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.
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Sorry for the delay in updates. I’m working on a lot of stuff behind the scenes for Caitriona and Sam. I’ve added photos to the gallery of Caitriona at the Outlander Press Conference and photos from last night’s ELLE’s Women In Hollywood Celebration event. She looks beautiful at both. Enjoy!
Before their New York Comic Con panel this year, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Sophie Skelton, and Richard Rankin sat down with us for an exclusive chat about Season 4 of Outlander. Here’s what they had to say:
1. First, Season 4 is very much about rebuilding this world we’ve come to know for three seasons. What’s that been like?
Caitriona Balfe: Jamie did it all by himself.
Sam Heughan: [laughs] Yeah, he’s very good at, you know, hammering.
Sophie Skelton: We’re not actually in this season. [laughs] Just Jamie.
Sam: It’s fun to be in a new world and to be showing America in its infancy and all the different cultures that make up America. It’s nice to be shooting in the woods a lot.
2. You guys still shot in Scotland, but turned it into Colonial America. How was that?
Caitriona: You feel like you’re in the backlot of one of the main studios because we built this whole town in a little area [outside]. For me, it’s that thing of feeling like a kid when you get on set and you realize it’s all facades. But, it looks so cool.
Sophie: You go through a door and you’re amazed.
Caitriona: Yeah! You go through a door and you’re like, “OMG, it’s a field.” Gary [Steele] just did such an incredible job. Our production team, the whole crew, they just do such an amazing job. I mean, River Run as well. It looks so stunning. I think things like that, they just change the feel or the atmosphere of the show altogether.
Sophie: It’s also great for our job because it helps put yourself fully in the place, just as much as a costume or anything like that does. The sets are amazing. The detail in all of them as well.
3. You guys travel up and down the East Coast, in not only the 1760s, but also the late 1960s.
Richard Rankin: Yeah, the story moves through so many places. It’s a testament to how talented that team [art department] is. They have to build things kind of last minute and they can be such diverse sceneries and locations. They just bring them all to life with such details. It’s quite easy to get immersed in that.
4. Sam and Caitriona, this is the first time we’re really seeing Jamie and Claire trying to settle down. How does that change your dynamic this season?
Caitriona: I think it’s a really different side of Claire. I mean, in other seasons we’ve focused so much on her being so career driven. I think it’s a quieter version of her, in many ways, and more content. The fact that her and Jamie are finally together and are building a home, it’s the first opportunity she’s had to really focus on family life and their relationship. That was quite different for me. It’s an interesting new challenge to be able to explore that.
Sam: And Jamie, he’s content, I think that’s a great word to say. He’s always wanted to have a home and a family, and an extended family. He gets that this season. He gets the opportunity to settle. He falls in love with the country and the land. He’s surrounded by aspects of having a family. He’s got young Ian and Claire, and obviously Brianna in one way. So, for a short while it’s quite peaceful.
5. Sophie and Richard, this is my favorite book in the series and a lot of that has to do with Brianna and Roger’s growth. How is it, not only exploring your relationship together, but your characters separately as well?
Sophie: I think that has been the fun thing this season because, like you said, this is my favorite book. I think for Bree and Roger, thus far has been setting up the story for this season. I think there’s a really nice dynamic in terms of them having that sort of back-and-forth relationship. Again, every time they’re brought together they’re pulled apart. They’re both kind of dealing with their own individual problems. They’re both getting over the death of their fathers, plus Brianna deals with essentially giving away her mother. They also have this long distance relationship and everything that comes with that. So, while Jamie and Claire have a fresh beginning, these two are sort of in the muddy waters of what has just happened.
Richard: We also had a very gradual introduction to the show as well, which was a good thing, I think, because you have a lot of time to think. We were only in the end of Season 2 and only a few episodes in Season 3, but being aware of the show and the world in which the show’s set was very helpful coming into Season 4. We know exactly where the characters are and we know exactly where we are within the story. So, I think it has been quite an advantage. It’s been good to explore, like you say, together and separately and what they’re dealing with because they are dealing with quite a lot in their lives individually never mind trying to cope with each other. They’re dealing with not only a long distance relationship, but everything that comes with the Frasers.
Sophie: I also think, for us as well, you’ve only really seen their similarities, where this season, you see that they have completely different points of view on very important matters.
6. How has it been exploring more of the 1960s this season and Brianna’s life on her own?
Sophie: I think we haven’t seen a lot of the ’60s. What I like at the beginning of this season, you see a very important topic of the ’60s in terms of the sexual revolution and the fact that people were starting to branch away from religious beliefs, like no sex before marriage, and all of that. I think that’s a really good thing to show this season in terms of the ’60s. We’ve really only seen the light side [of the era] so far.
7. One character who arrives this season is Jamie’s Aunt Jocasta. How’s that going to affect Claire and Jamie’s relationship?
Caitriona: I think that episode was sort of difficult in some ways, for a lot of us, because it’s a little different from what was in the book. Jocasta, played incredibly by Maria [Doyle Kennedy], she’s just amazing. For Claire, she sees Jamie being so happy being connected to part of his family, but for Claire, there’s this wall that will never really come down between her and Jocasta because they have such opposing views [on certain things]. Claire will never understand Jocasta’s point of view and Jocasta will never understand her point of view. I think there’s a mutual respect there and a mutual admiration in some ways, it’s just an unbridgeable wall.
