Outlander Stars Preview Time-Travel Romance and a 'Lost,' Virginal Hero

Outlander Season 2 Renewal

If you’ve ever watched Game of Thrones and wished for fewer dragons and more kilts, there’s a good chance you’ll find Starz’s Outlander a bonny addition to your DVR queue.

For the unititated, here’s a verra short history: The unlikely pair of 18th-century Scottish highlander Jamie Fraser and World War II-era combat nurse Claire Randall first met readers in 1992, when the Diana Gabaldon novel on which the series is based first hit bookstores. This Saturday at 9 pm — more than two decades later — Starz is bringing the genre-defying work to the small screen.

VIDEO Starz’s Outlander: Watch a New Trailer and the Stunning Opening Credits

Gabaldon’s sweeping book series follows Claire as she’s inexplicably thrown back in time to 18th-century Scotland, where she meets and eventually falls for the strapping (and damn near perfect) Jamie. The title is a translation of Sassenach, the derogatory term for a British person, which becomes Claire’s nickname. Fans have been dream-casting a screen adaptation for years, a phenomenon Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan encountered when they were announced as leads in the premium cabler’s Ron Moore-helmed drama.

Before Balfe’s audition, “I was Googling and I was like, ‘Wow there’s a lot of people who love this,'” the Irish actress said during a visit to TVLine’s New York offices.

“I remember when they cast you,” chimed in Heughan, a Scot, who sat beside her. “We hadn’t met yet, and I was watching your Twitter account just go —”

“I went from my three followers,” she interrupts, laughing, “to —”

“— 20,000,” he finishes.

RELATED Starz to Split Outlander‘s First Season

The intense scrutiny of those thousands of Outlander enthusiasts, though, is nothing compared to the trials Claire undergoes after her tumble through time. In the pilot alone, Balfe’s British character is captured by two different factions, nearly raped, called upon to do some very rudimentary doctoring and accused as a spy – all while wondering how to return to the 1940s and her husband, Frank (Game of Thrones‘ Tobias Menzies, who – in a neat bit of casting — also plays Frank’s ancestor Black Jack Randall).

Outlander Series Premiere Starz

“It was very important to all of us, to Ron and Tobias and myself, that we really show that there was a really strong love between her and Frank,” Balfe said.

She adds: “Everyone knows there’s this great love story that’s coming between Claire and Jamie, but it’s so important to show where this conflict is within her. She’s constantly trying to get back home. She really did love Frank… The 1940s, that’s her time. She’s a woman of that time.”

To Jamie, who Heughan describes as “lost” at the beginning of the series, Claire’s anachronistic independence proves quite attractive.

“She surprises him,” the actor said in his soft, native brogue. “Suddenly, he finds somebody he cares about. He’s like, ‘My god, I’ve got to deal with this, and I’ve got to look after her.'”

RELATED Exclusive: Outlander Adds Borgias Actress

But it soon becomes apparent that young Mr. Fraser can use some looking after, as well. In the series’ first hour, he’s the one in need of Claire’s medical expertise; later episodes will reveal that the redheaded Scot has been flogged in the past (thanks to prosthetics, “there’s a part of his back that looks like whoever did it really enjoyed it,” Heughan notes), that he’s in the middle of a complicated clan power struggle and that he’s – gasp! – a virgin.

At the time of Balfe and Heughan’s visit, they hadn’t yet filmed a very intimate moment between Jamie and Claire — and were charmingly bashful when asked about it. “It’s funny, I think we’ve both kind of avoided it,” Heughan said, causing Balfe to laugh.

“I filmed some love scenes with Tobias, but we filmed them really, really early on before we really got to know each other,” she said. “It was easy in a way, because we really didn’t know each other that well. But now, we know each other quite well…”

Heughan grinned. “We’ll probably need Dutch courage at some point.”

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  1. Liz says:

    I saw the first episode and I LOVED IT!!! I just can’t wait to see more!! All these actors are amazing too…

  2. I didn’t have any real expectations for the show and I really loved the first episode. I’ve always been a sucker for time travel stories and historical stories though. And before anyone asks Starz made the first episode available online a week ago.

  3. pam says:

    Saw the 1st episode on demand. Wow! I read the book about 20 years ago and the rest followed. Wasnt to sure about the film series thing but…damn!! Good job mr moore. Guess I will now have to order starz in order to continue watching. Very clever starz.

  4. dreamlife613 says:

    I loved the first episode. It feels like a very smart, thoughtful series. I can’t wait to see more :)

  5. Becky says:

    Already saw the first episode. Can’t wait for the second!

  6. CourtTV says:

    Very excited! Great casting too! I hope the show can capture the intensity of the books. Unfortunately, I felt the premiere to be sluggish. I’ll watch because it’s Ron Moore. I trust him. Plus the source material couldn’t get better.

    • Whicho says:

      I actually enjoyed the first episode immensely. I like a good long build to the story, but like you… it’s Ron Moore and I’ll follow that man anywhere. His Battlestar Galactica was perfection.

  7. christine says:

    Episode 1 is fantastic. It will please book readers and new fans as well. Well done.

  8. Drew says:

    Isn’t it weird that the virgin thing is gasp-worthy? We see all kinds of messed up kink on cable these days, but the virgin concept is just completely out there. Strange.

    I don’t know the books, but I like Ron Moore’s work and this sounds interesting. I will have to check it out when I get a chance.

  9. JAO says:

    The first episode was so good! I already watched it twice On Demand. The cast is great, beautiful scenery, music as the story luxuriously unfolds. Sam is a wonderful Jamie. His voice is so sexy. He and Caitriona are very good together. I can’t wait for the next episode !

  10. Sheila says:

    Lotta skin in that pilot episode. I hadn’t thought about Starz being a movie channel and what they could show, then suddenly it was like, HEY! I thought this was gonna be a girly romance show!

  11. Ray says:

    How romance-heavy is this show? I’m a guy and not too keen on the love elements…should I bother tuning in?

    • Whicho says:

      It’s not that heavy. It’s there, but I’d call it a great mix of adventure/romance/historical fiction. Plus – it’s Ronald Moore’s baby and if you ever watched the new Battlestar Galactica, the man is pretty much brilliant.

  12. Temperance says:

    The pilot is totally meh. It’s not going to be my kind of show, obviously. The first part (aside form the medical bits) seemed pretty pointless and dragged, then you have to endure long sections of running and hiding – truly badly – through the wet, cold woods in the mostly dark. It’s really not even a bit interesting so far.

    • Marcy says:

      Don’t give up on it yet. First part is important to set up the story…it will move faster from now, I imagine.

  13. Sabrina says:

    Great interview. I watched the first episode this week and can’t wait for the rest of the season.

  14. Tom Beaty says:

    whats virginal about it?

  15. Gail Fowler says:

    Wonderful casting, especially Jamie. Frank and Jack are almost difficult to imagine b/c he looks nasty even as Frank, but wonderful as Black Jack. I am so excited to see more! I only recently read the first book and am on book two. I can’t imagine all that is coming up. I ordered Starz just for this show!