Season 5 of Outlander (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)“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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), "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. (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab)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. (opens in new tab)"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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab)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 (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
'Outlander' was originally going to be a movie.
Katherine Heigl was rumored to play Claire. (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) system with barcodes called "Mother" to keep track of everything.
Claire's main 18th century outfit has 12 multiples.
Yes, 12. (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab).
Dresbach is married to the show's executive producer Ronald D. Moore.
The couple met on the set of HBO's Carnivàle (opens in new tab) in 2003.
Casting was a long process.
When casting for Jamie began, Liam Neeson (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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," (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
The props are incredibly realistic looking.
The set is loaded with fake dead bodies (opens in new tab) for battle scenes.
But, 'Outlander' doesn't use prop food.
Every meal you see on the show is real. (opens in new tab)
The actors go commando under their kilts.
Unsurprisingly, they find it very comfortable. (opens in new tab)
Gabaldon made a cameo in an episode.
In "The Gathering," the author had two lines as Iona MacTavish. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
Heughan is also the actor who needs to stay in makeup the longest.
The scars take hours to apply—every, single time. (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
Every female cast member wears a corset.
Even the extras (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
Heughan is naturally blonde, but he dyes his hair red every two episodes.
At this point, we can't picture him (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab), 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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
The show films in real, historical sites.
Doune Castle and Blackness Castle have to be left in pristine condition (opens in new tab) after shooting.
And if you ever find yourself in Scotland, there are 'Outlander'-specific tours to visit the sites.
Your Outlander vacation (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
'Outlander' has some serious mega-fans.
The Outlander Bakers (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
Balfe is very involved with charity World Child Cancer.
There's a special Outlander (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
'Outlander' is constantly compared to 'Game of Thrones.'
Although very different in their plots, the two shows have a bit of a rivalry. (opens in new tab)
But an important difference between the two is female empowerment.
Outlander's interpretation of women is arguably more feminist-focused (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) in Outlander.
Laura Donnelly (Jenny) was also in the film.
Heughan suggested her (opens in new tab) 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. (opens in new tab)
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. (opens in new tab)
Heughan pulled a muscle when he tackled Romain Berrux (Fergus) in season 2.
The scene wasn't as seamless as it appeared. (opens in new tab)
The show's historian Tony Pollard makes sure the weapons are historically accurate.
And wallet-friendly. (opens in new tab)
Ruby was the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covered beauty across print and digital. Her work has appeared on The Zoe Report, Fashionista, and StyleCaster. Follow her on Instagram.
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