The first thing everyone noticed was the pairs upon pairs of actual Scottish legs.
When the cast and crew of Outlander descended upon Cape Town Studios in South Africa earlier this year, the arid temperatures forced everyone out of their woolen hats and puffy coats and into the least amount of clothing possible. But no one was prepared to see such an overwhelming display of pasty dermis while filming the third season of the Starz drama.
“I was like, oh my God, you have legs,” recalls executive producer Maril Davis. “It was like a mini-vacation in some ways because the weather is so much different than what we’re used to in Scotland. I mean, I’ve never seen most of the Scottish crew’s legs before. I have never seen so much leg skin in my life.”
And yet that was probably the least astonishing thing about filming on the 495-acre studio lot about an hour outside of Cape Town. Previously used for movies including The Dark Tower and Mad Max: Fury Road, producers chose the location because of its impressive collection of two- and three-masted vessels that were used as pirate ships on Black Sails, Starz’ pirate drama that ended its run in April. When Outlander’s third season debuts Sept. 10, two of those ships have been transformed into the Artemis and the HMS Porpoise — a brigantine and a man-of-war that will play a major role in Jamie and Claire’s excellent adventure to the Caribbean. And EW was on set right when the ships were preparing to set sail (so to speak).
For the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, we went behind-the-scenes of the South Africa shoot to find out what the drama has in store for its 5-million plus fans this fall. And since no one image can best capture the unique experience, we’re publishing three covers! The first two below, featuring Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) individually, will be available to subscribers and on newsstands on Friday. The third, showing the happy couple together, will be available exclusively at Barnes & Noble beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 29. Or you can buy the whole set here.
Also in the issue, showrunner Ronald D. Moore talks about the ambitious premiere episode that re-enacts the Battle of Culloden, while executive producer Matthew B. Roberts teases the much-anticipated reunion between Claire and Jamie that occurs in the Edinburgh Print Shop. Hint: It’s not what you were expecting, fans!
We’ll also share lots of fun details from the set of those ships, like how some of the sail-tending crewmen were carried over from Black Sails, and the extreme lengths the props department went to when Heughan depicted his character’s painful bout of seasickness. (All together now: Ewwww).
“I loved it,” Balfe told EW about the South African shoot. “I think it was definitely tough sometimes just because it was hot and that’s something we’re not always used to. And the scripts were quite physically intensive. Either you’re out on the beaches all day or traipsing through a jungle. But I relished the chance to get down and dirty. So it’s good.”
And don’t forget, Sassenachs: Amy Wilkinson and I will host another season of Outlander Live! on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105, beginning Sept. 11 at 12 noon ET.