Tom Hopper’s Billy Bones, the pirate he plays on Starz’s drama-at-sea, Black Sails, has already been punished aplenty on the show: In the first season of the Treasure Island prequel, Bones was presumed dead after falling into the ocean. Then he was captured and tortured by the British Army the following season. And in the upcoming season 3, which returns Saturday, he and Captain Flint’s crew have to try and survive a horrific hurricane at sea. (Spoiler: Many men must die.)
“It’s completely gnarly,” the British native tells EW of the cinematic scene, shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa. “It took the entire season to shoot. It was such a big sequence that there was always someone revisiting it throughout the season. You’d drive around the studio, and see one of the rigs constantly being blasted with water.”
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And how did it feel being blasted with water himself? “It’s pretty hot in Cape Town so it wasn’t that bad, but when you keep shooting it gets pretty cold. We kept saying, ‘What’s wrong with warm water? Is it so hard to get?’ ” Some sequences would last as long as five to seven minutes of straight shooting, which Hopper says were exhausting. “You didn’t need to act like you were fatigued,” he says.
Equally exhausting — and thrilling — was when Billy Bones got dunked into the deep blue. “The rig was in a large tank of water, and it had a release mechanism that dropped it down into the water, and then it would come back up again,” Hopper explains of how that scene was shot. “It dropped me and two stunt guys full speed into the water and out again. It was the most fun I’ve ever had. It felt like a theme park ride, but the most extreme theme park ride in the world.”
So what can we expect from Captain Flint and his mates in season 3 — other than white squalls ahead? “Let’s just say there are a few changes in the rank,” Hopper teases. “The crew gets very tested, loyalties get tested, and there’s lots of swashbuckling and fight sequences. The fight scenes are really epic this year.”
Just not quite as epic as that hurricane. “I’m just pleased the hurricane scene looks as gnarly as it was to shoot it,” Hopper says. “There’s not much out there that’s done something as ambitious as this for TV.”
See the scene below, which hails from the second episode of Black Sails‘ third season, and catch the series when it returns to Starz on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.