Outlander Set Life: 7 Strict Rules The Cast Must Follow

Sep 07, 2020Kate Korni

Curious about which strict rules the Outlander cast must follow? Well, say no more: we've got you covered! What Outlander advice would Sam and Cait give their future selves? Which item did Sam once lose while filming a steamy scene? And what’s one rule that Sophie Skelton breaks every now and then? Find out all the most thrilling details below!


When you’re an Outlander actor, the nights aren’t there for sleeping! You guessed it - night shoots are a regular thing! The Outlander producers always strive to make things as authentic as possible, and that means not replicating night time with visual effects.


Speaking to Variety, Sam and Cait were asked which advice they’d give themselves if they could travel back to the day before filming began. Sam and Cait didn’t have to think twice: “Get sleep. You’re never going to sleep again”, Cait joked. 

But all jokes aside, the night shoots often take their toll on the cast, leaving them exhausted and… sometimes even bored. Ever wondered why there were a few years when some of the Outlander actors weren’t present at the San Diego Comic Con? They were too busy with night shoots, that’s why! Wow, we’re super grateful for their dedication.

One cast member often updates fans about the crew’s nocturnal activities. “On night shoots, waiting for the rain to stop”, Sam tweeted! That seems… less than exciting. But as Sam reminds the Outlander fans, “some things are worth the trouble”. 

Clearly, it’s all part of a “night’s” work for everyone involved in Outlander. Oh, and filming at night might still be fun when it’s summer, but can you picture them in winter? Which brings us to another talent the cast had to master over the years, which is...


Think rain, wind and freezing temperatures. Then also don’t forget that many scenes are shot in secluded locations with, very often, no electricity. Brrr.... 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the four leads and co-producer, Maril Davis, take a trip down memory lane. What’s the coldest they’ve been on Outlander? For Davis, it’s an earlier scene where Claire says goodbye to Frank at the train station. Claire agrees! “I’ve never seen a group of more miserable-looking people”.

Sophie recalls the scene where Jamie “attacked” Brianna to help her see she couldn’t have stopped Bonnet. At one stage during this scene, the cameraman couldn’t even hold his camera anymore because his fingers were freezing! Sam points out that there was sideways snow that day and they had to reshoot the scene later. Gosh, that sounds cold! 

Another day from Season 1 that makes the list was Jamie and Claire’s picnic on a mountaintop. This was coincidentally also Sam’s birthday. “We were sat on this supposed blanket… and between every take the props guy would have to come lift off all the plates, pour the water off and put them back down.”


Steamy might not be the right word for some of the Outlander intimate scenes, right? Maybe “scorching” is better! These types of scenes are obviously something the actors had to be able to do. And they passed with flying colors!

However, as glamorous as it might seem on-screen, both Cait and Sam have often admitted that the intimate moments weren’t easy to film, even stressful! In an interview with Marie Claire, Cait remembers her intimate scenes with Tobias Menzies, describing especially the first one as nerve-wrecking, because it was also their first week of filming.

“I’d barely met Tobias. I was like, ‘Well, hello. Nice to meet you. Let’s get our kit off and get into bed!’” Cait says.

Talking to 92Y Plus, Cait joked about the modesty patch she gets to wear, saying it “really doesn’t protect your modesty, dignity or anything else”.

Tobias Menzies, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan pose during the Television Academy Presents "Outlander" Panel Discussion / Getty Images

Which led to Sam, in turn, sharing his embarrassing moment, which is just beyond funny, to be honest! “I once… went to the bathroom and dropped my modesty pouch into the urinal.” He then had to tell someone and they had to put it over the intercom, so the whole crew knew! 

It’s really awesome that they can laugh about it all in retrospect, isn’t it! Apart from the romantic scenes, there are other tricky parts too! Did you know that Balfe learned some real surgical techniques? 

She told Parade about the show’s excellent medical adviser named Dr. Claire. The real-life Dr. Claire talks Balfe through everything she’s going to do, like how to hold a scalpel or tie a one-handed knot. There’s another new cool skill for Cait’s resume! 


Yes, those costumes are wickedly cool! But just which one do you think is wickedly uncomfortable - the corset or the kilt? Hands down the corsets! Because zips and velcro weren't invented in the 18th century - and the costume design team is committed to authenticity - it was mandatory for all the ladies on set to wear corsets.

This often proved to be somewhat challenging for Caitriona, although she pulled off with such elegance! Speaking to Yahoo! TV about “those darn corsets”, Balfe said she got laced in and tightened up every morning: “And you’re hoping that you’ve just, you know, digested your breakfast enough”

Caitriona says wearing the corset did inform her character a lot, though, because it goes to show how restricted women were back then - she couldn't breathe or emote fully. Once she put them on, she was automatically transported to another time. 

