[Spoiler Alert: There is some mention of what happens in the second book, Dragonfly in Amber, so skip this post if you do not want to be spoiled.]
Sometimes Outlander Q & As for interviews are about the same things over and over again. Moviefone interviewed Tobias Menzies about the roles of Frank and Jack, but with the ending of Season One, the questions were broadened to include parts of the final episodes. It is interesting with Tobias that even though he has been asked some of these questions many times, there are always new things he throws in with his answers.
I would like to point out that Tobias did not have to “decompress” from the brutal final scenes between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Jack, yet Sam had to get out and away from the set to clear his mind. This just proves that every actor deals with difficult material in different ways.
Here are some excerpts from the Moviefone interview, but the whole interview is worthy of a read. I cannot stress it enough to you to read the entirety of it.
One of the things I enjoy about your performance is there’s no gimmick to making one or the other work. There’s no limp or mustache. How did you navigate making them very different individuals?
That’s interesting. I’m glad that you brought that up. I’m interested that you like that, because that was something I was very keen to do, was not to ink in the difference too heavily. But obviously that comes with a certain amount of risk. The danger is that you don’t quite delineate them enough. And obviously, I get asked this quite a lot, and I can’t really come up with a satisfactory answer. It’s been quite sort of –- it wasn’t particularly logical. It was intuitive.
I remember the fittings, putting on the clothing, being very helpful. The very different sort of weight of cloth and made me stand differently, especially the uniform for Jack. But in a way, I just to a certain degree was daring to trust that the costumes and the script and the setting would do a lot of the work for me – and then daring to be maybe at times a little bit similar. And wanting the difference to be in the eyes rather than, as you say, the mustache or a limp.
But yeah, there’s an element of risk about that. And I’m, obviously very encouraged that people do feel there is a definite difference between the two people. Because, as you say, I’m not doing anything particularly radically different with my face. But that was certainly much more interesting to me to have that rather than something very overt. Because in a way, then you take away what is kind of fun and interesting about having the same actor play two different people.
In every interaction with him, he goes to a cruel or vicious place. Is there another side to him that we’re going to see or delve into what got him to that place?
I’m not completely clear about this, because I have not completely crossed the second book. But my understanding is that some of the softer sides of Jack are revealed in his interactions in the second book with his brother. His brother, Alex, comes into it -– who, in my correspondence with Diana, is of the opinion that really maybe that’s the only person that he truly ever loved was this younger brother.
So it will be interesting to see what the writers come up with, but I think certainly that might be an opportunity to see a softer aspect of Jack in an intimate situation. Because you’re right: thus far, he never lets anyone close. And whenever he becomes one-on-one, seeks to dominate. But so far, we haven’t seen him interact with family. Family is, obviously, always different.
I think that’s what’s good about the character is you feel there’s plenty of rope for us to sort of continue to understand and unpack what drives someone who, on the face of it, is so sadistic and cruel. It’s inevitable that you then raise questions about why, how does someone arrive to this place?
When the sexual element of the character came up for you, was that an exciting place to go, or did you have to wrap your head around “How am I going to navigate these scenes?”
I wasn’t nervous about it. I’m not nervous about nudity or portraying sexuality. But here’s the one thing that I wrestled with a little bit was, the point of the sexuality. The sexual aggression or the sexual attacks that he does, I suppose I was very keen to make that a tool that he used, rather than the goal. That he’s not about -– his interest is not to rape someone. His interest is to use rape to break someone down, as a tool of war in a way. Since war began, it’s been a tactic that’s been used, and Jack is no different.
And also, I feel that’s, in a way, not completely the objective when it comes to Jamie as well. And I know there are plenty of people who probably disagree with me in that regard about Jack. Fans have written about the fact that he’s in love with Jamie, and I’m not sure I completely agree with it. I was more interested in the attraction being more psychological and more about his sadism, about meeting someone who was his equal. Beginning with this event where he flogs him a hundred times after he had already been flogged a hundred times. And he finds or encounters a young man who is able to endure more pain than he’s ever administered to anyone else.
And on his journey as a sadist, in his life, that is a red letter day. And so it functions on different levels. There may well be a sexual attraction, but that’s only one of a mixture of things that attracts him or interests him about Jamie.
Did you and Sam use humor about these two characters’ relationships amongst yourselves, so when you got to the point you had to act this out you had a comfort zone?
There wasn’t that. I was always kind of wary of doing that. But it was interesting that people would sort of josh about it. In some ways, I was interested that we never really sat down and talked about it. And that’s probably kind of right, that we sort of saved it for doing it in a way. Because I think you can drain something of energy, if you talk it to death. And for whatever reason, I noticed that we both avoided that conversation, I think [laughs]. Which is interesting.
After a day of that on set, do you shake it off right away?
The funny thing about that — and this may be a peculiarity of me, but I don’t find it — it’s not something I have to shake off really. It feels… because it’s a sort of cathartic thing, in the doing of it, in a way, you burn it. So no, I’ve never really had moments of going “Oh, I feel sullied or uncomfortable about what we’ve done.” Because I think that’s why we tell dark stories is because they can be the story and not in our lives, you know. And so I think that cathartic thing stops it maybe seeping into your life or feeling the need, as you say, to shake it off.