Having made it all the way to colonial America in Outlander season four, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) is pleased to find a friendly face in the form of Aunt Jocasta (Maria Doyle Kennedy), one of his only remaining blood relatives anywhere in the world.
Since fleeing Scotland, his late mother’s sister has set up a large plantation in North Carolina called River Run – an enterprise that has made her fortune. She is now a widow following the recent death of her husband Hector, and she is delighted by Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s arrival.
But Jocasta is a slaveowner whose wealth rests on the exploitation of black slaves – much to Claire’s distress…
Aunt Jocasta is the younger sister of Jamie’s mother Ellen, who died in childbirth when Jamie was little. Jocasta was also sister to the late Colum and Dougal MacKenzie, and is in fact the last surviving child of the family patriarch and chieftain Jacob MacKenzie.
She has suffered great losses in her life; her three daughters all died around the time of the Battle of Culloden, and she has been widowed three times.
Most recently, she was married to Hector Cameron and emigrated to the Americas with him in the late 1740s. Since his death, she has faced managing the River Run plantation on her own, a tricky position for a woman in colonial America.
According to her official character description, “Jocasta takes great pride in what she and Hector built together, believing that she is a benevolent mistress. While Jocasta’s eyesight has weakened, her wit and intelligence are as sharp as ever.”
Speaking on the set of Jocasta’s house in Glasgow, Sam Heughan told RadioTimes.com more about the character, and the actor who plays her: Maria Doyle Kennedy.
“Maria is incredible, really good to work with – and for Jamie it’s such a huge part of his life to meet her, not only because she’s his aunt but actually because of the way she looks.
“She’s the sister to his mother, so she looks quite similar and sounds similar, and I think for Jamie it’s almost like having his mother there. For him that’s a really big moment, a very heartfelt moment, and good for him to know that he’s not completely alone.”
But this relationship also has a trickier side, and there are hints that Jocasta possesses the same manipulative powers as her brothers Colum and Dougal.
“Honestly it’s a bit of a poisoned apple as well,” says Heughan, sitting next to the fireplace in Jocasta’s impressive plantation house. “As beautiful as it looks, and as opulent as it is, it has this dark side – and that’s the slavery. The side that Jamie doesn’t want to inherit.”
Who is Jocasta actress Maria Doyle Kennedy?
Irish singer, songwriter and actress Maria Doyle Kennedy has starred as Siobhan Sadler in Orphan Black, and is also known for playing Vera Bates in Downton Abbey, Patsy in Father Ted, and Catherine of Aragon in The Tudors.
Her music career has also spanned three decades, with folk albums including Sing and Mütter as well as a self-titled album Maria Doyle Kennedy and a recent collaboration with Feist and Jarvis Cocker on the song Century.
According to her Outlander bio, “Maria has spent the past five years wandering the globe with her family preparing songs for the new album gigging constantly and filming cult TV show Orphan Black.” Other recent screen credits include The Conjuring 2, Sing Street, Jupiter Ascending and Redwater.
Outlander airs on Starz in the US and Amazon Prime Video in the UK