Outlander tells the epic, time-traveling love story of Jamie and Claire Fraser, played by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. It is filled with romance and passion, but it also has an extremely dark side. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series — and the subsequent Starz drama — also features some traumatic sexual assaults.
One of those came in season 1, when Jamie was raped by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). Heughan says that scene was “about two men battling their wills to beat each other,” and he enjoyed being a part of it. However, he does admit that the “c**k shot was unnecessary.”
‘Outlander’ star Sam Heughan says he pushed back on the nudity in that season 1 scene
In his new book Waypoints, Heughan travels the 96-mile West Highland Way walking trail in Scotland while providing insights into his life and acting career. The 42-year-old shared that he had a clause in his contract that did require him to “film nude scenes.” However, that clause didn’t keep him from pushing back over filming the rape scene naked in the season 1 episode “Wentworth” because it was “sexualized” and a “horrifice experience.”
“A clause in my contract required me to film nude scenes. Even so, this wasn’t a moment where I felt that being naked would add to the horror of what Jamie undergoes in that castle dungeon as a form of punishment, subjugation and humiliation,” Heughan writes. “I pushed back, reasoning that nudity sexualized a horrific experience for my character, and it sparked quite a debate.”
Sam Heughan felt betrayed — that ‘c**k shot was unnecessary’
Heughan says in his book that Outlander doesn’t turn away from sexual violence because it is a reflection of the era. However, the “brutal rape” of Jamie in season 1 was challenging to shoot because the crew set out to make it a “difficult watch.’ At the time, the focus was on the “consequences” but they felt it was important not to “shy away from the act itself.”
Ultimately, the decision was made that Heughan would be filmed naked in the aftermath of the assault, “sprawled on the dungeon stones in a state of absolute defeat.” He says he spent hours in a “state of undress.”
“Those closing scenes were incredibly challenging to film, even though, thankfully the nude shots ended on the cutting room floor. It was a harrowing, exhausting experience,” Heughan writes.
“Times have changed. The c**k shot was unnecessary and did betray my trust in the creative team a bit. We don’t need to see the horror to imagine what the characters go through. Imagination is way more powerful.”
If that season 1 ‘Outlander’ scene was filmed today, things would be different
Heughan says that after shooting the scene, he went back to his trailer and tried to process how he felt about it. He says that he and Balfe had just started finding their way through Jamie and Claire’s intimate scenes, and they were constantly looking out for each other. But elsewhere in the industry, that doesn’t necessarily happen.
The actor also pointed out that if the scene would have been filmed today, “it would have been handled differently” because they now have an intimacy coordinator on set.
Heughan did make it clear to Entertainment Weekly, though, that even though the scene was “really dark and tough” and “probably some of the most testing stuff” he’s ever done, he still “kind of really enjoyed it.”
“I think every actor enjoys putting themselves through something like that because it’s a challenge,” Heughan said.
Outlander Seasons 1 through 6 are now playing on the Starz app. Season 7 will premiere on Starz in late 2022 or early 2023.