Warning: Story contains spoilers from Sunday nights episode of Outlander.
Its understandable if you thought that a naked woman emerging from a blood-filled bathtub Sunday night on TV was a scene from FXs pulpy American Horror Story or a rerun of HBOs True Blood.
It was actually murderous, time-traveling political zealot Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek), who made a surprising (if bloody) return to Outlander, the time-traveling Starz period drama, now in its third season and known for being slow and sedate if a bit steamy at times. But when Geillis reappeared in Sunday nights episode, Outlanders tone pivoted towards high camp.
I was delighted to do it, says Verbeek, 35. Theres quite a lot to blood bathing making sure you dont float and staying under the surface, and washing off after every single take.
Outlander revolves around the adventures of Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a time traveling nurse from the 1900s, and Jamie (Sam Heughan), a Scottish highlander from the 1700s. In Season 1, when Claire was displaced in 18th century Scotland, the mysterious Geillis was initially her friend. Eventually, however, it was revealed that Geillis was also a time-traveler with a penchant for killing her husbands and a zeal to see a Scot on the British throne no matter who stands in her way. The end of Season 3 re-introduced the character after a 20-year time jump, and she enters with a bloody bang.
The idea is that I walk out [of the bathtub] like this tigress, but all I was trying to do was not fall flat on my face, Verbeek says. It was really slippery. We took an entire day for that scene. Im glad we did; it was supposed to be an epic moment of this woman returning.
I did hear the rumors about her having gone nuts, so I was curious, Verbeek says of Geillis return, referring to the popular book series upon which the show is based. The manner of her Season 3 entrance is a show-only addition, though. I really appreciate that Starz and the show are doing something that wasnt in the books; they made the choice of doing a scene thats really quite out there, she says. As it became more wicked with the blood bath idea, I was just really excited to do that. There was a fun atmosphere on set [that day], because we all knew we were doing something outrageous.
Verbeek says she enjoys toying with the line between playing it straight and veering into camp. I dont [see Geillis as a villain], I see her as a slightly outrageous human, she says. I like that campiness, especially in these moments. There is the truly sincere and passionate belief she has in the cause and thats what shes fighting for. So thats very straight and real.
And there is the [aspect that is] wicked and outrageous with sort of no boundaries. I think thats possible to put both in one character. We all have different sides, nobody is just one thing. Its really a gift to be able to play with that.
Outlander 8 p.m. Sunday on Starz