If you’ve been following our Outlander coverage over the last few weeks, you’ll know that last fall I was fortunate enough to visit the set of Outlander in Scotland with a handful of other media outlets to speak with the cast, as well as just fully immerse ourselves in the world the show portrays. We visited the real-life castles that play home to Lallybroch and other incredible locales, and toured the expansive sets, as well as the costume department, props, and more. It didn’t take much for us to get even more hyped for the new season, but getting the opportunity to really get into the details of the series was a wonderful experience.
I’ve already shared an interview with Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies about Claire and Frank’s relationship in Season 3, as well as Sam Heughan’s preview of Jamie’s struggles (both articles also have video interviews with the cast that tease the upcoming season, which is also posted below), as well as a review of the new episodes. To wrap things up, here are a few more tidbits from EP Matthew Roberts, costume designer Terry Dresbach, as well as Grant O’Rourke (Rupert), and Steven Cree and Laura Donnelly (Ian and Jenny) about what fans can expect from the new season, as well as some behind-the-scenes looks at how the show comes together:
EP Matthew Roberts talked about how both Claire and Jamie are in mourning to start the new season: “[Claire] has to mourn [Jamie] like he’s dead because you’ve given up the person you love most in the world. And with Jamie, he’s going off to die. He’s decided it’s better to be dead than to live without his wife and his child than to go on living. Fortunately for us he lives. And then his struggle to just become whole again, or at least fill the void that Claire and his unborn child left. That’s kinda their journey […] to find each other while they mourn each other the entire time of being apart.”
- Roberts also talked about the difficulties of adapting such a popular work: “Each book is so different, which is great from a writers standpoint because on this show we get to do almost a different genre every week. One week we’re doing a buddy pic then next we’re doing a battle, the next it’s Pride and Prejudice […] We’ve all of course read the book we’re working on, some of us have read the whole series, and then there are others that haven’t. And that gives us a good perspective on what’s coming, and then they have fresh eyes on the story.
- He continued, “One of the main challenges from adapting a well-known book to making it visual is when you read a book you fill in the gaps. Everyone has created their own image of a scene that they love […] but we can’t produce what’s in everybody’s head, and now we have the lovely social media where everybody can voice their opinion on what we do and what we show. But we just have to go ‘this is the best way we can show it, and the best way the actors can portray it,’ and go from there.”
As far as any potentially controversial characters or scenes coming up (i.e. Mr Willoughby or Geneva), “I think we always dive head-first into what we think is good story.” Robert said. “This is a good story and our audience is smart. If they want to debate it or call it a controversial scene, I don’t see that that’s a bad thing. We had the spanking episode in Season 1 that caused a lot of controversy: Was it a beating? Was it domestic violence? Well that’s not for us to say, we’re just showing you something that happened in their life. That’s for the fans and the press and people to discuss. We’re always just going to strive for good story.”
- Roberts also spoke at length about the decision to give so much time to Frank over the course of these three seasons, and not just because Tobias Menzies is so exceptional in the role. “I think when you read the books, once again, you can dismiss Frank very easily, and the scenes get washed over,” he said, also mentioning that he’s heard people say they actually skip Frank’s scenes in the books. But he talked about the importance of this character in creating a real dilemma for Claire. “Jamie, let’s face it, he’s a pretty awesome guy. He does most things really well, he’s handsome, and then as far as we can tell, he gets seasick and he can’t wink. These are his flaws. And he’s very sensitive and he has these Hallmark moments where he says these things, and then he goes and kills bad guys. So it’s a tough character to write, so if Frank was just such a demon and just such an ass then what’s the dilemma? Go with that guy, stay with that guy.”
- But also, Tobias is just that good. “I think Tobias brings such a likability to the character, so that the fans who have hated Frank for 20 years are having a struggle within themselves — this is my humble opinion — of ‘Oh shit, I like him! And I don’t want to like him!’” Roberts shared. “Even though he’s a good guy, in a way he’s a villain in our story because he keeps our couple apart.”
We also spoke to costume designer Terry Dresbach (and got to see some of those fantastic outfits up close), who gave us a lot of insights about what her department faces with the new season: “We are playing in two completely different worlds, and it makes for a very schizophrenic process for our department as we bounce back and forth between the two. And there are a lot of stunts and a lot of action, and a lot of going in water and people getting out of water, and getting shot and getting killed and so it’s a different kind of challenge.”
- She added that “The 20th century comes forward in a way it hasn’t before,” but while some fans are hoping to see bellbottoms and love beads, Dresbach explained: “Mad Men nailed it so beautifully, but they were on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. It’s like being in San Francisco where you would see cutting-edge. This is Boston. This is conservative, these are real people, and we are really striving on this show to stick with regular real people and to reflect that as opposed to a heightened, fashion-version of things.” She also said she took cues from what she was dressed in as a child, and what her mother wore.
- As noted, in Season 3 the story takes a leap to some tropical locales. Dresbach shared that “it’s an entirely new world, and this story always provides new locations and cultures […] It’s almost like working on 5 shows at once.” Still, “the silhouettes are the same everywhere,” so while the styles don’t drastically change from Scotland to Jamaica, the fabrics do.
- And just for a sense of scope: While Jaimie and Claire have one costume each in the 18th century each, the costume department makes 12 copies of each.
Grant O’Rourke shared with us where Rupert is to start the season, saying: “He’s lost all of the people he’s closest to, so you get to see a self-contained Rupert who’s getting to explore maybe even a more noble side of himself, and he gets to be heroic […] but he’s still the light relief when he needs to be, and has that great quality of gallows humor, which is never going to leave him I don’t think. I think the only thing he’s lost now is having a mate there to be the one laughing at his joke.”
- He also teased that the battle scenes are “not like anything we’ve seen so far. It’s chaotic and it’s violent and it looked incredible from the outside looking in, and it was just as crazy being inside it looking out. It was intense, epic, and messy and exciting as well.” And he joked, “It was harder than a real battle. We were shooting all day. We couldn’t break for coffee whenever we wanted, we sometimes had to wait like an hour and a half!”
- Steven Cree and Laura Donnelly were also on hand to talk about where we find Ian and Jenny to start the season (“At Lallybroch,” Donnelly joked, “because we never go anywhere else!”) When asked how Jenny will respond to seeing Claire again (as teased with Claire going back through the stones at the end of Season 2), she noted that, “From Jenny’s point of view she’s seen how Jamie has suffered for those twenty years. And when Claire comes back there’s not much explanation to either of us — or a realistic explanation as to why she’s been away — so it’s very confusing. I think any protective sister is not necessarily going to be very understanding of a woman who has seemingly abandoned her brother, broken his heart and left him to live a half-life for twenty years.”
- Donnelly also went on to explain while Ian and Jamie are friends (with Cree noting that his character is often more diplomatic than Jenny), Jenny is more protective as his sister. “It absolutely breaks Jenny’s heart to see Jamie like this, and I think Jenny’s perspective will be similar to how the fans will see those first episodes, because that’s not the Jamie they know. He’s a beloved character, and they have to go through the pain of watching somebody suffer immensely and for a long period of time for the loss of someone they’ve also built up a love for as well. This relationship is hugely important to the fans and with that gone, it’s horrible to watch. So I think Jenny is the closest to how the audience will feel about that, as a representation of the outside view.”
- Finally, a question was asked to Roberts about the reality of portraying the grime and filth of that era, and would any woman really want to go back to that time? He had the perfect reply: “Well, dirt or Jamie?”
Outlander Season 3 premieres Sunday, September 10th on Starz.