Season 5 of Outlander is on its way (!) after a year off the air, and, like Jamie and Claire Fraser, our love for the drama stands the test of time. We took a deep-dive into the making of Outlander—ahead are the 60 craziest facts you never knew about the show.
John Bell got his family involved to prepare for the role of Young Ian.
"I’ll be honest; I went straight to the Wiki page, because I wanted to find out as much as I possibly could as quickly as possible,” he says on when he found out he got the part. “I read everything that I could on that, and that’s when I got the books. I got my mum to start reading the books, and I got my gran to start reading the books. We’d all get together in a little book club and discuss."
'Outlander' borrowed a ship from a fellow Starz production.
In season three, when Jamie and Claire set sail for the Caribbean fellow Starz show Black Sails let them borrow a pirate ship for the production.
Richard Rankin actually sang in the Scottish festival scene.
Rankin, who plays Roger Wakefield, performed his own songs during the festival scene in season four. He said to Entertainment Tonight, "I basically spent every minute of every day learning to play that track, and it drove the crew nuts, so that was fun."
Heughan was once a stable boy, well kinda.
“I used to live in sort-of converted stables on the grounds of a castle, and I spent a lot of my childhood running around with a pretend sword pretending to be Robert the Bruce,” he told EW in 2014.
Author Diana Gabaldon didn't ever plan to publish "Outlander."
"I knew I was supposed to be a novelist, but I didn’t know how, and I decided the way to learn was to actually write a novel. So, Outlander was my practice book," she said at the TCA press day for the PBS series The Great American Read. “I was never going to show it to anyone, so it didn’t matter what I did with it."
Heughan actually operated printing presses in season three.
Heughan got really into the character. As writer Matthew B. Roberts shared, Heughan sent himself to "printing press school" to learn the craft for Jamie's print shop.
Filming for season four took place in Scotland, not North Carolina.
As fans know, season four was about the couple settling down with their family in North Carolina. Instead of filming in the state, they created and found sets in Scotland that resembled the landscape of North America and North Carolina.
Bell went back to school to learn the Mohawk language.
The actor signed up for an online course to learn the Mohawk language for season four. "I just had a great time. I love languages. I’m very passionate about it," he said to Parade. "The best way to understand someone’s culture is to be able to speak their language, so I think it was important to Ian."
In real life, Caitriona Balfe is actually Irish, too.
The actress grew up in the small village of Tydavnet with her six other siblings before moving to Paris at 19 to become a model.
The costume department goes to great lengths to give the clothes a more "lived-in feel."
Outlander takes garments very seriously. To give the clothes an appearance of being well-worn, the costume department uses everything from cheese graters to blowtorches to texturize the costumes.
Tourism to Scotland actually grew by 67 percent after the series premiered.
Doune Castle, which doubles as Castle Leoch in the show, has seen the largest amount of new travelers with a 226.5 percent increase in visitors.
In season four finale, a woman really threw herself into fire.
The scene in which Wakefield witnesses a Cherokee woman throw herself into the flames where her lover and father of her child are tied to a burning stake gave us all the feels. It turns out; it was a real stunt. Executive producer, Matthew B. Roberts, says a stuntwoman wore protective fireproof clothing and had protective gel on her skin and hair when she did the scene.
Gabaldon was inspired to write 'Outlander' by an episode of 'Doctor Who.'
Gabaldon was particularly drawn to the character Jamie McCrimmon.
'Outlander' was originally going to be a movie.
Katherine Heigl was rumored to play Claire.
The 'Outlander' costume department is *massive.*
The department is comprised of multiple rooms, all loaded with gowns and shoes. It's so big and complex that costumer designer Terry Dresbach started a digital inventory system with barcodes called "Mother" to keep track of everything.
Claire's main 18th century outfit has 12 multiples.
Yes, 12. Just in case something happens.
Every single costume is hand-dyed and aged.
No detail goes overlooked. "It gets painted, it gets sprayed, it gets torched. We do everything," Dresbach told Marie Claire.
Dresbach is married to the show's executive producer Ronald D. Moore.
The couple met on the set of HBO's Carnivàle in 2003.
Casting was a long process.
When casting for Jamie began, Liam Neeson and Sean Connery were the first contenders.
Heughan eventually landed the role after a Skype interview.
Heughan interviewed with executive producer Maril Davis and co-executive producer Ira Behr, and they immediately felt that they had found their Jamie.
But, Gabaldon wasn't initially convinced.
Before she saw Heughan's audition tape, Gabaldon looked up his IMdB. Her reaction to his photos? "This man is grotesque," which has now become a running joke between the two.
The casting of Claire took much longer than anticipated.
Just three weeks before production was due to start, the casting director still hadn't found her Claire. They had a couple of actress on hold, but none were quite right. Finally, they saw a clip of Caitriona Balfe and booked her for the gig.
The props are incredibly realistic looking.
The set is loaded with fake dead bodies for battle scenes.
