louise….
[TOBY:] Yes, yes. But there was a lot of that going on and… I think that once we moved away from that, and Jon was allowed to do what he does, I think it just got better and better and better and better and better.
[DAPHNE:] I agree. Alright Toby, so, since you got just half of us, half of the Fathoms Deep crew and I apologize, you actually got the nerdy half, not the fun half –
[TOBY:] *laugs* well, I don't know the difference so, you’re very..
[TOBY:] … as far as I can tell you’re charming
[DAPHNE:] Thank you.
[TOBY:] I’m sure Liz is even more charming, I don’t know...
[DAPHNE:] Liz is in fact more charming than I am, but you’re stuck with me –
[TOBY:] Impossible! Impossible!
[DAPHNE:] Alright, shush, you! Ooh, I got to order the captain around.
Liz wanted to talk specifically about one scene that we have focused on… and this is like ancient history for you. But we've always talked about when – as you were talking about Flint being the mystery is he in season one - we have always focused on the scene where Flint kills Gates...
[DAPHNE:] … and how, it's it's not exactly a litmus test, but it almost ends up being this threshold for viewers that you have this man that you kind of love and identify with, but that's a very uncomfortable place to be and then the show takes it so much farther - that at the moment when Flint is killing the most sympathetic character, is the moment up until that point where we all love Flint the most, like, have the most empathy for Flint. So she just wanted to ask about what you were doing in that scene and, like, how it felt for you and...
[TOBY:] I think that scene encapsulates Flint's journey in the entire season – in the entire series, I mean. That is Flint. Because he loves Gates, and yet, he is so driven by his inner journey, his inner – *exasperated sigh* It's a monomania which he can't escape from, which is basically, he has to revenge himself. He needs catharsis with... with England. He needs revenge. He needs to... he needs to exact that. And so – that is above anything else. That drives him beyond anything else and it is something that is so deep within him. It's not even about Thomas, really, it's about – it’s deep within in his psyche and... it's something that he… it's about the fact – it all goes back to the fact – for me anyway – it was the fact that he had this... he has rather like I suppose similar to Breaking Bad, with that character Walter White, there's this ego inside that cannot cope with the fact that his – he had this – he came from nothing and yet he... he has this genius, which is he's a brilliant leader – he's a brilliant naval captain – he's a fantastic – he would have made a brilliant Admiral –he would have gone up, up, up, up and they took it all away from him. And he cannot cope with that. That humiliation of having it all taken away from him, and not only that but the only person he's ever really loved and found himself through, is taken away as well, and that anger is the thing that fuels him utterly and the damage... it's a conflation of the fact that they took Thomas away from him, but underneath all of that, it's the fact that they humiliated him and they took away everything from him. And so he – that monomania of exacting revenge on England is how he defines himself. That's how he's come to define himself and he sacrificed everything in that journey. I mean, he went to Nassau. They left everything behind. He started his pirate life, which he… really, really is not him. It's a guise, it's not him, it's not who he is...
[DAPHNE:] It’s a coat that he wears...
[TOBY:] yeah! And he's having to lower himself to kind of – like, he's dealt with – like, he's come up slowly through the naval ranks from nothing, which would have been an incredibly difficult thing for him to do, and now he's gone back – he’s working with all these slovenly kind of, you know, people, amoral… they're not really that skilled. He's having to make them skilled, he's having to drag them along and…..Gates is somebody he bonds with and he actually ends up really liking and admiring. But in the end, but the fact that he is – Gates is going to blow the whole plan. He's gonna take everything... he's gonna take it away from him, and it comes... and when it comes down to it, he has to kill him, he has to kill him, because it's his only way to continue. And what I love about the way Jon wrote Black Sails, but Flint particularly, is that *snaps fingers* they're always *snaps fingers* like, in the moment, going [inaudible] he's... he’s always ten moves ahead and in that moment he's, you know, the... it’s like: “what is he thinking?” He's thinking ten moves ahead. He's going: what are my options? How do I get out of this? He's strategizing. And that's his genius, that's why he's such a brilliant... character, why he would have been such a brilliant Admiral or Lord Admiral or whatever, he would have achieved, because he's better than anybody at it, and in that moment he knows: this is how I'm gonna do – this is how, I have to kill him, then I have to do – and now you have to take that risk. One of the things I really love about great writing – I remember years and years ago I did a Shakespeare play, Coriolanus, which is a phenomenal – one of his Roman plays, and Coriolanus is this incredible character who is basically this... this athlete that Rome has produced, this master warrior, he's the best on the battlefield, he's a genius in battle, and then they want to make him a politician, right, and he's just not capable of it, he's a warrior, he's not a politician, but they try and make him a politician, all of the kind of, you know, the people in power, because they love this guy, you know, they think, oh, he's going to be brilliant, and then... and they create this monster, but the thing is, it's not Coriolanus’ fault, it's... it's Rome’s fault for doing it, what I think is... is the potential that he could have had, so... so, if Coriolanus had not – if Rome hadn't done that to Coriolanus, would he have become a great leader in time? You know, because he had all of the... all the ingredients for doing it. And that the thing is, I think the same thing about Flint. If the whole thing with Thomas had not been uncovered, if he hadn't met Thomas or whatever, he might have become, you know, he might have become a great, great man. So what is the potential of this person in another... in another circumstances? And I always think that's an interesting thing to extrapolate out, you know, certainly as an actor, what could have happened in the second season when we were doing all of that stuff? Okay, what is he losing, what is he... what... what has he lost? And what has the world lost because of that? And the thing is, I think that, yes, his sexuality is a huge part of of the story and of Flint, but – and it was a very important part of why I wanted to play the part – and what Flint is about, but I don't think he's all about that. I think that there is also the fact that he... he lost this career, and it was taken away from him.
