‘Outlander’ Season 3: Sam Heughan on Jamie’s Tribulations and Finding Hope
When Outlander Season 3 had just started filming in Scotland, I was fortune enough to be part pf a group of journalists who were given the opportunity to visit the sets and talk to the main cast about what fans can expect in the coming season. After the dramatic events of the Season 2 finale left Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) adrift, we all wanted to know how soon it would be until we see them reunited, but also, how much the series would show of their lives for the twenty years we know them to be apart.
Though he was busy filming (since Jamie has a lot of story to go through in these first episodes), Sam Heughan was able to sit down with us all for a few minutes to talk about what Jamie’s mental state is when we meet him again, what it’s like for him being on his own without Claire, and the darkness his character will face in the wake of that turmoil. That interview is below, but first, here’s a video compilation of the main cast graciously answering some more of my questions about Season 3. Stayed tuned for more Outlander content, interviews, and a Season 3 review coming soon!
Question: Could you start by just setting the scene for Jamie at the beginning of this third season; where we find him, and in what state.
SAM HEUGHAN: I suppose a slight departure from the books, we kind of pick up from where we left off. Jamie has lost Claire. He’s sent her back to the future. He goes to battle thinking he’s got only one thing left to do, and that’s to die by the side of his men. He doesn’t expect to survive. And so, when he does, it’s a bit of shock to him. Then going through the next few episodes, we see the effect that that has on Jamie, on him sort of living without Claire, and recovering from the trauma of the battle. But also sort of losing his life.
So, it’s a slight departure from the books, which is that, obviously in Diana’s book, Jamie doesn’t remember the battle. And actually, in the battle, Black Jack Randall appears, and there was sort of the final showdown between them. It’s been a remarkable journey for Jamie, actually. It’s really interesting few episodes. First few episodes.
What’s it like when it’s just Jamie, and not Jamie and Claire this time?
HEUGHAN: I think it’s been, for him, a specific way. I mean, the first few episodes really are quite a journey. We cover a lot of time period as well. There’s a lot that happens in the books that we’ve had to shorten, obviously, in a certain few episodes. But, we see him lose everything, to then finding a reason to live, which is his family … it’s all he’s got left. And without giving away too much, he sort of sacrifices himself to save them from the Redcoats. So he gets into prison, and that’s where we meet another quite large character, Lord John Gray. And they have this really interesting relationship that transpires.
Speaking of Lord John Gray, have you done some scenes with David Berry (who plays him) yet?
HEUGHAN: I would say that we finished filming most of his stuff. Like all things on Outlander, it’s a real trial-by-fire for a lot of people that come in. It’s such a big world and you get thrust into this. And he landed, and was shooting the next day with jet lag from Australia, and his wife was due to give birth the day after he wrapped.
So, he had a lot going on! And he was remarkable. It’s a really interesting relationship between those two. They develop this friendship that we will see transpire throughout further episodes and possibly seasons, or whatever. But yeah, it’s a very complex relationship as well. And especially for Jamie, coming from his history with Redcoats, it’s a sort of tough barrier for him to get over. But then, yeah, they do develop this quite intimate friendship.
Can you talk about how, over the course of the 20 years, how much has Jamie changed?
HEUGHAN: I think in Season 1, I started to see him as this sort of boy with no ties become a man. Season 2 he becomes the leader of men that he was meant to be. And Season 3 has been about discovery really. Because, as I said, he’s lost Claire. And he goes through some quite dark moments. Talking about spoilers here, but, it takes some quite big things to happen to his extended family for him to realize that he still has people to live for, and something to live for. But yes, absolutely he changes. Also, he has to go through all the stages of grief of losing Claire, you know, from loss and anger and then ultimately, acceptance.
Is there anything that you have done physically to play older Jamie? Or if you haven’t filmed it yet, have you thought about it?
HEUGHAN: Yeah, there are many stages of the aging process. And to be honest, he’s not much older than myself when we get to it. So, it was more about the experiences that happened to him. About him shutting down from the world. He’s quite a charming, capable, forward-thinking man, and I wanted to see him shut down and lose that spark and that energy to him. So yeah, he’s got more weight to him and I think, physically, he’s not as proud, but sort of, his presence is slightly diminished. But it’s all due to the fact of losing Claire, losing his life. And so, hopefully we should see him rebuild back to the man he was. Just slightly older and few more lines!
It’s a really dark season from Jamie at the beginning. Is it tough for you to play those scenes as an actor?
HEUGHAN: We’re very lucky, we have a great director, Brendan, who did the first few episodes. He’s been a great guide to us. And it’s been a great challenge for Jamie. This character is terrific. In every season, I always feel I’ve got a challenge. Something new to learn and to do. So, I feel that definitely, this season, his journey has been quite lonely and quite revealing. It’s not as dark as Season 1 in that respect, but it has other places. But the aging thing is something we’ve had to really discuss and think about a lot, because we don’t want be playing these people with walking sticks and lots of gray hair. It’s about making a difference to who they were in the start.
What’s been the most challenging scene for you to play so far in Season 3?
HEUGHAN: Wow. I think it’s, I mean, Cullodon is colossal. It was like being in a war movie. In a sort of second World War movie. It was great fun. It’s probably the biggest action thing we’ve done. The episode where you find Jamie years later, sort of just a shadow of the man. Like almost, not wanting to be Jamie Fraser anymore. To be someone else. Those were some of the most difficult so far. But every episode has its own sort of unique challenge and again, going back to that’s what Outlander seems to be. It’s always challenging. There’s never a day where we just sit around and drink coffee and talk. There’s always something going on. So yeah, it’s a good challenge.
Outlander returns to Starz for Season 3 on September 10th.