Richard Rankin on Reprising His Role as Roger Wakefield in “Outlander,” and What the Future Holds for Him and Brianna

  • Read our Q&A with the actor, who returns to “Outlander” in Season 3.
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  • SONY: How do you think episode 4 progresses the blossoming romance between Roger and Brianna?
     
  • RICHARD RANKIN: It happens quite quickly after that. It's when you see them kiss for the first time, after she shows a vulnerable side to her you don't often see. It takes them both off guard.
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  • SONY: What can you tease about where their relationship is going this season?
     
  • RICHARD RANKIN: It's a weird situation Roger finds himself caught in. His world is kind of upside down. He's been mediating between Brianna and Claire, and the whole drama that came with that, then all of a sudden time travel is a thing and we discover that Brianna's father is actually an 18th century Scottish warrior. He's trying to grapple with that and also whether these things are actually physically possible. Coming from an academic background it's all a bit like, “What is my life right now?”
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  • SONY: What are your thoughts on the different dynamics in Roger and Brianna’s growing relationship compared to Jamie and Claire’s?
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  • RICHARD RANKIN: It's very contrasting. It's different in how it came about, through completely different circumstances and completely different times 200 years apart. But they have such a temperamental, fiery relationship, the two of them, and they're constantly locking horns. Certainly, as the story moves on, there's a lot of that. They're strong-minded individuals so coming together means there's a lot of friction. It's a bumpier ride than it is for Jamie and Claire.
  • SONY: Claire places her hopes of finding Jamie onto Roger. How does your character carry that responsibility, especially knowing what the impact could be on Brianna and Claire’s fates going forward?
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  • RICHARD RANKIN: He relishes that, I think. It's what he does. Roger is an historian and there's one line in particular that kind of sums him up in that scenario: He's like a dog with a bone. As soon as he takes up that task he throws himself into it 100 percent, especially because it's so important to Claire. He has a lot of respect for her and they become close. It's very important to him because it's very important to Claire. It's him in his element. Claire kind of drops it at one point and is ready to move on, but Roger is adamant he's going to find out what happened.
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  • SONY: As you noted above, your character is a historian. How much knowledge of Scottish history did you have before this role, and did you have to do any prep?
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  • RICHARD RANKIN: We're in the 1960s so there was groundwork to be done about social structure, music, and other things about the era before even getting into the characters as professionals and students. We did a lot of research and background work and got involved in a lot of Scottish history. There's been a lot learned and it's basically been about getting our heads into the mindset of these characters. Doing the groundwork for them has been a rich and rewarding experience. The thing that surprised me is how much fact there is in Diana Gabaldon's books and therefore on screen. There's so much factual Scottish history in there. I found a lot of stuff, especially around Inverness, about the Fraser family history that actually happened. I'd read a lot of the books at that point so as I was researching points in Scottish history that were relevant to some of the stuff we had coming up, and I was surprised to find out just how much of it was actually true.
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  • SONY: What was it like returning to set after appearing in the Season 2 finale? Any fun anecdotes you’d like to share with fans about shooting this season?
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  • RICHARD RANKIN: Returning was something we were always aware was going to be the case. We had quite a defined outline of what our roles would be at least up until Season 4, which was quite nice because it gave us the chance to think about how we were going to approach it. We know exactly what these characters arcs are going to be so we can plot them for ourselves as well as plot them in terms of the relationship between Roger and Brianna. It was great to have that time and knowledge to mark our beats through it. It gave us an opportunity to tell a really interesting story of their journey throughout these seasons. In terms of anecdotes, driving a 1960s car was quite memorable. I was chugging along, pulling on the gears, and I think it's now been written off because the gearbox was thoroughly melted.
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  • Watch "Outlander" Sundays on STARZ, and learn more about the show at SonyPictures.com.