[DAPHNE:] And Thomas brought that up almost immediately and said to Flint, like, you… you...I used to be able to recall lines out of nowhere but I lost that ability, but Thomas said that you are better read than like half the men I knew in school and that you have this amazing career ahead of you, why are you with... talking to me? Like, what... I'm... he, you know, he implied I'm taking – about to take you down a road that it would be very dangerous for your career
[TOBY:] yeah, yeah, and I think it's important for the… for people also to remember about him is that he comes from very humble origins and there are – in history – there are these people who come from nowhere. They... they have such skill and such natural instinctive ability that they end up, bubbling up to the surface and he's one of those people who is making his way up to the surface, but he gets diverted by this terrible – and so, you know, the thing is, I think that always sticks with Flint – is the fact that he was on this journey that would have taken him to the top and really fulfilled that side of his life as well as his sexuality. It was all taken away from him and then he cannot let that go. And so when he kills Gates, it's like – and that's why I think – it's, you know, when you... when you find everything out about him in the second season, looking back at season one, you go: “Oh, I totally get it. I totally get the fact he... he had to kill him” *laugs* I mean…
[DAPHNE:] and it goes both… it goes both ways, because like we said, like, that moment when he kills Gates, you're so invested in, whatever it is that's motivating him, like, as a viewer you don't yet know what it is, but you're so, so invested that then when you get the backstory, it's like, you're so in already, you’re dying to know
[DAPHNE:] what is it?
[TOBY:] what I loved – I love – it was hilarious, I mean, it has to be – I have to talk about the fact that when it was revealed the... the... I mean, the furor that went on, I mean, like, I remember, *Daphne laughs* I just started doing Twitter, I just started doing that, I'm useless at it, I've... I, sort of, it's like I...
[DAPHNE:] No, no, Toby, I follow you on Twitter. You are excellent on Twitter. *laughs*
[TOBY:] *laughs* What I found so hilarious was… there were… suddenly there was just these – all of these guys, you know, going:
*Toby imitates the Dudebros*
“Oh my god, what have you done!? You’ve taken it away!!”, you know, “my hero!!” ...all that stuff, “You ruined him!!”
And they were just so petulant about the whole thing as if they had ownership of this character, and as if, you know, that was going to alter..
[DAPHNE:] ...as if they had ownership of masculinity. *laughs*
[TOBY:] Yeah, exactly! and also, like, oh, what that so, that means you dislike this character now? “I’m not going to watch this shit anymore, man, you just ruined”
But, you know, and then and it was so funny, because there were a lot of them...
[DAPHNE:] I like your American accent, it’s really great.
(Adorable commentary by one of the Fathoms Deep transcript editors:
[I can’t hear what he’s saying here it’s just incoherent mumbling lol but I love you Toby]
I am forced to keep this in the official record)
[TOBY:] I know, I know, “DUDE!” but then, but then it was hilarious, because I watched certain people turn around and actually they go, they came back, you know, they obviously – they said: “I'm not watching this anymore” and then they did watch it, and then they couldn't help themselves, but by the end of the scene are like, “you know, he may be gay, but I still love this guy!” Well, look, I'm glad that it... it actually challenged people. It really did - it challenged a lot of guys and they actually ended up getting over that, and I kind of think, well, that's quite cool, because they started seeing him for who he really was rather than this superficial...
[DAPHNE:] this image that they had.
[TOBY:] yeah, exactly!
[DAPHNE:] right, because he's Flint and he's queer as hell but they just never realized that somebody could be those two things at the same time.
[TOBY:] Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. But I… it caused me great amusement when I, when that was all going on, but I also going back to the Gates thing just very quickly because I just actually realized I didn't finish it off. So that basically encapsulates everything about Flint that moment when he kills Gates is what goes all the way through to the end of Season 4 when he's with Silver and Silver says to him “You will not stop - you cannot stop.” It's like an intervention with somebody, it's that intervention going - you can't... you're never gonna give this up and you're gonna drag us all down with you, and I had to stop you. But it's the same thing in Flint's eyes - it's the same thing of: I cannot, this is me. This has become me it is everything that defines me. It's no longer about my sexuality it's no longer about anything to do with those things. It's now ‘this is me’ and that's… in a way that ending of Gates, really encapsulates, really what Flint becomes what he is.
[DAPHNE:] And of course we have the mirroring of the language of “This is not what I wanted”
[TOBY:] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah! I mean It is but it’s that thing, I think in a way it is it's quite a good analogy of an addict who just cannot, he can't stop. And the whole thing that is he's become this kind of warped image of what he was of this genius strategist whose brain just never stops, but it's churning in this direction that is just about destruction and it's just got this nihilistic end game that is like I will just carry on. And it doesn't negate the fact that he's still a human being, but..
[DAPHNE:] Or that a lot of his analysis is correct… of culture and shame, and….
[TOBY:] Yes! Absolutely! But that's going back to Coriolanus. There's a wonderful speech which he has in that thing. Because the reason I'm going back to him is he's another character that is equally attractive as he is repulsive so there's this one thing about Coriolanus is that is his political analysis is absolutely truthful. The thing about Coriolanus is that he cannot lie, so his political analysis is totally truthful. Which is when he's asked to beg for people's votes, and he can't stoop to do it, he actually unleashes the speech where he goes “Why are you bothering asking what people want. Just tell them what they want, because the people don't know. You'll say one thing they'll agree with you, you say another they'll go agree with that.” They have no mind of their own.
[DAPHNE:] I never thought about that. That is so Flint.
[TOBY:] and it’s such a connection for me. They're ignorant. They don't know. Do not trust them, and, of course, it's totally true, but at the same time it's repellent because that is about dictatorship, and it's anti-democratic. But yet there is a truth to what he's saying even though it's really difficult for us to to deal with. So the duality of those two things, I think is very much part of Flint. There's this thing of, he does say things that are very true and very honest as well
[DAPHNE:] and even enlightened
[TOBY:] and really enlightened. Yeah. I mean he's a really intelligent… as well as having this other side which is... I think it's just good writing.
[DAPHNE:] So I think that… I'm starting to think - this was going to be a question but now I'm going to frame this as a statement - I think that maybe you and I see Season 4 Flint differently. My
question was going to be… I mean, I have questions for each season. But we had felt like, when we were doing our analysis of Season 4, was that Flint had reached a more… peaceful place, like a place... and one of my questions was going to be why you think that happened, but it's sounding like maybe you don't think that happened. Our analysis of Flint was that he had reached a place of more peace and a slightly more detached way of looking at his analysis of the world.
