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‘Outlander’ exclusive: Sam Heughan on Jamie’s past, series’ success, season 2 preparation

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The final eight episodes of season 1 are just over a week away as of this writing, and they are going to take you in some very different directions. While you have started to understand the character of Jamie Fraser, there are much more to learn as information starts to come out about his past. Expect some hard times ahead for himself and Claire, and a few twists and turns that could leave you speechless.

We have a lovely treat for you today here at CarterMatt, as we had a chance to discuss the show’s success, Jamie’s path, and the future with none other than series star Sam Heughan. He is a man who has seen the show evolve and become a global sensation in many ways, and he provides quite a few teasers as to what lies ahead.

CarterMatt – How has this process [of promoting the show] been different for you this year? There was obviously excitement for season 1 with the book fans, but this scale is certainly different now that the show is pretty much everywhere.

Sam Heughan – It’s great to be able to interact with those who have seen the show and to talk about it. The first time you’re out there you are just trying to tell people about the show, about the character and the journey. The second part of the season that is about to air, the character and his journey becomes a lot darker. We find out a lot more about him, and it’s fun to be able to share that.

What’s the experience been like for you? I’m curious if there is like an [effect similar to what happened with ‘Game of Thrones’], where people come up to you and start to discuss everything that happens in the books, or if they are more content to just talk about what has happened on the series so far.

We’ve got some really terrific fans and they are very enthusiastic. A lot of the book fans that I come across are extremely logical about the characters and the journey. They’re great; they come up and discuss where the character is, or where they are going to be. It’s funny; we’ve been on for [half a season], and we’ve really only started this journey. At the end of this season, Jamie is really in an interesting place and his relationship with Claire … They have to fight to get back to each other. Season 2 is going to be even more interesting relationship-wise.

When you are filming, do you prefer to stay in the moment as each script comes in, or read ahead to see what happens for Jamie soon?

I very much use the books as a guide. I think it’s important; there is some great material there, and our writers take a lot of dialogue from the books and transfer it across. There’s some well-loved and famous lines from the books that people want to hear. You have to look at your journey. The majority of time we shoot chronologically, but a couple of times we shoot out-of-sequence, so you kind of need to know where you’ve been and where you’re going.

It’s kind of interesting relationship-wise, because as the season has gone by the relationship between myself and Caitriona [Balfe] has developed, as well for Jamie and Claire’s. That’s very important, since you are shooting all this and getting closer to each other, and that reflects [within] the TV show.

How would you describe the experience around set? You obviously shoot some difficult and at times graphic scenes, so is it important to be able to laugh and take some deep breaths a few minutes after some of these are over?

It’s a great set. Everyone really enjoys each other’s company, and all the actors and crew get on and we tend to socialize. There’s definitely an air of concentration, and especially [during] some of the heavy scenes and the graphic stuff. Everyone just doubles down and gets on with it. It’s important to keep things light, because it does get very serious by the end of the season. In just working on these scenes, everyone just helps each other and supports each other during that process.

How isolated do you try to be during filming for the show? Is it easier for you to just focus in on the work and the character, and try to avoid some of the noise?

At times we go and shoot out in the highlands and on location; there’s very little film and internet coverage, and we are kind of separate from the world there. That’s been really good to not be aware of what people are saying or how the show’s being received so that we can mainly concentrate on the job.

We’re jumping right in with an episode that is very Jamie-heavy. What was the feeling like? It feels in many ways different than the first eight.

Absolutely. I think the first eight are setting up the story. Jamie comes across as someone who could be a little wrong, but he [still comes across] as this golden boy. But it’s all from Claire’s POV. He doesn’t really give himself away a lot. I think in the second part of the season we start to really see more from his point of view about his history, which is very important, his relationship with his family, and ultimately he has to make some pretty big choices, which is alluded to in the first episode, about who he is [as] a man and a husband and where he wants to take his life from there. It culminates in an interesting climax in the last couple of episodes.

Is it particularly exciting for you to start to learn new flaws or quirks about the character, especially ones that you were not quite so aware of early on?

Yeah. In the second part of the year, there’s a character played by Simon Callow in the Duke of Sandringham, and there’s history there in the past. It helps you to realize ‘how my gosh, this character has this whole history that we don’t know.’ It’s very interesting to start revealing more and more about these people’s past. And we go back to Jamie’s ancestral home, and we find out his unfinished business with [many close relatives] … It all adds to the background of the character.

Has production for season 2 started up yet, or is that beginning in the near future?

We’re in pre-production at the moment. I go back in April to start prep, and we start shooting in May. It’s going to be very different! There’s definitely a hangover in what happens in the last couple of episodes that challenges the relationship between Jamie and Claire, and I think it’s going to be really interesting to shoot.

So when you do go back for season 2, how is that feeling going to be for you? Will it be exciting to see some old friends on the crew again, and are you going to feel perhaps more pressure now, given the show’s success?

I suppose I’ll see when I get back! We recently went back for a photo shoot for the art of the second half of the season, and it was just so wonderful to see all the old familiar faces, and the crew. We’re all sort of a family. I’m really excited to go back.

About the success, I don’t know. I think we’ll be more relaxed because we know the characters a little more, but also we’ll be very aware that we need to continue that momentum and I know the writers and the producers have got some interesting stuff.


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Tags: interview, sam heughan
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