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Outlander Star David Berry Talks Complicated Relationships with Jamie & Claire Fraser

This article may contain spoilers from Outlander’s episode, “Give Me Liberty,” and the Outlander book series.

If Outlander’s Lord John Grey (David Berry) had a Facebook account in the 1700s, his relationship status would be “It’s complicated.” And if there was one about John, Jamie, and Claire Fraser (Sam Heughan and Caitríona Balfe), it would be, “It’s super complicated.” Outlander star David Berry, who plays the man who would do anything for the Frasers, sat down with me for SheKnows to talk about his character’s return to Outlander as well as exciting stories in season 7. We asked Berry about a big story in Diana Gabaldon’s seventh book that involves John Grey and Claire Fraser, broke down Grey’s feelings towards Jamie Fraser, and asked Berry the fans’ most burning questions. Berry also revealed the original character on Outlander he first auditioned for!

And, of course, we talked about episode 5, “Give Me Liberty,” in which Lord John protects Jamie with a broom. One might say they have a sweeping love story. Unrequited. That Jamie Fraser, always attracting the witches. (Hi, Claire). But still, Lord John can’t just sweep his feelings under the rug. Too much? Never. Broom jokes abound. Read our whole chat with Berry below!

Reshma Gopaldas: It’s so good to have you back for a whole full episode. There’s a lot of Lord John this time, so: What was your favorite thing about this episode?

David Berry: My favorite thing is how dorky John was with the Broom. I honestly didn’t know how to solve that on the day, and I don’t know if I ever did. He looks fabulous in his costume, but he’s holding back a crowd with a broom. I just remember feeling quite ridiculous and dorky in that moment.

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David Berry and Sam Heughan Starz/Robert Wilson

RG: It definitely didn’t look that way!

DB: To me it did, and that’s how I felt. And I kind of enjoy feeling that way from time to time [laughing], because there’s kind of an adorkable quality to Lord John and I try to bring that out as much as I can.

RG: You do such a great job. When you went back to set, what was that first day back after so long?

DB: It was really hard, actually. The experience of going to the UK was personally very challenging, because I was coming from Australia and Australia had some of the strictest COVID laws in the world, which also meant that no one was permitted to travel internationally unless it was for exceptional circumstances. I was quite privileged to fall into that very small group who were given exemptions. But it also meant that there was no certainty that I would be able to get back into Australia. It was a huge commitment for me, to take as well as like, safety concerns and anxieties I had about coming to the UK because Australia had not had any experience of COVID really at all. And the UK was, of course, in a very different position. It also meant that I had to spend a month in isolation and that was really difficult.

RG: Did your family stay in Australia?

DB: Oh yeah, you can only leave for work. I remember going to the airport, it was completely empty. It was desolate. And I was one of the only people on the flight.

RG: It was really wonderful having you back. And what I like about this episode is that you actually got a lot of screen time, and I feel like we’ve been missing that with Lord John. Do you read ahead in the books to prepare or do you not like spoilers?

DB: I have no need to read ahead in the books because I have fans telling me all the time what’s coming up! [Laughs]

RG: OK, then I think you know what I’m going to ask. There’s a story in book seven and probably season seven, where you and Claire connect in a way that you probably don’t need clothes. And I’m wondering, are you ready for that scene? That story?

DB: You’re baiting me. I can’t answer that! [Laughs].

RG: I tried! Well, I think we got our answer. When you got this role, what did you do to prepare for it? Sophie [Skelton] told me she binged a lot of episodes to prepare for it. Did you binge as well?

DB: I prepared for it by getting on a flight and walking on set, I had absolutely no preparation at all because I was cast quite late. I think I watched a couple of episodes on the plane to actually know what I was stepping into. But on the first day, I had a whole bunch of expositional dialogue. I had absolutely no idea what I was saying. I was given the Outlander handbook, it’s like a compendium of explanations. It’s almost as big as the books itself that sort of explain everything. It just stressed me out, so I didn’t look at it. My main concern was just to remember the lines and look like I knew what I was talking about.

RG: Well, you carried it off. You actually look like you knew what you were doing that day.

DB: [Laughing] No, I didn’t.

RG: Well, you’re a good actor! As we know, William obviously is also going to be a big character and appear in the future. So who would you cast as William?

DB: I’d like to see another Australian in the role. I don’t know who.

RG: I think I saw that Sam didn’t even remember William’s name in a recent interview. So maybe Lord John is the better dad.

DB: Hands down a better dad. I’m there, I’m present, I’m in his life. I’m not going to go with anyone specific, but it’d be great if he was Australian.

RG: Let’s make that happen. What do you think it is that Lord John loves about Jamie? Because in the show, it starts with Jamie kind of breaking his arm…. So what draws Lord John to him?

DB: Well, as the seasons go on and on, I’m starting to wonder that myself, because he’s treating him pretty mean. But as they say, “Treat them mean to keep them keen.” Maybe that’s all part of it. [Laughing] I don’t really go into the deepest psychology of why. I think when you love someone, it’s just a sort of certainty and a belief that you feel deep inside yourself that really doesn’t warrant any further like questioning or examining. It’s like a feeling in his core. And I think that Lord John has that real true feeling of love for Jamie. And he’ll do anything for him. I think it’s akin to the same love that Jamie and Claire share. It must be, because his commitment and the things that he does for Jamie are just, you know, hugely massive acts of love.