[TOBY:] Yeah but I think you're right in a way. The only reason he has that is because of Silver. So Silver is sharing his...Silver has become a partner, and in a way Flint operates where he always needs a partner - whether it's Gates, Thomas, whatever - he needs Silver and he becomes the person who is… he respects as well, in terms of he can strategize he is learning how to use his… He’s clever, Silver, he's…
[DAPHNE:] And he knows Flint’s story.
[TOBY:] Yeah. And he knows about it. Yeah, exactly. So, and also he's not bothered by it. No, he's not like “Oh my God”, so I think that's what allows Flint to go “Ah, I can sit back on this slightly. I have someone who is my partner and we're working towards the same goal.” And it's only when that starts falling apart that you see what's really driving it.
[DAPHNE:] It makes Flint do the best speech of all speeches… like clearly it just needed to fall apart so we could have that speech.
[TOBY:] *laughs* Well, yeah. you see, the wonderful thing about that speech at the... I assume you're talking about one right at the
[DAPHNE:] Yeah. 4.10 - We have dubbed it the Dragon Speech.
[TOBY:] But the great thing about that, is it really just shows Flint’s duality, where he's wrong and he's right at the same time.
[DAPHNE:] As is Silver.
[TOBY:] Yeah, exactly. And it is impossible to move forward from there.
[DAPHNE:] Jon said - I was just re-listening to our episodes with Jon - Jon said that it was the point at which they were never connected. Which is really interesting
[TOBY:] Well, it's the realization… and that's an appalling realization because… you know, there is that thing of it's never enough, and if you can never be enough, and they do, although they have such similarities they also totally diverge, and yeah.
[DAPHNE:] Okay so, maybe I'm going to take this to the divergent place... it's funny like we in the podcast, in particular me, I must admit, have obsessively watched the show and tracked where certain phrases and words come up over and over again, and one of them is ‘mattering’ and it was interesting because I've always been very focused on that. And then, just recently, one of our listeners - I'm going to name her because I really appreciate her bringing this up right before we were talking - her name is Elaine Chock. Hi, Elaine.
[TOBY:] Hello, Elaine
[DAPHNE:] So the idea of mattering is something that I believe came up the first time for real in Season 2, when Flint needed to change the focus from getting the gold to no longer getting the gold. And that was the word that kind of triggered Silver, in a way to go do a thing that I don't think Silver intended to do, which was stay with the crew. So this concept went through the whole show from that point, and what we were talking about was that it almost felt like maybe both Silver and Flint thought that they understood ‘Mattering’ as a concept the same way as each other. But they were actually completely misunderstanding each other. Then that word comes up again at the end. The idea that, for Flint, mattering is like big and epic and historic and like how we're changing the world... or as you would put it, maybe how the world dealt with him. And for Silver, mattering is more of an interpersonal thing. That mattering for him is about individual relationships, or relationship with the crew... because Silver never cared about history or culture or society.
[TOBY:] I suppose that it is true, but also I would say that it means the same thing to both of them in a way, in that mattering means that you have worth and that you have something that is needed and required. So you have a talent, you have an ability, that makes you valuable, not only to your friends, but you have a worth in your skill and that... you know I think Silver obviously is comparative to Flint in that they both come from nowhere. They both come from these mysterious, but obscure, backgrounds, but the thing is, Silver, although he's lost his leg, has not lost what Flint has lost. So therefore, the thing is... Flint mattered because he had managed to climb his way, crawl his way up, through sheer skill and ability into the Navy to a certain rank where he was… he would have advanced hopefully, and probably had ambitions to do so, and that was taken away from him in the way that it was. Now Silver doesn't have that. He hasn't had that loss, that sense of wrong, that sense of... so that is where I think they diverge, because he doesn't have Flint's obsessive hurt, anger, pain that drives him on… that just becomes Flint. Flint becomes that. I mean that’s quite a good name for him in a way. Even though it’s a…
[Daphne:] Yeah, it was a handed down name.
[Toby:] He becomes…
[Toby:] Flint-y, yeah. And sharp-edged, hard, relentless. But Silver, he doesn’t have that inner kind of, you know... maybe later on when he’s sort of that sad cook, maybe he feels that loss and that pain and that hurt, which drives him on to Treasure Island. But, at that point, they do understand mattering in a similar way, but one has this loss, this pain, this anger, and the other one doesn't really have that. He has love, he has his love, he has everything to live for. Flint doesn't have anything to live for. He's just become... he embodies this whole kinda, you know. And so I think they understand matter. As it starts out they both understand each other, but then it becomes something...again they just diverge, they just go away from one another. But that is something that bonds them at a point. There is that point. Because Flint goes, “even though I've been humbled, I matter to these people because they need me.” But at the same time he knows that they fucking hate him. They fucking hate Flint. But they need him, because he’s the best. They were with other captains. But other captains haven't got an iota of any of the skills.
[Daphne:] But other captains wouldn’t have let them down these crazy roads.
[Toby:] *imitates* When do we get paid?!
[Toby:] *imitates* Yeah we have all these slaves helping us, but when do we get paid?
[Daphne:] Flint matters to them in Flint’s mind.
[Toby:] I love it!
[Daphne:] Flint is positive that he matters to them, possibly in ways that he doesn’t actually.
[Toby:] Yeah exactly.
[Daphne:] So this brings me to Andrew’s question. One of our contributors, Andrew Dyce, who writes for Screen Rant – his question was, when Flint loses people... a lot of his major moments in the course of the part of the story that we see, have to do with Flint... sometimes killing them himself, but, loss, a lot of loss, and each loss feels like, it kind of takes him in a slightly new version of his direction. And so Andrew's question was, to what extent is Flint motivated, either overall or in different parts, by loss? Meaning he has nothing to lose, and/or him being motivated by some sense of obligation to those he lost. Like obligation to Thomas to continue his project, or obligation to Miranda because she basically died because of him.
[Toby:] Well, there's a point where... I think that it's true. I think there is a point in season 2 where he goes, he actually does, there's a possibility of him taking another course, which is the idea that his and Thomas's legacy, or Thomas's legacy, will be fulfilled through this, you know… and that's an opportunity. "Maybe this is the best way to go and I can give this up, I can give it up,” and then Miranda is killed. I think Miranda is a controlling… she controls him. She can talk to him, she can reason with him, she can soothe him, and she is a connection to Thomas. She's a connection to that life that they had, and a better world where it is, you'd hope... it has this openness and the possibilities, you know. And then she is killed in this horrendous way and that cuts it all, that's just like boom. And it's all gone. And that's a very important point that you make because it is a pivotal–it is a pivotal point, where he is kind of…. he's still malleable, plastic enough to actually adapt and become somebody else, you know? And that is the point where that's gone. It's all gone.
