In anticipation of his debut as Roger Wakefield in Saturday’s season finale of Outlander, Richard Rankin talked to EW about the shooting process and what may throw fans who have devoured Diana Gabaldon’s book series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How much time did you spend on the episode?
RICHARD RANKIN: I believe it was about two to three weeks.
You went to some pretty cool places.
Yeah, we really did. I know that they kept it quite low key where we were shooting because of fans coming out and taking photos. They didn’t want Brianna and Roger to be photographed. They didn’t want the first glances of the characters shown on social media. And yeah, uncontrolled circumstances I suppose, which I get. And so, we’re all kind of rushed in and out of buildings under umbrellas, hoodies. So, I don’t remember much about the locations.
How much prep work did they give you on the role?
I read the books. I would have done so anyway. It was a real treat. It’s a real privilege to have that kind of resource at hand, because normally you won’t have a series of books to turn to for immediate research on a character or role. Unfortunately there isn’t a huge backstory in Dragonfly in Amber for Roger. And there isn’t much in terms of a foundation for the character and the script. He goes on such an amazing adventure across the books.
Talk about how Roger is introduced.
When you meet him, he’s just an Oxford professor. He’s a well‑educated, well‑brought up young man, who spent a lot of his early years growing up in the Highlands in Scotland before he moved off to be educated down south and then, you know, go on to be an academic. So, his experience of life is very different to the other characters that you’ve met in Outlander, especially the 18th-century characters. I wanted to make him as far removed from that world as I could, so you would think he is quite endearing and quite sweet. I have an amazing opportunity with Roger, of taking him on that journey through Voyager. He almost becomes like a hardened warrior himself. The things that he goes through in the following series!
Is he immediately smitten with Brianna?
Yeah, pretty much.
Is it mutual?
I spoke to Sophie quite a lot about this, about where we wanted this relationship to go and how we wanted people to see us. In the books, they immediately fall in love. Obviously we wanted to take it a bit more slowly for the TV version just because on TV it’s more realistic. We wanted to give it a few beats, a few hints of what may happen with Roger and Brianna, and drop a couple of hints at what their relationship might become, especially for the people who haven’t read the books, who don’t already know what happens. Obviously there’s a lot of people who know exactly where they end up together. Roger probably falls for Brianna much more quickly, or at least that’s what seems to be the case. But Roger is a much more open character. He’s more open emotionally. He’s more inclined to say what he feels, where I think Brianna needs to be brought out of her shell a wee bit. She’s more guarded. She’s more closed down and has much more reason to be, I suppose. So, I think for Roger she’s a bit of a challenge. But then she’s also got a lot of other things on her mind.
After your episode finally airs, what will you be doing?
They have kept it quite under wraps, you know, us being allowed to talk to anyone. To be seen. They’ve kept us in a cage at Starz headquarters in the basement, and we haven’t been allowed out! They fed us well enough and there’s a treadmill in there, so that was nice. It will be nice to talk about it because obviously we haven’t been able to. And it’s something that we are very excited about. It’s amazing to have that hype.
The second season finale of Outlander airs at 9 p.m. ET on July 9 on Starz. And make sure to tune into the final installment of Outlander Live! Monday at 2 pm. ET on EW Radio. Amy Wilkinson and I interview Diana Gabaldon!