Get ready for a lot more action from the Scottish Highlands.
Starz announced on Wednesday that it has ordered two more seasons of Outlander, the series adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling books and executive produced by Ronald D. Moore.
The third season will kick off in April 2016. The current season wraps in July.
The third season will be based on Voyager, the third of the eight books from Gabaldon’s Outlander book series. The fourth will be adapted from Drums of Autumn.
Outlander is like nothing seen before on television,” said Starz CEO Chris Albrecht in statement. “From its depiction of a truly powerful female lead character, to the devastating decimation of the Highlander way of life, to what is a rarely seen genuine and timeless love story, it is a show that not only transports the viewer, but inspires the passion and admiration of its fans. On this 25th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the U.S., we are thrilled and honored to be able to continue the story that began with author Diana Gabaldon, and is brought to life by the incredibly talented Ronald D. Moore. There are no better storytellers for Outlander than this team, both in front and behind the camera.”
Outlander’s second season premiere episode more than doubled viewing versus the first season premiere episode. It also set a new Starz record for an original series/season premiere. Through seven episodes in season 2, the series has also been a top-two rated show across all of cable among women over 18.
For more on Outlander’s current season, tune into EW Radio’s Outlander Live! The recap show airs Mondays at 2 p.m. ET on Sirius XM 105.
Fans of Starz’s time-travel drama “Outlander” may be surprised that no one asked Sam Heughan to take his shirt off during the audition process.
That may sound reasonable, but as viewers know, Heughan spends much of his onscreen time flashing some serious skin—and as it turns out, the series lucked out with the Scot when it comes to physiques.
“I’ve been in many auditions thinking, God, do I have to take my shirt off? It’s quite a physical role…,” Heughan says while his co-star—and onscreen nemesis—Tobias Menzies chuckles across the table. “It’s quite exposing, actually. But no, they didn’t [ask]. And at the time, I was keeping quite fit. So it was all right!”
For the legions of fans who have turned Heughan and Menzies into the thinking woman’s sex symbols, it turned out to be a bit more than all right. Fiercely protective fans of Diana Gabaldon’s series of novels detailing the time-traveling adventures of World War II–era nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), her 1940s husband, Frank (Menzies), the dashing 18th-century Highlander hunk she ends up marrying, Jamie (Heughan), and Frank’s sadistic ancestor Capt. Jack Randall (Menzies again), almost immediately relaxed when the series premiered in the summer of 2014. Here were Jamie and Black Jack and Claire brought to life in ways that very few adaptations manage. And though the show quickly made a name for itself for its vivid sex scenes—the website Vulture recently heralded the show as “the best sex on television”—what is less frequently discussed is the high-wire act its actors must perform to ground the material.
“It’s some of the hardest stuff to sell, I think, in acting,” Menzies says. “The time traveler element of the story is the most esoteric aspect. And if you wink, you’re kind of done. The air will deflate out of it.”
Both Menzies and Heughan are serious about their performances on “Outlander,” down to questioning dialogue or storylines.
“There were some quite overt direct speeches in the novel, which can be quite bumpy,” Menzies says. “An example is Claire’s ‘Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.’ Which obviously all the fans are obsessed with. But I know Cat spent a lot of time going, ‘I don’t know how to make this work for me.’ She really wrestled with it. And that’s part of the adaptation process.”
Heughan agrees, saying that an open-door policy on the part of the writers has been “really fruitful, I think. You are the one person who is looking only at that journey, that one character. The writers are looking at the structure and different characters and how they all kind of interact. So it’s always an interesting thing to stand up for.”
And Heughan and Balfe were both concerned about Jamie and Claire’s relationship at the beginning of Season 2. The last episodes of Season 1 found them struggling to reconnect after Jamie’s rape at the hands of Capt. Jack, and the finale saw the pair sailing to Paris. But when Heughan and Balfe read the first scripts for the new season, they went to the writers.
“It felt like [Jamie and Claire] got over what happened in Season 1 and there wasn’t enough of a hangover,” Heughan recalls. “And we went back to them and actually, they completely reworked it. It was great to see [showrunner] Ron [Moore] going, ‘OK, we can delay that and move this forward here.’ It’s great fun to be able to have that influence on the script!”
The first few episodes of Season 2 were difficult for both men: Menzies returns for the first time as Frank after spending most of the previous season in Capt. Jack’s shoes, and Jamie moves from the outdoors to the lavish world of Paris and all the foppery and frills that entails.
