Apr 8 2011 10:30am

Outlander Fantasy Casting!

Fantasy Casting: In the movies of our favorite romance novels…who should play whom?

Outlander (AKA Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon, 1991, Book 1 in the Outlander Series

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander deals with the turbulent love of World War II-era Claire and her Battle of Culloden-era soulmate, Jamie. Rich in historical detail, containing a most unusual hero—red-haired, brutal, and younger than our heroine?—and beloved of a very vocal fandom, a novel as ground-breaking as this one demands not only a Fantasy Cast of the highest caliber, but also a Fantasy Production Team of skill and renown (we’re thinking the people who did Rob Roy). The film rights to Outlander have actually been optioned a number of times, but thus far to no avail. Therefore, in the movie of our imagination, we present:

The Fantasy Outlander Cast

Rebecca Hall as Claire RandallCLAIRE

Rebecca Hall
Age: 28
Nationality: British
Known For: The Prestige, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon, The Town

Choosing just the right actress to portray willful, feisty Claire is a tall order. She needs to be attractive, yet relatable. Claire is older than Jamie, but not old, so the actress should simultaneously evoke youth and maturity. Even before her adventures in time travel, Claire has been an RAF combat nurse in a tenuous marriage, so her earthly avatar should be able to project a certain self-possessed world-weariness.

It’s a conundrum! Actresses who give “experienced grown-up” to the proper degree (Claudia Black, Elizabeth Mitchell, Vera Farmiga) tend to be just a little bit past 27-year old Claire. Actresses who are young enough are by and large too young (Ellen Page, Gemma Arterton, Claire Foy). Rose Byrne was rejected as too sweet, Rosamund Pike as too sunny, Michelle Williams as too sad, Emily Blunt as too ubiquitous, Eva Green as too intense, and Keira Knightley as altogether wrong. And don’t even get us started on Katherine Heigl, who was apparently attached to one of the drafts floating around out there.

It is, indeed, a tall order…but we think that Rebecca Hall could pull it off. She has that timeless girl-next-door beauty wrapped around a shining intelligence, and “willful” and “feisty” are certainly part of her repertoire. As an actress she’s accomplished, having held her own against Christian Bale and Javier Bardem, among others. She even managed—in Vicky Cristina Barcelona—to upstage Scarlett Johanssen, which is no mean feat. And (on a shallow note) we think she would look quite lovely on the arm of the manly…


Chris Hemsworth as Jamie FraserJAMIE

Chris Hemsworth
Age: 27
Nationality: Australian
Known For: Home and Away, Star Trek (2009), this year’s comic book blockbuster Thor

Tempting as it might be to just cast one of the Weasley boys and be done with it, a strapping hero like Jamie requires someone a little more...more. Six foot four is difficult to find in acting circles; add in the youth, red hair and battle-hardened bod and it gets even trickier. Not to mention, we also need someone with enough gravitas to believably deliver some of Jamie’s more outlandish lines and be sympathetic enough that we won’t hate him after That Scene. You know the one we mean.

We think Hemsworth fits the bill. He’s six-three, a five-year veteran of an Australian soap (so we know he can do outlandish), fair enough to pull off red hair, and has nicely bulked up for his stint as the titular hero in this May’s Thor—for which he was cast by none other than Kenneth Branagh! And if you’re wondering if this was the guy who was dating Miley Cyrus back when, not to fret: that was his younger brother, Liam.

If we had access to a time machine—or a handy ring of standing stones—we'd go back and pick up Brit Damian Lewis for Jamie. He's too old now, even factoring in the difficult lifestyles of 18th-century Scottish clansmen, but fifteen years ago (with the help of a competent physical trainer to produce the whole “solid wall of muscle” thing), he would have rocked the role with his natural red hair, sufficient height, piercing gaze and quiet strength. Sadly, unlike our author, we must work with the times in which we live, so Hemsworth it is.


