Is the Droughtlander getting you down, Sassenachs?
Never fear! In addition to this week’s exciting news that production has commenced on Outlander season 5 in Scotland, EW also has an exclusive peek behind-the-scenes for you with the first look at the cover for the new book The Making of Outlander: The Official Guide to Season Four. Entertainment journalist and author of numerous television companion books Tara Bennett penned the new book, which hits shelves Oct. 15.
The book is jam-packed with behind-the-scenes photos and making-of stories that will give even the most devoted Outlander fans unprecedented access into just how the world of Jamie (Sam Heughan), Claire (Caitriona Balfe), and the rest of the extended Fraser clan family and friends make their way to the screen. The cover features a beautiful still of everyone’s favorite couple, Claire and Jamie, as seen below.
Bringing to life Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novels, which traverse crucial moments in history, is no small feat — and each season, the creators and production team are asked to out-do themselves, bringing to life things as varied as the Battle of Culloden, a shipwreck in the Caribbean, and a log cabin in colonial America.
It picks up where the first official companion book left off and features exclusive interviews with cast members, including detailed conversations with Balfe and Heughan (onscreen couple and real-life friends), as well as the writers, producers, musicians, costume designers, set decorators, technicians, and more whose hard work and cinematic magic brings the world of Outlander to life on the screen, providing insight into creatives decisions and the painstaking work that goes into breathing life into this world.
Some of those decisions include deciding to show things only hinted at on the page, like the Battle of Culloden itself. “The series had been talking about the battle for a long time, and it was baked into the mythology from the books,” Moore details in a chapter of the book. “When you translated that to television, it had the effect of just teasing the audience. We felt like we had to show it.”
The book also includes full-color, never-before-published photos of the cast, costumes, and set, including official cast photography and fun candid shots taken during filming.
For more on the Battle of Culloden and the season three premiere, read an exclusive excerpt from the new “Making Of” book below.
Episode 301: The Battle Joined
Writer: Ron D. Moore
Director: Brendan Maher
When it came time to draft the episode that would open Outlander’s third season, Ron Moore knew that it would have to finally deliver on the Battle of Culloden. The fateful conflict was heavily foreshadowed in the season-two finale yet not explicitly detailed in Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager prose, and Moore made the showrunner decision to actually show it. “The series had been talking about the battle for a long time, and it was baked into the mythology from the books,” Moore details. “When you translated that to television, it had the effect of just teasing the audience. We felt like we had to show it.”
In researching the history of the battle, Moore discovered that the whole clash took only about twenty minutes. So his initial thought was to recreate it in real time. He explains, “We’d go beginning to end and frame it through the eyes of Jamie and Murtagh. The first draft of the script I wrote did exactly that. I walked through the major elements of the battle, Jamie’s perspective coming back after he took Claire to the stones, and then his interaction with Prince Charlie and participating in the final charge. I sent that to production, and, essentially, we couldn’t accommodate it on our budget and our schedule. It would have put us deeply, deeply in the hole for the entire season and really crippled our plans for everything else that we wanted to do.”
Going back to the draft, Moore assessed the key moments that needed to be shown in Jamie’s story. He decided, “If I can’t show the whole [battle] in a linear way, then probably the best way to do it is to make it more surreal and subjective, with an impression of moments, and make it more emotional, more intimate, and see it through Jamie’s eyes. When you’re just fading in—it’s all over and Jamie’s lying on the battlefield, near death, having these memory flashbacks—you can just convey an emotional experience of battle. That’s essentially what we ended up doing. And all the moments that are in the [final] episode are part of that original, first draft.”
Veteran television director Brendan Maher, known for his work on action series like Strike Back and Spartacus, was brought in to open the season’s episodes. For Culloden, Maher says, his primary focus was on “the scale of the battle and what was happening in Jamie’s life. It was about capturing Jamie in a very intimate way in this huge landscape. We couldn’t lose track of what his story was. He had a leader’s jeopardy on him—not just his own survival but the survival of his troop.”
Maher praises the production crew for how they rallied around the intense logistics needed to pull off the Culloden sequences. “You don’t do that battle sequence by yourself,” he enthuses. “I loved their work ethic and their human and creative talent. Scheduling this movement of people and equipment, on and off the set, in various ways, is huge. We had between two hundred fifty and three hundred [background] people, so just to get them costumed and ready every morning was a huge exercise.”
For the mêlée scenes, Maher praises the work of the stunt team, as well as that of Heughan and Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall), who did all of their fighting sequences. “They were on their feet fighting for days,” he details. “It was just an exhausting, mammoth task for them, and they were terrific. Their work ethic was outstanding.”
In particular, Maher has high praise for their climactic fight. “When they see each other for the first time on the battlefield, in complete stillness, you can see the passion, the hatred, the sense of what’s gone on before and what’s about to happen,” the director explains. “It was the climax of this piece. We set out to make it look like it was sunset. We blocked it roughly with Sam and Tobias, but it was an open ending. There was this big, heroic feel to that sequence, but in the end it’s pathetically, exhaustingly, human. And it’s about who can take the last breath, because they are both going to want to deliver the death blow.”
Moore wasn’t on set the day that scene was shot, but he relates how impressed he was with the delivered footage and performances. “Toward the end of their fight, there’s a moment when Black Jack reaches out and touches Jamie with his hand. That was something I’m pretty sure Tobias came up with on the day. They did it in one or two takes. I saw it and I loved it. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s perfect.’”
The other half of the episode’s narrative was far less physical but no less dramatic, as Claire and Frank try to restart their marriage in Boston leading up to the birth of Brianna. For Moore, crosscutting the parallel stories across time became the model for the first half of the season. “It established the language that we’re going to go through, literally, twenty years of these characters’ lives and we’re going to do it in this structure, which was a pretty unusual thing to do,” he explains.
With the Randalls’ story in particular, Moore says, it “was an opportunity to cobble together a lot of different things that had been mentioned in various memories and flashbacks scattered throughout Diana’s books about the relationship between Claire and Frank.”
In just a few short sequences, Maher says, Balfe and Menzies were able to speak volumes about the fraying relationship. “Emotionally, I think, Claire feels very imprisoned in those sequences,” he muses. “I thought Caitriona was fantastic in the scene in the university with the dean. She’s all the things that Frank wants of her, and he knows how difficult it is for her and how grateful he is of that. But through her smiling, polite gentility, he can see how she’s seething with discontent. How she hates being locked into this world. And you’re waiting for a moment where she’s gonna explode and say, ‘This is just not for me at all.’”
“I liked the idea of starting their story in the most optimistic moment in Boston, a new house, a new beginning, pregnancy,” Moore adds. “I really loved the way Claire and Frank walked through the house, being a little playful. I really wanted the audience to be rooting for them. There was a really hopeful quality to their relationship that you held all the way to the end, until the moment when that nurse says, ‘Where’d the red hair come from?’ And that breaks it.”
Excerpted with permission from the new book The Making of Outlander: The Official Guide to Seasons Three & Four by Tara Bennett. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Copyright © 2019 by Tara Bennett. All rights reserved.
The Making of Outlander: The Official Guide to Seasons Three & Four will be available beginning Oct. 15.