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Interview with OUTLANDER EP Ron Moore, creator Diana Gabaldon, stars Sam Heughan & Caitriona Balfe

Maj Canton - January 10, 2015




Yesterday afternoon at the Television Critics Association (TCA) Winter Press Tour, Starz presented an OUTLANDER press panel that included Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore, creator and author Diana Gabaldon, and series stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. Answering journalists' questions, the group dished about the second part of Season 1, discussed the spanking scene, and revealed how the series has changed them. 


Plus, during the Starz TCA party last night (January 9, 2015), TV Tango asked Sam if he could play any role/character in the history of TV, who would would it be? His answer: Captain Black Jack Randall on OUTLANDER



The second part of Season 1 of OUTLANDER is scheduled to premiere on Saturday, April 4, 2015 at 9pm ET/PT on Starz.

Question: Ron, can you talk a little bit about some of the changes that you made from Diana's book coming up in the second half and the writing process?

Ronald D. Moore: The process is pretty much the same in the first and second half of the season in that we start in the writers' room with the book order of events and the book scenes.  Then we put them up on the board and we sort of carve it up into discrete hours, and then you focus individually on each episode.  And you sort of say, "All right, is this an hour of television?  What's the theme of this particular episode?  What's the arc?  Where are the characters starting and where are they ending up?"  And you sort of make changes along the way in order to sort of accomplish those goals.

Ronald D. Moore (cont): We sort of have the philosophy that we don't make changes unless we have to.  And then, if we do, we sort of always strive to get back to where the book was and sort of get back on the path.  So you always have sort of a guide of what you're trying to accomplish, and we sort of have an integrity to what the series is at this point.  We've changed certain things.  We've made certain adjustments.  And so you sort of are honor bound to maintain the consistency of that going forward, especially for the audience that has never read the books, so they're just watching the show.  So you're always trying to sort of keep an eye on the book and keep an eye on what you've established in terms of continuity and mythology and just keep moving forward.

Question: Are you finding that Book One fit the 16 hours perfectly?

Ronald D. Moore: No.  Sixteen was a good number for the first book.  We did the entire book in the course of the first season.  Along the way, you would look at individual episodes again and you would sort of decide, in this moment do we want to expand this sequence?  Do we want to contract it?  Are we short handing certain things?  It's sort of a case by case basis.  Episode 6, we made an entire episode out of a very small chapter of a book.  And in other places, we're condensing many different events into a single episode.  So it's all sort of in the moment of how you're deciding to tell the story.  But we did manage to do the entire first book in the first season.

Question: In the beginning of the first episode of this second half of the season, we switch from Claire's voiceover to Jamie's voiceover.  Is that something we're going to be seeing throughout this season or is it just particularly for this episode?

Ronald D. Moore: It was just for this episode.  We did that for a couple different reasons.  You know, as we got into the season and we knew there was midseason break, so we had this great cliff hanger.  And then, as we were developing Episode 9, we said, "Well, all right, don't want to really pick up in real time just on the cliff hanger."  We're also restarting for the audience, so let's have a lead in to the episode and sort of start the show again.  And it was an opportunity to then shift point of view.  So it was interesting to tell those events in that first hour from Jamie's point of view.  And then, it also served a larger goal in the life of the series in that the show beyond Season 1 is really about Jamie and Claire together, and this was a moment to sort of pivot to now include him in the perspective for the audience, and that gave us permission moving forward to then do scenes that Jamie was in, that Claire wasn't in, so now the show became about both of them as we move forward.

Question: Caitriona, how has playing Claire changed you?

Caitriona Balfe: I think just in terms of sort of getting through this amazing undertaking of putting in so much time into the show and sort of every day showing up and playing this really strong, very resilient character, I think it showed me sort of how much strength and resilience I have.  And I think you don't sort of go through something like that without sort of realizing well, wow, that's a big achievement and you grow from that.  So I think, if anything, Claire's just either brought my inner strength out or sort of shown me that I'm maybe stronger than I thought I was previously.

Sam Heughan: And it's aged us terribly, hasn't it?

Caitriona Balfe: Well, that too. Thanks, Sam.

Sam Heughan: I'm talking about myself. You're still (inaudible).

Question: Sam, how has it changed you?

