Before dawn on a freezing morning last winter, Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who play soulmates Claire and Jamie Frasier, arrived on set in the rugged Scottish countryside to shoot a heartbreaking scene for the Season 2 finale. The pair soon got chills—and not from the cold.
“When the sun came up, there was this magical layer of snow,” recalls Heughan, who makes fans swoon as the heroic 18th-century Highlander in love with feisty time-traveling former WWII battlefield nurse Claire. “The whole place looked like a Disney set. It was perfect for such a powerful scene,” Balfe adds.
But the action on Outlander, as fans well know, is far from Disney fare. This season has seen the couple challenged by a move to France, the fallout from Jamie’s rape in prison, the devastating loss of their child and now the impending Battle of Culloden, a clash between Scotland and England that will kill thousands and wipe out Highland clan culture, which the duo failed to stop. “Jamie thinks he’s going off to die [in battle],” Heughan teases. “His hand is forced and some of his actions have dire consequences. Ultimately, he and Claire get trapped.”
The action in the supersized 90-minute finale cuts between Claire and Jamie dealing with a disastrous chain of events leading up to the war in Scotland and incidents that happen more than two centuries later, in 1968, when a middle-aged Claire visits Scotland with her 20-year-old daughter, Brianna, or “Bree” (Sophie Skelton), whom she has raised with husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) despite her undying love for Jamie.
To prepare to play an older Claire, Balfe watched films starring some of her favorite actresses—Charlotte Rampling, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep—and compared performances they gave in their twenties to those later in life. Balfe changed the register of her voice, deepening it to give her character more authority, and she even tweaked her posture. “I was interested in how she carries herself, how the weight of experience rests on her,” Balfe says. “In 1968, Claire’s got all of these memories flooding her mind. Everything is unnerving her.”
Claire’s distracted mood doesn’t sit well with Bree, who is suspicious. “She thinks her mom’s lying to her,” Skelton says. “Bree’s a very logical person. She majored in history! And she’s strong-willed.”
The mother-daughter tension builds to a powerful argument. The scene, created by writer-producers Toni Graphia and Matthew B. Roberts, was penned before the rest of the script so it could be used to audition actresses for the part of Bree. The moment will be familiar to readers of the bestselling Outlander novels—but not an exact copy. “We’re very mindful of the mass of loyal book fans,” Roberts says. “We try to give them what they want, just not how they expect it.”
The quarreling mother and daughter get a mediator in the form of another new face in the series, a grown-up Roger Wakefield (Richard Rankin), whom viewers met in previous episodes as a boy in 1940s Scotland. “Roger’s intelligent both academically and emotionally, and he’s quite charming,” says Rankin, a Scottish actor who grounded himself in the role by spending two weeks in the Highlands before shooting began and found a visit to the Culloden battlefield “deeply haunting.”
Roger is instantly smitten with Bree, and the two soon join forces to unlock some secrets from the past. “For her, it’s more about the excitement of solving this puzzle,” Skelton says. “Bree isn’t very easily swept off her feet.”
A good portion of the finale, however, deals with Claire’s inner emotional life in 1968 as she revisits some of the places she knew with Jamie in the 1700s, including their onetime home, a now dilapidated Lallybroch. “It was really sad because it looked so abandoned and discarded,” Balfe says. “It’s the tragedy of time and what it does to places.”
No matter how time and fate conspire to drag Claire and Jamie apart, “This is a love story. They’re lovers who are meant to be together,” Graphia says. “It’s safe to say they’ll always find each other. We just don’t know when, where and how.”
Outlander, Season Finale, Saturday, July 9, 9/8c, Starz.
Jamie Fraser himself, Sam Heughan is on #OutlanderLive with Lynette Rice and Amy Wilkinson! Outlander LIVE! is on every Monday at 2 PM east on Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM 105!
The stars of a popular time-traveling TV series are the talk of television. Scotland … a land of mists and magic and myth, is the perfect setting for a romantic, historical, adventure series — with some time travel thrown in. It’s called “Outlander,” a surprise hit for Starz TV, now coming to the end of its second season.
Caitriona Balfe plays Claire, a English battlefield nurse who travels to Scotland with her husband, Frank, at the end of World War II.
She happens upon a mystical portal, and finds herself hurled 200 years into the past — 1743, to be exact — with Scottish clans plotting rebellion against the British. “Claire is, in a way, the audience,” said Balfe. “She is the eyes that they see the rest of the story through.”
Compelled for her own safety to marry a handsome young Scot, Claire finds herself falling in love. When you meet Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser, it’s not hard to see why she falls hard.
“They don’t always see eye-to-eye,” he said. “He is from the past. He has his own moral code. She’s from the future, and certainly thinks a different way. So they’re constantly banging heads when they come to these moments. But they have love for each other, and they discuss it. And eventually work out that that takes the relationship forward, and makes them ultimately, closer.”
