It is a formal event for their friends and family to attend, but both actors feel their characters have been married in spirit for awhile now.
“For Roger and Bree, they sort of had their wedding when they handfasted — that really felt like the wedding episode,” Skelton tells Variety. “So this one just feels like a bit more of a celebration as opposed to being about the promise to each other. I feel like they’ve already made that. This is is more the lighthearted and fun aspect of it.”
The premiere episode is named after the fifth novel in Diana Gabaldon’s book series, “The Fiery Cross,” but the events of the wedding had to be condensed from their original source material. In the book, the Scottish Highlander gathering where the wedding takes place lasts for nearly 200 pages, but the show only had an episode to tell the story.
“We tried to figure out a way to stay true to the spirit of the gathering, but do it our way and not take up too many episodes,” executive producer Maril Davis says.
One big change from the book to the small screen was bringing the nuptials to Fraser’s Ridge, rather than hosting the wedding at Aunt Jocasta’s (Maria Doyle Kennedy) plantation. This, Davis says, was something the production team felt was “an interesting way to make it more intimate and make it more about our characters than a huge thing that took up a huge span of time.”
Davis adds that they would have “loved to see more of the smaller moments where not necessarily anything is happening, plot-wise, but when you’re on a TV show and you’re dealing with a show versus a book, where you can meander a little bit more and you can take your time — we don’t have the luxury of that in the show.”But even with the show condensing the gathering down from the book, it was still a massive feat to film. There is, of course, the wedding itself, but there is also a whole celebration that follows, with singing, dancing, and even a good old-fashioned drinking game. Then after the reception, there is the Calling of the Clans where Jamie (Sam Heughan) calls on his countrymen to join the militia he is being forced to gather by North Carolina’s Governor Tryon (Tim Downie). Just the gathering by itself took days to film. As Skelton jokes, “I think the clapperboard went past Z and then all the way around again. We did a lot of footage by the end of it.”
It was, as Rankin says, “a lot of fun, though” because the wedding incorporates all of the main and supporting characters we’ve come to know and love, which Skelton and Rankin say made the long hours worth it.
“It was nice because it’s not often that we all get to be together. So I think it really added to that sort of Fraser family feel, which for filming days doesn’t often happen,” says Skelton. “So it really made it feel like a kind of wedding experience because it was like a big family party. You have Marsali and Fergus, Lizzie — everybody was together. It’s a really beautiful mix of the lighthearted and fun aspect of it, but then also the very romantic and deeper aspects.”
Skelton and Rankin also reveal that because shooting the premiere episode took so long, they had to say their characters’ vows over and over so many times that they got to the point where they actually started forgetting the scripted words. As a cheat, when the camera was on Skelton, Rankin would whisper the vows to her, and vice versa, he reveals.
Skelton laughs as she says that if she ever does “get married for real,” she’ll “feel awful” because she already said the vows so many times filming Brianna’s wedding.
Additionally, the characters have a baby, who provided additional complications — as well as color — for the wedding scenes.
“And the soundtrack for the wedding is Jemmy crying,” Skelton says.
“Isn’t that the soundtrack of the season?” adds Rankin with a laugh.
“Outlander” Season 5 premieres Sunday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. on Starz.