Interview: Queen Of Nassau Jessica Parker Kennedy On Playing Max In BLACK SAILS

On BLACK SAILS, Max is a former prostitute and Madam, who had become the “Queen” of Nassau in a sense. That is, until Woodes Rogers and and England took it over. Max is challenged by her past and her future in the final season.

With the premiere this coming Sunday, it was time to sit down with Jessica Parker Kennedy, the amazing actress behind Max.

Sinful Celluloid – For the first time, we see Max pacified. Kept in a dark room amongst “proper” women as they needle point. Was this difficult after three seasons of playing an equal/superior?

Jessica Parker Kennedy – I think it’s really difficult for Max to sit through anything like that. I think Eleanor was Needle Pointing, but the idea of sitting and doing nothing was really difficult for Max. She’s always trying to move as a chess piece. I think she’s wondering what to do. I think its a balance and a struggle for her to find out exactly where she needs to be and exactly where she needs to position herself.

SC – Now, you and Idelle have been on an interesting course these past couple of seasons. What can you tell me about your relationship this season?

JPK – There isn’t a lot I can say. You know we’ve had our ups and downs. But what I will say is that I personally adore her. She’s hilarious first of all, and she has a very Marilyn Monroe-esqe thing to her. She epitomizes the sexual symbol but she hears and see s everything. It’s like having a fly on the wall that is actually listening and hearing everything without you realizing it. She becomes a pretty pivotal part of season 3 and season 4 in terms of having information and giving information to people. Shes just the funniest silliest most wonderful character on the show whose also very smart.

SC – In the book Treasure Island, John SIlver’s wife is only described as a black woman whom he trusts to run his business when he’s away. I felt that was going to be you because you guys are so similar and Max can do anything.

JPK – Thank you! That was something I wondered was going to happen from the very beginning. Like “Oh, I must be that girl.”  When I talked to Robert Levine and Jon Steinberg that was never their plan. I think I always fantasized about Max and Silver getting together because they would make an incredibly powerful team. So I was kind of rooting for that as well. After reading the book and getting the part I wondered if I was her, but I’m not and it’s kinda strange (laughs)

SC – Since you were able to cross riding a horse off your Black Sails bucketlist, was there anything else you wanted to do with your character but didn’t get a chance?

JPK – I think a part of me on the inside wondered if Max would get her own ship or if Max would become a pirate. I wasn’t desiring that in a massive way but it would be so cool if Max could spend some more time at sea. I think that comes from my own personal desires as an actor after having seen Titanic and wanting to do a crazy storm scene or be in the water for some reason. For some reason that seems really romantic and exciting to me. So I think that was more wanting that for me than Max.But I think she is useful tool to have on the island and I think that is her place and where her abilities are best suited. But I think she could make a great Captain and could get a great crew that would respect her, but that was more of a personal thing. I just wanted to be a pirate like all the boys were.

SC – Did you use any historical or fictional figure as an influence when Max comes into power? I really saw you as a queen in the same sense as Flint sees himself as a King and Cleopatra is who came to mind.

JPK – Yeah, Cleopatra is a great example. I have a lot of strong women surrounding me in my life and my mom is one of them. My mom was always someone who was incredibly stoic and never showed her emotions even though she was dealing with an incredible amount which I did realize as a teenager and more as an adult. I was a massive, Massive MASSIVE fan of the first Elizabeth movie that Cate Blanchett was in.

SC – It’s fantastic.

JPK – Yes it’s extraordinary. The sort of numbness that came upon that character. I don’t want to say that I wanted to mimic it but I think I was influenced by that in a great way. I guess I always wanted to play Max more emotional and was constantly getting notes to keep it tight and keep it in. There is an opportunity in season 4 for the audience to see that more emotional side and I’m really excited for people to see that. But I would draw back on the women in my life to keep it together in public. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do but right for the character. So I drew a lot from watching Cate Blanchett do that and growing up with my mother who was a single parent and a teacher dealt with all that and what was also going on in our family. SO I would say that was my inspiration.

SC – Coming to the end of the series, are there things that you personally hope to do with Max or get to see Max do in novelizations or comics?

JPK – The nerd world is so popular and trendy and cool and I feel so uncool talking about comics because I don’t know anything about them. But I would love her to live on in comics. That would be the coolest thing. I’m happy to know that it was written for me and I got to play it. That would be the coolest thing ever to know that she was still having adventures.

SC – So in closing, is there anything you’d like the fans to know about the upcoming final season?

JPK – I think Max is the strongest she’s ever been. She has quite the journey in season 4 and I think that she does a lot of soul searching. She really finds out who she is and what she wants at the end of the day and I’m really excited for the audience to watch that and see it. I’m really curious what their reactions will be.

BLACK SAILS The Fianal Seaosn Airs Sunday, January 29th on STARZ

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