After four weeks of new Outlander video content to relish during the TV series hiatus, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan brought the Outlander End of Summer series to a close today with a breezy Zoom chat about how they spent their quarantines and fielding fan questions from around the globe.
The weekly video series was conceived as a fundraiser to support the Doctors Without Borders program and get some buzz for the Outlander Season 5 Blu-ray release on Sept. 15. But with global COVID-19 shutdown, the filming of Outlander Season 6 has been delayed indefinitely, so this has been the only source for fans to get some quality time with the cast and creatives of the series.
(Outlander Season 5 spoilers below:)
For Sam and Caitriona, the downtime has been filled with home-bound pursuits. Balfe admitted that she was surprised how quickly she went into hibernation in her home just reading, planting an herb garden, and napping.
"I haven’t ever slept in one bed [that long] since I have been 17," she admitted to Heughan. "But I am so grateful everyone I know is healthy, and I feel lucky. It's been an odd life lesson about staying still. And learning about myself and that I do love to travel."
Heughan spent the last few months writing a companion book with fellow Scot, and former Outlander co-star, Graham McTavish. Entitled Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other, the tome is a memoir of making their upcoming STARZ docuseries Men in Kilts.
Heughan joked, "It’s a bit of an expose." And then added to Balfe, "I don’t think you have anything to worry about. However, Duncan [Lacroix] … there's nothing in there that he shouldn’t expect."
With the UK and Ireland in a more advanced stage of social integration now, the pair shared that they had recently come together, along with some castmates, for a socially distanced cocktail party at Balfe's home. Balfe said they created three bespoke libations, and by the third round no one remembers much due now to Heughan's liberal pours.
The two then fielded some video fan questions from around the world, mostly focusing on their work in Season 5, which aired on STARZ earlier this year. They both praised the quality of the overall season, with the latter episodes really winning their admiration.
"We got to back to the more standalone, episodic stories," Balfe enthused. "And Episode 7 ['The Ballad of Roger Mac'] was so sad and amazing. It was emotional for all of us, losing the incredible character of Murtagh and the actor, Duncan."
Heughan added he loved that the season really ramped up into those potent episodes, and said to Balfe, "In that finale, you were magnificent. It was hard viewing."
Balfe asked about Heughan's dramatic action scenes in that same episode, and he said that those sequences weren't that easy to do. "I love the action, but it was 4 a.m. and you are in the mud and you can’t see anything. It was cold and I thought I might actually hurt someone today." He then praised director Jamie Payne for getting everyone through it and his co-star John Bell (Young Ian) for his enthusiasm and tenacity with a tomahawk for making the sequence even more intense.
And last but not least, each did fess up to their favorite moments of Season 5. For Heughan, it was playing the finale episode scene with Balfe after he rescued Claire from her brutal kidnappers. "There was something about that scene," he mused. "You were fantastic. There was a weight and gravity to the whole scene. And I couldn't really hear you because of the rushing water. But you really took it there, and I loved play off what you were doing."
Balfe cited Episode 4, "The Company We Keep," and Claire and Jamie's romantic, tipsy amble into the forest at night. Heughan agreed, saying, "It was light-hearted, and it was nice to see them still so on love with each other."
Asked by a fan whether either of them took anything from the Season 5 sets, both admitted they might have poached a piece or two. Heughan said he raided the armory so he has some pieces in his house now. While Balfe admitted to taking a piece from the finale episode's '60s-decorated set, as she knew they would never be returning that locale again.
With the start of production on Season 6 still unannounced, Balfe and Heughan have just been in prep mode, reading Diana Gabaldon's source books and the scripts provided by the writers for Season 6. Heughan admitted he's halfway through book six, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. And he's keen to see where the writers take the series. "We leave Season 5 with the whole family together, but it's fractured."
Balfe added, "I'm looking forward to seeing how she copes with all of it [post-assault], but how the family, as a unit, helps her heal."
Watch our exclusive Outlander Season 5 episode post mortems with the cast: