*NEW* Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe Interview with Salon   1 comment

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe interview with Salon

Jamie & Claire 1

“Outlander” has gotten criticism for centering violence against women so much in its narrative—from perceived husbandly duties to the seemingly ever-present threat of rape and/or sexual assault for Claire in 1743. But what I’m finding valuable about the series is the conversation it’s opening up about pervasive violence against women, in that culture or in ours. “Outlander” is not a happy fantasy—it’s a horror story, too, to be banished from the relatively modern era to a nearly medieval society. I spoke to the stars about filming that spanking scene, how they’re interpreting it for their characters, and in general, the challenges of inhabiting this sexually charged, violent world.

Caitriona, what is it like playing a character who goes from a world that has very specific sexual mores to one that has very different ones? Such as, for example, on one of Claire’s first nights in the castle, the laird’s brother Dougal (Graham McTavish) tries to rape your character in a side passageway.

Caitriona Balfe: That to Dougal is just flirting, by the way. (Laughs.)

[Warning: This story contains spoilers ahead from Saturday’sOutlander episode, “The Reckoning.”]

More from the interview after the jump

Exactly. There’s something weirdly casual about it in that context—but obviously she’s like, no, I do not want this, and has to be very violent.

CB: When we began the show, it’s quite shocking when you first read all the attempted rapes. And as a modern woman, your first instinct is that that would be such a traumatic event that it would be something that I don’t think you would ever get over. And yet, sexual violence against women in that time is used so casually and is such a weapon. But it’s not even the most treacherous one, in a sense.

It was hard for me. I remember saying to the writers, “Doesn’t she still feel affected by this? Surely there would be a greater… overhang.” We’re in such an analytical society now, and we take all of these things—rightly so, I believe—with such seriousness that it’s hard to see how someone could just pick themselves up and move on. But one of the pieces of research I was doing was reading books on the nurses who had served on the front lines in the Second World War. Their stories, some of them, are so horrific, but some of the things that jumped off the pages to me were that in that immediacy of life, in that time when life and death are sitting — people just get on with things. You don’t have the luxury or the time to wallow or have any sort of self-pity. The survival instinct really kicks in. And that’s what Claire is, she’s a survivor. I really tried to approach it from that point of view. It’s not that these things don’t affect her—they do—but she’s a survivor, and she doesn’t have the luxury of wallowing in these moments.

For Jamie, so much of his origin story in the books is this terrible flogging that he endured because his sister was being threatened by, again, this pervasive threat of rape. Sexual assault as a plot device is a much-discussed issue in our society, right now, especially.

Sam Heughan: Absolutely—and also maybe how more accepting we are now of it. We were talking earlier about this spanking scene [in Saturday’s episode, “The Reckoning”] and how there was a cheer, and that was just interesting for us. Perhaps it was more about the fans were waiting to see these events happen and how they played out. But it is interesting, isn’t it? Definitely a recurring theme in the story.

CB: But I think it’s important. Nowadays, obviously there’s so much in the media about what happens in India or in a lot of war-torn countries. Unfortunately, it still exists—no matter how much we think we’ve moved forward as having equality for men and women, unfortunately sexual attacks still happen. We also deal with it in terms of between two men in our show, towards the end of the season. That also exists. In England in the last year, that whole [Operation] Yewtree situation where you have these pedophile rings. So I think in our culture we have to examine why this never goes away. It’s constantly there. I don’t have any answers but I think it’s interesting to look at it and examine it and maybe keep people thinking about it and spark conversation. I think that’s what entertainment should do. As much as it should be entertaining, it should evoke a feeling, and evoke some kind of conversation out of people, so they examine who we are and why we do things.

What was this about the cheer during the spanking scene?

CB: Apparently last night at the theater [for the “Outlander” premiere] the whole audience cheered or something.

SH: Which I don’t know—we didn’t get to witness it. Another reporter told us about it. I think it was probably about the fact that it’s a much-anticipated scene and how it would be addressed, so I imagine the cheer had more to do with that, with finally getting to see that. There’s been moments like that before in other premieres we’ve had, where at a certain moment or certain lines that have come up and it’s like, “That’s that moment!” This is a very important moment, and certainly for Jamie and Claire, it’s a huge moment in their relationship. It creates a lot of conflict but ultimately makes them closer together. They go through the whole thing and they find a way that they can interact with each other and the basis of their relationship.

It’s a very controversial scene in the book. The way that you guys translated it, it loses the tone of anger and fear that you feel more in the book. Instead it’s almost funny.

CB: I don’t think we wanted it to be funny, but I think that what we wanted it to show was that it’s a battle of wills. The writers very cleverly chose to tell it from Jamie’s perspective, because if we’d gotten Claire’s perspective we would have demonized Jamie a lot more.

Why do you think they get closer together through this? I think there’s a few different interpretations.

CB: First of all, when she sees that he’s willing to grow from it, he’s willing to change, that shows her that here is someone who’s willing to put aside everything that he’s been taught and learned and learns—for her. You can see that he’s got the emotional intelligence that she has always thought that he had and is one of the reasons she fell in love with him. And, just going through any catastrophic thing as a couple and being able to get past it and figure out a way to move forward and forgive and understand each other, I think that always strengthens it.

SH: He’s a very stubborn man, as is she, but he’s a very stubborn man. Just the experience with Colum [Mackenzie, the laird of Castle Leoch], and looking up to them and how they work, he’s learning and growing up and becoming a man. It’s a really important life lesson, I think.

Was it weird to have to beat a woman for a scene?

SH: Well, I mean—(Pauses.) Not really, no. Because as I said, it’s not out of anger. It’s very much like he’s trying to explain, like to a child or something, and trying to get his point across, almost for his own benefit as well as hers. And, wow. Our relationship in the show is so physical anyway, it’s not the first time that they’ve virtually come to blows, if not already come to blows. It is, it’s about the passion that they’ve got and that’s always present. So, no, I wasn’t thinking about beating a woman because Jamie is doing what he thinks is right and at the time it seems quite simple. That’s what he’s got to do, it’s his duty, let’s stop talking about it and get it done, then we can move on. (In Jamie’s voice.) Bend over. (Laughs.)

So much of their sexual chemistry also comes from this antagonism, in some ways. What do you expect the fan reaction to be? What do you hope for this particular episode?

CB: It’s funny, we thought there would be a lot of noise about it. I guess we’ll see when it airs on Saturday, but so far people don’t seem that bothered by it, which is interesting. It’s very strange. I think people think that the makeup sex is more intense than the actual scene.

SH: It kind of is, in a way.

Read the rest of the interview at the source | via

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  1. Reblogged this on Ana Fraser Lallybroch Blog.

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