Why Black Sails' Blackbeard Is Like Keith Richards

Starz’s Black Sails is gearing up to return for Season 3 this weekend, and the show has been giving us plenty of opportunities to get excited for the new episodes. One of the main additions that should add some extra oomph to Season 3 is Blackbeard, a character that will be played by veteran actor Ray Stevenson. We recently got a chance to speak with the new Starz star, who revealed that the Blackbeard we meet on Black Sails will actually be a whole lot like Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Here’s why:

The thing about Blackbeard is that… I kind of think of him more like Keith Richards walking into a bar and every man thinking that he used to be in a rock band. Blackbeard walks in and it’s just like, I used to be a pirate, I used to be a pirate. He has that kind of a thing. The thing is he was actually larger than life. It’s the 1700s. He was 6’ 4” and just strolled the beach like a colossus. He was literally larger than life. So his legend grew before him.

We already know that Stevenson is going to look pretty imposing as Blackbeard. An early look at the character has shown Blackbeard will sport wildly long hair and a signature beard, as well as a slew of weapons. He reads like a pirate through and through. Ray Stevenson certainly looks like a rock star in the new promos:


Interesting, while Ray Stevenson's not exactly a dead ringer for Keith Richards, the man pulls off the “larger than life” correlation to the rock star, pretty well. It also may have helped Stevenson's vision of the character that Keith Richards actually played a pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, as well as had a cameo in the franchises' 2011 follow-up, On Stranger Tide. If you've seen his version of a pirate, Richards also channels Blackbeard a bit, making this whole analogy perfect.

Black Sails often mixes historical characters with fictional ones, but Blackbeard was very much a real tyrant who took to the high seas in order to plunder as a pirate but who eventually left Nassau and set his sights elsewhere. At the start of Season 3, Blackbeard will have returned to Nassau for the first time in years, but early scenes between Blackbeard, Captain Flint and Charles Vane indicate that Blackbeard will be a legend, but one who isn’t immediately aware of the current state of affairs in Nassau.

Having left it behind, he expects to come back to the Nassau he left. Of course, when he comes back, 8, 9 years later, things have drastically changed. It’s not the Nassua he left. So that’s his first sort of realization.

The pirates in Nassau already have plenty of trouble to deal with without having a pirate like Blackbeard return to shake things up. The British government is trying to control Nassau, and the trailer shows the series will have Eleanor Guthrie at its disposal. Still, shake things up Blackbeard will, and we can't wait to see what will happen, especially as we've heard Blackbeard will be back for Season 4.

Black Sails will return to the schedule for Season 3 on Saturday, January 23 at 9 p.m. ET. In addition the popular pirate drama has already been renewed by Starz for Season 4. You can find out when your favorites will return with our midseason TV premiere schedule.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.