SDCC Interview – Sam Heughan – Outlander
The other half of the couple at the center of Outlander is Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser. I interviewed Sam with fellow journalists in a roundtable setting at San Diego Comic Con. The interview started before I was ready, and I happened to catch the tail end of a question or possibly just a friendly chat that involved a lot of red heads somewhere. I had to laugh at this, listening to the interview again which somehow segues from red heads to the brutal Wentworth Prison scenes that ended the episodes for the first season.
For the Outlander interviews, I represented both The MacGuffin and Outlander TV News.
[Spoiler Alert: This interview does discuss certain elements of the second season, so if you would prefer to stay spoiler-free, avoid reading this interview.]
Q: How did you get into the mindset of that Wentworth Prison scene? How did you take yourself there?
Sam: Yeah, we knew it was coming up. I was excited by it. Nervous, but we knew it was going to be challenging. We wanted to go as…make it challenging for the actors as well as the audience. We kind of approached it basically like any other theatre piece. Myself and Tobias (Menzies) are both from a theatre background and we sat with the director and writer for about a week of rehearsals, discussed the scenes, sort of come down in range a bit…(interrupted briefly by publicist)…So we pretty much worked out what we wanted the audience to feel, to see…we pretty much set the guidelines and boundaries of doing the scene and then we filmed it over a space of about ten days, two weeks. It was pretty intense stuff, primarily because of the content but also because of a lot of prosthetic work, so I would be in at 4 AM and not finish until 10 or 9 on things, so they were long days, but in some ways that was perfect. It got me into that mindset of…I had three or four hours in the morning to sort of prep and stand there as people were painting stuff on your body. And then in the evening, taking it off was a good way to sort of lose the day’s filming. Yeah, it was heavy stuff, but we knew we were doing something quite bold and I was excited to see the end product.
Q: Your character begins season two in a completely different place than where we begin in season one. What do you see as the challenges or benefits of this in approaching the new season?
Sam: In a way, I suppose it is more of a challenge actually because the first season because Jamie’s got no responsibility. He is pretty much out looking after himself. He’s reacting to every moment and then suddenly…yeah, in season two, it’s completely different. We’ve got the hangover from the trauma of season one and the responsibility of having a wife, of being a father, becoming a parent, so yeah, he has had to grow up, and in season one, he certainly did. In season two, he is still coming to terms with the events of season one, but also he has gone to Paris which is not alien to him, but it’s certainly not a world he is particularly comfortable in and he is having to assume a new identity there as well. It certainly feels like a different person.
The MacGuffin: There has been kind of an ever-changing cast. You and Caitriona (Balfe, who plays Claire) are going to be the only ones that are pretty much constant throughout however many seasons this runs. How is that for you as an actor to constantly have different actors and characters to interact with?
Sam: It’s wonderful. We are in the French Court at the moment. Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) is the other character that is with us and travelled with us. Duncan Lacroix, he is terrific. It’s just the three of us. We’ve got this cast of French actors who are amazing and bring a totally different energy to it and a different world. And I think the joy of this show is that it is always moving and constantly changing locations and storylines. Also, it is a little sad. We kind of miss the old school boys, but we know we are going back there. The second half of the season is very much going to be the antithesis of the first half. The first half is very ostentatious and luxurious and the costumes are amazing, and the second half is going to be more mud, blood, and battles. It’s nice to be in a different world, and I know this series does constantly travel and that’s going to be the journey. Jamie and Claire are going to develop, and the characters are going to develop.