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Fantasy drama series Outlander combines history, romance, drama and danger to create a compelling viewing experience. The show is predominantly set during the 18th century and starts with the Jacobite Rising as the action then moves further afield to the American Revolutionary War. Amid all these big battles, there are also smaller skirmishes between characters – but what’s it actually like to stage and film these moments?
How long does it take to plan the Jamie Fraser fight scenes in Outlander?
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, veteran stuntman Mark Slaughter spoke about working on Outlander and standing in for Jamie Fraser actor Sam Heughan.
Slaughter was called upon in the early seasons of Outlander to double up for Heughan and took part in some small fight scenes and has been working on the show ever since.
Some of the action scenes saw him in a brawl with a Native American in season four as well as a confrontation on a boat.
Slaughter ended up working on multiple seasons of the show, although he had to sit out season five after undergoing surgery.
But he is hoping to join the cast again for the forthcoming sixth series, which is expected to be as action-packed as ever as the American Revolution edges closer still.
He said of planning and filming the fight sequences on Outlander: “It would mainly be fight prep.
“So, body shape and size – Sam and I are more or less the same.
“He’s bigger than me, much thicker set than me but physically we prep as much as possible to match the actors as much as possible.
“When it comes to the actual prep for the scene, it will be mainly breaking down a script to exactly what’s required in that scene to the action.
“So, for example, if there’s a sword fight, we would then go in and work out how many beats to the fight there’s going to be and certain elements within the script and key points within the fight.
“Then we would create a fight around that and once we’ve created the fight, the actor would then come in and we’ll rehearse the fight with the actor after it’s been approved by the director, of course.
“Then once it’s been approved, we get the actor in to train and see if there’s any issues with the actor doing the fight, and if there’s no issues that will be the set fight for the film. Then we wait until shoot day.”
On how long it took to put the scene together, Slaughter said: “It can depend on the size of the fight or the action scene. But generally, if it’s fights, we can flesh it out within a day.
“Sometimes if it’s a big sequence it can take up to a week or so. But it really depends on the size of the fight.
“We usually get into it quite quickly and it depends on how much feedback we get from the actor or the director to how many times you change it. So, it can take over the course of a few days in total.”
He said working with Heughan had been “great” because the actor was keen to do his own stunts and picked things up quickly, which made his job easy.
The stuntman has worked on some of the biggest films and TV shows in the world from superhero blockbusters like Wonder Woman to the James Bond franchise to standing in for Gwendoline Christie on Game of Thrones.
He is currently working as Alexander Skarsgård’s double in the forthcoming Viking saga The Northman, reuniting the pair after Slaughter served as his double in the 2016 movie The Legend of Tarzan.
Stunt performers are usually selected on the basis of their height and build and whether they can convincingly double up for an actor or actress.
Slaughter will often double for the same actor on different projects and also worked with Christie on Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
After finishing up on The Northman he will be hoping to pursue other projects and work again with Skarsgård.
Outlander seasons 1 to 5 are streaming on Amazon Prime Video now
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