Outlander’ Q&A: Andrew Gower On Playing Bonnie Prince Charlie

Before the devastating ending in Saturday night’s “Best Laid Schemes” episode of “Outlander,” the Frasers scored a small victory in their fight to stop Bonnie Prince Charlie from getting closer to his own goal of leading an uprising in Scotland. 

Claire’s knowledge of herbs and medicines, combined with Murtagh’s ability to impersonate a bandit and Jamie’s ability to keep things from going awry allowed them to steal the Comte Saint Germain’s expensive load of spirits. The Comte was furious (but unable to definitively point his finger at Jamie Fraser), but Prince Charles Stuart, who planned to use the funds from the sale of the alcohol to secure ships and pay soldiers, was devastated. 

Although set in Paris, much of the Season 2 drama has been focused on stopping the “Bonnie Prince,” played by English actor Andrew Gower. Andrew (who Sam Heughan has praised, calling him “magnificent in the role”) hit the books before slipping on the salmon-colored silk coat of his “Outlander” character, diving deeply into the details, all the way down to the accent. In a new interview, he told Access Hollywood more about his preparation for the role, and offered insight into his character’s tearful reaction after the loss of the cargo in Saturday night’s episode. 

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Andrew Gower as Prince Charles Stuart in ‘Outlander’ Season 2, Episode 5 — ‘Untimely Resurrection’
Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser and Andrew Gower as Prince Charles Stuart in ‘Outlander’ Season 2, Episode 5 — ‘Untimely Resurrection’ (Starz)

WATCH: ‘Outlander’: Claire Sermonne On Getting Cast As Louise De Rohan

AccessHollywood.com: First of all, you must be aware of the ‘Mark Me!’ drinking game [some fans have made up], yes?
Andrew Gower:
(laughs) Yes, I am. And I hope people are drinking safely, and maybe doing it like, every other ‘Mark me!’ and not on every one, because I don’t want to be encouraging bad hangovers on a Sunday. 

Access: What did you think when you first heard about that?
It’s very, very sweet and I think it’s quite fitting really, that they’ve invented that game, seeing as every time I’m saying, ‘Mark me’ at the moment, I seem to be holding a glass of wine or some alcohol. So I think it’s a fitting game if ever there was one.

READ: ‘Outlander’ Season 2: Terry Dresbach On The Costumes Of ‘Untimely Resurrection’

Access: One of the things I wanted to ask you about was coming up with the accent for your character. He does have a weird way of talking. He’s an exiled royal. Tell me about it.
Andrew: We decided against Italian, because in my head and in the book — the Frank McLynn book, which is the main biography I could find on him, and it became my bible — there were specific letters from his father talking about the way he speaks and how… he wanted him obviously to be the next King of England – the young pretender becoming the rightful heir of the British throne. So in that aspect, my intention was to strive for perfection, but through striving for perfection, in my head, I didn’t want it to be perfect. So I wanted him to be striving for almost – to speak with received [pronunciation]… but actually not quite really fitting the bill. … I wanted the intonation to be slightly off — the whole bilingual aspect, that he could potentially speak French, speak Italian, but not really mastering any of them because there are a lot of mentions in letters to his father that his education kind of took a backseat and he was more interested in the social events and dancing and learning how to ride a horse. So, I think it was a combination of the book and in my head that’s where the accent came from, and also speaking to Metin [Hüseyin], the director, that I kind of felt my way into finding this accent. And once I found it, I kind of held on to it. 

Access: Speaking about the social events that you mentioned, obviously your costumes are a little different [to some of the other characters]. I had talked to Terry [Dresbach, ‘Outlander’s’ Costume Designer] and she had talked about adding in the Italian influence – because your costumes are very distinct from the French, from Sam’s. What was that process like working with the people on Terry’s team? This season of costumes — wow!
It’s been amazing, hasn’t it? Hats off. … It’s the first job where I’ve had some of the best outfits and it was a great thing. And I genuinely did have this conversation with Terry being like, ‘How many different outfits are you going to give me?’ And she was like, ‘Well, you’re going to have one for every scene,’ and I was, like, ‘This is amazing.’ And they are an amazing department and you go in there and it’s such a creative kind of hub that they set up and these amazing machines that can do things that you wouldn’t believe are scientifically possible. Yeah, amazing, amazing, amazing dedication from Terry and her team. It blew me away actually.

