Take your time, Joe.
When Wil Johnson, as Joe Abernathy, was preparing to tell Claire (Caitriona Balfe) that her husband Frank died in a car crash, Outlander director Brendan Maher gave the English actor a much-appreciated bit of advice: Don’t rush the news. Play it in “real time, not actor time,” Johnson told Outlander Live! on EW Radio.
“I was so nervous doing it because of the magnitude,” Johnson said Monday about his first-ever role in a U.S. series. “There are only a few lines to express so much. When we were rehearsing it, the director [Brendan Maher] said, ‘Wil, take all the time, take all the time you need. I want to play this in real time. Not in acting time, real time. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 seconds before you say the line.’ That was really cool.”
Johnson also shot several different takes of the moment when he walks down the hall to inform Claire. “Should he be coming fast or be a little more slower or in the middle?” Johnson recalls. “[There’s] a sense of urgency, but also the impending message at the end. We tried it all different ways.”
To hear more of our conversation with Johnson — including how he once made ends meet between acting jobs by working for an undertaker — listen below.
Outlander Live! airs each Monday at noon ET on EW Radio, Sirius XM 105.
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