After three seasons together, Outlander stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are practically an old married couple in public, not unlike their characters on the show. (Well, minus the whole being married part.) But before the hit Starz series launched in 2014, the two actors had to prove that they could generate enough fire between them to play the story’s red-hot, time-traveling lovers, Claire and Jamie Fraser. A previously unreleased screen test included amongst the bonus features for the Outlander Season 3 Blu-ray, due in stores on April 10, provides a glimpse at the heat that the show’s creative team — including its executive producer, Ronald D. Moore — felt when the duo met for the first time on camera.
“This was a very important step before we cast Caitriona, because we had already cast Sam,” Moore explains in an intro preceding the screen test. “We were looking for chemistry between the two characters. We really felt that Cait was probably going to be the one, but this was the final moment when she literally sealed the deal and got the show.” (Watch the clip above.)
It’s worth noting that this scene is more sad than steamy, with Jamie confessing feelings of wounded pride to a teary-eyed Claire. But there’s a natural ease in the way they talk and hold each other that suggests these two have known each other for much longer than the length of the screen test. That ease continues when the scene is over, and the camera continues to run, capturing Heughan and Balfe as they decompress. “I lost my ring doing that as well,” Heughan confesses with a chuckle, while Balfe apologizes for accidentally punching him in the face. The two go their separate ways as the clip ends, but the happily-ever-after epilogue, of course, is that they meet again on set and in costume, as production for the first season of Outlander begins.
Flash-forward three years, and the two couldn’t wait to be apart. Or so they joked to us during a Yahoo Entertainment-hosted Build Series NYC interview before Season 3 premiered last September. The third year opened with Jamie and Claire returning to their own respective eras centuries apart, which meant that the actors didn’t see each other for a long stretch of time for the first half of filming. “Maybe that’s why it was the best season [premiere],” Heughan said, needling his onscreen flame. “Oh, that hurts just a little bit,” Balfe replied, taking mock offense. “I didn’t miss him at all.”
The Outlander Season 3 Blu-ray will be released on April 10.
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