Sci-Fi Producer Gale Anne Hurd Takes On Pirates With Port Royal

A veteran of The Terminator and AMC's hit zombie show The Walking Dead, producer Gale Anne Hurd is tackling pirates in upcoming FX series Port Royal.
Photo: Emily Shur

As a movie and TV producer, Gale Anne Hurd has taken viewers into postapocalyptic futures and across the galaxy. She was a producer of The Terminator (which she also cowrote) and its sequels and spinoffs, as well as Aliens, Tremors, and, most recently, AMC’s The Walking Dead. The zombie show’s popularity whetted her appetite to make more TV; Hurd’s next project takes her back in time to the 17th century and a Jamaican port swarming with pirates.

Hurd says the switch from sci-fi to pirates isn’t weird at all.

“I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I like working with larger-than-life characters in fascinating worlds — places where the rules are different.”

That’s where pirates come in. Hurd’s new series, Port Royal, set to debut this fall on FX, takes into account the ways in which pirates were a little bit science-fiction-y for their time. “Most crews had a significant number of freed slaves as pirates. They also had Native Indians,” she says. “This was a place where equality — regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religion — was practiced.”

Sounds like a certain 24th-century starship we could mention.

 

Port Royal, Hurd says, will be a sprawling show, following the interactions of not only shipboard pirates but also merchants, servants, slaves, prostitutes, and other unsavory inhabitants of the British outpost once known as “the wickedest city on earth.”

Figure on intricate plotting like another FX show, The Shield — the writer of the Port Royal pilot, Scott Rosenbaum, was an executive producer — and a sword fight now and then to liven things up. That’s the beauty of Port Royal as a setting — its cosmopolitan craziness makes it a backdrop for all kinds of stories.

“You have such a rich and broad landscape; the biggest challenge is what you leave out,” she says. “To me there’s a lot of resonance with contemporary society. One day you can be in prison, the next you can be running for office. Or vice versa.

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