Post-Episode 210 “Prestonpans” Interview Round-Up

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This week’s post-episode round-up includes interviews with Stephen Walters (Angus), Sam Heughan (Jamie), Graham McTavish (Dougal), Maril Davis, Ronald D. Moore,  locations manager Hugh Gourlay, UK producer David Brown, and Caitriona Balfe. Only excerpts are below, so please click on the links for each article to read them in their entirety.  As always, beware of spoilers for “Prestonpans” and upcoming episodes.

Updated (4/12/2016): One new interview added with Graham and Andrew.

VultureOutlander’s Stephen Walters on Kissing Claire and Having a Mouth Full of Fake Blood

Fun Fact we learn from this article: The character initially chosen by the writers for this tragic end, Willie, dodged a bullet when the actor (Finn Den Hertog) took another job and became unavailable. That’s why last week’s episode featured Rupert and Angus delivering the news of Willie’s marriage, in a moment that almost seemed like they were notifying Jamie and Claire of Willie’s death. Without Willie to kill off, the writers nominated Angus to take his place, “so I took the bullet, basically,” laughed actor Stephen Walters.

How did they alert you that Angus was going to die, instead of Willie?
Coldly and carelessly. [Laughs.] I’m only joking! But honestly, when I read the script, I thought, “Huh … strange.” And then I thought about it, and everything has to end anyway, so it was nice that Angus got his own death scene, as opposed to maybe dying in battle or something generic. So I’d like to thank [writer] Ira Behr for giving me that moment, giving me that arc. It’s kind of a gift, really.

What was it like shooting it, on a technical level? It’s so sudden and horrible. Your mouth is full of fake blood, you’re changing colors …
Wonderful makeup, darling! [Laughs.] And the makeup itself didn’t take a lot of time, but removing the blood did, because there was so much. The fake blood tasted quite nice, actually. But it’s a lot, because I’m gagging on my own blood. So after each take, we had to have a complete costume change, and I had to go back to makeup and get all the blood out of my beard so we could do it all over again. You really only get one chance at a full take, so there’s kind of a purity in shooting it. If you don’t make it, the turnaround is about an hour and a half before you’re ready to go again. So we were kind of doing it under pressure. You know, it’s funny, every actor has to do scenes where you go, “Wow, we never studied for this in drama school.” You can’t really prepare yourself to die. You can only try and feel it, and try to find a way in. I hope we carried it off.

What about shooting the cannon blast? How did that work?
You mean apart from doing my own stunts? I’m always a bit of a fool like that. There was a stunt guy who flew about 20 feet and landed on his ass, and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll do that!”

Vulture: How Outlander’s Battle of Prestonpans Came Together

First, they tried artificial smoke, thinking it could be augmented by special effects. They found a field at the edge of some woods that matched the original battle site and did a smoke test to see how it might work. “It was a disaster,” laughed Brown. “The smoke went everywhere except where we wanted it to! It was too weather dependent. So the question was, what are we going to do? This is a big number for us, and it has to work.”

The solution was a little bit of both: shooting inside and outside at the same time. “We decided there would have to be white clouding all around, and somebody said, ‘Why don’t we do it under a marquee tent, because it’s already white?'” Gourlay said.

Just down the road from their production stages at Cumbernauld, they found another field and covered it with an enormous, white marquee tent and filled it with a smoky mist. This way, they could control how much or how little they wanted, without any wind interference.

The actors were surprised to find out that this was how they were going to shoot the scene, but delighted by the prospect. “I’ve never done anything like that before,” said Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal. “My God, it was bigger than a football field. I cannot imagine what they would ever use that tent for in the normal run of things. You’d have to have the biggest wedding in the world!”

Inside the tent, it was difficult for the actors to maneuver. They were at least a foot deep in the mud, said Stephen Walters, who plays Angus. In order to have any grip on the ground, they needed metal-plate crampons attached to their shoes. Plus, they could hardly see around them. “The look, the sound, everything was different,” McTavish said. “You could just see through the depth of the fog a bit, for the foreground battle sequence, but then you’d just barely be able to see horses rearing in the background through the mist.”


Variety: ‘Outlander’ Recap: Sam Heughan Breaks Down the Victories and Losses of ‘Prestonpans’

Oddly, It was an encounter with his rapist, Black Jack Randall, that allowed Jamie to find peace and regain his confidence, “so by the time we get to Episode 10, Jamie has become the leader of men that he’s supposed to be,” Heughan says.

But all hope is not lost yet, he says: “There’s this finite point, which is Culloden… Jamie and Claire are trying to stop that battle from happening because at that point, they know that everything is lost. As we get closer to that, the stakes get higher. But they think they can change history,” even at this late stage.

For Heughan, one of the most powerful moments in the episode comes after the fighting is done. “I love the moment when Jamie and Murtargh finally see Claire again back in the hospital; I wanted to show that they’d almost been in this daze — crazed fighting. It was a great victory for them and they were massacring people, and that’s when it hits them what they’ve achieved, but also what they’ve lost.”

