Executive producer Maril Davis talks the perils of recreating the New World: “You’re never going to get the heat and humidity of North Carolina in Scotland.”
Ask someone who hasn’t seen a single episode of Outlander to explain the series, and they may still be able to tell you two details: 1) This is a story that takes place in Scotland, and 2) it’s a romance about two very attractive and charismatic people who are torn apart by the quirks of time travel. But as the beloved book adaptation heads into its fourth season on Starz next month, both of those main components are going out the window.
As the show returns, the attractive couple in question—Caitriona Balfe’s Claire and Sam Heughan’s Jamie—are together at last, and making a new life for themselves not on the Highlands, but in colonial America. Outlander is not done with Scotland for good, but it’s certainly trading in plaid kilts for buckskin trousers this season. In the new series of photos above and an exclusive behind-the-scenes video below, we get a glimpse of what life will be like for Claire and Jamie as they build a home together in North Carolina. The show’s executive producer, Maril Davis, also shed light on some of the challenges the show faced as Outlander reshaped its look while maintaining its identity. We’ll all get to see how they did when the new season premieres on Sunday, November 4.
What was the biggest challenge of bringing Claire and Jamie to America?
The biggest challenge by far was trying to figure out how to film North Carolina in Scotland. In Scotland, everything is stone. We certainly debated moving [production] to North Carolina, because I’ve said all along that one of the amazing things about Outlander is that we were actually able to film where it took place. Usually it’s Los Angeles or Vancouver or Washington. But at the end of the day we realized we love our crew too much to leave Scotland, and we have such a fabulous art department. So I’ve always said the only thing we could not replicate is the weather, because certainly you’re never going to get that heat and humidity of North Carolina in the summer in Scotland. So we just kind of decided from the get-go not to talk about the weather. We just wouldn’t try to play that at all.
Claire and Jamie are trying to fit into this new culture, but feel unease around both slavery and the attitudes that the colonists have toward the Cherokee Nation. How did you make sure that perspective came through?
Jamie has such a unique perspective on this because in many ways, he is very similar to the Native Americans in the colonies. He, too, was displaced by the British coming, as the indigenous people are. What an interesting perspective that was for Jamie coming in, kind of like: “How am I about to do, to someone else, what was done to me?” We’re not a SAG show, so unfortunately we can’t cast actors from the United States. But it was very important that we cast indigenous actors. So we went to Canada and brought over First Nation performers. It was difficult, because we kind of had to block-shoot everything because we were bringing over a hundred people at a time.
Then Matthew Roberts—who is one of the executive producers and writers—he flew up to North Carolina, and he met with one of the Cherokee leaders and had discussions with him about what we were going to do. Unfortunately, there are many story lines in this book that are not necessarily so flattering to Native Americans. We’re sticking to the source, but we also want to be sensitive to the Native Americans [and] show things from their perspective as well, so it doesn’t seem so one-sided.
The couple get offered this great piece of land called Fraser’s Ridge, which I know fans of the book will be excited to see. But as Caitriona Balfe points out in the video, this puts Jamie and Claire once again on the wrong side of history. What’s the tension there? Side note: I wish I had a Claire Fraser in my life to tell me when I was on the wrong side of history.
Yeah, exactly. Or: “These are the lottery ticket numbers you should use.” Certainly Claire knew the outcome of Culloden, and they tried very hard to stop it and couldn’t. Now, in North Carolina, they’re in a similar situation. They know the American Revolution’s coming, and they know by taking the land that they will be on the wrong side of history. But what they have here is this opportunity to have a home and roots, which is so important to Claire, because they’re kind of nomads. All the time they’ve known each other, they’ve never had a real home.
That’s a very important theme of this year: home. Home is wherever you make it. And I think this particular dilemma puts Jamie at odds with people he loves, and that’s the kind of dilemma we writers love.
After three seasons of separation and conflict, Jamie and Claire are finally together. This season will be so much less about any kind of will they/won’t they. How do you keep the romantic spark alive in this new chapter in their lives?
