Even though the second season of Starz’s steamy time-traveling drama, Outlander, won’t premiere until 2016, we’re going to take a metaphorical trip through the standing stones of Craigh na Dun, to go back to the future and give you an exclusive first look at the new episodes!
When last we saw Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) they were fleeing Scotland on a ship bound for France. What will they get up to in Paris? And how will this new setting affect the show you’ve come to love? We asked executive producer Ronald D. Moore, who kindly called in from set in Scotland, to give us all the details.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I understand you’ll be doing a bit of globe-trotting as the season progresses, Ron. What part of the Outlander world tour are you in right now?
RONALD D. MOORE: We’re at the end of the beginning, as Churchill would say. We’re in the second block at this point. We shoot them in blocks of two. I think we’re on episodes 4 and 5 at this point.
What locales are on your itinerary? Several cities are standing in for Paris, correct?
Paris is sort of a combination of three basic places: Scotland, where we’re building interiors on our sound stages and going out to find houses or exteriors that might work for someone’s Parisian apartment or palace or garden. Then we’re going to go to Prague, and in Prague we’re going to shoot street scenes for Paris. Like, when you see our characters going through the streets of Paris it will be the streets of Prague, primarily. There will also be some locations in Prague that would serve as, like, the Palace of Versailles. Likewise, there are some locations in the south of England, some of the English palaces that have some French rooms. There’s some French architecture to them that we will also play as part of Versailles, some gardens, some other houses around Paris. So it’s really those three… How we’re going to build our Parisian story.
Where do we pick up with Claire and Jamie in season 2? Are they fresh off the boat from Scotland?
Well, how the opening episode literally opens I won’t get into, obviously, because that’s just how we tell the story, but the story of Jamie and Claire in the 18th century pretty much starts with their arrival in France. The big story point picks up from where we left season 1, which is Claire and Jamie deciding to attempt to change history by stopping the Jacobite rebellion and changing history so as to prevent the slaughter on Culloden Moor and the destruction of the Highland culture after it. That’s the major plot going into the season.
And how much of Jamie’s assault at the hands of Black Jack in the season 1 finale will hang over into the upcoming season?
It definitely colors his character throughout. It’s not at the forefront of the story, but it’s a pretty big character story for him, so the after-effects of that and the reverberations through their relationship does carry forward well into the season.
In these First Looks from the new season, Claire and Jamie have noticeably stepped up their fashion game. What sort of discussions did you and Terry [costume designer and Ron’s wife] have about the wardrobe and the look you’re after?
We talked about it very early, actually, midway through the first season because she had to get a jump on creating the costumes and buying fabrics to cut and all that, so those discussions go way back at this point. It’s just a completely different look. Everything about Paris is so completely different, especially the costumes because you’re dealing with a world—the aristocratic world is the circle Jamie and Claire basically operate in while they’re in that part of the story. It’s the most stylish city in the world during this time. A lot more money. A lot of finery. Scotland is featuring a lot of heavy wools and more organic colors. In Paris everyone wants to be a peacock. You’ve got a much wider palette of textiles and colors and styles than you did in Scotland. It’s a completely different world.
And that kind of goes across the board for all the departments, frankly. The art department faces a similar challenge. There were really no sets or pieces of sets that we could use for Paris that we’d used for Scotland. We had to build an entire apartment for Jamie and Claire to live in. There are carriages, there are servants with livery, there are props and furniture. It’s completely different. It’s a whole new show. It will look completely different than season 1.
Important question: Does this mean Jamie won’t be wearing a kilt?
He’ll do both. He will wear his kilt on occasion, and on others he won’t.
Does the new setting also affect how you shoot the show?
Visually it will look a lot different. Now we’re in an urban setting. The quality of light coming into the windows in Paris is different than the quality of light coming into the castle in Scotland. So it’s a little brighter; it has a little bit more luminescence to it. It’s a little bit more bling in terms of what people are wearing. The fabrics are kicking off more reflectivity; there’s more jewelry that’s giving you more sparkle in the frame itself. And everything is just richer in terms of color and texture, so visually you’ve moved from the heavy woods and stone of season 1 into the finery of the Parisian apartments. It’s just a richer, more dynamic kind of visual palette, as well.
Are there any lessons you learned during producing the first season that you’ll take to heart for season 2?
It’s just the scope and scale of the production. How complex it really is. It was a very hard show to produce. It’s tricky to realize because it’s a continually evolving story. You’re seldom in a location long enough to call it home before you’re moving on. And you’re constantly losing characters and introducing new characters, and now we’re moving from Scotland to Paris. The lesson on season 2 was just, don’t underestimate how complex this is and how each one of these two episode blocks is like starting over. On TV you get comfortable as you’re doing a show, and you get in your second season you’re like, “Okay, we know what this is. We’re back on the bridge; we’re back in the apartment building, and we’re going to do this again, and here’s our new twist for this season.” With this show it’s very much every single episode block is we’re doing a brand new movie. Here’s a whole new set of challenges. Don’t get comfortable and don’t feel like you learned anything last week that’s going to help you next week. [Laughs] It’s really that.
For fans who’ve read the series’ second book, Dragonfly in Amber, how closely would you say this season hews?
I think there’s more adaptation. I think there are changes. For fans who know the book, they know the book is a more complicated structure in terms of how Diana wrote it. The point of view changed a couple of times in the book. She played with more stuff with time going on in the second book. The interior storyline of the politics of the Jacobite rebellion and Paris is more complex. So it was not as easy an adaptation as the first season was. The first season was more of straightforward, “Okay, we have to sort of make changes that clean up this narrative line, that make it a through line for television and carve it into episodes.” But it was always kind of clear what the basic structure was: Claire’s trying to get home, then she meets this guy, now she’s falling in love, now she has a conflict, will she go home. You lay it out in a very linear fashion. Book 2 is just a more complex book. It’s laid out very differently, as a result it took more wrangling to try to figure out how to translate this particular story into our season. There were more complications, there were more characters, there were more shifting points of view. It was a bigger task. The thing that gives me the most comfort is that Diana likes it a lot. She had said, “Oh, I really liked the way you did it. it was a difficult plot, I know, but I think you really found the essence of it. You really found the through line that really defines what this part of the journey is.” So I feel good about it. It’s not going to be a literal adaptation because I don’t think that’s possible with the second book…. But I think it’s very much the same story, the major characters are all represented, the major scenes are all represented, and it still gets you to all the same places you want to go.
Is there anything you can hint about the 1960s-set scenes from the book?
There’s nothing to say about that so far. It is a key part of the book, and I think you can assume it will be part of our season.
Are there any scenes you’re particularly excited for fans to see?
There are several particular scenes, obviously from the book, that fans are probably going to look forward to. Overall, I’m just excited to see the streets of Paris and Versailles There’s an interesting “wow factor” I’m looking forward to see us realizing and putting them in a very different urban environment than last season.