Check out these exciting Outlander tidbits we discovered, plus little-known details about the show, weird quirks about its stars, random facts and must-know info for every Sassenach.
1. Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who play Claire and Jamie Fraser, know each other really well. Wait, not in the way you’re thinking! “We have a secondhand with each other and I know exactly what he is thinking many times,” Balfe said at New York Comic Con 2019. “We know each other and I can tell if she is upset or she has a sticking point,” Heughan echoed.
2. Those sex scenes are painful (but not painful to watch)! “Caitriona and I—it’s very physical between us and it’s usually in the most uncomfortable places,” Heughan says. “It may look great for camera being passionate on the floor, or on a carpet, or on a boat, but actually it’s really uncomfortable. You go home and it’s, ‘I’ve got carpet burns,’ or ‘I’ve got bruises on me.’”
3. Sorry, shippers: Balfe and Heughan are definitely not a couple in real life. “I think things are pretty clear now that I’m engaged [and now married] to someone else,” says Balfe, whose husband is music producer Tony McGill. “Everyone gets it now.”
4. The way Jamie looks has changed. “We have a great makeup team—for myself, they do a lot of shading. The wig has more grey in it,” Heughan says, now that Jamie is middle-aged. “And he has more scars.”
5. But there’s a reason why Claire never looks like she’s aged when she’s in the past. “When she goes back to the past, back to Jamie, I feel like she’s an ageless person when she’s with him,” Balfe says. “Together, they are not old. Their hearts and their souls are ageless with each other.” That’s one way to explain it!
6. Balfe and Heughan are producers since season five. “If it is good, we will take full credit. If there are any complaints, don’t call us,” Balfe jokes.
7. Since Season 4, colonial America is actually Scotland. “We’re still shooting in Scotland for America, so that’s a challenge,” Heughan says. Caitriona adds, “When you look at the Scottish countryside, to be able to imagine that somebody can transform that and make it look like North Carolina in such an incredible way.
8. Before Outlander producers decided to use Scotland as a stand-in for the U.S. colonies, executive producer Matthew B. Roberts visited America to get a lay of the land.
9. The second biggest Highland Games in the world is really in North Carolina, according to Roberts. So, the producers based the season four episode in which Brianna and Roger go to the Scottish games there on real photos of the event in the 1970s.
10. The North Carolina plantation of River Run, where Aunt Jocasta lives, isn’t a real historic home—it’s a set in Scotland.
11. On-set fist fights (even fake ones) are exhausting. “It was very tiring for both of us, I think more so than we thought it was going to be,” Rankin says of his altercations with Heughan in season four. “Take after take of doing those fights was quite exhausting, but a lot of fun at the same time.”
12. David Berry, who plays fan favorite Lord John Grey and will appear in season five, is Australian. When the part was being cast, there weren’t too many English or Scottish actors available. So, the casting director had to look farther afield.
13. Because the actress who plays Jamie’s sister, Jenny (Laura Donnelly), was in a play on Broadway, she couldn’t appear in season four. So, extra scenes were written in for the character we all love to hate, Jamie’s “other” wife, Laoghaire (Nell Hudson).
14. In real life, Balfe is actually Irish, too. She grew up in a small village in Ireland as one of seven siblings before moving to Paris at age 19 to become a model.
15. But actually, Balfe is practically an American. Before Outlander, “I hadn’t lived back in the U.K. or Ireland in such a long time—I’d been in America for about 13 years,” she says. And she hadn’t ever seen much of Scotland, either: “I’d been there to visit [Edinburgh and Glasgow] a few times, but I hadn’t really left either, so I hadn’t spent any time in the countryside.”
16. The show doesn’t always adhere to author Diana Gabaldon’s novels. For example, in the books, Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) died a long time ago. But thankfully, this fan favorite is alive and well, and with the Fraser clan in the colonies.
17. The decision to keep Murtagh alive was actually so that Claire and Jamie have someone else to talk and voice their thoughts to, as the voiceover on the show was getting “old,” executive producer Roberts says.
18. The producers have said adapting Gabaldon’s fifth book, The Fiery Cross, for season five was difficult because it’s a very long novel and they only have 12 episodes—the series’ shortest season yet.
19. The season four scene in which Jamie and Brianna finally meet was high-pressure to film to meet fan expectations—and it didn’t help that it was freezing out that day, says executive producer Roberts.
20. John Bell, who plays Young Ian, went to another source besides the Outlander books when he first heard about the role. “I’ll be honest; I went straight to the Wiki page, because I wanted to find out as much as I possibly could as quickly as possible,” he says. “I read everything that I could on that, and that’s when I got the books. I got my mum to start reading the books, and I got my gran to start reading the books. We’d all get together in a little book club and discuss.” Cute!
21. Bell also took an online course to learn the Mohawk language for season four. “I was in touch with the Mohawk language preservation society, which is the biggest course you can do—they have an online course to learn the language,” he explains.
22. Speaking of Rollo, Bell jokingly says the dog is the best cast member to work with. “Actually I found Rollo to be the most professional on set. And that’s shade,” he laughs.
23. It takes a long time for Heughan to literally become Jamie. “For Outlander, I’m in hair and makeup for an hour and a half,” he says. The actor’s hair is naturally blonde, not red.
24. Jamie’s been a bootlegger and a moonshiner—and now Heughan also has his own whiskey in real life, called, appropriately, The Sassenach.
25. Heughan was an actual stable boy—well, he lived in a stable. “I used to live in a sort of converted stables on the grounds of a castle, and I spent a lot of my childhood running around with a pretend sword pretending to be Robert the Bruce,” he shares.
26. Heughan liked the, er, “freedom” of season one’s kilts. “You do have to learn how to wear a kilt, and it’s certainly very liberating and very freeing, but surprisingly very comfortable to wear, to ride a horse in a kilt,” he says.
27. The most elaborate costumes for the show came in the Paris portion of the second season—and one dress in particular was actually inspired by one of the most famous outfits ever, the Dior Bar Suit. “I love so much how it is [Claire], a woman from the ’40s, in the 18th century,” Balfe explains.
28. The corset was key for Balfe to get into character in the early seasons. “It was always the corset. Once you put on those undergarments, you are automatically transported to a different time,” she says.
29. In the second half of the third season, when Jamie and Claire set sail for the Caribbean, Outlander actually borrowed a ship from a fellow Starz production, the pirate series Black Sails.
30. It was “strange” for Balfe and Heughan when they filmed apart for season three. “It’s so rare that I’m not there for the day where things are shot, it was such a treat watching episode one and seeing all this footage as a viewer,” Balfe says. Heughan jokes, “This [third] season, we were apart for the first time and that was kind of strange—you did good work without me being there!”
31. In season three, Gabaldon would have liked to see more in the show from a specific part of her book Voyager. “There were a number of things from the prison, from Ardsmuir, that I would have liked to have seen, but there just wasn’t room,” she says. Interesting choice!
32. Gabaldon does have to sign off on everything in the show, though.
“We email her all the time,” explains executive producer Maril Davis. “She sees all the scripts, she sees dailies, and anytime we do something crazy, or we want to kind of go off the reservation a little, we always consult her first. She doesn’t always like it. For the most part, though, we always try to please her.”
33. Gabaldon didn’t plan to ever publish Outlander. “I knew I was supposed to be a novelist, but I didn’t know how; and I decided the way to learn was to actually write a novel. So, Outlander was my practice book,” she says. “I was never going to show it to anyone, so it didn’t matter what I did with it.” We’re glad she actually gave it to someone to read!
34. A real-life nurse critiqued Outlander’s medical sets in season three.
“We had this incredible ER nurse who was there. She came in and she was, ‘No! It’s all wrong,’ and she went and changed the layout of all the cotton swabs and things like that.”
35. Balfe occasionally forgets she can’t actually perform surgery. “I sometimes think I can. Of course, if someone has a protruding something in their stomach, I think, ‘I will cut that open. I have my little scalpel,’” she jokes.
36. But Balfe did learn some real surgical techniques.
“We have this amazing medical adviser on the show called Dr. Claire, and she has been with us from the very beginning and I would be absolutely lost without her,” Balfe says. “She talks me through everything I am going to do, everything from how you hold your scalpel, to how to tie a one-handed knot, to all of the different things.”
37. Heughan doesn’t think Jamie should have ever gotten involved with Claire. When asked what Jamie would tell his season one self if he could go back in time, Heughan replied, “Don’t go near her. Your life is going to be a mess. She just turns his world upside down and every time he looks at her, I think he sees his own demise in that he knows he would do anything for her.”
38. The people of Scotland don’t really care that Outlander films there. “I go about my normal life very easily,” Balfe says. “We’re very lucky because we shoot in Scotland, and Scottish people are really very unimpressed by everything. So they don’t bother anybody too much.”
39. Even if the Scottish people are meh about Outlander locations, tourists sure aren’t. So Scotland’s tourist board created a 12-day self-guided itinerary to visit key filming sites around the country.
40. Jamie’s Scottish home, Lallybroch, exists in real life—at least the exterior. In actuality, Midhope Castle is completely derelict inside. And if you go looking for it, be careful: It’s on private property, so you have to get a permit first.
Keep following us for more news on Outlander Season 6 and its cast!
Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Survived The Shows / @survivedtheshows / @SurvivedShows to keep updated!