The journey to Jamaica to film sea-faring scenes on stationary ship sets was a nice detour for cast and producers. The “Outlander” team was on hand Friday at the Television Critics Assn. press tour to talk up the broad scope of the third season, which encompasses the 20-year separation of central characters Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) from the 1940s through the 1960s.
The “Outlander” book series by Diana Gabaldon jumps through time and locations in such a robust way as to keep the show incredibly vital, Balfe said.
“Anyone who has read Diana’s books knows it’s just a sequence of twists and turns. You’re constantly being kept on your toes. Who would have thought we’d end up on ships and in Jamaica this season,” Balfe said.
“Outlander” exec producer Maril Davis said the production traveled to Jamaica with ease thanks to the experience Starz had shooting its pirate drama “Black Sails” on the island. Although the ships used were not actually on the water, a big storyline for the season demanded a different look than the Scottish highlands.
“Scotland can pass for a lot of places, but Jamaica is not one of those places,” Davis said.
Working in the tight confines of the ship had some challenges, the cast agreed, particularly in one scene that called for the use of fake vomit.
“Somebody made the decision to make it with milk,” Balfe said. The concoction was made on a Friday but wasn’t used until Monday. The smell of the stuff by then lent great authenticity to the scene. “The smell was rather pungent,” Balfe said. “It was challenging.”
Stars and producers were pressed about how far ahead they’ve read in Gabaldon’s book series — she’s penning the ninth volume at present. Cast members agreed they don’t read too far ahead in order to allow their characters to develop naturally in accordance with the scripts.
“I don’t want to read too far ahead,” said Sophie Skelton, who plays Brianna. “I don’t want to subconsciously interpret who they become.”
The series to date has tackled the story of one book per season. Showrunner Ronald D. Moore said there was no hard and fast rule governing that approach. “Each season we approach with fresh eyes. We’re not bound to do a season a book,” he said. The focus at the outset of each season is “what’s the best way of telling the story.”
Moore said that Gabaldon’s prolific pace ensures that they will never want for material or have to develop storylines that are not in the book.
“I cannot imagine a scenario where we catch up with Diana Gabaldon. She will tell us the end of the story,” Moore said.
(Pictured above from left to right: Caitriona Balfe, Maril Davis, and Ronald D. Moore.)