NBC continues the trend of casting big name stars who don’t usually star on TV in its new series Crossbones. John Malkovich plays the notorious Blackbeard in the pirate drama, the first time the actor has starred in a TV series.
Malkovich isn’t a stranger to trying new things. The actor, who started in Chicago theater, has gone on to direct, write and produce as well as create his own clothing line. Here’s what else you need to know about being the real John Malkovich.
1. Malkovich Leaps to the Small Screen
The choice of Malkovich for the role of Blackbeard “raised some eyebrows” initially due to the actor’s lack of flowing black locks and bushy black beard, according to creator Neil Cross. The actor appreciated Cross’ vision for the character and the chance to play him over a season of episodes rather than a two-hour movie, Malcovich tells the Los Angeles Times.
“In 10 hours, I think you can show various sides and facets to a character that you really can’t do in an hour and a half. You just about never get to do that in a movie because mostly you have to blow something up every couple of minutes.”
Crossbones‘ Blackbeard reigns over a small island in the Bahamas known as Santa Compana and seeks greater power with designs to obtain a longitude chronometer. His plans will be challenged by a British spy sent undercover as a physician to keep the chronometer out of pirate hands and to kill Blackbeard if presented with the opportunity.
— Crossbones (@NBCCrossbones) May 20, 2014
2. He Helped Establish Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater
Malkovich attended Illinois State University as a theater major but never finished his degree. He dropped out and became a charter member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company founded by Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and Jeff Perry. He won an Obie Award for his role in the 1982 Steppenwolf production of Sam Shepard’s True West that performed in New York City.
3. He Designs Clothes For His Company Technobohemian
After his first clothing line Uncle Kimono failed, Malkovich started his Technobohemian line in 2009. The name comes from an unpublished Italian novel, that the designer admits on the company’s website he lifted with the author’s permission and he “will endeavor to use it well.”
“In the creation of my collections I am inspired by the appearance of a bohemian of the new millen-nium. I thought it was necessary to update the figure of the bohemian but not in the traditional way, it was necessary to make it a cosmopolitan present and fully engaged in the technological world we live in today.”
4. He Owns a Disco Club in Lisbon, Portugal
Obrigado Sobreviventes! pic.twitter.com/WRCPFsyud1
— Lux Frágil (@luxfragil) April 26, 2014
Malkovich’s love of Portugal began in 1995 when he came to shoot the movie The Convent (O Convento). A few years later, he overheard a conversation between two Lisbon restaurant owners about a new project and offered to invest. He tells Portugal’s Up Magazine how he became a partner in the project that would become the restaurant Bica do Sapato and nightclub Lux-Frágil.
“They were very nice but explained that they had all they needed, so I didn’t think anything more about it. A year later, they phoned me saying that the coasts were higher than first estimated, like always (laughs), and asked me if I’d be interested in a partnership. I told them yes, and the next day I caught a flight to Lisbon.”
5. He Hates the Sound of his Own Voice
Malkovich speaks in a slow cadance, seemingly choosing his words wisely before he says them. The sound of his voice though is one the sometimes opera-singer actually hates. “To me it sounds like someone who’s kind of labored under heavy narcotics for years and years and years,” he tells Conan O’Brien.
For a man who avoids hearing his voice on film or voicemails, he didn’t even think of using a more pirate tone for his role in Crossbones. “I wasn’t even aware that pirates had a pirate voice,” he tells the late-night host. He had never even a seen a pirate movie as of last summer.