[Daphne:] I always feel like there's no way for him to look at Miranda and not see James McGraw still.
[Toby:] Yeah. And the fact that they have this -
[Daphne:] Also that she's amazing and everyone should listen to her all the time. There is that as well.
[Toby:] Yeah. And she is this… they have this wonderful partnership, they really do. In the worst circumstances they've lived this life together. And they've managed to kind of... she is this… what they have together is this kind of oasis in this pirate world. Where there is no... there isn't that kind of cultivated culture where he can go. And it's so important to… it's such a big part of him. You know what I mean? Up until that point where she gets killed, that is... reading, the life of the mind and the kind of, the beauty of objects, of music, poetry. I think he was into all that stuff. And they were... he had an open mind towards that. And then suddenly it's like, bang, it's all gone. And then he goes into just this tunnel. And I mean, the thing is, that once those things are taken away from you, what the fuck is there left, you know? So, I think the thing is, that until Silver comes along, until he finds this weird relationship with him, there is... I think season 3 is this nihilistic part, and he goes… and it literally is his state of mind. The whole season with the fucking hurricane, all of that stuff. It is kind of his state of mind. And I think that, for me, is my personal favorite season, because I just thought the writing was such–
[Daphne:] It's my favorite as well.
[Toby:] –an incredible standard. And just his journey was just so kind of–
[Toby:] Yeah, absolutely. And it's so great… and all the choices we made, everybody got upset that I shaved my hair... [Daphne laughs]
[Toby:] But I mean, it was just so right because–
[Daphne:] Oh, it was so good.
[Toby:] I mean, it's just like, who the fuck is this guy? [Daphne] Yeah.
[Toby:] I mean, he's like… suddenly he turns up, and he's just looking like he's dead inside. And I love that beginning, the opening, where he goes in to Nevis, and he shoots the guy, and he shoots the wife in the head. And it's just like, you go, “okay, here we go, this is like-” *laughs*
[Daphne:] Things are crazy now. Yep.
[Toby:] It's Flint unplugged. And it's just, I just loved that whole story.
[Daphne:] It's an amazing flipping of the introduction to Flint also, because you again have the unmasking. Like you did the whole thing with the headdress and unmasking in the cold open of season 1, the first episode of season 1. Which, I love that cold open because it's like, hey, we're gonna take all the expectations you ever had about what pirates are, and we're gonna do this thing where they're really scary, and then this big dude comes in with his sword, and then this other guy, that you assume is not Flint–
[Daphne:] –stops him and then unmasks himself, like, “Hi, I'm actually, you know, it's me.” *laughs*
[Daphne:] “I'm not as scary as what you always imagined pirates of being–except actually later I'll show you that I am.”
[Toby:] * laughs* Yeah, yeah.
[Daphne:] So, I love that the beginning of season 3 is kind of, like, “and you thought I was capable of scary up to this point. Let me remind you of that whole thing of wearing a headdress and be, like, even more scary that you've ever seen me.”
[Daphne:] It's so good, I love it.
[Daphne:] And again, just like you said, like, one of my favorite things about the show all the time is that it lets you settle into being comfortable, thinking you know what's going on, and then it subverts it, always.
[Daphne:] But not in a way that doesn't feel cohesive with the story. Always in a way that makes you start questioning yourself. [Toby:] Yeah. [Daphne:] Which is much more interesting.
[Toby:] Yeah. And also,, I love the fact that they're constantly having to troubleshoot. They troubleshoot the shit out of everything. I mean, everything goes wrong, and they're constantly going, “ok, what do we do now, what do we do now, what do we do now?” And it's constantly wrong-footing, not only the audience, but the actors, you know? It's like, you think you're going–
[Daphne:] Oh good, I'm glad you all had that experience as well. *laughs*
[Toby:] Oh yeah, totally. I mean, what was great was, I felt that even though I had ownership of that character with... me and Jon both had kind of… and I'd earned some ownership of him. I couldn't, even though I had ownership, I couldn't change what was coming around the corner. Just like we have our own, you know, you can't change what happens tomorrow.
[Toby:] You can't predict it, you can't know what's going to happen. And I kind of liked the fact that that went on.
[Daphne:] That's really neat. Yes, we can't ignore our backstories *laughs*. Nor can we control where they take us all the time.
[Toby:] Yeah. I mean, it's fantastic, because you only have the moment in which you're in, because you have your past, your memories shape you and what you are. But you only live in the present, you can't predict the future, you can't tell what's going to happen. So that's exactly what they're doing, is they're living totally in the moment. Flint is... he’s great and he has this fucking massive frontal cortex which is constantly going, “I need to survive, I need to survive, I need to survive, and I need to do this thing and how is that going to be fulfilled,” and it's that constant itch deep inside of him, of wanting that revenge and wanting to be there, present, when it comes to its fruition. But even beyond that, you know that it's never gonna be enough.
[Daphne:] Right. The thing that's neat about the last season is it does start to feel so close, like it feels like they could almost do it.
[Toby:] Yeah, I know!
[Daphne:] So part of my mind is like, I know history, I know they weren't super true to history, but they can't completely change history. *laughs*
[Toby:] What I also love about it is, it's sort of like the precursor to the American Revolution.
[Toby:] It's like, he was there before. He was going, “we can do this, we don't need… we can shrug off this...” And of course he's so right, he's so right. And it's such an amazing… I mean, if they did that, what an incredible thing? But at the same time, his motivation is so screwed, and what is the price of this, you know. What is the cost?
[Daphne:] Yeah, but do we think that revolutions always necessarily happen for the perfect reasons that we would want them to happen?
[Toby:] No, absolutely–
[Daphne:] That's definitely not how humans work. *laughs*
[Toby:] Yeah. And also all of the revolutions are messy and costly–
[Daphne:] Right. I mean, that's what Silver's saying.
[Toby:] Yeah, the cost is appalling.
[Daphne:] Right. I mean honestly, you are harsher on Flint than I am, I am now seeing. And I'm pretty harsh on Flint, I think, relative to a lot of the fans.
