Outlander: Final Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan interview before Droughtlander begins
That’s a wrap! Commence the tears.
Sunday’s episode of Outlander marked the season ender to the Starz drama — and boy, was it a wet and wild one! I talked to Sam Heughan (Jamie) and Caitriona Bale (Claire) one last time about shooting the season 3 finale, and how they managed to do those underwater scenes without drowning.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with those underwater scenes. How did you shoot those? Did you have to hold your breath forever?
CAITRIONA BALFE: We had this really cool water tank at the back of the Cape Town Studios in South Africa. Sam and I had done some underwater scuba training so we could stay underwater, and they would just come and feed us oxygen every 30, 40 seconds.
SAM HEUGHAN: She was very good at that. She was like a mermaid. She has done scuba diving before. I’ve never done it.
BALFE: It was fun. Things like that are always really exciting, and to sort of learn something new … It was quite cool until Sam rammed my face into a big chunk of wood.
Oh wait, that’s where he put that cut on your nose? When you were underwater?
BALFE: No, when he captured me and brings me up to that big lump of wood that we float on, that’s when he did it.
HEUGHAN: Clothes are very difficult to swim in, especially while you have someone that’s covered in dresses, and also not swimming.
BALFE: I also had weights around my skirt.
HEUGHAN: It is pretty tough.
How much time did you spend in that tank?
BALFE: It was one day.
HEUGHAN: It was our last day in South Africa, and a really amazing way to end. It was freezing in the morning, and then the sun came out.
BALFE: We had a nice heated paddling pool at the side. So when we would get out between setups and stuff, we were in a paddling pool and they furnished it with some rubber ducks and beers.
HEUGHAN: Yeah, I actually still have a rubber duck.
How were those scenes executed on the deck during the storm?
BALFE: They had these water cannons, I think each of them held a couple gallons of water.
HEUGHAN: Plus there was a side cannon. It was like a ton of water that dropped on us. And there are two wind machines with V-8 engines.
BALFE: It was quite intense. We took about three days to film that. There’s so much water and everything. When we were actually in it, none of us could hear a thing. We were sort of supposed to shout at each other and do lines and …
HEUGHAN: We couldn’t see anything.
BALFE: And you can barely breathe. But it was a really cool and extravagant setup. It was very ambitious. I think we were all just really excited to be able to do something that was on such a large scale.
HEUGHAN: And then we did a bit of Star Trek acting as well.
What do you mean by Star Trek acting?
BALFE: Well, when the gimbal is not working, you have to gimbal yourself.
When you were floating in the eye of the hurricane, were you trying to channel Rose and Jack from Titanic?
BALFE: No, we didn’t. I think that’s just a bit of a two-people-floating-0n water coincidence.
HEUGHAN: As I side thing, we did discuss that and how Jack could have gotten on that [piece of wood]. He could have.
BALFE: Are you now on the Jack-Rose conspiracy thing?
HEUGHAN: I’m sorry. She could have moved over.
I agree. Let’s move on. Caitriona, you were back in the batsuit for the finale. Will this be the last time we see you in it?
BALFE: As hard wearing as that batsuit was, I think the final shipwreck might have been the nail in the coffin for it.
Sam, when John Grey got you out of that jam, there was a part of me that expected you to shake his hand or even embrace him because he saved you yet again. But you dashed out. Why?
HEUGHAN: They have a a great relationship there, and there is unfinished business, but at this moment Jamie is going to go find Claire. That’s his priority.
Now that Geillis is dead, let’s review the body count that Claire has racked up since the pilot.
BALFE: Just call her Claire Myra Hindley! [Myra Hindley and Ian Brady perpetrated the infamous Moors murders back in the ’60s]. Hmm, how many? There was two in season 1. One in season 2 …
HEUGHAN: Who’s that?
BALFE: The Comte.
HEUGHAN: There is also Dougal.
BALFE: Oh yes! Two in season 2, and two in season 3!
HEUGHAN: And Diana Gabaldon says she’s not a killer.
BALFE: So I think we are on six. But we really don’t know. There might have been a few people who crossed her at the hospital. A few people at the school gates she didn’t like, who might have judged her. There is a whole series we could do on the side.
Sam, that dude in the cave looked twice your size.
HEUGHAN: Oh, he was. They cut a lot of the fight, actually. He’s a wonderful actor and absolutely enormous. That was the idea. He was this real strong power against Jamie. It was a very difficult fight to shoot, actually. Gary Steele created this fake cave. They built this in the studio. It was so lifelike, but the floor was very uneven and jagged. It was quite painful to be thrown around, but an amazing set nonetheless.
Caitriona, you had to come pretty close to Lotte Verbeek’s neck to make it look like you sliced her, correct? Did you have to do several takes?
BALFE: I may not be known as the least clumsiest person on set, but we definitely made sure we erred on the side of caution. It was really wonderful to have Lotte back in the show. I enjoyed working with her, and she brings such a cool edge to Geillis. It was a lot of fun. One of my favorite lines is when they are out in the garden and Geillis goes, “Of all the gin joints in all the world.”
What beach were you on at the very end? Was that in South Africa?
BALFE: Yeah. That was last June. It was part of a protected nature reserve. It’s about 45 minutes outside Cape Town. It was beautiful.
So what was the final scene you shot for season 3?
BALFE: It was the tank, the underwater stuff.
Was there a wrap party that night, or did you all go your separate ways?
HEUGHAN: I think you can see in Caitriona’s Instagram that we were in this paddling pool with South African beers and inflatable ducks. That was it.
BALFE: We had some beers, and there was a wrap party that night, but neither of us lasted that long because we were exhausted. The South African crew showed us up, they partied hard.
Can’t wait for season 4? Get a quick peek here:
Diana Gabaldon's genre-bending time-travel novels come to life in the Starz series.