“It’s such a beautiful story,” said Balfe. “Not only do you have this incredible love story at the heart of it, but there’s an awful lot about what home means to people — being displaced. How does that change your life? How do you find home within a new land? I mean, I think that’s something that people today can really relate to.”
Another thing to relate to: the 18th century costumes, designed by Terry Dresbach.
Dresbach showed Miller an example of metal embroidery typical of the period. “This is done with actual silver plate, and it’s a technique in embroidery that hasn’t been used in over 100 years.”
Another of Balfe’s dresses featured shaved sheets of mica to catch light. “I think it was about 69 pounds — I couldn’t move too much in the dress,” Balfe laughed, “but it was really beautiful.”
And then there is the “pretend sex,” as Balfe refers to it. “Oh, if only you knew all the crew that were standing in the room at the same time,” she laughed.
Writer Diana Gabaldon, who lives, not in Scotland, but in Scottsdale, Arizona, is writing her ninth book in the best selling “Outlander” series. There have been 26 million copies sold, in 42 countries, translated into 38 languages.
“This is a love story,” Gabaldon said, about “the power of love, what love can accomplish.”
She published the first 25 years ago. “I’m telling what it takes to be married for 50 years, ’cause I’ve never seen anybody do that before,” Gabaldon said.
Jamie and Claire’s love story will range the world over, but its roots are in Scotland, Jamie Fraser’s home.
“It’s been great to come back to Scotland and rediscover the country [where] I grew up. And understand what it is I love about it,” Heughan said. “And I realize that a great deal of it is the landscape and the culture and the people, [which] seem to be closer to our ancestors than maybe other cultures. It’s just fascinating.”
Doune Castle, just outside of Edinburgh, sits in for the fictional Castle Leoch.
Gary Lewis plays Colum MacKenzie, powerful head of the MacKenzie clan — shrewd, well-read, and hobbled by a rare disease.
“He studies history as much as he can,” Lewis said, “and he tries to learn the lessons — lessons which have taught him that, without outside help, we cannot defeat a stronger power.”
And yet the small, rugged band of hardy Scots will fight bravely against overwhelming odds.
Heughan showed Miller the show’s armory (“This is my favorite spot!” he laughed), filled with dirks and daggers, swords and muskets.
But at the center of it all is the time-traveling Claire, a modern woman, struggling with the painful knowledge that the Scottish rebellion is doomed.
It’s an all-new episode of our off-the-cuff Speakeasy podcast! “Outlander” star Sam Heughan has a failsafe way to look buff (hint: tiny clothing)… Dick Cavett reveals his hidden talent and has a little fun at Spiro Agnew’s expense… Opus Moreschi, head writer of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” gets crafty with cocktails during our New York live show… And “Brooklyn”-to-Broadway star Saoirse Ronan professes her love for a King… of Queens.
I’ve added some missing episode stills to the gallery of Sam from Outlander episodes: 2×11 and 2×12. Thanks to Far Far Away for some of those. I’ve also added some behind the scenes photos of our boy. Enjoy!
I’ve added some new additions and replaced some MQ to HQ episode stills for episodes 2×10 and 2×11 of Outlander. Thanks to Far Far Away for some of these additions.
Outlander fans can be transported back to 18th century Paris and get a closer look at the gorgeous costumes and set designs for the hit STARZ series, which are on display as part of the The Artistry of Outlander exhibit, now at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills.
Parade.com was invited to an opening-night preview and Q&A with series stars Sam Heughan (Jamie Frazer) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire), costume designer Terry Dresbach, production designer Jon Gary Steele and executive producers Maril Davis and Ronald D. Moore to talk about the massive amount of work that went into recreating Paris circa 1745 – and to reveal their favorite costumes and sets.
Check out the photo gallery to get a first-hand look at what the exhibit contains.
“The brothel is incredible,” Heughan said on the red carpet. “I actually grew to hate it, though, because even though it’s magnificent, we were shooting there in the summer and it was hot, so we were boiling. But it was just so sumptuous. I loved the mannequins on the wall, the screens that you can see people behind. It’s very sexy and mysterious.”
Steele is also a fan of the brothel with its special touches and color palette, but for him, the set that stands out the most is the Star Chamber, the circular room where Claire was forced by King Louis XV (Lionel Lingelser) to determine if either Master Raymond (Dominique Pinon) or Comte St. Germain (Stanley Weber) were practicing black magic.
“It’s a mystical, secret room in Versailles Palace, in our mind, anyway,” Steele said. “And I wanted to have a dome that’s pierced with light, so that when Claire walks through the secret doors into this room, shafts of light hit her face and dress.”
It was also a pricey room, but well worth it, as it definitely helped Balfe take on her persona as La Dame Blanche. She says, “The Star Chamber was amazing, and we used it for one scene. It was a very long scene, but just one scene, which was insane. It was so beautiful.”
As for favorites when it comes to costumes, fans may favor Claire’s stunning red dress or King Louis’ mistress’ nipple dress, but both Balfe and Dresbach love what they call the Dior dress.