[Toby:] But in what way do you think I'm harsher?
[Daphne:] I definitely give him better motivations sometimes than what it sounds like you do, and one of my questions was gonna be like: how do you think of meeting the Queen and Madi and being exposed... I mean, not that he didn't know about slavery, but like seeing this model of this community that had been enslaved. For me, it felt like that was a moment when Flint went from being just, like, super in his head and, “this is all about me, this is all about me.” The speech that he gave to the Queen obviously served his purposes and he needed to do that, but I think that it felt to me like on some level, he had convinced himself as well, that there was actually a place where he started to recognize a larger world of subjugation.
[Toby:] No, but I think there's no… why are they mutually exclusive? Because I think–
[Daphne:] It's not an either/or. You're right, they're not.
[Toby:] No, I mean he does...I think he totally goes… look, I think he is somebody who is open-minded enough and savvy enough to realize that this is appalling. Slavery is… I think he is totally against it. I think he finds it absolutely repellent. And I think he is… “look, if I can incorporate these people, if I can liberate them at the same time as sticking it to these bastards who fucking made this,” you know what I mean?
[Daphne:] Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
[Toby:] That's even better. That’s even better! And he's clever enough to kind of go, “absolutely, this is the right way to go and they are useful to me, but at the same time, I love the fact that I can do this as well.”
[Toby:] You know, “I can do this as well.” And I don't think… it's also that thing of like... I don’t think if you said to Flint at any point, “are you just a monomaniacal psychopath, who just has one fixated idea that is totally about your own… to do with your own ego?” He would go, “no, absolutely not. I am trying to do something for everybody. I am trying to liberate everyone from this yoke of mismanagement and rule and moral…” There's this need of morality that they put on, because they feel that they are better than everybody else and all of this stuff. But I think at the same time, that it’s about his own kind of... what happened to him. “What happened to me, you know? You judged me, you threw me out and I was of use, I was of worth, I mattered and you threw me off, like some-”, you know, and that anger about that. But that is to do with his ego. But at the same time I think he is...it doesn't kind of… that anger, and that resentment, doesn't manifest itself to him in his own mental landscape as this totally self-serving, selfish, nihilistic thing. I think he sees himself as messianic in a way, of trying… “look, I can give you such a better life, I can free you from this if I can… if you just trust me, and let me get to that point where I can do it.”
[Daphne:] Yep. Just trust me.
[Toby:] So, I'm not… yeah, exactly. “Just trust me. I can.” And so it's like, again, like the addict… they'll do anything to… they can't see themselves just as a pure addict. That they're just some sort of horrible… and then, just as I said, there are… people are more than just their addiction. But yet that is what, at the core of them, what drives them on, is that addiction. So, I'm not totally... I'm not as hard on him as I think... [you thought I was].
[Daphne:] ...As I just said you were. *laughs*
[Toby:] No, yeah.
[Daphne:] Obviously you care for him, because you portrayed him so beautifully. Oh, I did want to say one thing. You had said something about him and Miranda and it was interesting. I want to say this partly for the listeners, but also to hear if you have anything to say to that. I had just been talking to Louise about your first scene together at the beginning of episode 2 of season 1 where Miranda is bandaging Flint. And I asked her about that because I was writing about it, but what I had to say to her about it was that that scene is such a beautiful expression of the partnership that you had said that they had. And she said that that was your first scene together, which is kind of amazing because you two… I'm not, I mean, I know that you're both very good actors, I'm not trying to say, “oh my God, that's amazing, you did acting.” *laughs* But the level of intimacy between the two of you in that scene was fabulous. And I had not realized that was your first scene together.
[Toby:] Yeah, I suppose the thing is also, when you… well, it's also, I got on incredibly, I mean, you know.
[Daphne:] She's fabulous.
[Toby:] Louise is fantastic. She's a fantastic actress but she's also a wonderful person. And we really hit it off together and I have an enormous amount of admiration for her and I'm extremely fond of her and Nick, of course, who's also in the series, her husband. They are wonderful people and they're just very easy to just… I found it very easy to chime in with her. You know, you get that with certain people, you just can hit a level where you just go, “okay, I feel safe with you”, and they feel safe with you. And so you just have that, and we had that very early on. And I knew that that storyline really mattered. But it was so sort of open to play with, because you didn't really know what… well we kind of knew where they came from and all that stuff. But it was sort of open, you could define what they were and what their relationship was to a certain extent. The writing was there but you could also just, you could create your own kind of embroidery, as it were, for their relationship. And that was really fun.
[Daphne:] Yeah, and you two did it straight off which, you know, in hindsight was, I think, so important that you really did. Just like, in the way your bodies moved and the way you looked at each other. It was just… we needed to know in that episode how important these people were to each other, even though we had no idea why.
[Toby:] Yeah, it was... And also I love that thing in that season where he has the speech about taking the oar and going inland and getting out… and that-
[Daphne:] Yes. That was in my next question. *laughs* Let's talk about that.
[Toby:] Yeah. Well, go on.
[Daphne:] No, no, tell me your thoughts about that.
[Toby:] Well, no, that there is a kind of fantasy in Flint's mind of when he is done… of just disappearing and going somewhere where he's just, he can just be. That somehow that will be his… achieving what he wants to achieve will free him. And he can go somewhere and just stop. And there is that, I think in season 4 there's a moment with Silver where he goes, “look, you can… once we've done this, you'll take over.”
[Toby:] “You and Madi will take over and I will just... I'm just gonna go away. I'm just gonna... I'm done.”
[Daphne:] Yeah, he wants to go away a lot. He talks about it in season 2, right? He's like...
[Toby:] Yeah, “I don't wanna–I want to finish this…”
[Daphne:] Flint's gonna get the hell out of here. *laughs*
[Toby:] Yeah. But in a way, without being too depressing, I think that's almost like, sort of death. It's like death for him. And it's like, “I just want to stop.”
[Daphne:] He just wants to rest.
[Toby:] Yeah, “I want to stop.” Yeah.
[Daphne:] Oh, that's really interesting. In my writing, I've been talking all season 1, about this structure. About sea and land, and how the different characters relate to each of those geographical ideas.
