'Outlander' Star Tobias Menzies Deserves an Emmy Nomination, and This Video Proves It
With more than 350 performers submitting in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category for this year’s Emmys, you can’t help but think voters might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. We’ve already urged them to consider Sons of Anarchy’s Jimmy Smits, and now it’s time to openly campaign for Outlander’s Tobias Menzies, who pulled double-duty in the Starz drama’s first season playing both Claire’s 20th Century husband, Frank Randall, and the 18th Century sadomasochist, Capt. “Black Jack” Randall, who terrorizes her Highlander husband, Jamie (Sam Heughan).
The video above features some of Menzies’s finest work as the latter. The truth is, we couldn’t show most scenes from Season 1’s brutal final two episodes, in which Black Jack finally succeeds in breaking Jamie in Wentworth Prison. But the reason why Menzies (and Heughan, who submitted in the lead actor category) deserve Emmy consideration is because through their simultaneously bare and layered performances, they never let you forget that it’s Jamie’s soul Black Jack is after as he abuses and assaults his body.
“How I rationalized it for myself was obviously taking the event of the flogging as the beginning,” Menzies tells Yahoo TV. “In that event, he encountered someone who was able to match him unlike anyone else had before. Jamie was able to endure the physical pain in a way that no one else had before, so obviously for someone who is interested in administering pain to people, it intrigues him. If we are to believe that sadomasochism is his kink, then Jamie represents someone who cannot be mastered and that is a challenge. He wants to break and dominate him to prove he can. I also think at some level he is struck by Jamie as a human being. Jack is not without his small moments of humanity. He has admiration for people. The weird thing is then his admiration is manifested and communicated by wanting to take it apart and find out how it works. That’s where the brutality comes in.”
The actors approached the scenes as a “twisted, curious love story,” Menzies says. “We did really want to find moments of genuine tenderness between them. In terms of filming, we didn’t talk about it hugely in between. Those things you have to negotiate with the different personalities you are working with. For whatever reason, Sam and I didn’t feel the need for that. One of the dangers is talking about a scene so much that nothing occurs for the first time in the scene, and he was supposed to be enduring this horrible experience for the first time. We decided to show it here and talk elsewhere. If you haven’t pinned everything down in advance, you are forced to discover it in front of the camera and something more live can happen. Having moments where one or the other is genuinely surprised by what has happened is not un-useful as long as it is done within a safe and trusting framework.”
He’s also not worried about playing the man who, temporarily at least, destroys Jamie, the beloved object of most Outlander fans’ affection. “I have no problem with that. In general, I am more interested in the darker characters when I watch or read stories,” he says. “I think Jack is a rather brilliant creation on [novelist Diana Gabaldon]’s part. Certainly why I got into acting is to do that darker, meatier material, and Wentworth certainly falls into that area. I feel excited by the proposition of going there and mining the range of emotions humans are capable of, both good and bad.”