Outlander: Tobias Menzies breaks down Black Jack's epic scene
SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read until you’ve watched Sunday’s season 3 premiere of Outlander.
It was a confrontation that was two seasons in the making! Exhausted and near surrender, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) took a final stab — quite literally — at ending his long-standing war with Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies).
And boy, did he!
Black Jack, Jamie’s nemesis since season 1, is now a dead man. (At least, we think — who knows what kind of flashbacks could be added into future seasons of the Starz drama?) In anticipation of the epic showdown, EW talked to Menzies about filming the scene — and what it was like to lay on top of the Highlander hottie on the battlefield.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like shooting the battle? Was it something that got so technical that it became difficult to pull off?
TOBIAS MENZIES: No. It was good. I mean, it’s an unusual way to tie up the story because it was nonverbal. We don’t say anything to each other, it’s just like these looks and this sort of strange kind of dance of death. We were trying to do something slightly unusual with it, and it’s obviously done through these sort of slightly hallucinatory flashbacks as Jamie is lying there wounded and remembering fragments of the battle. The encounter with Jack is buried in there. It was like a strange kind of part fight, part dance, part embrace.
It looked as if Black Jack had a slight smile when he first laid eyes on Jamie. What was that about?
I think there’s a sort of weird soul connection so he’s always excited to match up against him, to meet him again. One of my top things for that character is that he loves the game. He loves the chase. I don’t think he’s necessarily that interested in the outcome, it’s the how.
Did Sam give you a hard time when you had to lay on top of him?
I’m sure he did. He’s always bleating on. I ignore him.
Is Black Jack the better swordsman in a duel like that?
I think they’re pretty matched, you know? Maybe he’s more of a technician than Jamie, but Jamie brings plenty to the game.
How did the timing work? Did you do the death scene and immediately begin the Boston scenes as Frank Randall?
I think they were all mixed up, actually. I think we started with Frank and it was all in the same kind of block so I forget the order.
Poor Frank. How’s he doing at this point?
He and Claire [Caitriona Balfe] have chosen to go to Boston to try and rebuild their marriage. He says he’s willing to father this child that’s on its way. The first episode ends with the arrival of the child, so you can see them really egg-shelling around each other as they try and find some sort of connection. They’re clearly not in great shape, but I think what’s good about that material is that you see two people who are essentially good-hearted, and who do love each other, but there’s just something missing or something broken about it, which they try to live around. But that’s a hard thing to do. There’s a kind of sadness and regret and disappointment that circles around that situation. I think that’s changed by the arrival of the child. I think the child brings some hope, they think maybe they can make it, maybe they can start over.
That kiss seems to suggest it’s the dawn of a new day.
Yeah, I think that’s what we want to do. Caitriona and I felt it was important that there is real desire and real love to make it work from both ends. All their stuff is a meditation on kind of imperfect love, floored love, but no less beautiful, you know?
Want to talk and hear more about Sunday’s premiere? Tune into the first installment of Outlander Live! at noon ET Sept. 11 on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105. Prince Charles Edward Stuart, a.k.a. Andrew Gower, will be our first guest!
Outlander airs at 8 p.m. ET Sundays on Starz.