[Daphne:] Don't need to get into that right now, that's a lot. *both laugh*
[Daphne:] But, I basically ended up surprising myself by making the argument that Flint uses that speech, and I think on some level really believes it, but some part of him, and I think it's the revenge part, doesn't… like is kind of working against it at the same time, the whole time.
[TOBY:] Yeah, I think it's, it's a fantasy of, “when this is over, I'm just gonna put my slippers on and open a good book and smoke a pipe by the fire,” and you know…
[DAPHNE:] Right, right, but he’s not really that guy! He’s not that guy at all! *laughs*
[TOBY:] No, and we all have those fantasies where we kind of... but the thing is, when you attain them, they're not what you want.
[TOBY:] Do you know what I mean? That part of what having fantasies are, or wishes or whatever, they're things that will drive us forward, but when you achieve them you actually... they're not enough, well, they're not what you really wanted, and then it morphs into something else and the journey never really ends so...
[DAPHNE:] Like Miranda said, he's fighting for the sake of fighting, like that he's now stuck in that cycle. Yeah I definitely have the theory that he keeps talking about this thing he wants and that he keeps, in theory, working towards it, but also kind of undermining it constantly.
[DAPHNE:] And right after he did that speech, just three episodes later, we finally see Flint captaining, when they're going after Bryson, and Flint seems miserable up until that point and then suddenly…
[TOBY:] He’s alive again.
[DAPHNE:] He is, exactly! Oh, yeah, that was one of my questions I didn't write down! I wanted to talk about that. It is stunning watching Flint captain, like watching the physicality of like... I think I just wrote something like that about how... he almost like, he and his ship almost become like physical extensions of each other. And you have that especially in 1-05 as this contrast to Bryson, who's just writing stuff and drinking tea and giving orders... and then you've got Flint, just being part of his ship…
[TOBY:] Yes, yeah…
[DAPHNE:] And then you get that again, during the storm episode where it's even more so.
[TOBY:] Well yeah, yeah…
[DAPHNE:] Where Flint's like part of the ship, and part of the storm, and part of like… *laughter* it’s almost like Flint’s at the center of this chaos that he’s creating and mitigating at the same time. *laughter*
[TOBY:] Yeah. I mean, I think that that's very true. I think he is so instinctive. It is him. That's what I mean about... he's such a natural commander, he's such a talented sailor, and it's him. That's where he is expressing himself purely, is when he's in charge, when he's doing all of that stuff. It's what he was made to do. And the tragedy for him is, that it was never fulfilled in the way that it could have been. But in a way, fulfilled in a better way. It's like, well at least is not working for England!
[DAPHNE:] Exactly, exactly!
[TOBY:] It ends up being this more epic-
[DAPHNE:] Right. I think you do… it is almost like you get a hint in season 2 of the thing Flint tells Silver would happen to him. Like when Flint brings Thomas to the place to see the hanging, and he's basically like, “look at all of them.” I feel like maybe on some level, Flint had spent his... or McGraw had spent his whole life in service of that world. That might have ended up feeling unsatisfying to him. Because yeah, he could rise in the ranks but he… he did have some spark in himself of idealism, that I think Thomas gave him a direction to take that. But I feel like a huge part of what was attractive to James about Thomas was the idealism.
[TOBY:] Yeah and also the... I think there is a purity, which he’s seduced by. I think he’s naturally somebody... I think he's quite cynical in a way.
[DAPHNE:] He is! But cynical people usually are just dying to have something to believe in.
[TOBY:] I think also the fact that there was a different morality… there was a world in which people could have these complex relationships and it would be fine, and sexuality was not an issue, and he could be himself, he could be a different self. And the possibility of that was something that was very intoxicating for him. And again, could have been a different life, a different Flint.
[DAPHNE:] Utopia’s are very exciting.
[TOBY:] What would Flint have been if he was allowed that, but also at the same time, became a very influential and powerful person, and someone who was a great leader, a great commander? What could that future have been? And that's one of those things you have to ask yourself when you’re playing a part… of those possibilities of somebody. Because they are elements of that person. They may have been negated, or faulted, or redirected. But they are possibilities. In a different world, that person could have been that, and it's an element of him. Yes he does have... he is idealistic underneath all of that. And I think there are… that continues in him... there are glimmers of that. Like you were saying about the maroon camp, and the slaves, and that's still part of him and still in there, you know?
[DAPHNE:] He has moments of it. Okay, so this segues beautifully into my super nerdy question. This is my thing that I've been focusing on. I think it hit me at some point when we were podcasting and then I've never let go. Okay, so Flint... sorry I needed a lot of preface to this question... so Flint is a great storyteller, great orator, all of this, very good at swaying people in the direction he wants. Yes? [TOBY: Yeah.] He knows this, everyone knows this about him. I love that, like that stuff’s really exciting. But I feel like there is possibly this other side of Flint, when he's storytelling, and I'll give you examples of where I see it, where he usually starts out with his deliberate swaying of people and using his skills as a storyteller, and then every once in a while, he seems to slip into this other place, where he motivates people, but in a way I feel like possibly he doesn't even realize he's doing it. Like that he... there's right after Flint had the the big speech with the Queen, and then Flint says to Silver, “thank you for opening that door.” That became the shorthand for what I call it, is that there are these moments where Flint opens doors for other characters to take a new direction, that in my mind is like Flint almost allowing them to find the place they were supposed to go... like find some inner spark in themselves. So that might tie into your idea, that deep down, he still has that. So the first one is the Odysseus speech. The first one, Eleanor had already been talking about wanting to change Nassau, to make Nassau become something new and different, and she's doing her Eleanor thing up until the moment when Flint… first he starts with the whole Urca de Lima, like I've got this plan, that we had already seen him use on Richard. But when she says, ‘but why here, why don't you just go away?”... and then something in your performance shifted at that moment, and when he's talking about the Odysseus part... I never know if I should say you or he in these situations... but something you did with him in that moment, for someone like me who looks way too closely at this show, is that your attitude changed, and he went from like, kind of what we knew was his script that he uses, to something way more internal feeling. [TOBY: hmm] And I'll give you the other two examples and then I'll ask the real question. The second time... oh the second time I already brought up, the “where else would you matter” with Silver. Then it just feels like Flint was using words that are important to Flint. And it ended up triggering Silver in a way that took Silver down that road of becoming truly part of the crew and making this huge sacrifice and kind of becoming who Silver possibly was meant to be. Because he had pretended to not be invested in other people, but we learned that he's super, super invested in other people. [TOBY: yeah] And then the last one is with Vane, right before the duel between Flint and Teach, and Vane’s like, “Dude, this is crazy. What are you doing? Like we hate all those people.” And then Flint's like, “stop thinking about all the things that were important to you, like duty and honor, and your promises to people. Who are you?” [TOBY: yeah]. And that was the last thing I expected Flint to say, because usually Flint will use exactly the tools he knows will work. Which for Vane is duty, is his promises to other people, but the “who are you” was like, “I'm freeing you dude.” And it almost felt like it was the worst words to use, but it ended up being the best words. So now my question, my question is *laughs* sorry, we just got a little tour through my brain for a second and now I will actually ask you a question. Do you feel like Flint is always being deliberate in his use of storytelling, or do you think there are moments where he is tapping into something less intentional, more subconscious, that might be something inside of him that sparks things in others?
