Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart (31 December 1720 – 31 January 1788), commonly known in Britain during his lifetime as The Young Pretender and The Young Chevalier, and often known in retrospective accounts as Bonnie Prince Charlie, was the second Jacobite pretender to the thrones of England, Scotland, Ireland (as Charles III) from the death of his father in 1766. […]
Charles is perhaps best known as the instigator of the unsuccessful Jacobite uprising of 1745, in which he led an insurrection to restore his family to the throne of Great Britain. The uprising ended in defeat at the Battle of Culloden, effectively terminating the Jacobite cause. Jacobites supported the Stuart claim because they hoped for religious toleration for Roman Catholics and because they believed in the divine right of kings. Charles’s flight from Scotland after the uprising has rendered him a romantic figure of heroic failure in some later representations.
In the TV show, the two main characters, time-travelling WW2 combat nurse Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and her 18th century Highland warrior husband Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), try to change history by preventing the uprising and keeping the Battle of Culloden and the subsequent Highland Clearances from ever happening. They befriend Prince Charles in Paris in 1743, where he lives in exile, and do their best to smother his plans to gather funds for his army.
On 10 June 2015 Variety announced Andrew’s casting.
Andrew Gower (“The Village,” “A.D. The Bible Continues”) has been cast as Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the new season, Variety has confirmed. When Charles Stuart isn’t carousing with his Jacobite supporters, the young heir to the exiled Catholic royal dynasty is plotting his return to the throne. An unlikely leader with an unabashed taste for alcohol and women, Prince Charles is hell-bent on glory — no matter what the cost.
Season 2 of Outlander premiered a year later, on 10 April 2016 with Bonnie Prince Charlie making his first appearance in the second episode “Not in Scotland Anymore” a week later. Andrew appeared in 9 of the 13 season 2 episodes, including the season finale “Dragonfly in Amber” on 9 July 2016.
He reprised his role for the season 3 premiere “The Battle Joined” on 10 September 2017. He had filmed his scenes a year before while playing the lead role of Winston Smith in 1984, 8 times a week in London’s West End.
On 3 April 2022 Andrew returned again for season 6 episode 5 “Give me Liberty” to conclude the Prince’s journey for a flashback scene showing his escape from Government troups in the disguise of Betty Burke, Flora MacDonald‘s Irish maid, “over the sea to Skye“.
Andrew’s portrayal of Bonnie Prince Charlie became famous for repeating the catchphrase “Mark me” a total of 18 times in his 11 episodes. It was quickly turned into a drinking game by fans.
Andrew reacted to the drinking game in an interview with Access Hollywood:
It’s very, very sweet and I think it’s quite fitting really, that they’ve invented that game, seeing as every time I’m saying, ‘Mark me’ at the moment, I seem to be holding a glass of wine or some alcohol. So I think it’s a fitting game if ever there was one.
Here are some excerpts from an interview Andrew did with Yahoo Entertainment in July 2016 explaining his approach to the character and the origins of his catchphrase:
You play a historical figure, Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart. Did you do much research on him?
A hell of a lot. The Frank McLynn biography became my bible basically up until recently when I lost it on a flight between Edinburgh and London. It was so important to read his letters and to know more about his relationship with his father and his time in Italy and Paris. When you are playing somebody who did exist and there is good source material on them, whether it is a biography or archives or experts, you would be stupid not to delve into them. But there is a point in the process where you leave the books alone, and instead, you focus on the script and creating your version.
I’m wondering if his catchphrase “Mark me” is based on research, or was that just something that came from the book or from the writers’ minds?
There is no mention of that particular phrase in my bible on Charlie. It has become such a part of the character. Quite interestingly, it was in a first draft and read-through for my first-ever appearance on Outlander. There was a speech in the brothel, and from that point I wanted to build on that. I kept adding a few more “Mark me’s” because it felt like his way of demanding attention and saying, “This is my moment. Pay attention.” I took it also as a very military phrase, and he is a guy who is interested in that as in, “Mark my gun” or “Mark my sword.” In a way, for me in trying to play someone with a lack of identity, I wanted to give him a phrase that he routinely uses and that speaks to who he is. The scenes where I have not used it, I was a bit more raw and emotionally cut up. I have enjoyed the collaboration with the directors and writers on deciding when to throw one in or when to cut it out. It was a nice thing to add to the character.