But, 'Outlander' doesn't use prop food.
Every meal you see on the show is real.
The actors go commando under their kilts.
Unsurprisingly, they find it very comfortable.
Gabaldon made a cameo in an episode.
In "The Gathering," the author had two lines as Iona MacTavish.
The silicone scars that cover Jamie's back are so fragile, that they require special care during filming.
Any shirtless or backless scenes need to be filmed first.
Heughan is also the actor who needs to stay in makeup the longest.
The scars take hours to apply—every, single time.
Balfe and Tobias Menzies (Frank) wrote love letters to each other in character before filming sex scenes.
The letters helped the actors feel less awkward around a full camera crew.
Although Gabaldon's story was set in Scotland, scouting the location wasn't an easy process.
At first, Eastern Europe and New Zealand were possibilities.
Every female cast member wears a corset.
Even the extras have to wear them. It needs to be period-accurate!
The season 3 Boston set was made from Claire and Jamie's home in Paris.
The crew completely redesigned it.
Although the lead character is a female, men make up 50 percent of the 'Outlander' U.S. audience.
The show is proving that a female-centric show doesn't drive away a male audience.
Shooting a historical show in the 21st century means the crew is constantly tweaking their set.
The crew pays attention to the smallest details to make sure every set reflects an 18th century setting. They even tweak windows, roofs, and shutters.
Heughan is naturally blonde, but he dyes his hair red every two episodes.
At this point, we can't picture him any other way.
Gabaldon's favorite scene from season 1 was Jamie's rape.
"This is terrific stuff for an actor, amazingly heavy material," she told Vulture.
The crew tries to make the lighting as authentic as possible.
To recreate authentic lighting, L.E.D. and fluorescent lights are not used on the show.
Although season 1 premiered in 2014, Gabaldon first published the series in 1991.
Fans of the books were worried the original text would be majorly altered.
While much of the plot has stayed the same, Gabaldon has struggled with certain scenes being cut.
In particular, she argued with directors that Claire and Father Anselm's season 1 chapel scene was pivotal—which, after much debate, ended up making the cut.
The show's sex scenes take a different approach than most TV shows, with women taking the lead.
"We're so used to seeing women being objectified, as objects of desire of men, but it's rare when you see a woman owning her sexuality, directing it, orchestrating the sequence of events," Balfe told Vulture.
Then-U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron requested the series' U.K. premiere be delayed.
Leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that Cameron had the show pushed back, as he was worried it would interfere with the country's historic vote.
The show films in real, historical sites.
Doune Castle and Blackness Castle have to be left in pristine condition after shooting.
And if you ever find yourself in Scotland, there are 'Outlander'-specific tours to visit the sites.
Your Outlander vacation is just a plane ticket away.
To remain as authentic as possible, the show hired a Gaelic dialect coach.
Àdhamh Ó Broin coaches the actors on the complex accent.
'Outlander' has some serious mega-fans.
The Outlander Bakers are a group of Scottish super-fans who track down the cast on set to deliver them baked goods.
Balfe says Claire has helped her become a stronger person.
"I definitely think that her competency has shown me how strong I am," she told Elle.
Although their on-screen chemistry is undeniable, Heughan and Balfe are not a real-life couple.
And the two are tired of fans assuming they're dating. Balfe is married to music producer Tony McGill. Heughan is rumored to be dating actress Amy Shiels.
Menzies says the rape scene required trust between him and Heughan.
"We would sort of keep to ourselves between shots. But again, one of the good things is how we had been working together for a year so we had a fair amount of trust," he explained to Entertainment Weekly.
Balfe is very involved with charity World Child Cancer.
There's a special Outlander chapter of the charity and fans have helped her raise more than $130,000.
When Black Jack nailed Jamie's hand into the table, the crew used a prosthetic hand.
The delicate, intricate work made for a very believable scene.
Going full-frontal nude wasn't a problem for Menzies.
The actor feels that men don't get nearly as much flack as women do for nude scenes.
'Outlander' is constantly compared to 'Game of Thrones.'
Although very different in their plots, the two shows have a bit of a rivalry.
But an important difference between the two is female empowerment.
Outlander's interpretation of women is arguably more feminist-focused than Game of Thrones.
Heughan and Rosie Day (Mary Hawkins) starred in a Norwegian movie called 'Heart of Lightness.'
Heughan later recommended Hawkins for her role in Outlander.
Laura Donnelly (Jenny) was also in the film.
Heughan suggested her for Outlander, too.
Playing a pregnant character in an authentic period costume wasn't particularly comfortable for Donnelly.
A corset and a fake belly? No thanks.
Mary's rape scene was filmed with caution.
"They always made sure I was okay and comfortable, and that I never felt out of my comfort zone while doing it," Day told Bustle.
Heughan pulled a muscle when he tackled Romain Berrux (Fergus) in season 2.
The scene wasn't as seamless as it appeared.
The show's historian Tony Pollard makes sure the weapons are historically accurate.
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Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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