Pure joy. That's the only way to describe what it's like to be on the set of Outlander in Scotland to interview the cast—a k a something that is supposed to be "work" but ends up feeling like you won the life-experience lottery.
These people—Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Richard Rankin, Sophie Skelton and John Bell (young Ian)—are straight-up gems of humans, and despite the success of the show, have remained grounded and kind. And also, really, just a walking party. So you know we had to break out the whisky!
Since Outlander returns in just one week—finally!—we are celebrating by sharing this drinking game with Sam and Cait called "Ne'er Have I E'er"—in which they revealed who giggles the most during sex scenes, and more. And it all went down inside the show's gorgeous new set, Aunt Jocasta's (Maria Doyle Kennedy) house. Check out the videos above (for season four teases) and below (the game).
Outlander's fourth season picks up four months into Jamie and Claire's new life in colonial North Carolina. Yes, they shot this season in Scotland, and as producer Matthew B. Roberts told me while on set, you'd be amazed at how much the two settings look alike. But given the show's insistence on historical accuracy, not to mention there was a massive snowstorm just outside the Glasgow-area soundstages while we were visiting, they also had their work cut out for them.
Outlander's set is without question the largest TV show set I've ever visited—it is quite literally a small village, with room after room set aside for prop making, sewing, wardrobe dyeing, set design and scenery building and painting. One could get lost for days just wandering around taking in all the pain-stakingly crafted wonders, including the crown jewel of props for season four—a medicine kit Jamie gives to Claire that will turn your heart straight to mush.
One of the most impressive rooms is scenery building, where, when I was visiting, five or six men were crafting massive trees Jamie will cut down and use to build their family home in season four. "Jamie is a dab hand with a saw and a chisel," Caitriona mused with a laugh. "The things that that man can build with his hands…" (Sorry to spoil the myth that Sam Heughan is a superhuman who can hoist giant Redwoods over his head, but they are fiberglass and hollow.) Check out the video for what Sam and Cait can reveal about season four below...
Although there is plenty of danger and some highly suspicious new characters, "home" is very much a theme for Jamie and Claire this season, and there is a comfortable sweetness to many of Sam and Cait's scenes. "This is the first time we get to see them as a couple and a sort of family unit," Sam explains.
"It's a fresh start for both of them," Cait adds. "Before, either Claire was going to Lallybrach which was Jamie's previous home, or they were being chased by Redcoats or them on a boat. And this is them finding a place for them to start completely afresh."
"And they're surrounded by their extended family," Sam says. "Jamie has always had that desire to be the Laird. To be the patriarch."
In an early episode, we see Claire trying to come to terms with the fact that Aunt Jocasta (with whom they are staying) is a slave owner. "Especially for Claire, it's quite difficult to see some of the stuff that's going on and be okay with that. And that causes a bit of conflict for them as well."
Producers also brought in extras of Native American descent for the Native American roles, and hired consultants from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee, in an effort to be as accurate and representative as possible.
"It's really the story of this couple as immigrants landing in this new world and it's at the dawn of America as we now know it," Caitriona explains. "And obviously, Claire has an emotional relationship with America because that's where she raised her daughter. And Brianna (Sophie Skelton) is American. So there's that pull for her. And that also becomes this great connection that Jamie has with the land. 'Well, this is the land that my daughter will eventually grow up in and inherit.'"
Watch the two videos—above and below—to see what Sam and Cait had to say about cracking up on set, the beauty of the new season, and "passing the mantle" on to Roger (Richard Rankin) and Brianna.
Stand by for more from E! News' exclusive Outlander set visit, including more from Sam and Caitriona, leading up to the premiere Nov. 4 at 8 p.m. on Starz.