Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH

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Il cast di Outlander 7 - in particolare Joey Phillips, Izzy Meikle-Small e Charles Vandervaart - e Diana Gabaldon hanno parlato dell'arrivo degli Hunter nel quarto episodio e la scelta di adattamento funzionale fatta dai produttori. Continuate a leggere per saperne di più!

In episodio 4 “A Most Uncomfortable Woman” of Outlander Season 7 we met ‘The Hunters’, a.k.a. Denzell (Joey Phillips) and Rachel Hunter (Izzy Meikle-Small), for the first time, brave William Ransom (Charles Vandervaart) – who still doesn’t know Jamie’s his true dad — goes on a wild ride to deliver a secret message for the British and than the Tom Christie (Mark Lewis Jones) story was laid to rest. In a series of interview with EW, TV Insider, TV Line and Parade, the Outlander Season 7 cast, plus Diana Gabaldon, spoke in depth about the character developments in this fourth episode and the functional adaptation choice made by the producers. Read on for more!

Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH – Credit: Robert Wilson / STARZ

The Quackers are here!

Outlander Season 7 audiences were finally introduced to two fan-favorite characters from the novels, Rachel (Izzy Meikle Small) and Denzell Hunter (Joey Phillips). The Quaker brother and sister help save young William’s (Charles Vandervaart) life after Ian (John Bell) appears on their farm with the sick and injured red coat.

While William recovers, Ian gets to know Rachel. There’s an obvious connection between them, but he must journey on to complete his task in Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) stead. William, still weak, stays at the farm, but is intrigued at the mention of one of the men he’s been tasked with conveying correspondence to. And we have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of either of them.

Phillips tells EW that the Quaker siblings have “grown up in the middle of nowhere, and they’re orphans, so they’ve only really had each other through everything.

Denny’s been very much a parent figure and a brother figure to Rachel. They’re very, very close, very protective of each other. When we meet them in the show, they’re at a life turning point.”

“[That turning point] prompts Denny to make the decision to join the Continental Army as a surgeon,” Phillips says. “He believes in liberty and thinks that it’s worth fighting for it. That means that he’s kicked out of the Quaker meeting, because they’re opposed to all violence and war. And Rachel comes with him; I drag her along to war. But they’re thrown into a world of chaos and it’s war and blood and battles and death and violence everywhere. We see their struggle through being in this totally different world and how they keep their faith throughout that.”

The siblings are “constantly trying to reconcile our faith and our situation,” Small adds. “It’s a lot to be emotionally coping with. They’ve come from such a sheltered existence that they’re thrown into the deep end and have no idea what to expect.”

Phillips had to learn a lot about 18th century medicine to portray Denny, who is described as a brilliant surgeon.

“It’s big shoes to fill, because my knife skills are not great,” he confesses. Small says many of the medical scenes they filmed were so graphic that she had to prevent herself from gagging.

Besides trying not to vomit, what are the biggest challenges we can expect Denny and Rachel to face going forward?

“A lot of them are very faith-based,” Small says. “They’re reconciling a lot of insecurities. They’re being questioned by people about their faith and that’s hard. Being around all of that violence, they’re both very empathetic and they’re both impacted. Being around that much pain and struggling and suffering really takes its toll on both of them. Rachel has some difficult romantic decisions to make and she really struggles with that as well.”

Meanwhile, Denny will struggle “with the guilt that he feels over bringing Rachel into this danger,” Phillips adds. “He also slightly struggles with their relationship in that she’s becoming this young woman. He wants her to be independent and he wants to support her and never wants to tell her what not to do. But there’s moments where maybe he feels a bit conflicted with whatever path she’s going down and how to navigate those conversations.”

Casting is always a big part of storytelling.

Can you imagine anyone else playing Jamie and Claire than Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe? Well, Denzell and Rachel will be playing a big role in the rest of season 7 into season 8, so getting that casting just right was important – and New York Times bestselling author Diana Gabaldon was happy with the results.

“Outlander’s casting director/team pull it off again!” she told Parade. “I was delighted to meet Joey and Izzy on set at Lake Menteith a year or so ago. From stature (they’re both slightly taller than I am, but everybody is…) to having a very direct, pure sort of impact…they inhabit the Hunters beautifully. Tough, sturdy, and totally honest; emotionally very open.”

William’s journey of hope

We met the Hunters, who are Quakers, when Young Ian (John Bell) brought a dying William (Charles Vandervaart) to their cabin to be treated for the infection that was raging through his body. Denzell is a doctor, and, happily, for his time period, an excellent one. Because of the large amount of material that needs to be covered this season, the story was of necessity condensed.

Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH – Credit: Robert Wilson / STARZ
“[William] is really eager to serve king and country, but I don’t think he fully understands what that means, the loss that he’ll experience and the brutalism of it all. He finds out very quickly, obviously,” Vandervaart said.

