Rihanna-Inspired Pirate Queen Is ‘Wrecked’ Season 2’s Resident Badass
The first season of TBS’s Lost spoof, Wrecked, ended with a bit of a cliffhanger when two pirate lackeys arrived on the island where our bumbling castaways had been clinging to both survival and sanity. In Tuesday night’s Season 2 premiere, creators Justin and Jordan Shipley introduce a bigger bad: pirate leader “The Barracuda.”
Played by Ebonee Noel, the character is a leather-clad badass with a very clear inspiration: pop’s reigning bad girl, Rihanna.
According to the Shipleys, the inspiration for the character came before they ever started writing the season, when they caught Rihanna’s NSFW video for “Bitch Better Have My Money” late one night. “She’s on a boat with a gun and she’s taken this woman hostage,” explains Justin. “Basically, Season 2 is our ‘Bitch Better Have My Money.’”
“Rihanna’s obviously the coolest in the world,” Shipley continues. “So we were like, that would be pretty amazing to have what you’re expecting to be these Captain Phillps pirates and it turns out that they’re led by the coolest person possible.”
And that’s exactly how they pitched the character to Noel. “That was literally in the breakdown, that she was just the baddest b— basically!”
The actress, already a Rihanna fan—because who isn’t?—didn’t find it particularly hard to get into character. “She’s an island girl, and my family’s from the Caribbean, so there’s that easy connection. As soon as I heard ‘Rihanna-like,’ I was like, Pssh! Got it!” The singer’s discography—particularly “Hard” and “Rockstar 101”—provided plenty of inspiration, along with a little Beyoncé and, of course, Heart’s “Barracuda.”
Playing a no-nonsense badass on an island full of broadly comedic bufoons was certainly within Noel’s comfort zone.
“Most of my work has been in drama up until this point,” she says. “I was excited for the opportunity to work on a comedy, but it was comforting to know that I was playing the ‘straight man!’ You know, you’re walking into this situation where everyone is sort of a [comedy] veteran and you’re sort of a newbie trying to live up to that. It was nice to be the straight man, because I could do something that was within my wheelhouse, but also be in a different environment and learn and work on material that moves differently and has a different rhythm.”
The real challenge? Wearing leather pants in 104-degree heat! Those crystal blue waters might look idyllic onscreen, but according to Noel, the production’s Fiji location was experiencing a hell of a heat wave during filming. And unlike the rest of the cast, who got to wear board shorts and sundresses, The Barracuda had a certain image to maintain, despite the heat. Says Noel, “I spent most of that shoot in leather!”
Wrecked, Season Premiere, Tuesday, June 20, 10/9c, TBS