“I remember the first few weeks just looking for the character, like, where is he. Where has he gone?” Heughan recalls. “He’s still not himself and he’s also pretending to be someone else [in the French courts]. I wanted to play him like half a man, like he’s lost his sparkle.”
As difficult as it was to return to a character after a hiatus and find the setting and the circumstances vastly changed, Balfe has nothing but praise for Heughan. “The two of us were quite apprehensive; it felt like we were being thrust into this new world,” she says. “And Sam had this beautiful storyline suffering from PTSD and he was so fantastic; he has this physical strength but then this softness that’s so beautiful to watch. Given these circumstantial shifts, as Sam and I were experiencing discomfort, so were Claire and Jamie. It helps to feed our journey as characters.”
As for playing opposite Menzies as Frank in the first episode of the new season, Balfe raves, “Tobias was so wonderful in those scenes, and he came to it with such hopefulness. His emotion was so honest and at hand, it was great. It just feels so wonderful to go to scenes like that with him because you feel like you’ve had an acting exercise in some ways.”
The remarkable thing about Menzies’ performance as both characters is that he’s instantly different with very little external change—and yet you can see echoes of Capt. Jack in Frank.
“There’s something intuitive about [creating a distinction],” Menzies says. “In the very broadest terms, Frank’s physicality and demeanor are much closer to me. And Jack is more of a stretch. But how he holds himself, the costumes help with that a bit. And then the rest is trying to make it about the moral code, the outlook, and play that rather than crude physical indicators, like one has a limp and one doesn’t,” he adds with a laugh.
The amount of heavy lifting that Menzies and Heughan do as their characters can be lost in the shuffle of lavish sets and costumes, plentiful nudity, and Balfe’s fierce performance as a woman out of sync with her times, but make no mistake: These two have created fully realized men, both of whom undergo major transformations in subtle ways. While Menzies worked to differentiate his two roles, Heughan and Moore were discussing Jamie’s Season 1 trajectory, and Heughan sought out small, nuanced ways to convey his growth from impulsive man-boy to a more measured then almost broken man over the course of 13 episodes. And though the results have led to stardom and screaming fans for both in America, the attention paid to them in Glasgow is vastly different.
“In Glasgow no one cares about us,” Heughan says when discussing the intense fan love the show has inspired. “The other day I was walking down the street and some car drove past and they’re like, ‘You! You! “Outlander!” ’ I was, like, ‘Yeah!’ And they’re, like, ‘Wanker.’ ” Heughan and Menzies both laugh.
“It’s kind of great, actually,” Menzies says. “We’ve got a healthy level of just being disregarded a little bit.”
Asked for their worst audition stories, neither Menzies nor Heughan hesitates for long. “I mean, God! I think there’s so many,” Menzies says. “That’s the truth about early on. It’s 90 percent humiliation, isn’t it? Just going in and kind of crashing and burning and also doing things that you look back and go, Why on earth was I being seen for that? I was just so wrong. I remember auditioning for ‘Moulin Rouge!,’ the part that Ewan McGregor played. I was so young, I was literally just out of college. But they were just doing that sort of mass casting, just ring up everyone and put them on tape. And I had to sing and dance and it was just ridiculous. What was I doing in that room? Terrible! I tried so hard, it was so terrible!”
As for Heughan, he shudderingly recalls an audition for “Mamma Mia!” that coincided with his performance onstage in Noël Coward’s “The Vortex,” which meant that he was sporting a stylish 1920s mustache at the time.
“I was just completely wrong for ‘Mamma Mia!’ anyway,” he says. “I was working with Will Young, this British musician, and he helped me with the song. He was, like, ‘This is really high, I’ll transfer it down an octave.’ So I felt reasonably comfortable with it. And I went in and I gave it to the piano player and I was, like, ‘I’m just gonna put this down an octave.’ And he was, like, ‘No you’re not. I’m the musical supervisor, you’re going to do it like this.’ It was like strangling a cat, singing for ‘Mamma Mia!’ ”
• 2016: Backstage Magazine – MQ, will search for HQ.
The first season of the Starz historical romance epic “Outlander,” based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, saw heroine Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) travel back 200 years to the 1740s where she soon fell in love with the equally heroic Scot Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). She also found a nemesis in the odious Black Jack Randall, a captain in the occupying British army and the ancestor of Claire’s 1940s husband, Frank (both played by Tobias Menzies). That season ended with Jack brutalizing Jamie before Claire saved him from capture; the couple then escaped to France. This season finds the lovers infiltrating the French court, plotting to save their Scottish way of life.
