Rhys Darby and David Jenkins team up with Taika Waititi

Max Yurva

HBO Max series Our flag means deathfrom the creator David Jenkins and executive producer Taika Waititiis very, Very(Reese Darby) and his disorganized crew aboard the Vengeance who don’t necessarily have the greatest faith in their captain as he tries to follow his true dream of being a true rogue. As the crew of the Vengeance begins to become increasingly rebellious, their paths cross a fatal intersection with the infamous Blackbeard (Waititi) – from there, the two forge an unexpected friendship, escaping from The other side learned a lesson. The series is executive produced by Waititi and Jenkins, who directed the pilot episode, Garrett Baschand Dan Halstead. Except Darby and Waititi, Our flag means deathThe ensemble cast includes Nathan Ford, Samson You, Vic Ortiz, Evan Bremner, Joel Fry, Matt Maher, Christian Nairn, with O’Neal, Guzhan, David Finn, Rory Kinnear, sambashut, Nafason, Fred Armisenand Leslie Jones.

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Ahead of the show’s March 3 premiere, Collider had a chance to chat with Darby and Jenkins about the series’ work and how Darby came to know about Stede Bonnet’s story. During the interview, which you can read below, the two also talked about working with Waititi from a directing and acting perspective, how Blackbeard and Bonnet’s growing relationship allowed Waititi and Darby’s long-term friendship to thrive, and what it was like Work every day on a real pirate ship built for the series. They also revealed which actor was most likely to have other crew members sabotage the character during filming, and who was most likely to sabotage the character.

Collider: While I’ve picked out David’s brain on a few things, I’m curious, Reese – for you, how much did you know about this man, myth, legend Stede Bonnet before taking on the role , was there any research you did after you joined to help shape your character on the show?


RHYS DARBY: I don’t know much about this lad. He’s kind of on the verge of a great pirate, but once you start watching him you realize, “Okay. Well, he’s definitely one of them.” When it comes to stories, it doesn’t make any sense. So good job David, grab this and move on. In fact, one of my sons is playing a video game in which he has a character. I think my… I was 11 and was playing a video game featuring pirates, and he said, “Oh, yes, I know, Dad. He’s from this game.”

David Jenkins: It’s called Assassin’s Creed IV.

Darby: Yes, that’s it. That’s the one.

Jenkins: I may or may not play the same game.

Darby: Good, right? Anyway, my son kinda knew who he was, so I went, “Okay, okay, I’ll look into this lad.” So I did some research and wondered what the hell was this guy thinking? We still don’t know.Because he had everything, he went, “You know what? I’m just going to be a pirate.” I thought [the show] It’s been a journey of discovery for all of us — and even though we’re doing it, we’re starting to see in Stede’s mind why he’s taking this ridiculous risk.


Our logo means death rhys-darby-hbo-max
Image via HBO Max

RELATED: ‘Our Flag Means Death’ Creator David Jenkins on How ‘Road Warriors’ and Rom-Coms Inspired Pirate Comedy Series

David, what do you want people to take away from the show? Humor aside, that’s obviously a big part.

Jenkins: Nothing. [laughs] Just “Damn, it’s funny. I laughed, I cried a few times, damn, Rhys Darby is an amazing actor, damn, Taika Waititi is an amazing actor, oh my gosh, what about the cast?” I I mean, really, I just want people to watch it and run away and hopefully feel something.

In terms of escapes, one thing I noticed about the show’s practicality was the boat itself. Rhys, what was it like shooting on that set, did it help with the immersion of the characters?

Darby: For me, the boat is everything. This is the star of the show. When we first saw the ship in development, we saw the scene being made, and we were just in awe. Right, David? We were like, “I can’t believe this is happening. Going these lengths.”


Jenkins: I’ll take a break and walk over and watch them build it out of plywood into a fully loaded boat, [with] Our wonderful production designer Ra Vincent. These things start and they look like a high school game because it’s plywood and 2x4s, and then five days later, it’s a pirate ship. This is not true.

DARBY: As an actor stepping out on set, we really felt like we had to improve ourselves. We can’t bring our C performance. It has to be an A+ because we have to be as good as the suit – and then you go into the captain’s room and it just keeps getting better. Not just a fan of historical drama but a fan of science fiction, it’s an immersive world when you fall in love with something like the Enterprise, when you see the crew walking down the alleys with their big ship , you want to be on that boat. That’s how I feel as an actor on this boat, and I think the audience will say, “Oh, I want to be on that boat.” So, yeah, it does help.

Jenkins: It has a lot in common with sci-fi. A boat show is a boat show. Whether in space or on Earth, [like] As Rhys said, you want to believe that the ship is real, and that’s essentially the world of this show, and Ra and our amazing team made it happen.


Our sign means death - taika-waititi-rhys-darby-hbo-max
Image via HBO Max

Speaking of A-game, I can’t help but talk about the relationship between Stede and Blackbeard and how Rhys, you and Taika brought it to life. What are you two trying to bring to that dynamic that might not be in the script?

Darby: I think we try to bring our own friendship. Even though we’ve been friends for over 15 years, we haven’t really spent so much time together that we’ve been able to identify what we really like about each other, so we found that through the characters as well. We found out why we are such good friends. Well, we have very similar backgrounds. It’s not that these two characters have similar backgrounds, it’s that we like the same things, and we’re connected because we’re all lost souls in real life, like these characters are in their lives, so there’s this A strange connection. For whatever reason, we shouldn’t really connect as we do – especially with the characters, because one is a murderous badass and the other is the opposite, but there’s something meeting in the middle, that little magic What we want to discover.


Jenkins: I felt that way too while filming. I have no idea. I mean, now it makes sense that you go through the whole friendship journey in real life. Seeing you on set together, the first scene you played together, you could feel it. Just like silk. Like, “Oh, they know each other” and that’s it. When they shoot, you can feel it without even looking at the monitor. You can hear it.


Our logo means death Reese-Darby-Samson-kayo-hbo-max
Image via HBO Max

Of the entire pirate crew, who is the actor most likely to break in front of the camera, and who is the most likely to let other actors break?

Darby: I think Nat [Faxon] and Nat [Faxon].

Jenkins: Sounds good. Yes. I would say, are there a lot of people going broke?

Darby: I don’t think there is, not really.

Jenkins: Not many spoilers.

DARBY: Because everyone’s afraid to break because they know where there’s going to be improv stuff like that, that’s Rhys and Taika’s thing. So people were like, “Oh my god, I’m not going to laugh.” I remember Taika and made him laugh a few times because I had to, because that’s what I did. In any scene, I have to rest the people closest to me.And Samson [Kayo]Samson laughed.

Jenkins: Yes, Samson, yes.

DARBY: They’re starting to come back to me now, you see. But in general-

Jenkins: Samba [Schutte] is laughter. Samba will laugh. He smiled a little.

Darby: He just thoroughly enjoyed it. I don’t remember much one-on-one scenes with Samba, but I can see him laughing by the kitchen or something. Very interesting. I think it’s good when we laugh because what we’re doing here is really trying to make the funniest thing possible, so if we can make each other laugh, then we know we’re doing a good thing.

Our flag means death New episodes air every Thursday on HBO Max, with the final two episodes of the season premiering this week on March 24.


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