Recently, Tom Hopper spoke to Fathoms Deep podcast.
Listen or read on if you want to know how Billy went from constantly-confused baby giraffe to revolutionary agitator in four seasons. Also, him not knowing of Silver and Flint's "little affair", making a monster out of Dufresne, and poor imitations of Max's accent.
Billy comes back from being captured by English, all burned, looked like a real mess and all of the sudden he has all this new jewelry, scrubbed up really quick. S2 Dufresne had secret love for Billy. When he comes back, he hugs him. [Podcasters talk about how Dufresne felt connected to Billy after he gave him a pep talk before boarding and Tom points out that] effectively Billy was responsible for creating a monster out of Dufresne.
[Dark!Billy.] He wouldn't be in this world if he didn't have things that weren't cinnamon roll-esque [(side note - Tom Hopper actually never had cinnamon roll and had no idea the hell that idiom means)]. Like athlete fighters who are the sweetest, the most loyal people in real life but you put them in the ring and they have this inner animal or darkness that is kinda eating away at them that comes out when they fight. [Which is something Billy has too,] he lost his parents and there's a side of him that's fighting a past. [There is a gradual descent into darkness for him: 'accident' on a boat with Flint, the torture, then he turns on Dufresne.] Billy is fiercely protective of what he believes in and generally he protects the good of brotherhood, what's the best for the crew and his brothers. In S4 he still sees decisions he's making as the ones for the good of his men. Tom doesn't see Billy as power hungry.
In his mind he is still fighting Flint of half through S3, he hadn't seen the changes Silver has seen. And because he still feels that Silver is his guy, that he can confide in him, he actually didn't realise that all the stuff he's been doing, the guy he's been creating, this legend, the king that has been created for Nassau, is the guy that's going to turn on him. He has no idea Silver has been creating this amazing relationship with Flint, this little affair they had.
[The Page.] That's what hard for Billy - the worst possible thing he could do is lie to his boys and Flint makes him do it. There are parts of the story where he wants to start to trust Flint again like when he turns on Dufresne, he's going 'Look, at the end of the day Flint is the right guy at this moment to take us where we need to go'. He says it to Vane at the end of S2, 'Whatever you wanna do, it ain't gonna work, Flint is the guy that is gonna get us where we wanna go'. And the turning point is when Flint shot two his guys with no real cause.
Billy believes in pirate ranking so it's Silver's job as a quartermaster to challenge the captain. It became such a weird kind of triangle between Billy, Silver and Flint and through S4 even more so, it became some bizarre love triangle with them kind of fighting for Silver's affection. When Silver turns on him there's that heartbreak. [Director of the episode asked Tom what he reckons of it and Billy considers Silver his brother, his best friends so Tom goes for heartbreak.] But at the same time this kind of narrow-mindedness on the whole Flint thing and the way he thinks about Flint, he almost convinced himself that he convinced Silver but haven't taken into account the relationship that Flint and Silver have. Haven't thought for a second he would turn on him, utter shock and heartbreak.
He hasn't got this power trip to him but he has got carried away with being in charge of men. He's very protective of the men and what decisions are made around, what happens to them. And when all that stuff happens at plantation it's just a very defining moment of 'Hell no, not anymore. This is just not gonna happen'. He's just fed up with Flint making these decisions. And also they're not on the boat anymore, they're not on the ship! This is about the lives of men and what happens to Nassau. It's a real defining moment on plantation because he's so much more than a boatswain now.
Maybe because of the route he's taken in the piracy world, the leadership role and how close he's become to these guys has blinded him, maybe he has lost his moral compass there. He's become very narrow-minded. [Billy trying to convince Silver] Billy is so set on this, he's not even asking questions of Silver. It's a very dangerous place to be, you can't see outside the box at all. He's not able to take a step back and see a bigger picture. And that ultimately screws him because he hasn't seen what was actually going on around which is Silver and Flint are much closer than he believes.
The thing he always says about Billy - he's had morals, he's a great warrior, he's a great crewman, he's a brother - but he's not the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to relationships and how dynamics work.
[What would've happened if Billy saw Silver and Flint's relationship] It would definitely affect his choice of making Silver king.
The last thing the discussed together is how they gonna get rid of Flint. And in Billy's mind that's where they left it.
The thing about the costume change, the beard, Billy's just looking generally darker shows the damage he's gone through. They wanted to fill that he’s seen some serious shit during this period, fighting in the resistance. [The guys hanging in front of Miranda's house are Billy's doing.] Flint sees a real change in Billy at that point, Billy is almost blaze about the fact he's hang these two guys, very matter of fact. They wanted it to hit home for the audience and for Flint, almost seeing it through Flint's eyes, this damage that happened, that's the epitome of what's been going on. Billy's been dealing with potential traitors and having to punish them severely. They've been at war. Billy maybe sees that Flint and Silver have been out in the sea and he just feels like it's nothing to what they've been dealing with. All he can look forward to is to get Nassau back and look after his men. And this whole thing is created for Silver, he's hanging onto that, to get him there. And he panics when he sees Silver is not fully onboard. And he has no plan B unlike Silver.
Fully believes if Flint would actually take Billy aside and tell him the truth, Billy would understand. He wouldn't necessarily like him for decisions he's made but it woyldn't get so extreme. If you don't communicate, things go badly wrong, things explode. Communication is the key. Billy only saw the bad stuff Flint did. He only saw him killing his men, putting the crew in complete peril, he only sees Flint coming in and trying to take over and screwing up Billy's whole plan. He's only seeing this one sided part of Flint. It doesn't surprise he wants him gone. At the same time, Billy should've been the one to say something, maybe should've gone to Flint and said 'What the hell is going on'. but because there always had been that kind of divide, they were never able to have that talk. [Speaking of Gates, Billy understands]
[Tom suggests no one listens to Max because everyone hypnotized by her French accent and I think he tries to imitate it. Spoiler alert - it doesn't come anywhere near as good as Jack's.]
[Billy and Vane, the hanging scene.] Billy couldn't have more respect for the guy at that point, he knows that Vane wants to do this, has to do this for the good of the pirate oath, for what it means for Nassau. And Billy feels massive weight on his shoulders to carry this on. He started it for him. Vane in silent monologue says 'I'm giving you the opportunity, finish it, make sure it gets done'. Billy has the visual of Vane hanging there and knowing what it means unlike others who only heard about it but didn't get to experience. In S4 after everything that happened he feels like he's failed, he had something he wanted to finish and he hasn't been able to do it.