“William’s journey into the Great Dismal (back in the day, “dismal” was a word that just meant “swamp”) takes a bit more room in the book, but I admit that trying to film a cottonmouth chasing William (they really do chase people, if riled up enough) would be a) difficult and b) time-consuming, and there is a lot of more important material to cover,” Diana said of the changes made from the novel to the TV series.

Then she continued, “I’d say the major necessary points were covered, those being William’s meeting with Ian (with Ian and reader/viewer Knowing, and William Not Knowing [that Jamie is his father]), and his later meeting with the Hunters. We’ve also seen William at his first kill, and his reaction to it, which I think was important to his character development (and an echo of his parentage).”

Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH – Credit: Robert Wilson / STARZ

From earlier in the episode, when William was the only man who went to the rescue of the whore that his fellow soldiers set on fire because they believed she had the pox, we saw that even though Jamie didn’t raise William — Lord John (David Berry) did, he appeared to have some of the same fine qualities as his father.

This episode, your characters meet under not-so-great circumstances, well for William at least. We start to see how you two are opposites in some ways, but alike in others. Could there be a friendship budding here or conflict?

JOHN BELL: Well, you owe me your life!

CHARLES VANDERVAART: That’s true. You saved my life. So there’ll be interesting things to come from that.

BELL: That was the first scene we shot together. It’s a great little meeting of characters. I had such fun bouncing off of you that day. 

VANDERVAART: There was a great feeling of familiarity between the two of us.

BELL: I loved the power dynamic between us where I actually know more about you than you do yourself. Seeing you struggle to find your own identity at that moment, I want to just reach out and hug you and say it’s going to be all right. But I cant, I’ve got my loyalty to Jamie there.

VANDERVAART: That’s such a common theme at the beginning of this for William. Every time he has a conversation, there are so many people that know more about who he is. He doesn’t really know anything about his true parentage. There’s something to note too between the two of us is we’re both really passionate about serving and fighting. We just happen to be on opposite sides completely. We’re quite similar but it’s just by circumstance that I’m on one side and he’s on the other.

Both of you have chemistry with Rachel. What can you share about the relationship you’ll each have with her this season?

VANDERVAART: I think we both fancy her. 

BELL: Both of us, yes.

VANDERVAART: She’s a strong woman. She’s beautiful. Smart. What’s not to like?

Exactly. She reminds me of Claire. Perhaps Ian notices those positive qualities too?

BELL: Absolutely. I mean I love that scene, when I bring you to her (laughs with Vandervaart). It’s not really much said in the words themselves but in the looks. There’s a whole love triangle bubbling, which is just very exciting. 

VANDERVAART: And, I think, William, being half Jamie, it makes sense that he would like somebody who is a little like Claire. I hope William ends up with her. We’ll see what happens.

We’re definitely starting to see how William is like Jamie. Charles, what qualities does William have from his biological father, and what has he learned from being raised by Lord John Grey?

VANDERVAART: There are a lot of similarities with both of his dads. We had a lot of discussions about this, about what William would bring to the table in terms of how he relates to both of his parents. It was important that he had some similarities to Jamie, like in his passion. But he is his own person, right? He is not a carbon copy of one or the other. He has quite a few traits from John Grey because obviously, he raised him. So the way that I present myself, the diplomatic way that I speak, that’s from Lord John Grey.

In this episode, there’s a traumatic scene where a woman is burned to death by British soldiers. We see William possibly having conflict with his duty as a British soldier and what is right. What can we expect to see from him this season as he grapples with that?

VANDERVAART: It’s not an easy road for William this season. Tight off the bat he has these really naive ideas about war and about glory and violence. He’s yet to experience any of that in the real world. He’s been very sheltered in his privileged life. There’s a massive learning curve when you actually go to war and you see soldiers doing horrible things. You grow up with a set of morals and thinking that certain people are righteous, a lot of growing up is figuring out the right path in life.

The “old” referenced earlier was the wrapping up of the Tom Christie storyline.

Both Jamie and Claire – especially Claire – believed that by this point in time that Tom would be dead since he took responsibility for the death of his daughter Malva (Jessica Reynolds). But it would turn out as fate would have it that he was spared when he became the governor’s secretary – and only because Claire had saved his hand with her surgery. The two saved each other’s lives.

Tom also informed Claire – after startling her with a kiss upon first seeing her – that it was he who placed the obituary in the paper to mark her and Jamie’s deaths after he heard about the Big House burning to the ground at Fraser’s Ridge.

He did so because he couldn’t put flowers on her grave. And it was from him telling Claire that she’s a most uncomfortable woman that the title of the episode was derived. When Tom left her, it seemed that was the final time we would see him.

“I think so,” Diana said. “(Loved the scene where Tom kisses Claire—particularly Caitriona’s Extremely Startled expression when he does.) I also really liked the two scenes that follow—the Very Awkward (but honest) scene between Tom and Claire, and then between Jamie and Claire, when they start by discussing Tom (more or less sympathetically), and then turn to their own affairs.”

Tom Christie is a bit of an enigma; for a long time, it’s hard to tell where he’s coming from. In your estimation, what do you think was the tipping point — or turning point — for him in how he feels about Claire?

