Sam Heughan: How did Outlander star feel about Jamie and Claire’s 20-year separation?

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Outlander continues to thrive with work soon to be starting on season six. As fans wait for the Droughtlander – when the show is off-season – to end, some have been revisiting the previous series of the Starz show. Season three was a particularly tumultuous one for central lovers Claire (played by Caitriona Balfe) and her husband Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

The third outing took its cue from Diana Gabaldon’s corresponding Outlander novel Voyager. Claire returned to her old life in the 20th century while Jamie was stuck in the past amid the ill-fated Battle of Culloden.

Jamie and Claire were separated for 20 years during which the characters went through some significant experiences.

Claire and her first husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) reconciled and embarked on a tempestuous marriage as they raised Jamie’s daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton).

Although Claire tried to make it work with Frank, her love for Jamie was too strong and she couldn’t let go of the Highlander, often fantasizing about him.

She also found her calling in medicine and went on to become a doctor, making her a trailblazer in the 50s and 60s as she qualified as one of the few female physicians around at this time.

In the past, Jamie found himself becoming a fugitive after Culloden as he hid in a cave near Lallybroch for seven years.

He then allowed himself to be recaptured by the British and incarcerated in Ardsmuir Prison, forming a firm friendship with Lord John Grey (David Berry).

Next, he worked as an indentured servant as the Helwater Estate in England and unexpectedly fathered a child.

Finally, he returned to Scotland and became a printer in Edinburgh where he published pamphlets, which is where Claire found him.

The physical separation of the Frasers meant the actors themselves initially didn’t spend much time together filming.

For the first half of the season, Balfe and Heughan would only see each other at table reads for the episodes.

Speaking on the Outlander season three DVD, Heughan reflected on his time apart from his co-star.

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He explained: “Caitriona and I spent a long time apart this season and you know I think we both actually would read the script, but we would sort of note associate ourselves with that part of the other person’s story.

“So, it wasn’t until I’d actually seen the episodes that I realized what amazing work she’d done.”

While Balfe said of Claire’s series three arc: “One of the things that made it so interesting to play Claire this season was taking her on that journey from 1940s to becoming a new mother, all the way to when we see her at the end of episode three where she’s very composed and a force to be reckoned with in her profession.”

Season three was the one where the acting duo possibly spent the most time apart even though the producers cleverly wove the two timelines together.

Not only this but the programme-makers chose to feature some dream-like sequences in which the pair almost appeared to be together but not quite.

For instance, Jamie had a hallucination of Claire walking through the snow among the dead in the aftermath of Culloden.

However, when she reached out to touch his face, it quickly became apparent it was Rupert MacKenzie (Grant O’Rourke) who was there.

Jamie and Claire were never seen in the same frame together in season three until the two characters reunited in a bid to underscore their separation.

The Frasers are now very much together, and Claire has vowed never to leave Jamie’s side again whatever the cost this time.

Outlander seasons 1 to 5 are available on DVD and Blu-ray now

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