RG: Aw, that’s such a great way of describing them. I have a few fan questions for you from Twitter, but before we get to that… Iet’s play a little Outlander game. Because I know you’re a great singer, it’s called, “Sing, marry, kill.” I’ll give you three characters and you just have to pick one to sing with, one to marry and one to kill. Claire, Jamie, and Brianna.

DB: I’ll sing with Brianna, I’ll kill Claire. I’ll marry Jamie.

RG: I mean, I think we knew that was going to happen! Governor Tryon, Roger, and Claire. I’m going to give her one more chance.

DB: He’d sing a duet with Governor Tryon for sure. [Laughing] I think he’s always going to kill Claire. He’s going to have to marry Roger.

RG: It seems rude because Claire technically did save his life.

DB: Yeah [laughing] She’s also the person in the way of the one man who he truly loves! So, if you’re really asking me to get all Freudian about it and analytical, he wants to get Claire out of the way.

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David Berry and Caitríona Balfe Starz

RG: He does! Switching to the cast for a second. You guys have such a close-knit cast and everyone’s always asking about bloopers — do you remember a scene in the past where you or your castmates couldn’t keep it together?

DB: We’re consummate professionals, I don’t know what you’re talking about! A lot of the time, I’m very jetlagged when I get on set, so that, one, makes me forget a lot of things, lines, and so forth. Also, forget what I’ve done. [Laughing] All the time! For instance, a lot of people tell me that this is one of their favorite scenes. When Lord John’s talking to Leftenant Leonard. But that whole thing, I learned overnight, and I don’t think I got one take where I got the words right at all. And when I said Leftenant Leonard, that was actually a blooper! That was a mistake! It was supposed to be, “Captain Leonard.” But I said it with such conviction and venom that, Matt (Roberts), who was directing, “No, that’s great. Let’s not put Captain in it. Let’s keep it Leftenant Leonard.” Particularly liked the aggressive alliteration.

RG: That’s so great, you really were so condescending to him and you got the power in that line! So maybe jet lag is a great acting tool for you!

DB: It’s my secret weapon.

RG: Okay, I’m not going make you “kill” anyone, but you all work together so well, and you have Maria Doyle Kennedy, who is also a singer. So if you had to sing with someone, dance with someone, go to jail with someone, and go on a road trip? Out of Sam, Caitríona, Maria and Sophie, who would you sing with? I feel like Maria.

DB: You just answered my question! Yeah, Maria! Sing with! I would dance with Sam, because I’m a much better dancer than him!

RG: Uh oh! You know people are going to want you to do a dance-off on social. I’m just putting that out there.

DB: [Laughing] Yeah, that’s not happening! But take it from me, Sam and I are both pretty bad dancers between the two of us. I think I’ve got him beat and I need someone who’s even worse than me to look like I’m halfway decent! Go to jail with? Who do I have to choose from?

RG: You’re singing with Maria, you’re dancing with Sam. So Sophie and Caitríona for go to jail and go on a road trip with.

DB: It might be good to go to jail with Caitríona. I don’t know how to rationalize that.

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David Berry and Caitríona Balfe Starz/Nick Briggs

RG: So, Sophie and you will hit the road. A few more fan questions: the Tim Downie (Outlander) podcast that you guys did. Everyone would like to know: will there be another season?

DB: Tim and I have had to coordinate answers for this and just come up with something equivocal and just say, “Never, say never.”

RG: That’s a great answer, and it’s a very good podcast, so I hope you guys bring it back for a few episodes. Another fan question is: Which scene did you do for your Outlander audition?

DB: There were several; they were mostly all from season three, episode three. There was one that was deleted, it was the chess scene. There was this scene where Jamie comes back and he escapes the prison, and Lord John’s like, “What the hell? Why did you do that?” And there might have been another one. Which is good, because when it came time to do them, I didn’t have to study as hard to get the lines down.

RG: Did you audition for any other roles on Outlander before Lord John?

DB: In fact, I did. I put down an audition for “Roger” way back when.

RG: That’s so interesting! Yeah. Going back to how well the cast gets along, can you give me a phrase or word for what it’s like to work with the following costars? What is it like to work with Sam [Heughan]?

DB: Like jazz.

RG: It’s like jazz. Oh, that’s great. Caitríona?

DB: Only one word? F*ck, I’m not good at this! [A beat] Soulful.

RG: Aw, that’s a good one. It’s so great to have you back on the show. And are you sure you can’t tease anything about what you think about that scene in season seven? Just anything?

DB: I’m sure! [Laughing]

RG: Thank you so much, David! Congratulations again, great episode and can’t wait to see the rest of the season!

DB: Thank you!

Before you go, check out the all-time best ‘Outlander’ episodes you need to watch.

'Outlander' cast Caitríona Balfe, Sam Heughan,

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