Access: I love it when your character stands up for Jamie when the Comte is sort of suggesting that Jamie maybe had something to do with the heist. I’m kind of curious why you think he buys into Jamie so much? He just doesn’t see through him at all. You would think with a guy who is sending letters that are in code and things like that, he might have a little more suspicion, but…
Andrew: Yeah, that’s a very valid point. I’ve weirdly never really looked at it from that aspect because it is kind of — with James and Charles, he becomes such a confidante for [my character]. To begin with, there’s a wonderful story of Charles when he goes to war when he’s 15, 16… and he kind of admires his uncle because his uncle is an army general — and Charles did have an obsession with victory in battles and he was on the frontline when he was 15, 16. And obviously, his uncle won this specific battle and he was kind of in and amongst the soldiers, and my point is, seeing James, I think he can sense a real man in him and his physique, his dedication, the way he speaks about where he’s from, his pride. Charles is a sucker for that and I think there’s almost an element of — Charles, weirdly enough, is an outlander. He is a guy who is out of his comfort zone. He doesn’t have a home and he doesn’t belong to anything and actually, it’s very sad in a sense that James does belong to somewhere, but actually, he’s away from Scotland, he’s not in Scotland, he’s in Paris. So in a weird way, they’ve sort of formed an alliance over that in Paris, both of them out of their comfort zones a little bit. 

Access: [In the last shot you’re featured in, in Saturday’s episode] you see this man who is rocked by the cargo heist and he’s talking about what his future could be and contemplating suicide [and mentioning] Poland. It’s so sad, so, so sad. Tell me about why you think he’s so devastated. Is it just about the possibility of the future or is just he’s banked so much on it and his dream has just been crushed?
This is an interesting thing for people to think about of why I started as I did, because a lot of people say to me, why is Bonnie Prince Charlie behaving in that specific way? Like in the very first scene where we meet him in the brothel, why is he holding a meeting in a brothel? … In my head, he’s been in Paris for almost 18-months, so it’s not just that meeting in the brothel. He’s been doing that since he arrived and when he arrived in Paris, his cargo, his ammunition — it didn’t turn up. One of his boats was captured when he was coming over. They had to stop off in all these different places, and he doesn’t like boats. It was written about. And then he gets into Paris, he’s not accepted into the court. … Ultimately, his main aim in life is to please his father. So, he’s at that point, after going round in circles, and finally seeing he might be able to move from Paris [where] he is the outlander. … So when it does finally move forward, and he feels like, ‘OK, I can write to my father, I can tell him we’re getting the money together and we’re going to get the ammunition and we’re going to finally have the power to impress the British or the French, the right people, to go over to Scotland and start this revolution, start this uprising’ — at that moment in time… he’s had the rug pulled from under him. And I think it’s such a thing of the embarrassment of what would you say to your father in that point when you’ve spent all the money you already have on prostitutes for escapism, because you’re very unhappy, and the woman you fell in love with doesn’t love you and you’re not powerful enough to make an impression in society? So actually, that moment in time, yeah, is very, very sad. But I think he’s thinking almost of… his whole Paris experience has just been… it’s been crap, really, and this is the nail in the coffin for him. He’s trusted so many people and the trust that he’s placed in people has backfired. 

WATCH: ‘Outlander’: Stanley Weber On St. Germain’s Suspicions About Jamie In ‘Best Laid Schemes’

“Outlander” continues Saturdays at 9 PM ET/PT on Starz.

Jolie Lash

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