When Roger Wakefield Mackenzie first pops up on Outlander, it is very much as a supporting character. First, he’s the orphaned kid who is around being adorable during one of the worst periods of Frank Randall’s life. Then, he’s the handsome, accommodating historian who acts as Brianna’s tour guide and unwittingly gets pulled into Claire’s big secret.
This season, he’s set to become something even more: a time traveller with his own (often, miserable) adventures. We talked to actor Richard Rankin about the expansion of Roger’s character and storyline in Outlander Season 4, and why it has been his favorite to play thus far.
“Yeah, I mean that was one of the things I was looking forward to most,” said Rankin of all of the drama Roger has/will go through in Season 4. “And you’re obviously very well aware of where our story was headed. We’ve known casting for quite a while so it gave us an opportunity to read ahead and look at where our characters were going. So I was always very excited by seeing forward anyway and [seeing] what Roger gets up to.”
Rankin said that Roger’s main objective is to retrieve Brianna and leave, but, as we’ve learned on this show, time travel usually doesn’t work out quite as planned. What happens to Roger while he is in the 18th century will forever change who Roger is as a character, which is obviously a delightful challenge for an actor.
“I think one of the most interesting things of what was most fascinating for me to play with was just how much this man changes over the course of events in season four,” said Rankin. “I mean his character started him out in a place that did not give me the biggest scope in terms of where I could take Roger and that was starting off as a kind of mild mannered historian that he is.”
“And then we see from there in season four it gives me more room to allow for the changes he goes through. He very much evolves as a character. He comes out of being beaten, I think, a very different man. Whether or not that’s for bad or good, I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure how, you know, what kind of effect that has on him. Certainly a profound one.”
For Rankin, this is the reason to take on a role like this one.
“As an actor, I think season four has given me everything I could possibly want in a character,” said Rankin. “Everything you could possible ask for and it’s usually challenging apart from it was a lot of things to overcome. And it was a great undertaking, I really enjoyed season four. I’m very excited by it. Hopefully it will be as well received as it can be.”
Outlander Season 4 airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. on Starz. Stay up-to-date on all things Outlander Season 4 here!