[TOBY:] Yeah I think he's a great leader and I think great leaders are instinctive. I don't think... like anybody who's great at something, it's part of them, it's just instinctive, and I think that also, moments of honesty, of real clarity and honesty, are shifting points. They are… when you just say… when somebody is completely honest with you, that is very... you know when that happens. And it is something that you can't evade. I mean, complete frankness and honesty, when that's dropped into something, it is a point where you have to move, you have to take it on, and you have to… and I think that he... so it's a combination of the fact... he is a great leader, he knows, he just instinctively knows how to manipulate people, but how to say something that will completely shift that person's… because that's what he wants to do, he wants to shift that person's point of view. But it's a moment of... like for example, the Teach thing, he knows he's gonna lose-
[DAPHNE:] Right. That’s exactly what we said, we were like, “look at this guy, look at this guy!” *laughs*
[TOBY:] Yeah! He’s half starved, he’s exhausted. There's no way he's gonna be able to beat this guy.
[DAPHNE:] Ray Stevenson is giant! *laughs*
[TOBY:] Yes, exactly, enormous! So it’s like one of those moments where he just goes, “what have i got to lose? I'm just gonna give it to you totally straight.” And it's just, kind of the genius of Flint is, that he says the right thing at the right time, to get that person. And he doesn't understand it necessarily, it's just instinctive. But I think those are moments of absolute honesty, and I think that Flint has those moments throughout, where... because I think, rather like Coriolanus, I don't think he finds it easy to lie. I think he’s very honest in a way, and those moments of total honesty and clarity are kind of those shifting points, where he kind of puts it on the other person, but it's just perfectly timed to move that person into the different headspace.
[DAPHNE:] Mm-hmm. And is it is just a very striking... I don't know, I mean it sounds like this kind of fits in with your overall thing, that there wasn't like moments where you were like, “okay we're gonna shift gears and this is what Flint is doing”. But it comes across as this very... I mean again, like kind of elemental, like the same way that the whole story is implying that Flint is... or Silver's implying, but Silver and the story are implying, that Flint can control the weather... the story is also implying that Flint at certain moments can, not just convince people, but actually change them, which is fascinating.
[TOBY:] Yeah, well I think he... I mean look, I think yes he does. I think he does change people. I think he makes, to a certain extend, he makes Silver who he is.
[DAPHNE:] Or he brings out the person Silver was supposed to be.
[TOBY:] And he makes Vane... Vane becomes somebody, he becomes this epic hero.
[DAPHNE:] Yep. In a different way, right.
[TOBY:] Yeah, in a different way. But that shifting of Vane happens through Flint in a way. He moves him on to something else, you know.
[DAPHNE:] I mean, I think you could argue that each time he imbues the other people with the meaning that their lives were kind of circling around, but that they ended up kind of getting concentrated in that place that they needed to be.
[TOBY:] I suppose Flint is also somebody who came from nothing and ends up being this-
[DAPHNE:] really meaningful person!
[TOBY:] Yes, exactly! And the thing is, that also these other people, they're living these sort of... you know, certain people would see it as a squalid life in this corner of the Caribbean, you know? But yet, they become these heroic, epic people. And I suppose that he infects them with that kind of thing.
[DAPHNE:] Infects, very good word usage. *both laugh* That’s great, I love that.
[TOBY:] There's one thing that I find… so I've had a number of people ask me, “so what do you think happens at the end?” All I want to say is, I think that it's totally up to the audience. It’s very important that it is up to them. Because, I'm not the carrier of the truth of this series, and neither in a way is Jon. It becomes... by that point, it becomes everybody else's story. And you need to… and I think Jon deliberately wanted to do that, you see. “Look, it's yours. You answer it. You can believe what you want to believe, and you must, because that's important to you.” Because I've said what my opinion is, and I've seen people kind of being very upset about it, and I'm like, “look, this is just my opinion.” Because it's not defined, what happens. It's open. They’ve deliberately meant it to be that. So it must be that for people. And I feel very badly that I said my opinion about it, because I can tell that it really upset some people. Anyway, that's what I wanted to say.
[DAPHNE:] No, no, that's… I'm really glad you're... I was gonna say something like that in the beginning of the episode without you. So I can say my piece here, because I know a lot of people likely had a lot of expectations about me trying to pin you down to all sorts of opinions about the show, and you and I had emailed before we started, that it was very important to both of us to leave Flint in a place where he could still inhabit people's interpretations of him and of the story. And I've said this many times in the podcast-
[TOBY:] Yeah. I mean, I don't... I really was like, “(???) Oh God, I wish I hadn’t said that.” *Daphne laughs* I also have another fantasy which I will leave you with. Which is, that actually in the end, he does become a general or some commander in the American Revolution later on, under another name.
[DAPHNE:] There you go. When he becomes a time traveler, he’ll do that.
[Toby:] He’s like this ancient commander, that’s still got it!
[DAPHNE:] So old!
[TOBY:] That would be great.
[DAPHNE:] Art is best when it can be interpreted by the viewer and we all get to have this beautiful thing forever that you all made, that will be meaningful for different people at different times. Meaningful for the same person at different points in their lives, depending where they are.
[TOBY:] Absolutely, and the audience has ownership of it. It's not just exclusively us who are in it.
