Jessica Parker Kennedy, who plays Max on Black Sails has watched her character go from prostitute to brothel madam to one of the leading citizens in Nassau. She has brought this complex and intricate character and her journey to life over four seasons of swashbuckling adventures and she was kind enough to sit down with us as the show comes to a close.
When you found out this was the final season, I believe you were already in the middle of filming, did your approach change in any way?
Yeah, we were. Not really. I think it was more on a personal level for us, it was kind of weird being on set knowing that it was going to be the last times that we were there. I just kept the character going in the trajectory that she was already going. Let the writers kind of do the rest, because I didn’t know how it was going to end. I just knew it was going to end. I didn’t feel anything change, except like I said on a personal level it was weird knowing that it would be the last time I was on this set or this set, so it was kind of a bit bittersweet, you know.
Especially with Eleanor and Max. You have such a long history but you guys still seem to be unlikely allies. How will that relationship evolve further as the season moves along?
I think Eleanor and Max are in a place now where they are kind of like sisters. They went through very traumatic, dramatic breakup, but I think when Eleanor comes back on the island Max knows that she kind of needs her and Eleanor knows that she needs Max. So they put all of their emotional history behind them and kind of partner up and move forward. They are so close because of that history and that continued partnership. They just trust each other so very much and are able to be really honest with each other whether they agree or disagree. They kind of in a way have a very, very healthy relationship and are just very, very close. That being said they aren’t like best friends or anything. It’s not like they adore each other and want to go shopping together. There is a mutual respect.
Especially in the last episode with the pirate Nassau which isn’t great for both of them. But surviving is a strength of yours, of Max’s, so without giving away too many details how will she try to survive this?
Max’s approach is always really similar. I think this season, her biggest kind of nightmare is having Berringer around and having to deal with him. He’s a true, true enemy to her. It’s frustrating because they both want the same things, but the way that they want to go about getting it is extremely different. Everything happening on the island is really chaotic right now. This whole thing is completely falling apart. But she’s going to do what she’s always done. She gets it together and she moves forward. It’s kind of the only choice that she has. The one skill that Max has is she changes sides when she needs to, you never really know what direction she’s going to go there. It’s more of her figuring out where she needs to put her next chess piece.
So it’s all about survival to her and getting through.
Speaking of survival, the show is a prequel to Treasure Island, and unfortunately, your character isn’t featured in that story. So should we be worried or can we relax?
I mean, I have nothing to say to you on that, in that regards. It doesn’t really mean anything other than she’s not in the books.
Max is often underestimated. With her rise from being a prostitute to being one of the leading citizens on the island. So what’s changed for you as an actress, over the seasons, growing into this character that Max is now?
She’s a character that’s gained a tremendous amount of respect over the seasons. There was a time when she was underestimated to when this new character comes into Nassau, who underestimates her for one reason or another – she’s small, she’s a woman, she used to be a prostitute. Mostly, obviously that she’s a woman. I love being able to play a character – who in season 1 the first crazy choice that she was brutally raped she chooses to go back in with the pirates, allowing Eleanor to rescue her. She’s someone that chooses to take the power back in a way that some people agree with and some people strongly disagree with. She makes really interesting choices. Stuff that I had trouble with, as an actor playing her. At the end of the day though, these are choices that have moved her forward and gotten her one rung up the ladder over and over again. She seems to be very close to the top right now. It’s been such a journey, because her life is very complicated, and she’s had to make a lot of big choices. I just feel like I have been on that roller coaster with her. I really enjoyed reading every script and seeing what was going to happen, and then figuring out how I was going to make it look and sound real.
It’s been such a journey to get to where you are now. Have you had a chance to look back and figure out what you will miss most about Black Sails?
You know when you have a certain time in your life and it’s all going by very slowly and then it comes to an end. You look back and you’re like, woah, where did that go. I think things that at one time I took for granted or things that were annoying about being so far away from home – you have those moments where you kind of miss it – I miss the smell, etc. Just silly little things about living in Capetown really. It’s very rare to have a group of actors who work together and get along so well. None of us ever had an argument. We really love each other. We were so close. We all lived in the same apartment complex for four years. It’s kind of crazy. But, we all really love each other and I think that’s the hardest thing, is not having that family anymore. We’re all very displaced – we’re in Australia, Canada, The US, England… that’s the hardest thing. Wanting to keep the family together.
As the show comes to an end, what’s next for you?
I am on Colony right now, which has been really fun. It’s a Carlton Cuse TV show, so that’s pretty cool. I am in a really exciting independent film which is called, Someone Else’s Wedding, which is written and directed by a gentleman named Pat Kiely. That was really fun, I shot that in Montreal. I did an episode of Lethal Weapon, which is really fun. I am keeping busy. I am working a lot, which has been really nice because when you finish a TV show, I think every actor goes into panic mode, thinking they will never work again. So it’s been nice to stay busy.
Right. I watched you on the Secret Circle, so seeing you on Black Sails has been great.
I miss those days, so so much. It was such a fun year of my life. I miss that.
I am still bitter about the way it ended, but it’s fine.
I am bitter too. I am bitter, the fans are bitter. On my Twitter I have people every day that are like Secret Circle forever and I am like, I’m with you.
Just a small little reunion show is what I need.
Exactly. Or maybe we’ll just make a Secret Circle movie and we’ll all get to come back.
Thanks so much to Jessica Parker Kennedy for sitting down with us and you can catch the final season of Black Sails Sundays at 9pm on Starz.