Dresbach explains, “Claire is a woman from the 1940s, and Caitriona and I worked very, very hard to retain that [identity] through Season One. Claire was given all of the clothes she wore in Season 1, but in Season 2, she actually went to a dressmaker. I looked at all of these fancy, frilly costumes and went, ‘It’s not her. I can’t do that with her. It’s not going to work.’ So I started looking to the ’40s and the most quintessential costume of the 1940s. Probably the most well-known fashion-piece ever is the Dior Bar Suit, which is what this is.”
Balfe agrees that the interpretation of the Dior Bar Suit for Claire is one of the outstanding pieces of the season. She says, “I love so much how it is [Claire], a woman from the ’40s in the 18th century.” But it isn’t her only favorite. She adds, “Dressage, as we call it, is a gorgeous embroidered number that Claire wears when Black Jack first sees Jamie at Versailles. Also, the dress I wore in the Star Chamber.”
Heughan recalls expressing some concern about Jamie’s wardrobe to Dresbach when Jamie and Claire were off to Paris. He was concerned about all the frills and fripperies that men wore back then, so he was happy when she put him in the simple black suit.
“It’s Jamie’s work suit, so to speak,” he says. “It’s a reflection of his character. It felt like Jamie is a shadow of himself in the first half of the season. The black suit really reflected that for me.”
Dresbach and her team of 70 made more than 10,000 garments this season, which includes everything from top to toe: hats, gowns, suits, nightwear, and shoes and boots.
“The untold story of this season is the craftsmanship,” Dresbach says, indicating the the exquisite embroidery and hand-painted fabrics her staff was responsible for that are on display.
“There is so much detail that goes into the costumes, but the set as well,” Heughan said, wrapping things up. “I went to look at the exhibit today. I’ve seen these costumes, I’ve seen these sets, but to actually see them without the actors in them, they were so much more. They add so much to the story, so for the viewer watching, you get so much information from these sets and costumes that you are not even aware of.”
The Artistry of Outlander exhibit at the Paley Center for Media will run throughout the summer and will take visitors into 18th century Parisian society, where they will be able to view iconic costumes designed by Emmy® Award-winning Costume Designer Terry Dresbach as well as actual set pieces from Outlander production designer Jon Gary Steele, life-size episodic photography, and behind-the-scenes video segments.
Even as TV grows ever more sophisticated, networks still like to trot out old-school, super-size season finales in order to create an event-like experience. ABC aired two-hour finales for three of its dramas—creating absolute havoc in its May schedule—this year alone. But hugely extended run times are rarer for prestige cable dramas, which is why Outlander addicts should be especially grateful to Starz for delivering a 90-minute finale to close out Season 2. That’s essentially an Outlander movie—and, by the looks of it, the show will need all the time it can get.
The episode—titled “Dragonfly in Amber,” after Diana Gabaldon’s second Outlander novel—will introduce two major new characters. The official Starz description announces their arrival, which is especially exciting for book fans:
Flashing forward to 1968, Claire travels to Scotland with her twenty-year-old daughter, Brianna, and meets Roger Wakefield. Claire visits Lallybroch and Culloden Moor to make peace with the past, while Brianna and Roger bond over researching Randall family history. Claire finally reveals the truth to Brianna about her time travel through the stones, her life in 1700’s Scotland, and Brianna’s true parentage. The story is intercut with another one back in the 18th century, which happens on the day of the Battle of Culloden. When Jamie’s last ditch attempts to deter The Prince fail, he and Claire come up with a dangerous plan – which Dougal overhears, inciting him to a murderous rage. Jamie must do everything he can to save the ones he loves, even if it means saying goodbye to some—or all—of them.
Roger Wakefield and Claire’s daughter, Brianna, are two massive fan favorites from Gabaldon’s series. They will be played by Sophie Skelton (Ren) and Richard Rankin (Burnt), respectively. Roger and Brianna are part of the “modern day” Outlander plot—but given the show’s tendency to skip through time, don’t expect them to stay put in one decade.
If the series had followed the books more strictly, Brianna’s introduction would have come at the beginning of the season. But viewers who aren’t familiar with the source material might not have been quite so welcoming to Claire and Jamie Fraser’s grown-up daughter immediately swanning in and taking up valuable screen time. Plus, Brianna’s first scenes—where she’s shocked to learn her father is not Frank Randall—are not her warmest, so it’s a good thing the show is giving its audience plenty of added time to warm up to her. Brianna, Roger, et. al. will presumably take full advantage of those extra 30 minutes when the super-size Outlander finale airs Saturday, July 9, at nine P.M. E.T. on Starz.
I’ve added 3 gorgeous new outtakes of Sam and Caitriona from LA Times. Big thanks to my friend AliKat for these!
I’ve added a couple lovely photos of Sam and Caitriona from LA Times. Enjoy.