Charles Vandervaart: Joining 'Outlander' in S7 was 'a lot for me'

Left to right, Sophie Skelton, David Berry and Charles Vandervaart star in "Outlander." Photo courtesy of Starz
1 of 5 | Left to right, Sophie Skelton, David Berry and Charles Vandervaart star in "Outlander." Photo courtesy of Starz

NEW YORK, June 16 (UPI) -- Murdoch Mysteries and Lost in Space alum Charles Vandervaart says joining the cast of Outlander in its seventh season was initially a bit overwhelming, but he now feels comfortable playing William Ransom, the adult son of the show's central hero Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

"It was stressful, for sure, right in the beginning. It was a lot for me," Vandervaart told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


"But I've only gotten love from the fans so far, and I haven't even been on screen yet. That's really helped kind of ease my mind. I knew I had a fantastic cast and crew that's around me, so I just had to trust my instincts."

Premiering Friday on Starz, Season 7 sees William arrive with the British Army in North Carolina, where Scottish warrior Jamie and his time-traveling wife, Claire (Caitriona Balfe), have relocated and are preparing to fight alongside the colonists in the American Revolution.


Jamie secretly fathered William with Geneva Dunsany (Hannah James) in Season 3 when Claire was stuck in the future, but the child was raised in England by his stepfather, Lord John Grey (David Berry), and does not know the truth of his parentage.

"Obviously, he's known Jamie in the past [as a family friend], so they have a relationship that way, but I think, at this point, he's pretty clueless," Vandervaart said.

"He's a passionate guy, and a lot of times that manifests itself in anger and some rage," he added. "He's very emotional and I think that can sometimes be his downfall, but it is also quite a redeeming quality for him."

Circumstances put William on the opposite side of the American-British conflict than where Jamie is.

"He's very eager to go to war. He really wants to," Vandervaart said of his character.

"I don't think he quite understands the reality that that entails, so he has a lot of growing to do in the first little bit of the season."

Berry wanted to delve deeper into Lord John Grey's role as father of an adult son going to war in these new episodes.

"In my personal life, I've spent a lot of time being a dad and I'm bringing those skills set and trying to parent this guy," he said, gesturing toward Vandervaart. "He presents a lot of challenges to Lord John in the series."


Berry jokingly suggested that he and the cast have been hazing the newcomer.

"We've been trying to put him through the ringer and also welcome him to [the show's] set in the most parental way possible. Some of that involves tough love," he said.

"You're a good dad," Vandervaart said, quipping that Berry sends him text messages at night to make sure he goes to bed at a decent hour.

John Bell, who plays Jamie's trusted nephew Ian on the show, said he has appreciated the time and space the series has given him to develop a character over the course of many years.

"I was 18 when I joined the show and now I am 25," he said.

"To take a character like Ian who has transformed time and time again and takes parts of each of those transformations and builds this character that we see before us today has been a joy."

This season kicks off with Ian and Jamie teaming up to save Claire from execution after she was wrongfully accused of murder.

"I always love it when them two get down to business," Bell said.

"You will also see Ian and his auntie. Ian loves his auntie, much like I love Caitriona. He goes to her for really the big questions. She's his mom, basically, mom out there. You will see their relationship and their tenderness and love for each other really blossom. It's all good vibes with them, too."


There will also be a potential love interest Ian this season, the actor teased.

"He deserves a bit of peace and romance. So, that is bubbling on the horizon and that was something I was really excited to do," Bell said of Ian. "I will always sort of carry Ian in my heart."

Lord John Grey's complicated connection with Jamie and Claire will grow only more twisted this season.

"Their relationship will fracture and we will also see other relationships and those dynamics coming in place of that," Berry said.

"Lord John has always occupied a very unique place within the lives of the Frasers and let's just say it becomes even more unique this season in probably ways that audiences don't expect."

Berry noted that neither he nor Bell started out on the show in the first season, and having Vandervaart arrive as a newcomer made them realize the journeys they've gone on with their own characters.

"We all came to it new and fresh and we are seeing that through the eyes of someone stepping on set for the first time," Berry said.

"But, also, having that tenure, you've built up a of work that gives you a familiarity with not only the people you work with, but also the characters. You can easily step into their shoes and you feel an ownership of them."


Outlander, which completed its COVID-19 pandemic-abbreviated sixth season in May 2022, co-stars Richard Rankin and Sophie Skelton.

Based on the Diana Gabaldon book series, it has already been renewed for an eighth and final season.

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