He explains the use of his catchphrase further in his interview with Entertainment Weekly in September 2017:
“When I was originally cast as the part, the first episode included it in one scene in the brothel,” recalls Gower. “The director discussed how it was quite a nice thing, a military phrase that allowed him to seek attention from the other characters in the show. It stuck with the character. I love how … we have our own phrases that we repeat on a day-to-day basis. It was a nice military, attention-seeking phrase but I didn’t expect the reaction that it had with fans and within the show. It’s a rather funny one and it’s very funny how one episode into the new season , you’ve already heard ‘mark me’ again. I think the writers were very keen to get it back in.”
Showrunner Ronald D. Moore described the character of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the show as follows:
“You meet this guy, and you can immediately tell yourself, ‘Well, I see why people are following him.’ Because here’s a man with a mission, and he knows how to turn a phrase and rally people to his cause. He seems divinely. He’s going to restore the Stuart to the throne. At the same time, you look at him and go, ‘What a hot mess this guy is! There’s no way this guy is going to pull this off.’”
Sam Heughan, who called Andrew “magnificent in the role“, has the following to add:
Heughan has nothing but high praise for the actor who plays Charles, Andrew Gower, but admits that it was very strange to have his first scene opposite the character be set in a brothel with prostitutes swinging around massive dildos.
“I think that was the first scene I shot with him. It’s totally bizarre. Those dildos, they were quite magnificent,” Heughan said wryly. “Gary Steele, the designer, has done a great job with them. Of course they’re life size as well and very realistic. There was a moment where Charlie has one rubbed on his shoulder, and it’s great.”
“One of the things that I loved about what Andrew did with the part was how he physically created the Prince,” Graham said, when we asked him about working with the Season 2 “Outlander” actor. “The scene where I ride down into the teeth of the guns of the enemy to test the ground and he comes back and he embraces me — I mean, we didn’t rehearse that particularly. He just grabbed me in the moment and so you get a very strong, genuine reaction from me as Dougal at that point. It’d gratified [him] in one sense that his Prince is hugging him, telling him how fabulous he is, but [he’s] also slightly uncomfortable that this man is embracing him.”
Andrew also recalled this scene in the same interview:
“As Charles, a conscious thing I did from the beginning was to make him incredibly tactile. So that came from the heart” (…) Watching Dougal on the battlefield testing the range of the Redcoats’ weapons was a thrill for Andrew’s character, who later made an effort to get into the conflict.
“He does love battle and he does want to be on the front line and he does see himself as a fighter, though [he’s] slightly deluded in that sense, I think,” Andrew said.
Later in the episode, the two actors shared another pivotal scene:
While the relationship between the two men started out on good footing, when Dougal returned from the just-won battle and berated Jamie and those in the cottage for treating the British soldiers (unaware the Prince was in the room), it immediately soured. Bonnie Prince Charlie marched up to the fresh-off-the-battlefield Highland warrior, grabbed his face and berated him, a gesture that wasn’t rehearsed (like the hug in the marsh scene), but added to the intensity of the moment.
“He just grabbed hold of it and pinched my face so that he was holding it, and for someone like Dougal, that would’ve been all he could do not to physically react to that. But it informed for me very much the scene that he had to control himself,” Graham explained. “And it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to Dougal – being able to control his emotions in a situation like that, especially given how he is feeling at that point – the elation, the bloodlust, the fact that he’s just come off the battlefield having slaughtered every British soldier he could find. And then, to have that happen to him, it was, yeah, [Andrew] made some really great [acting] choices with that.“
Listen to The Outlander Podcast ep. 156 which featured Andrew in August 2016 (first 20 mins of the podcast):
In June 2017 Andrew was invited to visit the “Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites” exhibition at the National Museum Scotland in Edinburgh and supported the “Jacobite trail“, which links 26 historic sites across Scotland associated with Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon and Andrew attended Denver Comic Con in July 2017 and had this panel together (video is currently unavailable).