Former Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows collaborators Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi set sail for the high seas and charter a return to television together in HBO Max’s Our Flag Means Death.
For the upcoming series, created by showrunner David Jenkins, the fellow New Zealanders suit up as two notable figures in the pirating world: Darby as aristocrat-turned-pirate Stede Bonnet and Waititi as the elusive and notorious Blackbeard. The stars spoke with Deadline about coming aboard the comedy and striking gold with the latest addition to their lengthy history of collaboration.
“I feel really lucky when something like this comes along,” mused Waititi, who serves as Our Flag Means Death executive producer and directed the pilot. “This is the most fun I’ve had acting for a long time.”
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Our Flag Means Death may debut more than a decade after The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise dominated mainstream portrayals of the swashbuckling lifestyle, but offers a different approach to life on the high seas. A mockumentary-style comedy that centers on Stede Bonnet’s adjustment to pirate life and his efforts to keep a tight and happy crew, Our Flag Means Death presents a unique lens to pirating that received nearly instantaneous approval from Waititi.
When it came to casting the perfect Stede Bonnet, the Jojo Rabbit director said Darby’s name came up multiple times in conversations about who could helm the ship. Darby, known for playing desperate music manager Murray in Flight of the Conchords and werewolf pack leader Anton in the original What We Do in the Shadows film, seemed like a good fit.
“Rhys is so good in that managerial position,” Waititi added. “You’re so good at delegating people and at running a group of people. It’s a perfect role for him.”
While taking on The Gentleman Pirate himself offered Darby a chance to bring something new to the table of workplace comedies, the comedian said the HBO Max series was also an opportunity to take his career to a new level.
‘Our Flag Means Death’: HBO Max Pirate Comedy With Taika Waititi & Rhys Darby Gets Premiere Date, Trailer
“I looked at myself and how much experience I’ve had over the years and I felt maybe it is time to step up,” Darby said. “It was scary but having Taika there made it easier to do. We’re in this together and if he wasn’t there I’d probably track him down and call him to help me.”
The co-stars additionally touched on pinch-me moments behind the scenes, the preparation (or lack thereof) to take on their pirate characters and how they see themselves in their comedic on-screen corsairs. As much as a treat Our Flag Means Death may be a treat for fans of the fellow comics’ earlier collaborative works, Waititi and Darby aren’t counting out possible reboots or reunions in the future.
But one thing is for sure – Darby nor his What We Do in the Shadows character will make an appearance for FX’s series of the same name.
“My werewolf gang are in New Zealand so there’s no reason for Anton to be in America,” Darby said.
“There’s no reason for Anton to be in Staten Island,” echoed Waititi. “I never want to dress as a vampire ever again, so I probably won’t be in that I don’t think.”
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Our Flag Means Death will premiere March 3 on HBO Max and also features Nathan Foad, Samson Kayo, Vico Ortiz, Ewen Bremner, Joel Fry, Matt Maher, Kristian Nairn, Con O’Neill, Guz Khan, David Fane, Rory Kinnear, Samba Schutte, Nat Faxon, Fred Armisen and Leslie Jones. Waititi executive produces along with Jenkins, Garrett Basch and Dan Halsted.
Watch the full interview above.
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