Sam Heughan: Again, likewise, just learning about the stamina to do this job but also about the job is always surprising. You know the kind of rough arc of the character and where we're going to go, and we've obviously read the books. But until you've actually lived that moment and discovered what that moment is, you never quite know fully what the character is. And then, you bring yourself to the part, so it all reflects back into your personal life as well.

Question: In what way? Are you more of a gentleman with ladies?

Caitriona Balfe: No.

Diana Gabaldon: He couldn't be more of a gentleman than he is.

Question: During your day-to-day life when you’re not filming, do you see Jamie emerging through you?

Sam Heughan: I think in the second part of the season, you discover a lot more about Jamie. He's kind of finding his place in the world. He's got new responsibilities. He's got to deal with relationships that he would rather not deal with with his sister, with his personal relationship with his dead father. And we start to see the stubborn side or his pride. So he's less of the sort of idealistic man in the second part of the season, and we start seeing his failings or the chinks in the armor. And I guess all that stuff with relationships -- he's very honorable and he learns a lot. And I guess I've just myself just been trying to do that in my relationships in real life. And so far, it's working really well. Does that answer your question?

Question: Diana, have Sam and Caitriona fulfilled what you thought these characters would be?  Did you have other actors in mind through the years?

Diana Gabaldon: Well, I knew lots of people that I didn't want.  But, no, they've done beautifully.  They are much, much better than I ever thought they'd be.  I was amazed when I saw their first audition tapes.  In fact, I wrote to Ron and to his production partner, Meryl, and I said, "Oh my God.  I didn't believe this was actually possible.  You found him."  And it was just fantastic.

Question: Is it distracting talking with them?  Do you see them as Sam and Caitriona or Claire and Jamie sometimes?

Diana Gabaldon: Oh, well, Caitriona and Claire, I've always been able to keep fairly separate.  He kind of flickers in and out for me.

Ronald D. Moore: Okay.  Make of that what you will.

Question: Diana, do you hang out with J.K. Rowling at all?

Diana Gabaldon: No. Never had the pleasure.

Sam Heughan: I thought your words were hideous when you first ...

Diana Gabaldon: No, grotesque.

Sam Heughan: Grotesque, sorry. Yes, yes.

Diana Gabaldon: Yeah. Well, that was just looking at your photos. Then when I saw you act, that was different.

Sam Heughan: Basis of a good TV show.

Question: Diana, is what you're seeing in the show in any way influencing your current writing of them?

Diana Gabaldon: Well, nothing really would stir them. But they're filming the first book which was written 25 years ago. I'm writing the ninth book now, and Claire and Jamie are approaching their sixties or actually in their early sixties. I will be 63 on Sunday for anyone who is worried about them not being vital and interesting at such an advanced age. But, no, they don't alter my view of Claire and Jamie at all. What they're doing now can't possibly affect what's going to happen 40 years on.

Question: Has the series brought you more readers? You didn't have any problems with that before, but has it brought you even more.

Diana Gabaldon: Well, it has. And what's most gratifying, meaning no disrespect whatever to the hordes of female readers whom I value immensely, but the TV show has brought me a lot more male readers. Evidently about 47 percent of our viewers are male. And while I've always had male readers, they tend not to join book clubs, so they're not nearly so visible. And now they're kind of coming out of the woodwork.

Question: Can you talk a little bit about filming in Scotland? It's cold. It's wet. You have to ride on horses.

Caitriona Balfe: That's the fun part.

Sam Heughan: You make it sound so appealing.

Caitriona Balfe: I think it's so vital that we are there in Scotland. It informs everything that we do. You know, the landscape is so beautiful. The places that we go to shoot, the castles or the different locations, they add just so much texture to the show. And, yeah, it's cold. It's rainy. But that's the way it is there. And I think that that just adds a great realism to it, and I never complain.

Sam Heughan: No.

Question: Is there any plan to change location for the second book, which takes place in Paris, or are you going to make Scotland look a little bit more Parisian?

Ronald D. Moore: We'll continue to shoot in Scotland. The second book is sort of divided into two pieces. There's a section in Paris and then it returns to Scotland for the second half. We'll build interiors at our facility in Cumbernauld where we do all of our stage work. We'll also do some location work in Scotland. And then, for exterior Paris streets and stuff like that, we're starting the process of looking around and seeing where else we can shoot that kind of material. And then, it's Scotland for the entire second half of the season.

Question: Sam, can you talk about the appliance you have on your back and how long that takes to apply and whether that helps or hinders your performance?