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Gathered in a Hollywood hotel penthouse for a photo shoot and an interview with The Envelope, the three actors briefly pose as Charlie’s Angels. They each have legions of fans: Caitriots, Heughanots and Menziatics. When asked whose group is the fiercest, Balfe and Menzies simply point at Heughan.
Men, how does it feel to be objectified?
Menzies: It’s a curiosity of the show that that role is reversed.
Balfe [pointing to her body]: Nobody’s interested in this. They’re like, “Put your clothes back on, love. But you!” [Pointing to the men]
Menzies: But it’s Jamie more than Jack or Frank.
Balfe: There’s Team Frank. There’s also team Jack, which is — let’s not talk about those ladies.
Heughan: I don’t really pay any attention to it. Are we objectified?
Balfe: I sometimes get indignant on your behalf. The way that the women speak about Sam sometimes, if a guy was ever saying those things about an actress, there would be an uproar. I always want his acting prowess and his talent to be front and center.
Heughan: It’s the character, isn’t it? That’s what they’re all obsessed with. I can’t wait to see what he’s like if we do more seasons, because he’s changed a lot in my mind already.
Balfe: This genre can sometimes have these archetypes of such fantasy, but for us as actors, it’s only interesting if that person is real to you. For the audience to go along with this story and really believe the journey, the people have to feel very fully formed and very real.
That speaks to the Black Jack fans. As horrible as he is, you’ve imbued him with great depth.
Balfe: It’s because he’s hot.
Menzies: We could have gone with the cliché —
Balfe: — mustache twirling —
Menzies: That then makes it very hard to sustain over seasons.
This season in the French court is all about constraint, after the freedom of the Scottish Highlands.
Menzies: It’s starting with a completely different tone and texture, and a very different look. It takes you in unexpected directions. Toward the back end of the season, we come back to something more familiar. But it is a departure.
Balfe: Last year, Claire was just coping from moment to moment. For Jamie and Claire, this season is so much more contemplative. They are in one place for a much longer period than we’ve seen them before, so emotionally, events have landed on them, and it’s about how they cope.
Heughan: Last season was about individuals, and the triangle. This feels like a bigger scale. Fate is playing a bigger factor in Season 2, in terms of changing history.
Balfe: We always talk about how Claire’s a very intelligent woman, and yet she goes into this very dubious mission blindly. Emotionally, she has this guilt with Frank, and that has disastrous consequences for their relationship. She asks something huge of Jamie that nobody in their right mind should ask.
What were the biggest challenges in playing your roles as you moved into this season?
Menzies: In the first episode, we come up against the time travel aspect again, which is in a way the most far-fetched aspect of the story, and so rooting that and making it real for the characters was a challenge.
Heughan: I remember coming in to Season 2 being so terrified that this was going to turn into a period drama with frills.
Balfe: He was like, “I’m not wearing a fancy shirt!”
Heughan: We spent a whole season getting to know these characters, and then when we entered Season 2 we were in a different world. It felt like uneven ground, not only for the characters but for ourselves. Who are these characters and what are they doing in that world? Jamie certainly has to be deceitful and manipulative, where up to now he’s been very honorable, he speaks his mind, he’s very forthright. But if we’d gone straight back to Scotland, it would have been a lesser season. Paris really does bring dimensions to it.
Balfe: The danger sometimes with period drama is that people play periods. I hope we don’t do that at all. People are people, they have the same fears, hopes and dreams 300 years ago as we do now. The circumstances are just different. You have to play the human instead of the time.
Now for a technical question: Were Brazilian waxes really French?
Balfe: Apparently that was done in the day. Who knew? That was one of the funniest scenes to film. Claire Sermonne [who plays Louise de Rohan] was so fantastic, but that poor girl. They were using honey, and she was drowned in it. It was flying all over the place. A naked, sticky mess.
I’ve added screencaps of Sam from two more episodes of Doctors he did back in 2009. Sam did a total of 21 appearances on the series. Again, I apologize for the quality of these screencaps but they are old episodes and difficult to find but I figure they are better than nothing. I will be adding more to the site throughout the week in small batches so you can enjoy them.
I’ve added screencaps of Sam from to two episodes of Doctors he did back in 2009. Sam did a total of 21 appearances on the series. I apologize for the quality of these screencaps but they are old episodes and difficult to find but I figure they are better than nothing. Sam looks so young in these! I will add more soon. Enjoy.