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Outlander Season 6: Morgan Holmstrom Breaks Down Her Experience As Emily! – VIDEO INTERVIEW

In her being so down-to-earth and friendly, Morgan Holmstrom managed to give a very sweet and empathetic performance as Wakyo’teyehsnonhsa, Young Ian’s Indian wife, nicknamed Emily by him in Outlander Season 6. A character who doesn’t speak much, but with those few gestures brings a lot of emotions and colours into young Murray’s life.

Filming the audition in the middle of a busy week, at midnight in a scramp with his partner, Morgan Holmstrom couldn’t believe it when she got the role of Emily in Outlander Season 6. She’s heard about the show, but not specifically, so she had to do some research on the story and her character. Wakyo’teyehsnonhsa, sweetly nicknamed Emily by Young Ian, with whom she was impressed from the first moment. A sweet, sensitive, almost fragile soul.

“When I found out I had got the role, I was shocked. It was such an amazing surprise.”

Morgan Holmstrom
One of the biggest challenges of this project was the extensive research she had to do on the Mohawk culture to portray the character in a more truthful way.

Despite being an indigenous woman herself, her culture, the Red River Métis, is very different. “That was definitely the most challenging part” Morgan explains. “You know, knowing that she is such a young woman in this very different era and playing her in the most realistic way possible.”

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Morgan Holmstrom and John Bell as Emily and Ian on Outlander Season 6 – CR: Robert Wilson/STARZ

To that end, Morgan did a lot of research that allowed her to have a good foundation about the Mohawk culture so that she could portray the character “with intention,” she says.

“There were cultural advisors we worked with on set, you know, and also language keepers, as I don’t have that knowledge – I rely on others who have studied it. But coming into contact with [the culture], I did a lot of research on… somehow the values, the principles, the ceremonies, a little bit of everything in general about the Mohawks.”

Morgan Holmstrom on the research she did on the Mohawk culture

A further challenge is that in the episode in which we see her, season 6 episode 4 “Hour of The Wolf”, Emily doesn’t have many lines. She can’t use the verbal tool to express the character’s soul to the fullest.

“I wanted to make sure you could see her love for Ian, even though there wasn’t much that Emily was saying. So with body language and everything like that, I was hoping to portray as much as I could in that way!”

Morgan Holmstrom on her approach to Emily’s character
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John Bell and Morgan Holmstrom as Young Ian and Emily on Outlander Season 6 – CR: Robert Wilson/STARZ
The actress stresses how complex but also beautiful the Mohawk language is, and what a huge effort the production team did to make sure they spoke it correctly.

Speaking it, and being able to listen to the recordings and make sure she said everything right was very nice for her.

“You know, there were some words that I wanted to make sure when we were shooting the scene that they were pronounced right – the scene when Ian and Emily are like in a bed of flowers. There wasn’t a pre-determined thing to say, so I went to [the language keepers] and asked them ‘Hey, is there anything I can say about like flowers or what’s around us?’ or something like that. I added a few little things here and there.”

Morgan Holmstrom on learning the Mohawk language
Having to deal with issues of great importance to women, such as having a miscarriage, along with her character, Morgan had the opportunity to work side by side with Outlander’s new intimacy coordinator, Vanessa Coffey.

Morgan recognises the Intimacy Coordinator as an invaluable tool on a film set and how lucky she feels to have worked with Vanessa Coffey on the Outlander set. She made them feel safe and welcomed to ask any questions they felt necessary – “if we felt uncomfortable about something on set […] she made us feel free to go to her and ask her anything or change anything,” she explains.

“She asked me how… for Emily would like to go unbelt the scene from her point of view. I think that was really crucial, because you know, the intimacy coordinator is rare now to the film industry. I really think it’s amazing that one of my first intimacy scenes was with an intimacy coordinator, when so many other women in the film industry didn’t have that opportunity. She’s an amazing person to work with, really really amazing.”

Morgan Holmstron on working with intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey

Abortion is a really tough issue for women to deal with, Morgan points out. She can only be thankful that she felt supported in whatever choices she needed to make on set.

And how can you not love John Bell?

Morgan Holmstrom couldn’t have wished for a sweeter, more amazing scene partner than John Bell and building Emily and Ian’s love story with him was very natural.

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John Bell and Morgan Holmstrom as Young Ian and Emily on Outlander Season 6 – CR: Robert Wilson/STARZ

One of the first times they met was when Morgan was quarantining in London, just arrived from Canada. The two were due to attend an intimacy coordination meeting. They sort of had to go through their intimacy scene in detail and it was the first time they had ever met! Definitely an unforgettable first meeting.

“We both were like ?, just sitting there nicely while listening to other people talk and we didn’t know each other at all! Then, he texted me on Instagram afterwards and was like ‘Hey, that was pretty awkward as a first meeting, we should Facetime’. So he facetimed after and we got to know each other a little more. Yeah, then we hung out a lot while I was in Scotland. So it was really easy to build that relationship with him because I found a really good friend in him.”

Morgan Holmstrom on her relationship with John Bell
How does Morgan Holmstrom see herself as similar to Emily and where are they completely different?
Morgan Holmstrom – Eleven Talent Management

Emily is a really generous, loving person with this calm energy… and Morgan likes to think she is and has elicited that same feeling from the people she has met in her life.

In contrast, unlike Emily, Morgan is a bit more stubborn and maybe speaks her mind a bit more. But considering the culture and era Emily lives in, she doesn’t know if she would be the same.

Of all the scenes they shot for episode 6×04 “Hour of the Wolf”, what was the most fun to shoot and what was the most complex?

The actress mentions Young Ian’s Indian baptism scene along the river as the most fun scene to shoot. The whole crew of indigenous actors from all over Canada were there and it was very nice for her to be together on set.

As for the scene that challenged her the most, for Morgan it was the scene of Emily’s second miscarriage, when it happens near the river and you see the blood flowing in the water stream.

“We only had less than half an hour to shoot that scene, because the light was coming down that day and you had to get into that mind very quickly.”

Morgan Holmstrom on the most challenging scene to film
Acting with a whole group of indigenous people playing the Cherokee and Mohawk tribe was an unforgettable experience.

Being part of a team of indigenous actors from all over Canada was a unique and life-changing experience. To always remember this time, Morgan and her ‘Indian’ co-stars decided to get a tattoo with a wolf.

“It was the first time I travelled outside of Canada since COVID started. So getting on a plane and then filming in the midst of COVID was completely outside of my element […] To get to Scotland and film together and build these beautiful relationships… I’ll always remember that, and that’s why we got that tattoo and somehow commemorate season 6 all together.”

Morgan Holmstrom on filming with other indigenous actors

Morgan also reveals that she and John Bell had combined carved wolf pendants made, as a reminder of the experience and the characters.

Of all the characters in Outlander, apart from Emily, which one do you feel most relates to you as Morgan?

“Claire,” the actress replies offhand. “She speaks to my heart a lot.”

Throwing back to her previous experiences as an actress, which role is Morgan most fond of and which was the most challenging and helped her grow the most?

Although I loved the role of Emily very much, two roles that she is very fond of are the role of Sâkowêw in the miniseries Shadow of the Rougarou, due out on May 9. And the role of Crystal in the Paramount+ series SkyMed, also due out soon.

“They were both a lot of fun to shoot and deal with a lot of important issues,” Morgan explains.

As for the most challenging role for her, the one that has helped her grow the most, both personally and professionally, is the one in the series Day of The Dead. It was an action and dynamic role for which she needed training for. But there was no time during filming. so Morgan had to learn and train as much as possible on her own before production started. In this case, it came in very handy to have a friend who is a personal trainer, she says.

Morgan has grown a passion for film, TV and acting in general over the years.
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Morgan Holmstrom – Eleven Talent Management

Starting her career as a model, Morgan says acting wasn’t something she had always wanted to do since she was a child.

“I did everything but acting,” she explains with a smile. “I was a very creative, artsy kid and you know, I loved singing, dancing, playing the violin – I loved all those things – but acting came somewhat later in my life. There was a movie that was being made in my hometown and my agent, when I was a model, asked me to audition and I said no originally [laughs] because I was nervous and she said ‘you know, you can try, you’ll be fine, get an acting teacher and you know… you never know what can happen […] And eventually I got a small role in that movie and from then on I got into acting, I fell in love with it and I wanted to learn more and more.”

And since then everything has changed for her!

What advice would Morgan give to those of our readers who would like to pursue a career as an actor or in show business in general?

Although it sounds like a cliché, Morgan gives one piece of advice that is always true and always good in any situation: “Just don’t give up!”

You never know, as the actress points out, how close your next role, the one that will change your life, might be.

“If you keep trying, keep pursuing it and stay persistent, you will make it! And, you know, be curious about the world around you and be a long life-learner, because that’s acting. The truest form of empathy. You know, like Natalie Portman said. And putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Always be curious, look around and take inspiration from other people. I think that’s just as important!”

Morgan Holmstrom

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Chiara Lombatti
Chiara Lombatti
When Cristina Yang’s mankind hate, and Sherlock Holmes’ deductive skills meet Randall Pearson’s anxiety and Jamie Fraser’s multilingualism (featuring Claire Fraser’s curls and Kate Pearson’s voice). Translator and feature article with a great love for cinema, TV series and books.

1 commento

  1. Beautiful scenes! Love that real Native American language was used and tribes. Ty for educating us! ❤️


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