Outlander producer on creating the fiery cross: 'We didn't want it to be a religious symbol'
A fiery cross takes on an entirely different meaning in season 5 of Outlander. In this exclusive interview, executive producer Matthew B. Roberts explains how production designer Jon Gary Steele and his team went about creating a key element from The Fiery Cross – the fifth book from Diana Gabaldon‘s bestselling book series on which this season is based.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with the design of the cross?
MATTHEW B. ROBERTS: We had Gary come up with maybe 10 different designs. We didn’t want it to be a religious symbol. We wanted it to be a Scottish symbol. This is the one we collectively picked because, well, to tell you the truth, it looks cool.
You just knew flat-out that you wouldn’t do a traditional cross?
We never even thought about that because they wouldn’t have done that. We looked at old historical drawings of what they might’ve done and we pulled from that. We didn’t just completely manufacture this. It is the Celtic-style cross they would have used.
Diana wasn’t very specific when it came to what that Celtic cross looked like, right?
No, she wasn’t. We slightly changed what happens for cinematic reasons. In the traditional clan burning of the cross, they would douse it with sheep’s blood, burn it, and put it out. Then they would take that burnt cross through their lands, and that would call people to war. We adjusted that and made it a fiery cross [that stays a fiery cross]. It’s in the title. And later in the season … for dramatic reasons … we’ll use the cross. A lot of our decisions are from going into history and seeing what they really did and then seeing how we can keep the essence of that. I think we have.
So are we going to see some pigs blood this season?
Well, there’s always blood in Outlander! There’s definitely pig blood but it’s not for the reason that you think it is.
Outlander returns Feb. 16 to Starz.