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There’s a lot of magic that goes into making a television show, from VFX to practical effects and much in between. Starz’s Outlander often likes to get practical with its effects. Recently Sam Heughan talked about one scene that was practically shot for the series with real-life maggots and I’m squeamish just thinking about it. In fact, I’m having almost the opposite reaction Caitriona Balfe seemingly did.
Speaking on a recent episode of “Catch Up with Caitriona and Sam,” both leads were asked about the maggots scene in the episode “Monsters and Heroes” and how it “was working with” them. Sam Heughan got really into detail about that bit, referring to the maggots as “demanding.”
And they move so damn fast. Like they lit – you put ‘em down and they are off. … So I had this prosthetic on, obviously, and you can’t see where it ends so it was just kind of waiting for them to find the edge and get under it. I was also trying to stay in the scene as well and it’s hard when you’ve got thousands of little maggots charging around trying to get in every crook.
Yikes, Sam Heughan literally said the scene was difficult to shoot because the maggots were trying to crawl up his real leg and not just the prosthetic one being used in the scene. I officially have enough nightmare fodder to last me the next few weeks. Furthermore, Caitriona Balfe went on to describe the maggots as “noisy,” comparing them to the sound of Rice Krispies, which has also subsequently ruined my favorite cereal for me forever. (I like ‘em with some sugar, natch.) She also said she was “fascinated” by them, noting,
First of all, they came in and they stank. You weren’t there at this point, but it was myself and Lauren and they were brought in in a box. And you could hear this like [crackling sound], but then this like waft of rotting flesh sort of just, it was disgusting, so we requested that they be washed somehow. But we enjoyed watching you squirm a little.
If you remember the scene in question, it actually came fairly recently in Season 5 – and SPOILERS if you aren’t caught up yet. During the episode, Jamie was bitten by a snake and Claire has to doctor him, but things seemed dire for a while. Jamie and Roger even had a whole conversation about returning to the future if Jamie died. Ultimately, Claire used maggots to help deal with some of the rotting flesh related to the wound and all's well that ends with removing all traces of maggots from the set. At least I'd assume.
Outlander is often known for its practical sets and effects, which is why the actual Fraser’s Ridge set was built and more. But maggots are one stomach-churning step too far, in my humble opinion. Luckily, Sam Heughan was a total champ about filming the scene. Honestly, that’s probably something worth putting on a resume. Sam Heughan: Can wield 18th century weapons, successfully fills out kilts, and has experience with horses and maggots.
Outlander will return for Season 6 and we can all hope it will be maggot free. Please. For the love of all things Claire and Jamie.