CROSSBONES: Henry Hereford Talks Portraying Frederick Nightingale, a New World Inventor in a Time of Pirates (2014)


The hunt is on for an incalculable treasure. That is what pirates are best known for. Yet in the NBC drama CROSSBONES, treasure is not limited to gold, gems and jewels. The treasure sought is a chronometer — a device that gives pirates the ability to truly rule the seas. After all, a pirate is only as good as his maps are to guide him.

In an exclusive interview, Henry Hereford talked about who is Frederick Nightingale and why everyone wants the elusive chronometer that he has created.

So you get to play the infamous Frederick Nightingale. Did you read the script and wonder where in the world they came up with that name?
HENRY: Actually, the character was originally named Benedict Nightingale. But there was someone with that name already, so they changed it. But it’s fantastic. It’s a historic, very British name.

What part does Frederick have to play in this tale of Blackbeard?
HENRY: He has invented a chronometer, which is a clock that measures longitude. It is a huge deal because it means whoever gets a hold of it has the power, like if the pirates get a hold of it, they will be able to track every ship going through their lanes, making it easier for them to attack them; and if the British have it, then they will be able to finally change their course to prevent them from getting robbed. So it is a very significant piece of machinery that will change everything or change how things have been working. It is also terribly coded and at this point, he is the only person who knows how it works, if you want to build any more.

So Frederick is the man. He’s the one who has built the machine everyone wants.
HENRY: Yes, exactly. He is being taken with his machine and all his information back to England to present it to the king. That’s when things go fairly wrong.

How quickly does Frederick’s story intersect with Blackbeard (John Malkovich) and Tom Lowe (Richard Coyle), who seem aligned at the moment?
HENRY: It happens very quickly during the first part of the tale. He’s aboard one of the ships that Blackbeard attacks.

Does Frederick want to align himself with these people to preserve his own life?
HENRY: To be honest, he doesn’t have much of a choice. He is very much a fish out of water. He’s got brains, but he does what he is meant to do and doesn’t want to be a part of everything else, basically. But he doesn’t have much choice.

Frederick strikes me as someone who is a little bit smarter than everyone else, since he built the device. Does he maybe have his own plan to extricate himself from this bad situation?
HENRY: I think in these situations, you need to be a bit tougher than he is. Brains falls by the wayside.

Does he have an inkling that Tom Lowe might be someone who may be sympathetic to him?
HENRY: At the time, I think he believes Tom Lowe is very much on his side. He has no reason to believe he isn’t.

What is the one quality you most admire in Frederick?
HENRY: I think I’d like to have those kind of brains. With those I could have really done something. But it would have to be at a time like today, instead of back then when there is a risk someone may kill you for what you’ve invented.

Would you say that Frederick is all that he seems or is there another layer to him that we will discover this season?
HENRY: I think you’ll have to wait and see. But he’s definitely a good man and wants to do the right thing.

For you, what was it like working on this kind of show?
HENRY: It was an incredible experience. To work on a show that was written by Neil Cross, who is an exceptional writer and has created shows like LUTHER. And all the cast is incredible. It was a dream come true to be working in the Caribbean and working with such great people, cast and crew. It was amazing.

The show was actually filmed in the Caribbean? That must have been fantastic.
HENRY: Yes, in Puerto Rico. You couldn’t ask for a better job.

Were there any tough parts to working on this show?
HENRY: Not really. There was no downside. It was amazing. Everyone was fantastic. Great actors, great crew. We just had a lot of fun.

What do you think audiences are drawn to for these particular types of pirate tales?
HENRY: I think it’s that everyone loves the tales set in a different world, in a different time. I think this in particular though it is not just about pirates per se. It’s about giving the other side of Blackbeard and the people on the island. They have created another life for themselves. They have decided that they don’t want to be ruled or governed. They’re quite progressive really, finding a different way of life at that time. Obviously, no one saw it that way. But I think for the audience to watch it today and then make a decision, it provides a different point of view.

What draws you to a pirate tale like this?
HENRY: I think it’s really interesting. I think it’s amazing characters. And I think it’s progressive in telling a story that’s not clear-cut on which side you should support. It’s an interesting story.

This week’s episode is entitled “The Man Who Killed Blackbeard.” I am sure they are not killing off Blackbeard that quickly, so what can you talk about that is coming up in this episode?
HENRY: There’s some good twists that start happening and you’ll see a lot of things happening that you would not expect. And the relationships between the characters. The story is so well-written that I think that it makes you think about the different connections that the characters have — that you may not be suspecting. It’s so well-written. There’s nothing predictable coming up. It’s definitely a journey for the audience through this incredible story.

To see who may be connect in unexpected ways and what amazing twists lie ahead, be sure to tune in for an all new episode of CROSSBONES on Friday, June 20th at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.

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