Also, the corsets helped her with the horse riding, just because it kept her so upright, but running around or simply getting up was tricky because “you have no abs anymore”. Can you believe that women used to wear these all day, every day? Wow!

Sam, on the other hand, wasn’t restricted in any way… Telling Parade how he liked the “freedom” of Season one’s kilts, saying it’s surprisingly comfortable to ride a horse in a kilt. Just before we look at how the cast use their own social media accounts to promote the series, let’s look at:


Sophie Skelton is a brunette, while her character Brianna Fraser is a red-head. At first, the hair and makeup team dyed Sophie’s tresses red, but it turned out to be nothing short of a disaster! Skelton shared the details with Town & Country:

“They had to bleach it, but then it became like straw. I remember one of the first days… They put all that foil on… they took it off and all I could hear was someone behind me go, ‘Oh my God.’”

Poor Sophie! After that incident, the team decided to give her a wig. Thank GOODness. Sophie and the other actors aren’t really allowed to tan because, as she says, gingers stereotypically don’t tan that well. 

Still, they sneak in a bit of Vitamin D every now and then! And who can blame them?! On days when they have lunch breaks, this is what happens:

“Usually when it’s sunny we’ll just pull some chairs out and sort of - don’t tell Annie, Head of Makeup - we’ll just sort of tan for a little bit. We’re not really supposed to tan. I might end up looking like a ginger Spanish person!” 

Heughan’s transformation into Jamie is not quick. He told Parade that he’s in the Hair and Makeup chair for an hour and a half in the wee hours of every morning! 

You probably know that his hair is naturally blonde, not red like Jamie’s, and his hair also used to be dyed in the earliest seasons. Nowadays, though, he’s ecstatic to be able to wear a wig because he said the dying process was horrific.


The Outlander cast is instrumental in helping promote the series, so much so that they’re required to have their own official social media accounts for that same reason. For example, the cast members often participate in Q&A sessions with fans. 

We think this is a great thing for the show because the marketing team can leverage each star’s social media following. And it’s also amazing for us as fans, who get to feel as if we have some sort of connection with our favorite actors. But we’re not sure it’s always such a good thing for the actors themselves.

This is also why Sam and Cait have learned - from experience - not to monitor social media comments too seriously. In an interview with AP Archive, Sam explains that everyone has an opinion, but you can’t please everyone all the time, and unfortunately with social media it’s always that one bad comment that you remember.

Cait agrees: “I’ve taken a step back from social media as much as I can. I don’t think it’s good for your mental health...”

Caitriona Balfe attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Starz's "Outlander" Season 5 / Getty Images


If you’re anything like us, when you hear these two words together in any sentence, you’re probably already bored. But this is a special circumstance - well, obviously. For starters: Heughan and Balfe signed a seven-year contract before they even filmed the first episode. 

On the set of Outlander near Glasgow, Heughan told the press: “When you get given a contract, they say it's an American TV [series] and you say: ‘How many, seven seasons? Yeah of course. It’s never going to happen.'

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan on June 6, 2016 in Beverly Hills / Getty Images

Both stars are extremely grateful with how things turned out, though - and are invested until the very end, whenever that might be.” On another note, we were curious to know what happens when a lead gets sick on set? With such a tight filming schedule, this can be quite stressful, or not?! 

We found the answer on one of the set producers, Barry Waldo’s Twitter page! And it sounds reasonable enough, but still, it’s touch and go! According to Waldo, the showrunners will always try to look at other scenes that can be shot so that the actor can get better first. But this isn’t always possible. 

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan participate in a panel discussion after the New York Red Carpet Premiere of Outlander Season Three / Getty Images

Like that one time when Cait had to fly straight back to Glasgow on the day of completing the London Marathon to shoot the next day. As always, she joked about it, but took it in her stride.

If you’ve ever watched the cast in panels or interviews, you’d have noticed how they’re all secretive and vague to avoid giving away insider info. This is part of their contracts’ terms and conditions. After auditioning, Sophie didn’t hear anything back for a year! 

Naturally, she assumed she hadn’t gotten the role, but as it turned out, they’d just decided not to introduce Brianna into the series yet. Once she landed the part, though, she had to wait several months for an official release to talk about her participation in the series. She even had to lie to friends about why she was really in Glasgow.

Oh, and if you follow Sam and Cait’s careers, like us, you’ll know that he also completed Bloodshot and The Spy Who Dumped Me. Cait was in Ford and Ferrari and voiced Tavra in DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE.

How did they manage to fit this in with Outlander's schedule?! Man, we’re getting tired just looking at them being busy. It turns out they did some projects in the gaps between Outlander seasons, as Sam explained in his interview with MTV News:

"The problem is that Outlander shoots for such a long period of time that it’s about finding something that can fit into that gap. But I’ve had few great projects.” 

Sam Heughan / Getty Images

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