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Interview EXCLUSIVE: An HTF Interview with Hannah New of Black Sails (1 Viewer)

Timothy E

Jul 20, 2007
Real Name
Timothy Ewanyshyn
Hannah New (Eleanor Guthrie) of Black Sails spoke to the Home Theater Forum in this interview that occurred on January 7, 2015.

HTF: You play Eleanor Guthrie on Black Sails. What do you like best about Eleanor?

Hannah New: I think what I like best about Eleanor is her feistiness and her ability to demand what she needs. In the first season, I got to do a lot of real playfulness with how she interacts with the pirates and telling them where to stick it most of the time, and for me naturally that is a lot of fun.

HTF: Have you seen Eleanor’s character change and evolve over the course of the first 2 seasons, and going into the third season?

Hannah New: Yeah, for sure. She is a character who has a very immediate fall from grace, and it’s a very slow climb back up to where she came from, so she is really battling with reestablishing her, in season 1 anyway, reestablishing her father’s legacy. She is a very young woman, and being able to keep a strong hold on everything that has been given to her and everything she has worked for. It’s going to be a tough one so she kind of has to really reevaluate who she is as a young woman and what her tactics are going to be, and that way you see her develop and grow in a very short amount of time. It’s not just a steady climb up from where she falls, there are things that keep knocking her back at the end of season 1, and at the very beginning of season 2, and now in season 3 things seem to get even worse sometimes. It is interesting to see how every time she gets knocked back, how she responds by becoming stronger and fighting back.

HTF: Do you see her moving in the right direction in spite of her obstacles?

Hannah New: I think I see her having to completely change tack, and completely reevaluate who she thinks she is, you know, where she is from, how she fits into this world, and then how she fits into a larger context with relationship to England and society, basically, so she is kind of having to be a chameleon in every which way. I think that’s why, for me as an actress, it is kind of like living, you don’t really know what the outcome is going to be, but you know what the tactics are, and what the objective is.

HTF: Would it be accurate to say that Eleanor is a good person who makes bad choices?

Hannah New: I don’t know whether... She is a visionary, and she has an ideal that she is striving for, and I think essentially that is a good thing, but she is not always the most conscientious person, so I think that is something that is growing. She is so headstrong, and she is so kind of selfish at points. Those are things that come with immaturity, and as she comes into maturity whether she finds that essentially she is a good person, we will wait to see.

HTF: Is it true that she makes decisions sometimes that you find exasperating?

Hannah New: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Sometimes I pick up the scripts and I am like "No, no, don’t let her do that, please"(laughs), "it’s only going to lead to disaster." Yeah, I think, but she has to think on her feet so much, so you can’t blame the character. She has to literally pick up the pieces in a matter of moments and I like that about her. I like that she is resourceful and I like that she can suddenly turn everything around from what looks like an absolute disaster into something resembling a plan.

HTF: Is there any example that stands out in your mind of something she has done that infuriated you?

Hannah New: Well, probably the Consortium, to be honest. I know she didn’t have very many options at that point, but yeah, the Consortium was not the soundest of plans at this point. I see where she is going with it but she doesn’t have the right plan for it just yet, and that was probably a point of thinking, have a bit more of a steadfast and a bit more of a kick-ass plan at this point.

HTF: How are you similar to or different from Eleanor?

Hannah New: I am pretty different from Eleanor in lots of ways. That kind of hardness and, you know, real ruthlessness, I hope I don’t have... (laughs) I am quite similar in the sense that I am very stubborn and very principled, and I strive for what I believe in, even if the things I believe in are not quite the same as Eleanor’s.

HTF: It sounds like you admire her ambitions.

Hannah New: I do, I do, I admire her as a young businesswoman, I think as someone who is not afraid of anyone, someone who really stands her ground and fights her own battles and doesn’t rely on anybody. She is really and truly an independent woman, and I think that gets even more thrown into the forefront of her daily life. She starts to become more and more isolated. Rather than shrinking away without support, she fights back harder, and I think that is really admirable.

HTF: Do you ever find that people have misconceptions about you based upon your role as Eleanor, or perhaps your other roles?

Hannah New: Yeah, I suppose, it’s quite funny. I have met a couple of people, like in the street, who I just randomly start chatting to, I am quite a chatty person, and they say "what do you do her in Cape Town?" and I am like, "Oh, I work for the studios," and "what do you do at the studios?" and "I work on a thing called ‘Black Sails’" and "I have seen that show. What do you do?" (laughs) and I think, oh my God, I must look very different, I must appear very different in person. I kind of really like that. I kind of really like that Eleanor is very much a defined space next to me and I can go into her and I really know who she is now, and that for me is really exciting. I am glad no one comes up to me and goes "You are that bitch!" (laughs) "You make terrible decisions." (laughs)

HTF: Is there anything about filming in Cape Town that makes filming Black Sails different from other productions you have worked upon?

Hannah New: The scale of it is just immense, and it is incredible the amount of skilled carpenters, costumers, grips, electricians. I mean the whole crew is just amazing, and the set we have there is out of this world. When I first arrived there, I just could not believe it. I thought I had landed actually on a Caribbean island. It is a fully homogenous world with everything that a pirate port would need.

HTF: Have you always been drawn to performing?

Hannah New: Yeah, I think so. I think my mom would probably argue that. I think there were a few tantrums as a kid when they wouldn’t watch my shows. (laughs)

HTF: That is your stubborn streak.

Hannah New: Yeah, exactly, so I have been drawn to it, but I think it is something that I have always kind of wanted to approach from a really kind of vast set-room of experience so that’s why I decided to go off and learn Spanish and then I went and trained in Spain and started working in Spain. For me, coming into the acting world, I think you have to have a lot of life experience to be able to play really varied and different characters.

HTF: Do you have a favorite memory regarding production of the first 2 seasons of Black Sails? Something that was particularly fun for you?

Hannah New: Yeah, I think there are so many, actually. For me, what’s really magical is actually shooting at night on set is incredible because everything is candle-lit and we have these amazing torchlights, and it really is an electrifying atmosphere when you are on set at night. I remember one night, it was a really difficult night, and we had a lot of wind, and then rain, and you know, we are supposed to be in the Caribbean, (laughs) it’s supposed to be a hot, sweltering night, but there was something so magical about being in this place that seemed kind of open to the elements. I think everyone went a bit mad at that point, I think. Those moments to me are the ones that stand out.

HTF: Thank you for your time and I speak for many when I say that we are looking forward to the premiere of season 2 on January 24.

Hannah New: Thank you so much.

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