‘Outlander’ Bid Farewell To Star Tobias Menzies Last Night – For Forever?
Tobias Menzies has now officially bid adieu to the world of Outlander. The British actor delivered a masterful double act on the series for over two seasons, playing Claire’s 20th century nice guy husband, Frank Randall, and Frank’s absolutely abhorrent ancestor, Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Black Jack’s storyline came to an end in the opening scenes of the Season 3 premiere. We last saw his corpse crushing a wounded Jamie in the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden. Last night, it was Frank’s turn to shuffle off the proverbial mortal coil. After watching how his unhappy marriage to Claire spiraled into a disaster — with him asking not only for a divorce, but threatening to take Brianna to England with him — Frank died in a car accident.
Just like that, one of Outlander‘s top three stars is gone.
Decider sat down with stars Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies in a roundtable interview with other outlets during Summer 2017 TCA. When we asked Balfe how the energy of the show would change now that one of the three stars was gone, she became pensive. “I mean, he’s definitely missed,” she said. “It is kind of strange because it definitely has always been the counterbalance to Claire and Jamie in both ways; for Claire more Frank and for Jamie more Black Jack. I think the danger with a fantasy love story is that if they’re just always in love and everything than how do you keep it interesting? How do you lend it some complexity? You know, we’ll see…I guess is probably the best answer.”
Balfe added, “But on a personal level, we’ve definitely missed him being around. I was saying the other day that when I started this show I was so new to it all and Tobias was always a great sounding board and I definitely looked up to him. You know, it’s been sad not having you around.”
“It’s been an amazing few years, yeah,” said Menzies.
As emotional as the final scene between Frank and Claire is, filming it was full of levity.
“Well first of all,” Balfe said, “our very first take I looked down and realized that sound had stuck a microphone to Tobias’ bare chest. That was not very emotional. I was like, Um, does the dead guy need a microphone?”
Menzies joked, “Those sound guys, they would mic anything. Even the dead guy.”
Balfe laughed and continued: “You know, that whole relationship was so rich and it was such a complicated story from the very beginning. It was really heartbreaking and tragic the demise of Claire and Frank’s marriage. But that scene, I think for Claire it was a tough one because, you know, at that point they were so emotionally far apart from each other and the intimacy had been gone for so many years. But it’s like you don’t realize how much you love somebody until they’ve been taken away from you. So I think for Claire, they’ve been so used to living in this side by side world but taking each other for granted in a way that at that moment she realized that there’s always been this huge love for you and it’s an apology. I mean, in many ways she’s sort of making an apology for the —”
“What she didn’t say before,” Menzies finished.
We asked the stars if they had a favorite scene together from the last three seasons of Outlander. After a pause, Menzies went to one of Claire and Black Jack’s first juicy encounters.
“Ep. 6. The chamber piece,” he said, referring to the prolonged interrogation in Season 1, Episode 6, “The Garrison Commander.”
“Yeah, I think I’d have to agree with that. Yeah, the Brockton scene,” Balfe said. “That was really…I mean, it was such interesting writing. It was a long take. They allowed it to play out like a piece of theater.”
Menzies added: “I think it was a tiny bit watershed for the show. That we had gotten that confident, storytelling-wise. It definitely was a sort of change of pace for the show. Because, you know, we were finding our feet. And it was good, but that finally felt like, ‘Oh, wow, we can go through some really interesting places and the writers are going to let us do that’ or that they’re going to write stuff for us that’s going to be this kind of confident.”
“And I think it’s the first time you really get a glimpse of how twisted Black Jack is,” said Balfe. “That it’s not just a physical perversion. There’s that real mental distaste.”
“And in the middle you flashback to the flogging, which obviously. Really graphic. Again, I think that was a real show of strength from the show,” said Menzies.
While showrunner Ronald D. Moore suggested that there could be opportunities to bring Menzies back at the TCA panel, the actor himself didn’t seem to think it was a possibility.
“No. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if in some point in the future they call me whether I take their call it really depends,” he laughed.
Balfe quipped, “I think you’ve already changed your number by now.”
If you’re feeling emotional about Menzies’ departure, just know that’s he’s not. “It’s not emotional. I don’t know. That’s not my experience of character,” he told the roundtable back in late July. “It’s sort of odder than that. They’re all just like bits of you so it’s not like you…they don’t go anywhere. I mean, will I miss playing them? Yes. It’s been a great and amazing ride. I will also miss all of the great friends I made on it. But, you know, it’s been fun to go on and do other things. I’ve been doing this for three and a half years now. Almost four. But yes, I definitely miss it. It’s been a really great adventure.”
Menzies’ next project is The Terror, a miniseries for AMC. Besides that, he didn’t have anything on the docket. “Now I am unemployed. So if you could write that down,” he said with a chuckle.