Caution: light spoilers abound!
It’s been more than a year since fans of the Starz series Outlander have gotten a new episode, but the #droughtlander is officially over on September 10, 2017, with the debut of Season 3. The adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s New York Times bestselling book series has been a huge hit for the premium cable service, telling the story of late ‘40s era Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) unexpectedly time-traveling back to 1743 and finding her soulmate in Scottish clansman James Fraser (Sam Heughan).
At the Television Critics Association summer press tour today, Starz presented cast members Balfe, Heughan (via satellite), Tobias Menzies (Frank Randall), Richard Rankin (Roger Wakefield), and Sophie Skelton (Brianna Randall Fraser), as well as executive producers Maril Davis and Ron D. Moore. And we found out a whole lot more about the upcoming season.
Season 3 is based on the third book in Gabaldon’s series, Voyager, which also happens to have a hefty page count. Executive producer Ron Moore says they considered whether they would have to split the book in half, but ultimately decided not to: “We did talk about Voyager in terms of page counts and maybe if it was too much for one season. But we put it up on the board, and the front half of Jamie’s story felt like it unfolded in five chapters. And then the second half of the book was the sea voyage, Jamaica, and the New World. Sometimes page count in the novel doesn’t translate to the screen. Each season we approach each book with fresh eyes. We are open to the best way of telling each particular year.”
In regard to the vastly different narratives that are featured in each season, actress Balfe says, “I think the great thing about this series of books and our show is that you’re constantly being kept on your toes. Who would have thought we’d end up on ships in Jamaica this season? Because of the time travel, the story can go anywhere, and it keeps it interesting for all of us.”
Co-star Heughan (via satellite from his latest film set) agreed, offering, “Diana created this remarkable world, and what makes our show different is that it’s constantly changing, even every episode. With this season, every episode has a unique theme or feeling. And Jamie is a lot of fun to play. I’m enjoying growing up with him, and playing him over the years. We’ll see how long it goes.”
Season 3 also finds Claire, Jamie, and Frank living their lives over a 20-year period, which isn’t overtly played with excessive age makeup on any of the actors. Balfe explains, “I think we all approached this from a place of how does experience and time change you? At the end of Season 2, I had to start doing a lot of that work. I would study a lot of actresses and watch one of their earlier films and a newer film. I found people don’t change that much, but rather there’s a certain gravitas when people know themselves more. With Claire being a surgeon, getting there professionally would add an authority to her rather than crow’s feet or a mono brow,” she laughs.
Actor Menzies, who has played the dual role of sadistic Black Jack Randall in the past and Claire’s first husband Frank Randall, says the third season allows him to see some closure for his characters, especially between Jaime and Black Jack: “I think it’s a difficult storyline to tie up,” the actor muses. “Where do you go after the stuff at the end of Season 1? But they meet on the battlefield on Culloden, almost in flashback. It’s non-verbal and like a dance. We always look for an unusual angle, and I like the way it’s come out. I feel like it’s a fitting end to this odd, quasi-love affair.”
As for the long-range plans for Davis and Moore to continue producing seasons up through, and maybe someday surpass, the current eighth installment of Gabaldon’s books, Moore laughs and says, “I cannot imagine a scenario where we catch up with Diana Gabaldon. She’ll tell us when it ends.”
Davis then adds about the current printed books, “If Sony and Starz will have us, we’d love to keep going.”