Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton Gave Us All the Feels--and a Grandad Dance Tutorial--on the Outlander Set

Exclusive! Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton dish on the long-awaited new season (while being perfectly delightful in the process)

By Kristin Dos Santos Oct 29, 2018 9:46 PMTags
Watch: Richard Rankin Teases Perilous "Outlander" Season 4

Outlander fans have much to celebrate--but perhaps even more to worry about--when it comes to Roger and Bree in season four.

When E! News visited the show's set in Scotland and asked how worried we should be about their characters on a scale of 1 to 10, Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton both immediately shot back "10!"

"[Roger] just leaps straight forward and thinks with his heart in this one," Rankin said, "and he gets himself into some tricky situations…with his history books and his teaching at Oxford University. It all becomes very heightened and dramatic. Students' grades are dropping--he blames himself. He feels like he's not teaching effectively. ‘What am I doing wrong?'!"

Watch: Sophie Skelton Thinks Roger & Bree Are a "Geeky" Power Couple

And that, dear friends, is precisely what is not happening on Outlander in season four. But Richard's delivery was stellar, so make sure you watch the video above--as well as the ridiculously awesome "Grandad Dance Tutorial" video below. (We'll get to that. But make sure you stretch before you watch!)

No spoilers, but Richard is not kidding that there is "trouble" ahead Roger and Brianna in season four, which is based on Diana Gabaldon's fourth book, Drums of Autumn. (It just won't be happening at Oxford.) As Jamie and Claire are making a new life for themselves in colonial North Carolina, Bree is back in the early 1970's dealing with the loss of her mother and the possibility of a relationship with Roger. And things just spiral out from there.

Sophie was a little more forthcoming than Richard, revealing she had to do quite a bit of prep work for Bree's darker scenes ahead. "Brianna in the 60s is a very 60s vibe. She's happy…And then (this season) it does just sort of take a 180 twist for Bree. I did a lot of research. I read a lot of case studies and [looked] into the science of how people deal with things, and how their brain works and the inadvertent reflex responses that people have."

Sophie's also learning how to cope with the gravity of the bigger scenes.  "You do just have to sort of at the end of the day, try and shake it off. And when you have actors that you get along with so well, that's easy. Because you sort of shake it off together. There were actually some scenes we did, quite a hard day, and it was actually on my birthday. So then afterwards a few of us--Ed [Speelers], Richard, John Bell and myself, just had some drinks and watched football. You deal with it by acting as if it really didn't happen and just move on."

Before the darkness, though, the fourth season of Outlander has some real treats in store for fans of Roger and Bree--particularly in episode three, one of my favorite episodes of the series, which picks up a little while after we last saw the pair in Boston and takes a deep dive into their feelings. It's a beautifully shot episode, with plenty of sunshine-filled moments some fans will be clinging to--including a carefree  car ride, and Richard singing, playing guitar and dancing with Sophie. But of course, nothing is easy with these two.

"That's the thing I find most fascinating about [Roger and Bree]," Richard told me. "The constant pulling apart and coming together. I suppose they have a real fiery, temperamental relationship. They're quite stubborn. They both have their own opinions. He loves the fact that she's a modern woman. She's a free thinker. Clearly very intelligent. She's got a really fiery passion about her and it gets him into a lot of trouble."

 "They're both so stubborn," Sophie says, "and although that sort of hinders their relationship a bit, I think they do also feed off of that. And their love of history and adventure and facts and figures and the logic of things sort of brings them very close."

Sophie said she sees Roger and Bree as something of a nerdier version of Jamie and Claire. "Jamie and Claire are very sort of statuesque," she says, "whereas Roger and Bree are a little awkward, a little bit geeky. So Richard and I have that down to a tee."

Not to burst any bubbles, but after spending time with Richard Rankin on set, I simply cannot see the "geekiness" Sophie is talking out. Turns out, he's something of a Baryshnikov.

During our interview in a "tavern in North Carolina" (Scotland), Richard spontaneously broke out into snaps and kicks and shimmies--complete with head and wrist bands--without any prompt whatsoever.

Okay, that's a lie. I totally strong-armed him into doing a spontaneous "Grandad Dance Tutorial" as a way to settle up on something of a promise on Twitter. Because, sorry, couldn't resist!

And the results? Well, see for yourself in the video below... (Just make sure you stretch beforehand to prevent injury.)

Watch: Richard Rankin Teaches "Outlander" Dance

Please note that all happened with zero forewarning, with two minutes on the clock, and Richard had the crew cry-laughing on the sidelines--something I'm told happens fairly often on set. Bless you for your service and your smooth moves, Mr. Rankin.

E! News will bring you more from our Outlander set visit this week--including everything we learned about season four while on set, and more from Sam and Cait--leading up to the show's long-awaited return Sunday on Starz.