[DAPHNE:] Oh no, you all are done with your part. You can only be audience yourselves now! *laughs*
[TOBY:] Exactly, I know, I know. And you guys… and that’s as it should be.
[DAPHNE:] Yeah, I agree. I agree completely. That's not me trying to like... but, you know, we disagreed here, I think that's the amazing thing about this story, is that it allows so many people to see it in so many ways and that means that it gets to be meaningful for so many people in so many ways.
[TOBY:] Absolutely, and I think what I'm afraid of, and what I felt that perhaps I did in that example, was that somehow you diminish it for people, and I do not want to do that. I want to leave it open for people. Because it has so many layers and nuances and there's so much to find in it and I want people to enjoy it that way. I don't want to start something, just sort of go, “this is what it is”.
[DAPHNE:] Well you are allowed your interpretation as well, obviously.
[TOBY:] Yeah, exactly, well, otherwise there wouldn’t have been-
[DAPHNE:] But that doesn’t become cannon. Right, exactly. That's what I wanted to say, is that your interpretation of Flint, as we receive it in the text, not anything you say outside of the text, but your interpretation of Flint as received by us in the text, is what made him so meaningful. I mean, Jon had a part too, but whatever. [TOBY: Oh my God, yeah] I’ve already said my stuff to him, but I'm talking to you right now, so you get the credit.
[TOBY:] I mean the thing is, that's always something for me as well, it’s like, I ended up being the face of Flint and that kind of thing, but he really created the mind. I mean, what Jon achieved in Black Sails really is- [DAPHNE: Incredible] Yeah, really incredible. And yeah, I have nothing but admiration for him.
[DAPHNE:] Yeah it's... I mean it's my favorite story of them all, and I'm not alone, and it's very beautiful. And yeah, thank you so much for this beautiful portrayal. [TOBY: It’s been an absolute pleasure.] Thank you for coming on the podcast, thank you all the twitchiness in your face that we've enjoyed so much *both laugh* Oh, I was gonna make a joke about facing Flint! That was in Luke's first interview. He talked about how, like, everyone would talk about facing Flint, but you're not scary at all, you're not Flint.
[TOBY:] What's great is…
[DAPHNE:] So I get no credit for facing Flint!
[TOBY:] What's great is, I have fans come up, I mean fans, and one of the great things about Black Sails fans is, they are so full on. It's not like they go, “Yeah, I watch that show, it's kind of fun, I really, yeah, we really enjoyed that.” They're like: “Oh man, oh man, I love that show! Oh man, I can't believe I'm actually standing here!”
[DAPHNE:] I love Black Sails fans.
[TOBY:] And the thing is, what's hilarious is, like then I start talking to them, and they're like... I can see in their face going , “Oh my god-”
[DAPHNE:] That's not Flint!
[TOBY:] “... This guy, this guy, this gu…” And then, and then they're like: “I'm... I'm gonna get outta here, because this guy is really killing my…”
[TOBY:] “... this guy is killing my dreams!”
[DAPHNE:] Oh Toby, you're destined to be not-Flint for the rest of your life!
[TOBY:] I am, I am. *Daphne giggling* It's the great fantasy of actually being that cool. Oh God. Anyway.
[DAPHNE:] It was such a pleasure.
[TOBY:] We can but dream.
[TOBY:] It was pleasure to meet you, finally. [Daphne: Yes, so nice of you] I've heard a lot about you. And thank you very much for doing it all you do, to… you know, to...
[DAPHNE:] Obsessively talk about the show?
[TOBY:] Yeah, and also… No, but just to give a forum for the show as well, because it's great that people talk about it, and that they love it so much and it means an enormous amount to me. And I know to everybody else who's involved in it.
[DAPHNE:] it is incredibly deserving of that.
[TOBY:] Well, it's great to talk to you, maybe we'll do it again some other time.
[DAPHNE:] All right thanks so much. Oh wait! Talk about your other stuff, talk about… probably everyone listening to this knows about Lost In Space, but you are currently-
[TOBY:] Yeah, I'm doing another season of that. We're about halfway through and that's very exciting and it is actually really genuinely very funny. I really... I love working on it and I love all the other actors. Again, it's just such another great group of people.
[DAPHNE:] It’s such a great show, it’s been a lot of fun.
[TOBY:] it's really fun, and it's like, it just gets better all the time. They've got some great ideas and they've got some great stuff coming up in it. So, I'm really enjoying that. And then I've also got... I've done this... hopefully what will be a really interesting series for the BBC called Summer of Rockets, which is by a kind of very distinctive British author called Stephen Poliakoff, who's done some really interesting projects on TV and it's a really interesting... almost autobiographical about his father and grandfather who were Jewish Russian emigre who came over to England in the... just after the Revolution and set up an electronics firm that specialized in deaf aides and other kind of products one of which was the paging device. [DAPHNE: Oh wow!] They were the first people to invent a pager, but it didn't really cotton on in England because the professional classes were too snobby to be rung like servants. They saw it as being rung like a servant.
[DAPHNE:] *laughs* But we Americans, love that shit!
[TOBY:] Exactly! Anyway, it’s sort of based on that, but it's also conflated into what the current struggles are in the UK about immigration and about our own identity and all of that stuff. And it's a really interesting piece that I did all summer long, but which really was -
[DAPHNE:] That sounds wonderful.
[TOBY:] Yeah, should be really interesting.
[DAPHNE:] All right, I will keep everyone posted on Twitter. Hopefully that's coming to the U.S. too? We’ll find out.
[TOBY:] Yeah you will.
[DAPHNE:] Okay good. Well, I feel like our listeners know even better what you have been in than I, but I realized today that the first thing I ever saw you in was Possession, which is an adaptation of one of my favorite books.
[TOBY:] Oh yeah, oh yes, Byatt.
[DAPHNE:] Oh my Goodness, she’s so good.
[TOBY:] Oh wow, that was a long time ago.
[DAPHNE:] Thank you so much!
[TOBY:] Lovely to meet you, finally.
[DAPHNE:] I hope the rest of your shoot goes well for Lost In Space, because in my family, we’re really looking forward to seeing it.
[TOBY:] Well I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.
[DAPHNE:] Thank you.
[TOBY:] Thank you.