MARK LEWIS JONES | I think it’s a gradual build, but I think something happens immediately when we first meet him at Fraser’s Ridge… He’s been given a bit of food, and Jamie and Claire walk in. It’s almost that something is sparked when he first sees Claire.

But if I cast my mind back to the scenes, you know, the hand scenes and the operation, and when Claire comes down at night and Tom has been made to stay in the surgery bay overnight… There’s that quietness and peace, and she’s got her hair down, and she leans over him at one point. It’s gradual, but I think there are key moments within that journey.

And when we get to [Season] 7, Tom had been on the journey, you know, as her protector. As you say, he’s difficult to read. He is an enigma — I think that’s the correct word for him — and by the time he gets to the boat when he offers himself as a sacrifice, it’s all brought to a head, all an act of love and his love for Claire. To actually be able to say that he loves her is, like, where did that come from? [Laughs]

Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH – Credit: Robert Wilson / STARZ
And it seems to me that we can’t count out that Tom might have some jealousy of Jamie in there, too.

JONES | Yeah. Tom’s got these weird children and his murky past. He tries to keep, everybody on the straight and narrow, and builds the church, and he’s pious, and he’s Godly, and yet he’s deeply unhappy and uncomfortable in his own skin. And he sees Jamie as this person who’s been liberated and has this beautiful wife and all these wonderful people around him, this amazing home and this incredible land — and he looks like Sam Heughan, you know? [Laughs] He’s a big hero, and Tom feels inferior… In a way, I think Jamie brings out the worst in Tom.

So when we get to the Red Falcon scene [in the Season 7 premiere], outside, in a way it’s Tom’s turn to play hero and offer himself. In a way, Tom gets to equal him, at least for a moment. [When Jamie gives the eulogy], it really touches Tom when he’s told that he would respect him. That means the world to Tom.

There are very few people who can throw Claire off her game so hard. Caitriona, why do you think that is? She’s speechless when he comes back.

CAITRIONA BALFE | Claire sort of had him pegged as this pious bigot very early on, and she could sense there was something more to him. She tried to reach him a few times, but I think every time she tried to do that before, she’d sort of hit a wall. So with everything that happened with Malva, his reaction to Malva’s death, all of that, Claire, I think she just sort of put him in a box and decided that that’s who he was.

… What’s so surprising is the way he reveals himself when he reveals more about his life, the pain that he suffered, and you get to understand why he acts the way he does, and then, you know, when he makes an overture towards Claire, it’s a really fun, very confusing-for-Claire moment. Mark Lewis Jones is so amazing. He’s been such a dream to work with, and we’ve enjoyed having him on the show so much.

SAM HEUGHAN | Oh, it’s wonderful. Yeah.

Sam, I want to talk to you about Jamie’s reaction to all of that. Jamie seems very glad to have Tom as someone else who cares about Claire so deeply and is literally willing to lay down his life for her. Do you think the Jamie of Season 1 or 2 would’ve had that same, sanguine reaction to another man inserting himself into Claire’s life like that?

HEUGHAN | No, you’re absolutely right. Yeah, absolutely not. Jamie, over time, he’s aged. He’s become calmer. Also, their relationship is so interesting. There was butting heads, and they have such a long history, going back to Ardsmuir… I think there’s actually a mutual respect between these two men. They’re just on different sides, right? And of course, they both love Claire, because they’re just genuinely good people. They’re just from different sides.

In the future, meanwhile…

The episode also ventured into the future with Brianna (Sophie Skelton) and Roger (Richard Rankin), who have purchased Lallybroch and are updating it to be their family home. But as a result of that, they needed extra money, so Bree interviewed for an engineering job, and found it almost as frustratingly misogynistic as dealing with men in the 1700s.

Outlander Season 7: Cast & Diana Gabaldon Talk The Hunters’ Debut, Smart Boot-to-Screen Adaptation of William’s Storyline and More! – WATCH – Credit: Robert Wilson / STARZ
“Well, she is a modern woman,” Diana said. “And “modern” in the 1960’s-80’s was/is a far remove even from Claire’s “modern” origins in the 1930’s-40’s.

Nineteen Fifty-ish was a big turning point in (English-speaking) society, both because of the social aftermath of the war—women had been doing traditionally male jobs during the war, from necessity, and not all of them wanted to go home and have babies. Also, the 1940’s war effort was a major turning point for technology. A ton of stuff that was invented or developed for the war effort later became important contributions to daily life.

Likewise, the medical personnel who fought in the war brought back all the new knowledge of surgery, drugs, and treatment to civilian life. A LOT of things changed, and Claire was right in the midst of it. At the same time, she remains her own person—and so does Brianna. People thrive or fail when pulled out of their usual/chosen niches (be those temporal, spatial or social), but in terms of personality, they seldom lose the ‘selves’ they had.”

Keep following us for more news on Outlander Season 7 and its cast!

Chiara

Source: TV Insider / EW / TV Line / Parade

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