“A Week in the Bedchamber”: Sam Heughan on Last Night’s Steamy ‘Outlander’ Episode


It’s the morning after “The Wedding,” and if you’re an Outlander fan, you’re most likely in a state of bliss right now. Six weeks of smoldering stares, rainy nights huddled under a shared plaid, and countless intimate moments of time-traveling nurse Claire Beauchamp (Caitriona Balfe) bandaging every orifice of Jamie Fraser’s body have given way to one of the most anticipated episodes of TV this month.

Last night, in order to save Claire from the sadistic hands of the dastardly Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) – who just so happens to be her 1945 husband Frank’s ancestor (talk about losing the family tree lottery!) – the members of clan MacKenzie marry her off to the practically-perfect-in-every-way redheaded Scotsman. But this quickie 18th-century wedding turns out to be the catalyst for one red-hot affair that fans have been clamoring for since production on the Starz series was announced.

Before Outlander takes a wee break until early 2015 – next week is the midseason finale – Scottish actor Sam Heughan, aka James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (the way he says his full name in that brogue can make any person weak in the knees, not just his bride), rang up Flavorwire from Carlisle, England, where he was in his final stretch of shooting Outlander’s first season, to chat about this pivotal episode.

Flavorwire: Die-hard Outlander fans had a lot of expectations going into “The Wedding.” Are you prepared for what will undoubtedly be some very visceral reactions?

Sam Heughan: Oh, wow. Yeah, I think the fans are very vocal. They’re wonderful, they’re very passionate, and they’ve been great about letting us know what they think about the show so far. So I’m excited for them to see [“The Wedding”]. We’ve been working on the show for such a long time now. It’s great that it’s finally being aired and people get a chance to see our work.

Outlander already has a huge fan base, but now that the hot sex has finally shown up on the show, do you have a bodyguard at the ready? Because you’re probably going to need one when you’re inevitably chased down the street by rabid admirers.

[Laughs] Wow, if only that were the case! No, we’re very lucky, because I’m in Scotland, and it’s not being shown in the UK at the moment – so people don’t really recognize us or know who we are, so that’s quite nice. We’re kind of removed from it a little bit..

For this particular episode, did you all feel – pardon the expression – pressure to perform at the top of your game even more than usual because of the high fan expectations?

I think we were very aware that it’s a pivotal moment in the relationship between Jamie and Claire, but, I mean, there are so many in the show that we have to get right. So I think… we have room to maneuver, to slightly go off-piece with other stuff, but there are definitely key moments in the show, in the books, that we have to do. The writers have done such a great job, and then our job is to just bring it to life. There’s a lovely journey in the episode – you know, the first time they consummate the marriage, it’s very… functional… there’s humor to it, and ultimately not very good. And then there’s the second time where they get to know each other a bit more, and then the third time it’s gone somewhere else. And I think you can see the strong bonds between these two people and where this could go.

There seemed to be an element of self-parody in the episode. The first time (post-wedding ceremony) that Jamie and Claire try to kiss, they’re moving so slowly toward each other that it was borderline comical. Was that done on purpose?

[Laughs] Oh, yeah, well, of course, he’s still a young guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s nervous and he thinks she’s about to take the cherry off of some virgin [laughs]. You know, it is a comical scenario; we had a lot of humor there as well. I mean, I don’t know many people, their first time when they do sleep with someone, that it’s ever been particularly amazing. There’s always some sort of terrible story about what happened. But, yeah, it was good to make it realistic and not just a romantic episode.

How long did it take to shoot “The Wedding”?

It was pretty much a week in the bedchamber where we shot intensively.

What did you all do to keep the mood on set light and relaxing? The finished product may be steamy, but filming those kinds of scenes are anything but, right?

Definitely not! We have a closed-set policy, where only the most necessary people are there, but even then, Caitriona and I counted that there were 14 people in the room. So it’s not the most sexy place, but we had a lot of fun together. She’s got a great sense of humor, so we had a lot of laughs. And a lot of whiskey, probably.

What was that animal fur on the bed? Was it at least comfortable?

Oh, yeah! I think it’s deer skin. And oh, God, it was so soft! I certainly do not condone having animal skin, but this is definitely period. The softest thing you can ever lie on, so, yeah, they had it pretty good back then.

Your recent selfie wearing a Minnesota Twins cap (while doing some indoor rock climbing) made a lot of particular American fans very happy. Are you a Twins fan?

[Laughs] Yeah, well, I saw the Twins – I’m a bit of a baseball fan, actually – a couple of years ago. I was there doing a show, and I saw them and I had a great time. It was the first-ever baseball game I went to. I wear [the hat] whenever I’m trying to hide my ginger hair.

In addition to making millions of people swoon on Outlander, you are the star of one of the best holiday-season guilty pleasures on cable TV. Any chance of a Princess for Christmas sequel?

[Laughs] I do know there was a point where they were definitely talking about it, but I’m not sure. I certainly know at the moment I’m pretty tied up with Outlander. But who knows? I bumped into Sir Roger Moore, actually, who plays my father in the movie, at the airport on my way to Comic-Con. It was really nice to see him. He’s a wonderful, wonderful actor.

What’s next after you wrap up the first season of Outlander? A well-deserved vacation? Another project? Or do you have to dive back into the second season immediately?

We finish next week, but we still have a lot of ADR and post-production to do, and probably some pickups as well at some point, and then I think we go into production at the start of next year. So there’s a little bit of time off, and I’m probably going to spend it relaxing. There’s a couple of projects that I’m looking at that might just fit in, which would be great. I’d love to do something completely different. But, honestly, I’m more than happy to lie on a beach or climb a mountain somewhere.