We’ve always said that this is not Sam and Diane from Cheers. This is never going to be will they/won’t they. Let’s show a new stage or kind of relationship in TV, of a loving couple and them staying together. It’s a mature, loving relationship, and that’s so interesting to us, and something we’ve talked about to the actors quite a bit. In some ways, though, it’s starting over for them again after the 20 years apart—relearning each other’s ways. This is such a busy season, with Brianna and Roger being in the forefront a little more and their relationship unfolding. But we’re trying to do these small moments with Jamie and Claire.
– Source / View Video
We have a very special Valentine’s Day surprise for you, Sassenachs…
Everyone knows that Outlander’s Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe have an undeniably electric on-screen connection, and since fans are feeling particularly thirsty during this Droughtlander, ET is gifting you with the exclusive first look at the actors’ original chemistry test!
Before you scream, “Je suis prest!” and press play on the video above, we must warn you that the never-before-seen footage you’re about to watch is mind-blowingly adorable. Side-effects may include excessive giggling, extreme swooning and the firm realization that no on-screen couple will ever compare to this one.
At this point in Outlander’s script-to-screen timeline, Heughan had already been cast to play Jamie Fraser and the production team was looking for the perfect actress to fill Claire Randall’s one-of-a-kind shoes.
“We were looking for chemistry between the two characters,” Outlander executive producer Ronald D. Moore said while prefacing the flashback moment. “We really felt that Cat was probably going to be the one, but this was the final moment. This was literally when she sealed the deal and got the show.”
“And as you see, they’ve already got the shorthand of their characters and there is definitely on-camera chemistry between the two. After the scene was over, we just kind of kept the tape running a little bit.” Moore continued, “We just wanted to see them a little bit more relaxed and sort of interacting. You can see that they’re sort of awkwardly aware that the camera is still running, but nonetheless, there is enough spontaneity and genuine affection and good humor between the two of them that it spoke volumes about their potential relationship.”
For more behind-the-scenes bonus material like this one, pick up your copy of Outlander: Season Threewhich will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital as well as on a Limited Collector’s Edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on April 10th.
Outlander sneak peek: Claire and Jamie discover two unexpected companions
As if Jamie and Claire didn’t have enough to worry about with Ian’s disappearance!
In this exclusive clip from Sunday’s episode of Outlander, the couple discovers they have two unexpected companions aboard the Artemis: Fergus (Cesar Domboy) and his new girlfriend Marsali (Lauren Lyle), who hand-fasted back in Scotland and are now eager to live their lives as, ahem, a married couple!
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.
Droughtlander may have ended a few weeks ago as Outlander’s third season hit Starz. But the stans’ thirst has not been quenched.
Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) have spent the first five episodes of the season apart, separated by all the expected complications of a long-distance, time-traveling relationship. Claire, who went back through the stones before the Battle of Culloden and the end of Season 2, has been killing it on the career front as a surgeon but struggling with the realities of married life with Frank (RIP!). Jamie, on the other hand, has tried to put his life back together after the major defeat and his subsequent imprisonment.
That’s set to change on Oct. 22 (8 p.m. ET/ PT). The network released the first glimpse of that anticipated reunion Monday with a new teaser photo and video of Episode 6, “A. Malcolm,” And it feels as good as we expected.
Will they be able to work through all that baggage of Claire’s time as a ’50s housewife and Jamie’s one-night-stand that (of course) resulted in a pregnancy and his new, interesting job choice? We’re betting these love birds will figure it out.
Watch an exclusive clip from this week’s episode.
In the first two episodes of Outlander’s third season, we see Claire trying to adapt to her separation from Jamie by establishing a life for herself in 20th-century Boston with her newborn daughter Brianna, and her first husband Frank.
The next installment of the Starz time-traveling drama airs on Sunday night, but if you’re already counting down the hours, Townandcountrymag.com has an exclusive sneak peek of this week’s episode that shows just how Claire and Frank are settling into their now-exceedingly complex relationship.