Watch out, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe: This latest bit of Outlander casting is going to seriously challenge you in the cuteness department.
Meet the puppies who will play Rollo, a wolf hybrid that becomes a beloved member of the Fraser clan. Though Starz is still filming season 3 of the drama in South Africa, the producers wanted to begin training the Northern Inuit puppies for their very important role in the new season.
EW obtained this exclusive first look at the pups that will take turns playing a dog that has a “penchant for getting into trouble, often sticking his large, wet nose into places it doesn’t belong,” says a Starz spokesman. “The dog will play a key part in the adventure that lies ahead.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the significance of Rollo, EW asked author Diana Gabaldon to exclusively weigh in on this very special pooch that first appears in Drums of Autumn, the fourth book in her Outlander series on which season 4 will be based.
“They look cute, but tough. They should be just right to play Rollo when the time comes,” Gabaldon tells EW. “They’d need to growl and look menacing on command, I think, and carry back prey of one kind or another to their master. I assume they wouldn’t let them catch things on camera … especially fish, of course.”
In Drums of Autumn, Rollo first comes into contact by young Ian Murray (played in series by John Bell). Says Gabaldon, “Rollo and Young Ian met on the docks in North Carolina, when Young Ian won the dog in a card game, and a life-long bond was formed between them, meaning that Rollo became a member of the ever-growing Fraser family.”
Outlander won’t return to Starz until September but cast members will attend Comic-Con in San Diego this July. The new season picks up right after Claire travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948, where she gives birth to Jamie’s daughter Brianna and resumes her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Back in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire.