Fun Fact: His interest in painting started when he was a boy experimenting with ink from different pen colors, mixed and applied them on torn cardboards, which were sometimes hung on the walls of his mother’s sitting room. His mother invited Spee, a very famous artist to show him what the child was doing with the materials he could find in his milieu, thereafter the artist took him to his workshop, under his guidance so to better improve on his skills.
A small blond boy in homespun breeks leaned on Jamie’s knee, staring up at me in wonder.
“Who’s that, Nunkie?” he asked in a loud whisper. “That’s your great-auntie Claire,” Jamie said gravely. “Ye’ll have heard about her, I expect?”
“Oh, aye,” the little boy said, nodding madly. “Is she as old as Grannie?”
“Even older,” Jamie said, nodding back solemnly. The lad gawked up at me for a moment, then turned back to Jamie, face screwed up in scorn.
“Get on wi’ ye, Nunkie! She doesna look anything like as old as Grannie! Why, there’s scarce a bit o’ silver in her hair!”
“Thank you, child,” I said, beaming at him.
“Are ye sure that’s our great-auntie Claire?” the boy went on, looking doubtfully at me. “Mam says Great-Auntie Claire was maybe a witch, but this lady doesna look much like it. She hasna got a single wart on her nose that I can see!”
“Thanks,” I said again, a little more dryly. “And what’s your name?”
He turned suddenly shy at being thus directly addressed, and buried his head in Jamie’s sleeve, refusing to speak.
“This is Angus Walter Edwin Murray Carmichael,” Jamie answered for him, ruffling the silky blond hair. “Maggie’s eldest son, and most commonly known as Wally.”
“We call him Snot-rag,” a small red-haired girl standing by my knee informed me. “ ’Cause his neb is always clotted wi’ gook.”
Angus Walter jerked his face out of his uncle’s shirt and glared at his female relation, his features beet-red with fury.
“Is not!” he shouted. “Take it back!” Not waiting to see whether she would or not, he flung himself at her, fists clenched, but was jerked off his feet by his great-uncle’s hand, attached to his collar.
“Ye dinna hit girls,” Jamie informed him firmly. “It’s not manly.”
“But she said I was snotty!” Angus Walter wailed. “I must hit her!”
“And it’s no verra civil to pass remarks about someone’s personal appearance, Mistress Abigail,” Jamie said severely to the little girl. “Ye should apologize to your cousin.”
“Well, but he is…” Abigail persisted, but then caught Jamie’s stern eyes and dropped her own, flushing scarlet. “Sorry, Wally,” she murmured.
Wally seemed at first indisposed to consider this adequate compensation for the insult he had suffered, but was at last prevailed upon to cease trying to hit his cousin by his uncle promising him a story.
“Tell the one about the kelpie and the horseman!” my red-haired acquaintance exclaimed, pushing forward to be in on it.
“No, the one about the Devil’s chess game!” chimed in one of the other children. Jamie seemed to be a sort of magnet for them; two boys were plucking at his coverlet, while a tiny brown-haired girl had climbed up onto the sofa back by his head, and begun intently plaiting strands of his hair.
“Pretty, Nunkie,” she murmured, taking no part in the hail of suggestions.
“It’s Wally’s story,” Jamie said firmly, quelling the incipient riot with a gesture. “He can choose as he likes.” He drew a clean handkerchief out from under the pillow and held it to Wally’s nose, which was in fact rather unsightly.
“Blow,” he said in an undertone, and then, louder, “and then tell me which you’ll have, Wally.”
Wally snuffled obligingly, then said, “St. Bride and the geese, please, Nunkie.”
Jamie’s eyes sought me, resting on my face with a thoughtful expression.
All of the children were clustered round Young Ian, staring and asking so many questions that they collided with one another, and pushed and shoved, arguing as to who asked what and who should be answered first.
The children had paid no attention to the elder Ian’s remark. They already knew Grandda was dying, and the fact was of no interest by comparison with the fact of their fascinating new uncle. A tiny girl with her hair in stubby plaits sat in Young Ian’s lap, tracing the lines of his tattoos with her fingers, now and then sticking one inadvertently in his mouth as he smiled and made hesitant answers to his inquisitive nieces and nephews.
Hands down my favorite episode of the season so I don’t think I need much preamble.
Favorite Costume: Bonnie Prince Charlie’s highland regalia. It’s the kind of costume that is so outrageous it could only be plucked right out of history––a famous portrait of the Bonnie Prince, to be exact. The vibrant tartan, the gold lace details, the blue bonnet… There is certainly no missing him among the more subdued (and well worn) tartans of his men. Even the Lord General and the Quartermaster don’t stand out with the same level of… flair.
Favorite “That’s not in the book” Part: Dougal’s ride. I love so much about this scene and how it demonstrates the tension of waiting for battle, of being within sight of your enemy but unable to reach them; the need to keep things light but also the agony of waiting. Dougal’s return is so triumphant and morale boosting despite the fact that the ground proves too treacherous for the attack the Quartermaster wanted. Even as Dougal his chance to prove himself to an enthusiastic Prince Charles––who has already made an impression on Rupert and Angus––he manages to clash with Jamie at a low level (just how close to the British troops he would get), showing that he’s still bristling under the fact that he reports to his nephew. The weaving of the overt and the subtle throughout the scenes is incredibly handled and to top it all off, it’s beautifully shot.
Favorite Location: the makeshift hospital. We’ve seen Claire at work in a number of different hospital settings through the series so far and she’s held her own in all of them, but nowhere has she been more commanding than in the makeshift hospital giving her instructions to the women under her charge. As she makes jokes and explains the importance of more modern medical practices to women with little to no training––the handful of other wives accompanying husbands, maybe a mother, sister, or daughter here or there, but all of them with men in their lives preparing to make and become the wounded they will tend––Claire is in her element and leading those women as much as Jamie is as Red Jamie, Laird Broch Tuarach leading the charge.
Favorite Music Moment, Favorite Scene: the battle. Every time I watch this scene, I love it more. It is so cinematic in its execution and the music is so important to establishing the atmosphere of the scene that the two are permanently intertwined. Every time the Prestonpans track comes on when I’m listening to the soundtrack, those first few drum beats… I get goosebumps and distracted from whatever I’m doing to listen properly because I immediately start visualizing the fog and the men moving swiftly until they sound like a stampede, I see Claire and the other women whipping their heads around as they hear the battle begin. It conveys the violence of the battle without glorifying it or trying to be shocking with the gore (and thank heaven for that last one or I wouldn’t be able to watch it so often).
Favorite Jamie and Claire Moment: reunited and victorious. While their goodbyes are heartbreaking, their reunions are glorious. I can watch this one over and over again with my mind just chanting, “print shop, print shop.” The smiles when their eyes find each other and they realize they’re both alive and appear to be all right and then that hug… If this is how they reunite when they’ve been away from each other for a few hours (dangerous as they may have been), I can’t wait to see how the reunion plays out when they’ve been away from each other for twenty years.
Favorite Minor Character, Favorite Line: the brief return of Lt. Forster and his advice to Dougal. I still remember how surprised I was when I heard Lt. Forster calling out to Dougal as he was busy finishing off British wounded. I was not expecting him to make a return to the show––though I’m thrilled that they thought to bring him back––and I most certainly wasn’t expecting Dougal to actually go ahead and kill him in cold blood like that. Part of me wonders if Dougal would have spared Lt. Forster––probably not helped him to the infirmary but you know, not killed him––if Lt. Forster hadn’t said what he did, if he hadn’t been so brutally honest in delivering my favorite line of the episode: “A war chief should know better.” It’s just antagonistic enough, I think that’s what sealed poor Lt. Forster’s fate.
Favorite Book to Screen Adaptation: the pissing contest. Despite how long the book spends on the battle of Prestonpans, there’s surprisingly little taken directly from the page in the episode. But one scene that is from the book that I love is Jamie reaching out to the British captured and wounded and working to establish a sense of camaraderie through Claire’s request that Jamie piss in a beaker so she can be sure his kidneys aren’t bleeding. After all the tension before the battle and of course the adrenaline of the battle itself, it provides all the men with some much-needed levity.
Favorite Performance: Stephen Walters as Angus Mohr. How can I not choose Walters in his final turn as Angus? He starts off the episode as his pushing-it-too-far Angus self, struggling to deal with the prospect of what might happen and how to express his affection for his best friend within the bounds of their dynamic; they are as close as Ross and Kincaid but the ways they express that friendship are incredibly different, yet Angus is able to see through their gestures what the men mean to each other and he wants Rupert to know what their friendship means to him, though it comes across almost as a joke (because that’s the way their friendship works), in a similar manner to how he plays the danger up to steal that kiss from Claire. But just as Ross carried the body of Kincaid into the field hospital, Angus makes sure Rupert gets to Claire and he makes sure Claire treats Rupert immediately. The anguish and fear on his face are heartbreaking and the dedication with which he watches over Rupert, the respect he shows to Ross in the wake of Kincaid’s death, they show how deeply Angus can and does feel things. And of course there’s the heart-rending death scene.
Honorable Mention for Music Moment: Ross and Rupert sing. The song is technically meant to be a cheery one and that’s how most of the men celebrating the victory seem to take it, cheering the drunk pair on but to those who know both men and the losses they’ve suffered, the metaphorical lyrics weigh heavy with a far more literal meaning. And the scene’s abrupt cut to the credits is fitting for all the bitterness of war, regardless of which side you wind up on.
It’s been just under four months since Outlander fans had to say good-bye to Claire and Jamie Fraser during the emotional Season 2 finale. But it’s also a long wait until the time-traveling, star-crossed couple returns to Starz for Season 3 next April. Thankfully, in the meantime, there’s a new Blu-ray edition of Season 2 out on Tuesday, November 1. And, for the true devotees to both the show and the Diana Gabaldon novels, there’s also a special Collector’s Edition that features an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming Outlander novel “Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone.” Outlander star Sam Heughan took a break from his grueling 11-month shooting schedule to reflect back on Season 2 and give a preview of why Season 3 feels like “a different show.” (Hint: It has to do with him missing co-star Caitriona Balfe.)
Vanity Fair: After the overwhelmingly warm reception for Season 1, was there a particular fan reaction to Season 2 that you did not see coming?
Sam Heughan: I think the first half of the season set in France was quite complicated, and it certainly wasn’t going back over the old ground of Season 1. I think we were very aware that the first season was this young relationship and about new love. We wanted to show something a bit more complicated [in Season 2]. I think fans were surprised. People tune in expecting the same show or the same sort of scenes and, yeah, I think we surprised fans with that.
I know you hear from fans who are put out or surprised by changes from the books. Was there any particular book aspect left out of Season 2 that you felt like fans were most hoping to see and didn’t?
Diana is all over this. I mean, I have constant e-mail updates, several times a day, about things she’s watched or things she’s read. We confer a lot, probably more than the producers want us to. There’s always going to be little details that will be missed because the show is only an hour-long episode each week. I know myself and Caitriona, we read the books and if we can sneak in a small detail that may not be in the script or even just that we know ourselves, that going from one scene to another, that something’s happened in between that maybe we haven’t been able to show, but at least we know it and, hopefully, in some way it manifests itself. Hopefully it’s all in Diana’s world. I know that she said herself that Season 2, especially at the start, was kind of complex and difficult to make into episodic TV.
There’s a behind-the-scenes feature on the Blu-ray of you, Caitriona, and Graham McTavish prepping for your big Season 2 fight scene. Can you tease anything about what fans might not know about how you prepare for combat?
Yeah, I mean, my God, the show is incredible. Not to give away much, but today, one minute I was on a horse riding across the Scottish countryside, and then I’m somewhere else in studio, and then I’m laying in a cot. But that particular Season 2 scene was very emotional. I absolutely loved doing a fight scene with Graham; I’ve always wanted to. He absolutely hated me fighting him. We actually shot several alternate endings to the fight because, obviously, in the book, Claire isn’t complicit. We thought, Jamie and Claire are a couple and they need to be both guilty of this deed. It’s not that Claire wants to kill anyone—she’s not a killer, she’s a hero—but she wants to aid Jamie and she basically ends up being complicit in the death of Dougal.
It was very funny because we were actually shooting a pick up on that and we didn’t have Caitriona there at the time; it was actually a double’s hands that are on the dagger. Graham was very wary of this double pushing too hard down on him that he might actually get stabbed. He was just this very hard man complaining that someone was pushing a fake dagger too hard on him.
Of course, with any Blu-ray, there are deleted scenes included here. Which deleted Season 2 scene were you most devastated not to see included in the original episodes?
There was one recently that was released on social media; it was the “Faith” scene. Certainly, from my perspective, you got to see a lot more of Jamie and his angst. I mean, he’s kind of not present for most of that episode. I think that’s important, that’s an important cut. We go on that journey with Claire and see her go through all the stages of grief and mourning and then some sort of brittle resolve. Almost, in a way, we didn’t want the camera to blink from her. I think that’s what was decided. Watching Jamie also go through it, well, absolutely, it’s another side. I certainly know that I really felt very strong in that scene. I felt that it was a very awkward place for Jamie to be that will have some sort of repercussion—even now in Season 3. I don’t think Jamie or Claire get over the loss of Faith. I think it’s wonderful that the fans actually get to see a glimpse into some of the other work that we do that’s not always on the screen.
I’ve heard you say that, as opposed to Caitriona with her elaborate costumes, it only takes you five minutes to get into wardrobe when Jamie is wearing the kilt. But I was curious, since we’re going to jump forward several years in Season 3, if you have some extra time in makeup chair this year and if you can tell us anything about what older Jaime looks like?
I mean, I’m probably not allowed to say much, but I think we all know that the books do span a great amount of time. Season 3, in particular, yeah, I mean, there was an aging process. There was definitely a different look to the characters, but you’ll have to tune in to find out, I guess. But even in Season 1, I had hours and hours of prosthetic makeup whenever the back scarring was on or Jamie got shot or injured. By no means does that stop in Season 3 so, yes, there’s been a lot of very long days where I’ve been in makeup.
The end of Season 2 saw Claire back in her own timeline so I really don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that you filmed a good part of Season 3 without Caitriona. Since you two have been such close partners on this whole experience, what was it like to go on without her?
Yeah. Honestly, it’s like having a death in the family. Well, I don’t know, I mean, it’s just like a different show. It’s hard to separate yourself from the character. Jamie’s present, living in his world, and Claire’s present and living in her world, and they both believe the other is dead. It’s always hard when we’re apart, actually, because she’s a great person, great to come to work with, and a very good actress. But I think it all adds to the reunion—if there’s a reunion, or when there’s a reunion—well you know there’s one in the books. It should be very special.
Do you have a fondest memory from Season 2 that you’re excited for the fans to re-live via the Blu-ray?
Wow. Whoa, that’s tough, I think—Paris was almost like another world and it was great fun—but for us getting back to Scotland, to Lallybroch, and then to having all the MacKenzies turn up, Graham McTavish as Dougal and Stephen Walters as Angus and all the others. It was so rewarding to be in Scotland with the wind and the rain and the cold and everyone was miserable but kind of happy because we were back and it felt like coming home. I think it’s a very sad ending because we all knew that people were going to die— that’s what history tells us—that’s what Jamie and Claire are fighting to stop is the end of these people. So it’s a bittersweet return home to Scotland. In the back of your mind, you’re aware that it’s sort of coming to a close.
Exclusive: Why Sam Heughan Was the Perfect Jamie For Outlander
From pop sugar: Though you’ll have to wait until April 4 to get the second half of Outlander season one, you can get a little fix when Starz releases the season one volume one DVD and Blu-ray on March 3. We have an exclusive look at one of the extras, which is a special treat if you love Sam Heughan, aka Jamie. Heughan talks about the casting process, while producers and writer Diana Gabaldon explain why exactly he was perfect for the role. Until the show comes back, enjoy all the sexiest pictures of Jamie, the preview pictures from the April return, and the four things to expect from the new episodes.