Picking right back up where the first half of the season left off, the Starz original series Outlander continues to test the relationship between Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan). With Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) out for blood, clan politics heating up and a witch trial to contend with, Claire and Jamie might not make it long enough to find out what their life as a married couple will be like.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Sam Heughan talked about filming the show in their own little bubble while they’re in Scotland, the fantastic support they get from fans, that there are so many big moments to come, in the remaining episodes of Season 1, getting to learn more about Jamie and where he came from, just how much darker things will get, the battle of wills between Jamie and Black Jack, and that spanking scene. Be aware that there are some major spoilers, especially if you haven’t read the book.
Collider: Have you felt the affects of the overwhelming fan support for the show, or are you in your own bubble, working on this show?
SAM HEUGHAN: We’re in Scotland and we are in a bubble. It hasn’t aired in the UK yet, so it’s quite nice to be anonymous there and get on with the job. And then, coming to America or wherever it’s being shown, the reaction has been fantastic. Being recognized, people are very, very friendly and genuine when they meet you. I’ve met them in the airport or in the street, and it’s lovely. We’re aware of it on Twitter and Facebook, and that support is fantastic. I always get really excited when I know an episode is coming up. I can’t wait for the fans to see it.
There are obviously big moments with this story that the fans wait to see brought to life. Is it fun to get to see the immediate reaction to those moments?
HEUGHAN: Absolutely! There are so many moments in the show, and I have a little thrill, every time. It’s really exciting.
Are there any upcoming episodes that you can’t wait to see the reaction for?
HEUGHAN: Not to sound big-headed, but so much goes on in the second part of the season. There’s so much that happens. There’s the escape. I love the scene where Caitriona and I almost tore lumps out of each during this big argument. There’s the spanking. There’s the witch trial, which is fantastic. There’s the moment she reveals she’s from the future. There are all of these moments. In the second part of the season, we find out a lot more about Jamie. We go back to Lallybroch and find out about his sister, his relationship there, and his relationship with his father. We have flashbacks to what happened at the very beginning and why those relationships are the way they are. Ultimately, for me, the most important thing is what happens with Black Jack and this breaking of Jamie, and where that leaves Jamie and Claire and their relationship.
What was it like to get to explore the fact that Jamie had other possibilities waiting for him, before Claire came along?
HEUGHAN: Yeah. He feels terrible because, if Claire hadn’t turned up, who knows what would have happened. And I love that Laoghaire is not just this heartless girl. She’s a young girl in love, and I think that’s really touching. We see a lot more from Jamie’s point of view. In Episode 109, we have his voice-over. You just get to understand a little bit more about who he is, and his relationship with Claire is sorely tested, as well.
There’s been a lot of talk about the second half of the season getting darker. Just how much darker will it get?
HEUGHAN: It’s not just a romantic love affair between two people. The tragedy of the whole piece is that we’ve seen the potential for this really lovely relationship and it basically gets tested or tainted, maybe even ruined, by Black Jack Randall. The relationship is constantly being tested. Obviously, there are light moments, there’s a lot of fun there, and they enjoy each other’s company, but it’s just about following the natural progression of a relationship, or maybe the unnatural progression since so many things start to challenge it. There’s not just Black Jack Randall. There are other things, too. Jamie is finding his place in the world and where he fits in now, being a husband, and what his duty is, to punish his wife. When he goes home to his sister, he feels he has to run the household to measure up to how his father was. Before, he had no responsibility. He only had himself. Now, he suddenly has all these people counting on him. Even the clan looks to him. Suddenly, he’s got all of this responsibility.
The scenes with Black Jack Randall, whether they’re just with Jamie or with both Jamie and Claire, are so intense. What are those scenes like to shoot?
HEUGHAN: The last episodes were the most intense. It was the most physically and emotionally draining stuff I’d done, for a long time. Maybe on stage, but not TV wise. We’re dealing with male rape, but it’s not just the act. It’s more about a battle of wills. It’s about Black Jack Randall trying to break what is between Jamie and Claire, and to get in there and destroy something so pure. I think that’s really interesting. To be honest, it’s a real joy. Up until now, Jamie has been on the outskirts. We don’t know a lot about him, and he can seem good-natured and that he never loses his temper, and that he always says and does the right thing. But we find out that he’s got failings, he’s got kinks in the armor, and he’s stubborn. He wants to measure up to his father. It’s a real test of his character.
There’s been a lot of anticipation for the spanking scene. When you shoot something that you know the fans are waiting for, do you feel an extra weight to filming those moments, or do you try not to think about that, at all?
HEUGHAN: You try not to think about it or make it too big, but we were all very aware of those moments. If you go on any social media, you can see people talking about it. The writers and producers are also very aware. As an actor, you rehearse those moments and discuss it. You have to trust that the script is right and be comfortable with everything, and then you just have to go for it and disregard anything you’ve previously heard or felt about it. I think that’s why it will be surprising for people. People who have read the books know what happens. Sometimes they talk about it quite lightly, but I think it’s actually going to be surprising for people to see these moments fully realized and played out. I think it’s going to challenge people, and I relish that.
Outlander airs on Saturday nights on Starz.