Among Outlander‘s biggest villains is the dastardly Stephen Bonnet, a pirate whose presence haunted the Fraser family across Seasons 4 and 5. Ed Speleers memorably brought Stephen Bonnet to life, making him one of the Starz drama’s most chilling antagonists. Speleers will next be seen in You Season 4, his first series role since leaving Outlander.
TV Insider chatted with Speleers ahead of the You Season 4 Part 1 premiere on February 9, and he shared how he feels about Outlander coming to a close with Season 8. He also sang the praises of the series that he says changed the trajectory of his career.
“That’s a lot of Outlander,” he says of the Season 8 renewal (and with the Outlander prequel Blood of My Blood officially going to series, there’s going to be even more of it). Speleers says the Starz period drama has been a net good for everyone involved.
“It’s obviously been a huge part for many actors, many creative people,” the Downton Abbey alum shares. “I think it’s been great for [the Scottish film industry]. I think it’s been great for many of the cast members’ careers.” He then regales the personal impact of playing such a pivotal villain in the series.
“I would have to say I’m very grateful for the fact that I was involved, because I genuinely don’t think the roles I’ve been playing recently would’ve happened if I hadn’t played Stephen Bonnet,” Speleers admits. “I feel that playing that part opened up a new wave of work for me, or certainly gave me the confidence to look at other work and explore other ways of operating. So I’m eternally grateful to [executive producer] Maril Davis for giving me that chance in the first place.”
Outlander has had its fair share of villains in its six-season run (Season 7 premieres in the summer of 2023). Top of the list, however, is Tobias Menzies‘ Black Jack Randall — the end all, be all of Outlander bad guys. We tell Speleers that for us, Stephen Bonnet is second only to Black Jack.
“I’ll take that. Tobias is a wonderful actor, so I’m gonna take that,” he replies with a laugh. “Second place is OK. I don’t like coming second very often, but I’ll take it there.”
Speleers plays Rhys Montrose in You Season 4. Rhys is part of the London elites that Penn Badgley‘s Joe Goldberg (disguised as Professor Jonathan Moore) finds himself among in the new episodes. But like Joe/Jonathan, Rhys grew up in poverty, giving him an entirely different world view than his friends from Oxford. But Rhys is a man of the people who aspires to be London’s next mayor, determined to make a positive difference in the world.
Stephen Bonnet was killed by Brianna Fraser (Sophie Skelton) in Season 5, and then his testicles were seen in a jar in a pub in Season 6. Rhys seems like a good guy in You. Let’s hope he has a different ending.