Betrayal often leads to death on Black Sails and this past weeks episode had one hell of a betrayal and death to go with it. The betrayed; Billy Bones. The death; Captain Jacob Garrett. Actor Aidan Whytock, who portrayed the smooth talker, sat down with Sinful Celluloid to discuss his time on the show, the tricks of the trade, and being a light-hearted pirate.
Sinful Celluloid – What can you tell us about Jacob Garrett?
Aidan Whytock – To quote Billy Bones, Jacob Garrett is the finest purveyor of bullshit. He’s a man with a gift of gab and if you need something spun, he’s the one who can spin it. That is how he and Billy Bone’s relationship began. But when we first meet him, he’s a combination of a quiet and caring man who has slipped out to do naughty things with a whore. I think one of the reasons why I got the job is that they wanted Garrett to be incredibly disarming but at the same time a little unknown and a little off beat, he’s a die hard loyalist (literally) That’s Garret. He’s a man of integrity which results in bad things for him.
S.C. – When you first got the part, was he a one off character or was there always a plan for him to return?
A.W. – In the script, he wasn’t called Garrett. He was called “Clean-cut Pirate” but I ended up introducing myself as Jacob Garrett, Carpenter’s mate on the Intrepid, so that’s where it began. They seemed to like it. I think Dan Shots, the writer of that show, had an idea of what he need from the character but hadn’t quite fleshed out who he was yet, but he needed him further down the line.
S.C. – That’s a hell of an introduction because you have your first scene with Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) and then Idelle (Lise Slabber).
A.W. – Yes. A really hard day at the office (laughs) There’s a funny story about that. So that scene finishes with me motor-boating Idelle so I had to do that in ADR (Automated dialogue replacement). So I had to go to studio and dub the sound of me motor-boating a pair of boobs but I didn’t have any boobs with which to motor-boat. So should one need to replicate motor-boating…bend your arm and tuck your face in there. (real Black Sails secrets!)
S.C. – With that, you do just about everything cool you could have done on the show except be on a ship.
A.W. – That’s right. I was never on a ship. Though my goal was to become a Captain, and at the start of season 3 I am one of the pirate Captains, but I’m never actually on a ship.
S.C. – Season 3 is also when you really come into the fold and eventually hook up with Billy Bones (Tom Hopper). Which made sense that you two would become friends.
A.W. – It did yeah. With Flint, he had Dooley and Joji. Silver gets Israel Hands, so it was time for Billy to start building his army with Ben Gunn and Jacob Garrett. Ben Gunn’s also a grounded, high moral guy so you’re right.
S.C. – Now was there ever another meeting between you and Anne (in full force)?
A.W. – It played out in that meeting scene of the pirate Captains in season three. There is some eye-balling between the two but ultimately it was a sub-plot that didn’t really serve the story. Unless Garrett became a love triangle with Jack and Anne. But the Black Sails world is already so rich there wasn’t a need to go down that path.
S.C. – Many of the cast talk about what I life changing experience the show was. Did you take anything away from it?
A.W. – I’m a better sword fighter (smiles), much better horse rider as well. Learned a lot about that. From a historical perspective, I learned a lot. I think it’s quite accurate in terms of what life would have been like back in the day. I was baffled by how much clothing pirates wore. Guys that live on a tropical island. Garrett wears knee-high leather boots. Leather pants, a wool coat, shirt, a sash, and a waist coat. I’d be fine in winter in Canada in that outfit. And yet, this is what these guys wore back then. It’s mind-blowing.
It taught me lessons of life. Nowadays, we live quite a conservative, quite a contained life. We know the roles we all play in society, we know the constraints and we’ve got to stay within the lines. Not the case back then. It was more of an impulsive world, more of an impulsive life. I suspect, it might have been more of a satisfying life. A more care-free attitude.
S.C. – How did you go about fleshing out Jacob Garrett? Did they (the writers) give you anything later on?
A.W. – No, which was fun. I got to do whatever I wanted. I wanted to enjoy being Garrett. I could have easily played Garrett as shifty, edgy, dodgy guy who’s on the edge all the time. Someone who’s always thinking “who’s gonna stab me, who’s gonna kill at me, where is the next enemy coming from?” as opposed to “Fuck it, let’s have another rum. Board a ship? Let’s do that! Whorehouse? Absolutely!” (laughs). I just wanted to make him a little more lighthearted because the show was quite an intense show.
S.C. Let’s talk about Jacob Garrett’s death.
A.W. – It was a fairly overwhelming day. The day that I died was the day that I wrapped. Alik Sakharov directed me in and out of the show. What had happened was I got a call.
“Aidan? Dan Shotz here”
“I’m like, damn. Am I done?”
“Sorry. It would really help move the show forward though. It’s a good death. (So he told me how it was going to happen.) Ok. See ya on set.”
S.C. – Well it was an amazing character and one that many people felt that they could see themselves in. So in closing, what would you like Black Sails fans to take away from the show?
A.W. – Blood-thirst!…and …(he reflects for a moment)…the self motor-boating trick.