Sam Heughan: Yes. You''re alluding to the scarring I've got which is a prosthetic scarring. And it's remarkable. It really is. We get it made in London. We have, like, a full body cast. Then, on our shooting day, it probably takes about two hours -- maybe an hour and a half. It did take upward of about three hours. We've got a fantastic makeup team, and they have got it down pretty quickly. And it does, it moves with the body. We do spend a lot of time rolling around on the floor, don't we, Caitriona? So it does get a little damaged, but so far it's held up well. And I think they've done a really fantastic job. And in the second part of the show, Jamie goes through quite a lot of injuries, especially the last couple of episodes. And we have almost full body prosthetics. It's pretty crazy. And I think it's going to look remarkable and be pretty shocking as well.

Question: Ron, in the midseason finale we got to see Frank's perspective, which wasn't a part of the book. Are we seeing Frank anymore, or is that part kind of in the past now?

Ronald D. Moore: It won't be for the rest of the first season. The story does revisit Frank in the 20th century in Book Two. And so in the second season, you will. .

Question: DOWNTON ABBEY has a consultant who tells everyone about the proper way of wearing things and the proper manners of the day. Are you a little looser with that, or do you have the consultant or several people on the set?

Ronald D. Moore: Well, we actually have a variety of consultants on the show. There's a full time historian who gets all of the scripts and we consult with at the script level. There's also technical consultants that work with the costume department, with set design, language coaches and dialect coaches and herbologists for the medicine. And we'll bring in medical technicians on the day to do things with bandages and splints and that sort of thing. In terms of how the actors wear their costumes, that's pretty much left up to the costume department and their interaction with the actors. And I believe there's a significant amount of freedom for the Highlanders how each of you wears the specific kilt and what you are comfortable with.

Sam Heughan: Absolutely, yeah. Terry has obviously done a fantastic job with the costumes, but we've kind of got our own freedom as well to express ourselves. Nothing is set in stone, especially at that time period. But we've also got these amazing extras in the show that are part of Clanranald, and I always feel kind of sorry for them at break time or at tea time when they are all marched off in rank and file. They've really, like, lived this for us, and it's fantastic. So, when you are on set, the Red Coats are acting like a regiment, or the Highlanders are there setting fire to things. Clanranald, they are a group of re enactors that live in the area, and they live and breathe this stuff, both the Highlanders and the Red Coats, and they've built a fort someplace that I can't recall that we went and visited once, and so we do depend on them to bring authenticity to a lot of the background players and provide texture and detail.

Question: Ron, and the kilt you are wearing, could you tell us a bit about it?

Ronald D. Moore: This is this was a kilt made for me by Howie at 21st Century Kilt in Edinburgh. He's made several kilts for me myself and Sam, and he's, sort of, our kilt man, you know, in Edinburgh. He's a great guy, and I just wanted to have some kilts because, hey, that's what I'm doing now. And so I went to his shop with my wife and bought had some made.

Question: Can you talk a little bit about performing the spanking scene? What kind of tone did you work with? It's kind of humorous, but also kind of brutal.

Caitriona Balfe: I think we all knew a lot of people would be interested in seeing how we would tackle it. But, you know, first and foremost, we have to remember that you have to look at it in the mind frame of 1743. You know, it's very hard, as a modern person, to kind of see that this is okay under any circumstance; but, in 1743, this was a very justified form of punishment that a husband would mete out. But we wanted to not take it lightly. We wanted to approach it very, kind of, respectfully. And I think we talked a lot about it. We met a few times. We choreographed it quite well. And when it came to the day, we just tried to give it the respect it deserved. I think for Claire, she finds it very hard to, sort of, wrap her mind around this man that she's fallen in love with, like, what he's about to do.

Caitriona Balfe (continued): There's so much disbelief in the beginning. But I think what I loved about it was that we took time afterwards that she really had to in the context of their marriage, they had to figure out a way how to get past this. And I think it was really important that even though she may not have been able to accept what he did, there had to be a coming to an understanding of his reasons for it, and that really allowed her to find a way to forgive him.

Sam Heughan: And I think, ultimately, Jamie, whether or not he believes it's the right thing to do, he just knows he has to do it to teach her a lesson, and that's the way he's been brought up. And, then, they both learn a lesson about their relationship. He comes to her and declares that he will never do it again. So to go through that whole experience strengthens their relationship and moves it forward.