Sam: And for Jamie, as you [Caitriona] said, it’s his last sort of living relative in a way. She looks and sounds like his mother and for him, it’s a really emotional thing. Initially, it’s quite joyful for him. But it’s a mixed bag for him really because of his life with Claire.
8. There’s also Stephen Bonnet. For fans of the books, they know how important he becomes later on. What’s it like laying the groundwork for his role moving forward?
Sam: Yeah, Jamie and Stephen have an interesting relationship and there are so many repercussions later on. He’s quite a villain.
9. Sophie — While Brianna didn’t travel back in time with Claire in Season 3, does she still feel some connection and curiosity towards Jamie and the past?
Sophie: Obviously the idea of meeting her biological father would be something that’s wonderful for her, but at the same time, Frank was her dad, and it’s something you see this season. It’s something she really feels torn between and that she feels she’s betraying Frank if she gets close to this other side of herself. She’s started a new world in the ’60s for herself. She’s moved away from a history major and she’s gone to engineering. She has new friends and she has Roger, her whole life is in the ’60s. As bad as it sounds, there’s nothing really for her in the past. She has the knowledge that her mother is happy in the past now and that’s a nice little image for Bree.
10. Do you guys have a favorite moment for your characters that you can tease?
Richard: Singing was an interesting experience because I had to play a couple songs, one of which was quite tricky to play. It was originally a fiddle track that was re-arranged on guitar. I think I got in everyone’s head practicing that song over and over and over and over again. Certainly an interesting experience.
Sophie: Shooting a rifle.
Caitriona: I mean, there’s scenes between us [Caitriona and Sam], but that’s old news. There’s definitely scenes that were great to do that are specific to this season.
Sam: I think the knowledge of Brianna [existing] is a real catalyst. I think in some ways this season is when the real story starts.
Caitriona: I think they’re in this very content world, but there’s another thing happening [Brianna living her life]. The stakes just get so high [this season] and I think those are great things, as actors, to be able to play. There’s a lot of new elements, stuff that we hadn’t done before, which was good.
Outlander Season 4 premieres on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 8/7c on STARZ.
I’ve put together this master post to post all new photos and videos from 2018 New York Comic Con weekend. I will be adding and updating to the gallery pages linked below with new photos so be sure to check them out for new photos throughout the weekend and going into the new week as photos surface. Enjoy!
October 6 – New York Comic Con: Signing
October 6 – New York Comic Con: Panel
October 6 – New York Comic Con: IMDB
October 6 – New York Comic Con: SYFY Wire
The cast of Outlander (Sam, Caitriona, Sophie, and Richard) were all in attendance at the 2018 Paleyfest in New York this evening and they all looked amazing. I’ve added some photos to the site. I’ll be adding more of them from Paleyfest and New York Comic Con (they are set to appear tomorrow!) all weekend long so be sure to check back. Enjoy!
Some Like It Scot
“Claire has finally come back to him,” Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) says of his on-screen wife, played by Caitriona Balfe. “This season is definitely the beginning of a new world and a new hope for them.”
Too Scot To Handle
Jamie and Claire enjoy the fine things that come with staying at Aunt Jocasta’s plantation. But how she runs her property is a big NOPE. “It’s a very beautiful place, and it has this great wealth and opportunity,” says Heughan. “But Jamie certainly doesn’t agree with the sort of politics or the slave trade.”
Scot and Bothered
“Of course there are moments of problems, of trials and tribulations, but overall I would say it’s much more hopeful this season,” says Caitriona Balfe (Claire).
Feeling Scot, Scot, Scot
“There’s a stability and a sense of calm between Jamie and Claire that we probably have not seen before, but obviously the price that she’s had to pay for that is not seeing her daughter,” says Balfe of her character.
“I think there’s something of a likeness between Claire and Aunt Jocasta,” Balfe says of the character played by Maria Doyle Kennedy. “But I think for Claire it’s very hard to get past the fact that she’s a plantation owner and that she owns slaves.”
In Scot Pursuit
“In many ways Claire’s function is very much the wife and the homemaker this season,” explains Balfe. “That is very different from the character that we’ve seen throughout the seasons before. I struggled with that a little bit in the beginning. Is this the same woman? What are we doing? How are we portraying this woman?”
Scot and Spicy
“They’re both still stubborn,” says Balfe of Jamie and Claire. “That’s never going to go away. I’m sure there are things that will come up and they’ll butt heads, but I think this is definitely the most in sync they’ve been in a while.”
Scot as Hell
“Sam has always been the greatest guy,” says Balfe. “He’s created this incredible career. He does so much. I just am so proud of him.”
Scot to Trot
“We were just overjoyed that they gave us a couple more seasons,” says Heughan. “It feels like there’s a new life and new energy this season as well as how it will be different because we’re in America. I think it’s going to be good. It’s going to be really refreshing.”