A former WWII nurse thrust back in time. A strapping Highland warrior on the run from the Red Coats. When the two collide in the chilly countryside of 18th-century Scotland, it’s…hot. Really hot.
This is Outlander, the centuries-spanning love story based on the best-selling books by Diana Gabaldon—and more than 5 million viewers have made the adaptation one of Starz’s highest-rated series. “You always start a project hoping it’s going to be a big success and that your dreams will come true,” says showrunner Ron Moore. “In this case, all of the elements came together.”
As Outlander returns for the second half of its first season (April 4, 9 p.m.), we talk to stars Caitriona Balfe, 35, who plays time traveler Claire, and Sam Heughan, 34, who plays no-longer-virginal Jamie, about all those toe-curling, jaw-dropping love scenes.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: No foreplay here. Let’s start at the most obvious place: the sex. Do historical hookups take longer to film just by virtue of having so many more items of clothing to take off?
Caitriona Balfe: [Laughs] Sam’s had great fun trying to take off my corset a few times.
Sam Heughan: Talk about spoiling the moment. Female clothing seems to be extremely difficult and almost like a puzzle for a man to take off. But I think if you get there, you win. A kilt is the complete opposite. The kilt is so easy to take off. But that all adds to the scene as well. The anticipation and the fact that he’s a virgin and inexperienced in some areas, yet he’s taken off a few corsets in his time.
That’s right, he’s no monk! Do you watch your sex scenes? Is it weird seeing yourself in that, er, position?
Balfe: It’s very weird. When you’re filming these, it’s a closed set—as much as they can make it—it’s a skeleton crew. You’re so involved in what the scene needs that you don’t really think about how it’s being viewed. I find it so strange afterwards. I don’t think anyone should be filming themselves doing that. But, yeah, you have to watch.
Have you warned family to fast-forward through particularly steamy scenes or episodes?
Heughan: My mother doesn’t know [the wedding episode where Jamie has sex for the first time] exists. She thinks it all ends at episode 6. I think I’m going to keep propagating that lie.
Want to read our entire interview with Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan? Pick up Entertainment Weekly, on stands now.