Aye, Sassenachs, we’ve got a wee bit more Outlander goodness for you!
At the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, the stars and producers of Outlander — Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sam Heughan (Jamie), John Bell (Ian), Richard Rankin (Roger), and Sophie Skelton (Brianna) — sat down with EW’s Lynette Rice to talk about the upcoming fourth season of Starz hit historical drama. The discussion covered everything from Ray Charles music to where Roger and Brianna’s relationship is headed to obedient dogs and even choreographed sex scenes.
Fans of the series will remember the use of a cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” back in season 3, and at the end of the first episode of the new season, the producers took a similar approach playing Ray Charles’ “America the Beautiful” over an epic final sequence. “In the script, it was always ‘America the Beautiful’ but it was a piece of score,” explained EP Ron Moore. “Once you added the vocal to it, once it became not just an instrumental…the only way to really do that justice was to drop the sound from the live action and go with the piece and it just carried you into the action, to this other place.”
Next up, Bell shared how much he enjoyed working with a new furry friend this season (the Northern Inuit dog who plays Rollo, a pup Young Ian wins), joking that it was no challenge compared to working with Balfe and Heughan every day. The conversation then turned to Roger and Brianna’s budding relationship on the show. “We’ve been replaced by Rollo,” joked Skelton. “At the beginning of the season, obviously Brianna is still dealing with the aftermath of letting her mother go back. She’s essentially become an orphan in that respect — she went from having two parents to three to two to none. It’s been pretty intense for her. She’s changed her life a lot; she’s now studying engineering at MIT, she’s having a long-distance relationship with Roger. It’s quite ambiguous at the beginning about how much of a long-distance relationship they’ve been having, but you may or may not see them reunited down the road. The season follows that typical Roger and Brianna pattern in terms of as soon as they get close together, they get torn apart.” Rankin quickly pointed out that that’s “mostly Brianna’s fault,” while Skelton countered by reminding him that most of the Frasers were present and not to get on their bad side. Don’t worry, by the end of the exchange, Heughan had decided Rankin’s/Roger’s intentions were pure and told him, “I doth approve” of his onscreen daughter’s love interest.
On the topic of relationships, things got pretty juicy when Rice brought up all the “hibbidy dibbidy” on the show — also known as sex. While Rankin joked that he hoped after several years Brianna and Roger’s relationship might be “close enough” and that they might “trust each other enough to hibbidy dibbidy,” Balfe explained that the actors and producers do discuss the love scenes before they shoot them. The actors don’t have the freedom to freestyle when it comes to how they’re choreographed. “We do not have carte blanche at all,” she said. “There’s scripts and you have to follow what’s in the script, but there’s always a discussion. One of the biggest discussions we all have going into sex scenes is how can we make it have a point and a purpose. We have that all the time with the writers and the producers because, believe it or not, this is not softcore porn. We’re making a TV show, so if there’s going to be sex, it has to be there for a reason; it has to tell you something about where the character’s at or move forward the story in some meaningful way and we always have those discussions. I think if we stopped having those discussions our show wouldn’t be as good as it is.”
Hibbidy dibbidy aside, some other fun facts revealed at the panel included that most of the cast has done a shot of whiskey at some point before shooting, Heughan and Moore have consulted a Gaelic dictionary, Heughan has done sit-ups or push-ups before a semi-nude scene and, one time, he decided to read negative reviews of the show to his fellow cast members just for a laugh. “It was a good day,” he reminisced.
Outlander returns to Starz Sunday, Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. ET.
- Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan tell all in EW’s collector’s edition
- Outlander EW cover: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan are too Scot to handle
- Every EW Outlander cover
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