Comic-Con Interview: The ‘Outlander’ Cast on the New Starz Show

By July 28, 2014

As a new convert to the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon, I am here to tell you that you’re going to follow right behind me. The series is about a woman named Clare, a British nurse in WWII who, after being reunited with her husband, is pulled through a set of standing stones in Scotland back to the Eighteenth Century. She’s forced to marry a Scotsman to save her life.

Time travel, a gorgeous setting and some very attractive people – it’s easy to see why Starz decided to make this a series. At Comic-Con, I was lucky enough to view the first few episodes, which were phenomenal, and to chat with the cast, including Caitriona Balfe (Clare), Sam Heughan (Jamie), Lotte Verbeek (Geillis), Tobias Menzies (Black Jack Randall, Frank Randall), Graham McTavish (Dougal), Gabaldon, and producer Ron Moore (“Battlestar Galactica”) about the series and what’s coming up.

Outlander 2

When I posted about how much I loved the premiere, I learned just how active this fan base is. Balfe said that the cast is kind of used to it at this point. “They’re very enthusiastic and very vocal. We finally got to meet a lot of them that we know through Twitter.” Heughan said, “They’re all very involved and they’ve raised a lot of money for charity.” He said that a group called the “Outlandish Bakers” managed to track them down on set and give them tasty treats. And here’s a piece of trivia for you: Balfe told us that she was cast three days before the series started filming!

Verbeek talked about her character and motivations. “She’s so driven by something she believes in,” she said. “She’s a believer. I think that’s beautiful. On her path so may do some things that are not as ‘correct,’ but you don’t know her immediately. You think you know her, but then you get to know her more and see things in her…There are surprises.” McTavish laughed about how he’s tried to keep what’s coming in future novels (and hopefully season) a secret from himself, “But people keep telling me,” he said. “I’ve read the first book and I’ve left it at that for now.”

Menzies, who plays two characters, was complimented by producer Ron Moore about his ability to differentiate between them so beautifully. When I asked if it was conscious or deliberate, he said, “No, I haven’t been that deliberate. It’s been quite organic and intuitive, I think. I didn’t want to make it, ‘this is Jack’s walk and this is Frank’s walk.’ It had to be a little subtler than that. I think the clothes have helped a lot…it’s partially engagement. You have to think about where they are and where they’ve come from. And I think you also have to trust the story and the things you’re given…but that’s been good to hear.”

As you might have suspected, Gabaldon was excited about the show. She said, “Oh, it’s totally cool. It’s much better than I expected it might be!” She also explained that this show isn’t supernatural – it’s science. “Time travel actually has a physical basis of explanation. It’s just that we experience it along with the characters, so we have to go through trial and error, because there is no handbook. What’s happening to Clare is not magic. It’s not ghostliness or anything. Though there is a ghost in the beginning and he will show up at the very end of the series, but in between we don’t worry about him.”

I have to throw this in there for diehard fans of the book series. There is something…a physical act, ahem…that Frank does before the time travel that he definitely doesn’t do in the book. Gabaldon said that fans shouldn’t flip out because of it. Things are going to be different in the series, though they stay pretty close, she told us. When you see the first episode, let us know how you feel about it!

I cannot recommend this series enough. Make sure you check out the premiere on August 9, 2014 on Starz.

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Jenna Busch
Jenna Busch is the co-host of 'Cocktails With Stan' with the legendary Stan Lee. She's a host and writer who's passionate about Star Wars, fantasy and geek culture. Jenna is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and a board member of the Broadcast Television Critics Association (BTJA). She has appeared on G4's "Attack of the Show," and "Fresh Ink," as well as appearing with Wil Wheaton on the premiere episode of "Tabletop." She's got two stories published in the comic anthology "Womanthology" and has done a series of terrifyingly perky voice overs. She also owns far too many swords and lightsabers.