Outlander is finally back this weekend, and we have a very special treat — a conversation with Sam Heughan from his recent visit to Toronto! In it, we chat about the darker turn the series takes in the second half of the season, Claire and Jamie’s marriage, getting ready to film Season 2 and more! (Please note that there are some mild spoilers from the second half of the season.) You can also watch some video highlights from the interview below.
We are getting ready for the return of Outlander. What can you tease about the first episode back? I find it very fascinating since it’s from Jamie’s perspective.
It is indeed, yes. The first episode of the second part of the season starts off from Jamie’s perspective. Basically, you pick up from where we left off, where Jamie is rescuing Claire from Fort William and the clutches of Black Jack Randall. And it flashes back to sort of when Jamie found out about that she had been captured and then what he had to go through to get there. He has also been having meetings with a deserter called Horrocks who could ultimately help him clear his name as an outlaw. So, it’s a very action-packed first episode – a lot happens. There is a scene that then follows the rescue that really tests Jamie and Claire’s relationship and then sort of continues through the next episodes.
I know what scene you’re referring to. My goodness! I have to say though, the way that scene was handled, you can see a definite struggle in Jamie, like “I have to do this because it’s expected of me, but I really don’t want to do this.”
Absolutely, yeah. I think he’s a man of the time. We’re alluding to – well, I think it not a spoiler — but he gives up some corporal punishment to Claire, punishes her for putting everyone in danger and ultimately, you know, putting everyone’s lives at risk. And these are very dangerous times; however, he’s learned this through his moral code, through how he’s been brought up, and it is his duty to punish her. Ultimately, he may not wholly agree with that but it’s what he’s learned and what is expected of him.
When you first became involved with Outlander, did you know the TV series was going to be such a global phenomenon? What were your initial reactions when the buzz began?
Yes – I mean, I could see it obviously on social media and in the news. You know, it’s fantastic when people are really excited about this. Obviously, you know, there are so many fans there from Diana’s books, some of the novels she’s written. But, fortunately for us, we were kind of removed from it in Scotland. We were away from all of that and I think it’s been really important that we’ve been able to just concentrate on the job and not think too much about how it is being received. And so when we eventually did go to certain places like Comic-Con, it’s such an amazing experience to see that enthusiasm.
You mention being removed from the fans in Scotland while filming. Have fans started dropping by the studios and locations while you’re filming?
Yes we have had a lot of fans find our studios and take photos outside. It’s quite funny because they are the most unglamorous exteriors of any place. They really are in the middle of nowhere and don’t look that glamorous from the outside. And also when we’re filming up in the Highlands and are on location you have fans that somehow find us and I didn’t quite know how. There must be some sort of mole, or maybe they’ve got a tracking device, I don’t know but it’s impressive.
It’s been a while since filming concluded on the first season. Is there a specific episode or scene in the upcoming episodes that you’re really excited for fans to see? The first half of the season was brilliant, but there are some episodes in the second half that are very intense and emotional. You had me in tears a couple of times.
Oh, wow. That was really nice. How far have you seen it?
So far, the first three episodes back.
The season really carries through from the first half. It does get darker; it gets more intense, the relationships get tested, but honestly, it just builds and builds. And the first three are fantastic, some great events happen to both Claire and Jamie, but it really does build up to a big climax at the end of the season when everyone’s relationship is tested. Jamie suddenly – who he is and where he is and who he wants to be — these are all brought to question.
Are you excited to get back to filming? I’m guessing that’s going to be happening relatively soon.
It is, very excited to go back to Season 2, which is book 2, Dragonfly In Amber. I literally just received the first two scripts today, so, it’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait to get back to see everyone.
Despite some early misconceptions that this was a series for women, I really love that men and women are both embracing it. I really think it’s because the relationship at the heart of Outlander is relatable, and in many ways seems like a modern marriage.
Absolutely. The audience figures in the U.S. alone are pretty much 50/50 male and female, and the show definitely appeals to both the sexes. It’s got a lot of adventure, it’s got a historical side, it’s a great story. This relationship is like a very modern marriage, and at the end of the first half of the season they get married, and that’s just the beginning. And like any marriage it doesn’t run smoothly, but it’s always every moment, every challenge, or every event that happens to them is about them discovering each other. What makes their relationship so modern and so interesting is that no matter what happens to them they learn from it and it affects their relationship and they move forward with it. And, therefore, where we get to by the end of Season 1 is they love each other dearly and they want to be together and there are some big things that happen, yeah. It’s been affected and it will never be the way it was, but that’s a good thing because no relationship can stagnate, it has to move forward.
What was the biggest challenge to film in Season 1?
The most challenging for me probably is, it was actually the last two episodes in the whole season, the cell that Jamie’s in with Black Jack Randal,l and that’s just in the nature of filming and the scenes we did – it was very intense, very dark, very hot, and long, long hours and it all adds to the character and to the episodes. I think it really paid off and I think people will be challenged and ultimately enjoy those episodes.
Is there a specific location or set that left a lasting impression?
Some of the locations we go to are fantastic and where the stones are in Craigh na Dun is a place called Loch Rannoch, there is a beautiful loch there and a mountain called Schiehallion which I climbed on my birthday when we are filming out there. It’s a really magical part of Scotland.