Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies & Sam Heughan Chat About Outlander

We are hours away from the official series premiere of Outlander on Starz, so it’s the perfect time to read this conversation with Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan from a recent press call that we took part in.

Can you tell us about your experience at San Diego Comic-Con?

Caitriona Balfe: It was really good fun. We got a chance to meet a lot of the fans and we got a chance to walk through the floor of the convention center. So I think it was equal measures overwhelming and exciting.

Tobias Menzies: Yes, we had an interesting and exciting few days. It was a great premiere, and we met some of our fans. They seemed pretty excited about what we were making.

Have you felt any kind of pressure from fans of the books?

Caitriona: I don’t think any of us have felt pressure. We all feel very lucky that Diana has this enormous legion of fans that are very, very enthusiastic. And we’ve been so lucky that they’ve transferred their excitement and love of her books over to our show. I think we all just want to make them proud and we hope that they’ll enjoy it. I think it’s been more exciting than anything.

Tobias: We’re very aware that Diana’s books have a great fan base and she has sold so many copies of her books. We’re really lucky that she’s supported us and that that fan base is then transferring onto us. We haven’t even premiered and yet we had a wonderful panel at Comic-Con. We’re all just really grateful for her support.

Sam Heughan: Of course I think there is a sense of responsibility as there’s a very large readership that have lived with these stories for a long time and have a very clear idea of who they think these people are and what it should look and sound like. I hope that they’ll be excited by what we’ve made of the stories that they are so fond of.

Do you have a favorite set or location from what you’ve filmed so far?

Caitriona: My favorite location is Loch Rannoch, where the standing stones are. There’s something very magical about that place. The first time we filmed there we had the scene with the stones, and it seemed like every time when I was supposed to hear the buzzing noise and turn my head around, the wind would just whip up every single time. It just felt really magical. We’ve been back a few times since then and I think it never disappoints.

Sam: I think Scotland is such a wonderful location to be filming and we’re very, very lucky. Every time we go on location we feel very fortunate. It really takes you to this wonderful place.

Tobias: A lot of the Jack stuff is on the internal built sets. The production designer has done a fantastic job in creating these and building these sets so we felt very lucky to have all of this. It’s been incredibly rewarding.

Tobias, can you elaborate on playing two very different characters in two different time periods?

Tobias: One of the challenges of doing two parts is to render two different people. It is mainly quite a bit of homework reading into the different time periods, and thinking about who each character is. The first time I met Ron and spoke about the project, he said something kind of interesting, that he was both interested in the differences and also what was similar about them. He had this idea that they’re two men, both marked by war, but those wars are 200 years apart. It’s been a really rewarding experience. It is fantastic to have that much leeway to express myself and to have two completely different people to render.

Caitriona, what is it like playing somebody from the 1940s pretending to be from the 1740s?

Caitriona: It’s quite fun. The thing about Claire is that very quickly she has to figure out how to not give her secrets away and how to navigate her way through this very politically dangerous time. Also there are so many dangers just being a single woman out on her own with no protection, and the great thing is how quick she is able to figure out how to survive in that environment. A lot of my work was researching the 40s and women of that time. I tried to watch movies that she would have seen and listened to music from that time. I read a lot of firsthand accounts of nurses from the 2nd World War. I tried to come with that mindset into any situation. It was great in the sense that just as Claire was being thrown into a new world, and so was I. It was a lot of stuff I was able to relate to.

Sam, what was it like being cast for the role of Jamie and living up to the high standards that many of the fans of the book are going to hold for your character?

Sam: He’s such a fantastic character. There are a lot of layers to him and throughout the series you start to find out more about him. You start off thinking that he’s one thing and then as the series progresses you find out he’s not just a horse guy or clansman, he’s actually an outlaw. He has a history. He’s always changing and always surprising me. I’m going to just see where he goes.

Claire and Jamie’s love story is essential to this story. How did you establish and develop that chemistry with each other?

Caitriona: The Claire and Jamie relationship is sort of a slow burn in a sense. There’s obviously a connection there from the beginning, but it’s not love at first sight. It takes a long time for them to get to that point. And even when they get married, it’s more of a means to protect Claire than this immediate declaration of love. As Sam and I got to know each other and become better friends, our Claire and Jamie relationship grew too. It was a very natural development.

Sam: It was organic. They see each other for who they truly are. They’ve both got secrets and they’re both survivors. This set their relationship. It just develops throughout the series.

Caitriona, can you talk about the subtle ways that Claire starts accepting that she’s going to be stuck in the 1700s for a while?

Caitriona: I think that that’s the interesting thing about this character. She is able to find a life within the day-to-day, though her ultimate goal is to figure out how to get back to the stones and back to her own time. First of all, she’s not even sure that that’s a possibility. But it’s great that she is able to find a life for herself within the castle. She becomes useful as a healer there. She just figures out a way to sort of fit in until she can find her opportunity to get out of there.

Will we see more instances of Claire’s defiant nature coming out?

Caitriona: Yes you will. In the beginning she’s being very self-protective and she’s trying to survive. Occasionally her strong will comes out and she’ll say the wrong thing at the wrong time. But as the series progresses and as she gets more confidence with where she’s at, that feisty Claire nature comes out a lot more.

Sam: Yes, we see that quite a lot.

Photos by Melissa Girimonte. Copyright © 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *