‘Outlander’ Season 2: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe Explain Why They Admire Their Characters

Sam Heughan Caitriona Balfe in Outlander Season 2
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe in ‘Outlander’ season 2 (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc)

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe were on hand, along with executive producer Ronald D. Moore and author Diana Gabaldon, for the 2016 Television Critics Association Starz press event in Los Angeles where they did their best to answer questions about season two without giving away spoilers. Of course, the definition of ‘spoiler’ varies greatly, depending on whether or not you’ve read Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling book series. Season two will be following the events in Gabaldon’s second book of the Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, with the pregnant Claire (Balfe) and her husband, Jamie (Heughan), in Paris attempting to stop the battle of Culloden by infiltrating the Jacobite rebellion.

Season one found Jamie often in danger and having to physically defend himself. That changes a bit in season two says Heughan. “I would say the danger in Paris and Versailles is less physical of the swords and weaponry. It’s more politics and back-stabbing and poison. It’s more hidden. There’s a lot more politics at work and more danger,” explained Heughan.

Jamie’s traumatic experience at the hands of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) will affect him in season two, but it definitely isn’t the focus of the season. “I think time is a great healer but ultimately he puts his whole soul into this mission about changing history,” said Heughan. Heughan went on to tease a “great revelation” that will bring him back to the old Jamie. “Whether or not that still lives with me, I thoroughly enjoyed that. Myself and Caitriona, we both love any scenes that are kind of dramatic, that we can get our teeth into and stretch our acting abilities. I thoroughly enjoyed those episodes and look forward to more challenges.”

Now that they’re into their second seasons playing Jamie and Claire, Heughan and Balfe have found much to admire about these particular characters. Asked what it is he admires about Jamie, Sam admitted he’s been surprised by season two. “Season one was about discovery, about a young man growing up and finding his place in the world and in a relationship. Season two was about finding a side of the character I never knew was there. He’s playing someone else. He’s learning to be deceptive, and he does it very well. He’s good at most things but there’s a side to him I didn’t know. He’s still traumatized and struggling with what happened to him. There’s not a darkness but a side to him I didn’t know existed. What do I admire about him? I guess his humor and his just buoyancy. He has a natural ability to keep going no matter what’s wrong. I guess also his just absolute dedication to Claire is admirable and inspiring.”

Balfe says her experience is similar to Heughan’s. “In some respect similar to Sam, Claire last year, last season, it was a very reactionary season. There were events that happened one after another and she was in survival mode, so she was just reacting from one thing to the next. The difference this season is there’s been time to be in one place and contemplate. I feel things are sitting with Claire a lot more. She has time to consider her place and how she feels. It’s been a really amazing discovery in that way.”

“In a lot of respects, I feel I’ve gotten to know her a lot more. We have such a long journey to go with these characters, I’m really looking forward to playing these next phases. People know Briana comes in and how that is to be a mother. I really admire her resilience and her intelligence. I would love to just ask her what her thoughts are being in all these different places and times, how she sees humanity, having that conversation with her and her drive for her career. It would be a very interesting dinner I think. Probably a very drunk dinner,” said Balfe, laughing.

And what would Heughan ask Jamie? “Is he a natural ginger? Does he dye his hair once a month?” joked Heughan.

Adding new characters to season two will affect the dynamic between Claire and Jamie, particularly with the addition of Fergus (played by Romann Berrux). Commenting on the new additions to the Outlander cast, Heughan said, “We have some fantastic new characters coming in. The French actors brought in a new dynamic, a new world. There’s new enemies, new allies. We have Dominique Pinon, Stanley Weber… We have this young boy who plays Fergus and he brings this great dimension to Claire and Jamie. He’s sort of their surrogate son. It’s nice to see Jamie and Claire play father and mother. It brings a new dynamic to their relationship.”

And while at the TCAs, Balfe also talked about the differences in costumes from season one to season two. “Obviously I think Terry [Dresbach] will agree with me that I don’t know if we’d call the Scottish clothes necessarily fashions. They’re very practical clothes. It was a palette that was very muted and fabrics that were practical and earthy. Once we went to Paris, Terry was given freedom to make the most incredible, beautiful pieces. We have very rich fabrics, gorgeous colors. It looks amazing, it’s so sumptuous.”

More on Outlander Season 2: Sam Heughan Interview / Ronald D Moore Interview / Caitriona Balfe Interview / Diana Gabaldon Interview