The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Outlander’ Team on the “Tragic Loss” During Battle of Prestonpans

“There’s a line in next week’s episode, I think Murtagh [Duncan Lacroix] says it or Jamie says it. ‘I never realized that victory would taste so bitter,’ or something to that effect,” Balfe told The Hollywood Reporter at the unveiling of the Paley Center for Media’s “The Artistry of Outlander” exhibit. “That’s the thing, yes they may have won this battle and yes they can see that it’s installed some kind of hope in their men and it’s rallied them. But they’ve lost some friends and Claire knows that it’s highly likely that they’re doomed.”

“By the time we get to Culloden by the end of the season, enough of history has swept them along that she’s become kind of fatalistic about it, the fact that the odds of them surviving this are getting less and less by the day,” executive producer Ron Moore told THR. “But at that point, it’s the only hand she has to play, so she has to play it until the final card and see if there’s any way they can still pull it off.”

“Honestly, I think their deaths affected us more from production than anyone else. Well, except for Rupert,” executive producer Maril Davis told THR with a laugh. “On the road to war, they all know what to expect. With war, you can’t come out of that unscathed. It’s a tragic loss but I think we felt it more in production because Stephen Walters who plays Angus is such an amazing actor and we love that character. He’s been such a big part of our family and we are such a tight knit family.”

“We shot it in a very large marquis that they filled with smoke. It was like being at a very bad wedding,” Heughan says with a laugh. “It was so strange, you could only see a few feet and then you can’t see anything. There were hundreds of people in there, not only the people fighting but there were horses and canons and people with swords, plus the crew as well. You could walk four paces and suddenly there was someone there, so you had to be very careful. But it was very inspiring how it all turned out. And there was a big storm, actually, that almost blew down the set on the last day. It was very dramatic.”

TV LineOutlander Star Talks [Spoiler]’s Bloody Death: ‘I Was Comforting Cait!’

“To be honest with you, because they’ve taken such a divergence in the first place from the actual character in the book anyway, it didn’t surprise me,” Walters tells TVLine. Given that Angus is called “huge” and “massive” in the novels, “in terms of just casting me as Angus in the first place as Angus, from the physical description in the books, nothing surprised me,” the actor adds.

TVLINE | Did knowing that Angus wasn’t going to make it out of the episode alive help your portrayal of him in the episode?

Yes, it did, because itgave it a definite finality and I feel blessed enough that the character had its own story, its own end and its own finish. It’s kind of fitting that it should be with the character of Claire, given that for most of the time I was on screen, I was either goading her or picking on her. And in the end, she kind of came around to him, or he came around to her. It’s fitting that it should be that he died in her arms. It’s a nice touch, an ironic touch.

TVLINE | Tell me about shooting your death scene. Did you do it a bunch of different ways?
They saved my death for the final shot. We had one go at it, maybe two… As for filming the death scene, I have to say, everything that needs to be said about Caitriona’s already been said, but even in that scene, I watching Cait’s performance… and it was real tears. It was moving to watch, and it was a kind of fitting end. A bloody end.

E! OnlineOutlander Wins the Battle But Loses A Friend: Bosses Explain That Unexpected Death

“We’re telling a war story, and somebody had to pay the price,” executive producer Ronald D. Moore tells E! News. “Even that particular battle at Prestonpans, the highlanders lost very few men and the British had most of the casualties, but it felt wrong to do a war story and not have our side lose somebody, and not just somebody that steps into the show for an episode and dies, but somebody that actually means something to the audience.”

Access Hollywood: ‘Outlander’: Graham McTavish & Andrew Gower Talk ‘Prestonpans’

“One of the things that I loved about what Andrew did with the part was how he physically created the Prince,” Graham said, when we asked him about working with the Season 2 “Outlander” actor. “The scene where I ride down into the teeth of the guns of the enemy to test the ground and he comes back and he embraces me — I mean, we didn’t rehearse that particularly. He just grabbed me in the moment and so you get a very strong, genuine reaction from me as Dougal at that point. It’d gratified [him] in one sense that his Prince is hugging him, telling him how fabulous he is, but [he’s] also slightly uncomfortable that this man is embracing him.”
“As Charles, a conscious thing I did from the beginning was to make him incredibly tactile. So that came from the heart,” Andrew told Access Hollywood over the phone while on a break from rehearsals for “1984” in London’s West End.
“The hardest moment for Dougal, I think, one of the hardest in the whole season, if not both seasons, is when he incurs the wrath of the Prince,” Graham said. “I mean, that’s the world falling from beneath his feet at that point and to be rescued by Jamie, in that way, that would have really hurt. And it’s only the distraction of Angus’ death that I think pulls him out of that to be honest, because he has something more important to think about. But… that’s a low, low, low moment for Dougal.”

Sources: Linked in their respective excerpts.