Jamie Bamber as Frank Randall and Black JackFRANK/BLACK JACK

Jamie Bamber
Age: 38
Nationality: British
Known For: Horatio Hornblower, Battlestar Galactica, Law and Order: UK

Handsome and charming with the air of one enjoying a private joke, Bamber could perfectly portray the affable and professorial Frank Randall, Claire’s 1945 war hero husband. Conversely, Bamber can assuredly play a complex character of mixed motivations and pragmatic violence—as evidenced by his stint as Lee Adama on Battlestar Galactica—and so could also cover 18th-century villain Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall, Frank’s ancestor and near-doppelganger. Bamber as Frank: erudite, thoughtful, a little dull. Bamber as Black Jack: disdainful, arrogant, wrathful. He’s a two-for-one bargain!


Robert Carlyle as MurtaghMURTAGH

Robert Carlyle
Age: 49
Nationality: Scottish
Known For: Hamish Macbeth, The Full Monty, Eragon, Stargate Universe

As Jamie’s devoted protector, Robert Carlyle is the only man for the job. While it may be a bit mean of us to say that he’s a perfect fit for someone described as “rat-faced,” physically that’s…not entirely off the mark. Plus, Carlyle may be a short little guy, but his aura of barely contained menace is undeniable, as his résumé—filled with drunken psychopaths, cannibals, and, um, Hitler—will attest. He’s not someone you want to mess with. Much like Murtagh.


Zach Galifianakis as RupertRUPERT

Zach Galifianakis
Age: 41
Nationality: American
Known For: The stand-up comedy circuit, Tru Calling, The Hangover, Due Date

When fat, bearded, uncouth Rupert first encounters Claire, there is some question as to whether or not she is a prostitute and he gallantly offers to find out. Later, when Claire balks at the idea of marriage to Jamie, Rupert is offered up as an alternative, and although he’s rejected with a rapidity that has to sting, he remains Jamie’s loyal man. Who could do this… singular personage justice? With actors of size so rare, and Jack Black clearly too frenetic, we think that Galifianakis could pull off the whole “slightly slimy, but basically a good egg” vibe quite nicely. Well, it’s either him or Sean Corden, anyway.


Ever Carradine as GeillisGEILLIS

Ever Carradine
Age: 36
Nationality: American
Known For: Commander in Chief, 24, Eureka, a recent guest spot on The Mentalist

Displaying a range that includes wacky, broken, scheming and, most of all, mysterious, Carradine exudes the kind of assured uncanniness that this time traveling would-be witch from the late 1960s requires. She has the height to carry off Geillis, and her blond hair could easily be lightened to platinum, but it is more her aura of otherworldly unconcern and apparent affinity for alternative thinking that makes Carradine ideal for the role.


Jennette McCurdy as LaoghaireLAOGHAIRE

Jennette McCurdy
Age: 18
Nationality: American
Known For: iCarly

For this part we need someone adorable and sweetly devious, as well as dewy-eyed and youthful, for which we nominate this Nickelodeon star. As any beleaguered parent of a tween can tell you, she’s cute with a nice streak of bitch, capably playing sassy, vindictive and troubled all at once. Assuming she could get the Scottish brogue happening (which we are; just look at her surname!), we believe she’d give us a nicely saccharine yet properly calculating rival for young Jamie’s affections.


Peter Dinklage as ColumOTHER CASTING

COLUM, differently-abled Laird of Clan McKenzie: Peter Dinklage—Hollywood’s most commanding little person, soon to be seen in the hotly-anticipated Game of Thrones. DOUGAL, his stalwart brother: Dougray Scott. And no, not just because of the name thing. JENNY, Jamie’s older sister: The enchanting Laura Fraser, of Scottish lesbian-centric drama series Lip Service (and let us not forget her memorable turn as Kate the blacksmith in A Knight’s Tale). IAN, her husband: Toby Stephens. He was Mr. Rochester in the 2006 Jane Eyre miniseries. We don't understand why they've bothered with this year's Mia Wasikowska/Michael Fasswhatever re-remake; they can't top that one and probably shouldn't try.

Karen Gillan as BriannaAdditionally, if we were to cast further ahead in the series—and, granted, she may be a little short for the role—no one but Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan could play Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna. No one!





Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine, of which Kate Nagy is the Editor at Large. Fantasy Casting is one of their favorite hobbies…along with, y’know, many other fun geekly things.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Robin Bradford
1. RobinBradford
I'm almost in complete agreement! I'm not familiar enough with her, although I liked her in the two things I've seen. (The Town and Frost/Nixon) Still.....I don't know. But great job!
2. Taragel
If only I could remember Outlander... Lol. Read it ages ago. But I am all for Jamie Bamber (in pretty much anything), especially if he gets to employ the Hot Yelling. (Redline, you feel me? ;) Black Jack would be a hell of a role for him... Hmmmm. Delicious possibilities.

I really like Rebecca Hall as Claire also. Haven't seen Hemsworth in anything but he certainly looks the part. And Amy Pond as Brianna!
3. ksb36
Yes! I like the way you put this together. Although I do love, love Eva Green. I'm not sure if she's right physically for the role, but she's such a good actress, she could do it, I think. I just don't know how they could ever do justice to such a great, epic novel.
4. lady trudy
i really think Kevin Kidd (Rome, Grey's Anatomy) would be a great
Jamie Fraser.
6. Jeff Reid
We have 20 posted 'casts' for Outlander at - take a look and then post your own cast. We are THE place to fantasy cast your favorite fiction!

Jeff Reid
7. qrsmom
this guy is my most recent pick for Jamie... Domhnall Gleeson
8. JustMe
I'm late to the convo, but, just thought I'd throw this out there... I don't think a movie could do this book justice in the standard 1.5 hours. Honestly, I'd be sad when it was over. However, I think a Tv series would be the way to go, it could go on for years and still not cover everything in the books. I wonder in Gabaldon has considered this? Thoughts? Wouldn't it be better to visit Jamie & Claire once a week?! Oh boy! But it would have to be on a channel like SyFy so they could show nudity & swear :-)
Megan Frampton
9. MFrampton
@JustMe, what a great idea! Esp. the nudity and swearing parts...
10. ms.information
neodefinitely Emily Deschanel for Claire!
11. Squinches
Spot on! In my mind, no one can embody Jamie better than Chris Hemsworth. It simply has to happen.
And an absolutely inspired choice for Claire. She's got to have real acting chops and Rebecca Hall has just that. I'm totally on board. Had I a movie studio and a few millions, I'd give you the directing rights!
12. beautyofthelake
Rachel Weisz & Kevin McKidd
Check out Kevin in Scottish attire in this picture:
13. Jamie fan
I definately can see Jason Lewis as Jamie.
14. Crash
Please no well known, big name actors! There are so many relative unknowns to choose from. Let a fairly new actor make the role their own: just like Radcliffe became Harry Potter, or Schwarzenegger became the Terminator...we need a new face to become Jamie. I do like the suggestion by CharlieMac of casting Dustin Clare. I don't know anything about him, but lighten his hair and work on the accent and you might have a deal!
15. Angel301
Has anyone thought of Hayley Atwell for Claire, I think she would be perfect. Great acress and she's british. Rebecca Hall is 5'10", wouldn't be quite right for 'petit' Claire... I can see Chris Helmsworth as Jamie and liked his scottish brogue in Snow White & the Huntsman.
lisa furman
16. lisalee
I think Stephen Farrelly, AKA Sheamus of WWE would make a great Jamie. He is 6ft 4in and already has red hair. Not only that, he is fluent in Irish Gaelic, so he should have and easy time with Scots Gaelic. I'm guessing that there would be some Scots Gaelic in the series since there's quite a bit in the book. He's from Ireland but could probably pull off a Scots accent. I consider WWE wrestling to be a form of entertainment. So that would mean not only is he athletic & really strong and big, he has acting experience. My kids & husband are WWE fans and I guess he's an up & comming talent with WWE. That means he's not a movie star, yet. From the first I saw him I said that's Jamie, without the facial hair.
Here is where you can check him out
17. Jeff Reid
Our fanatasy-casting website shows 25 posted 'casts' for Outlander. Diana has seen our site, and would like someone 'taller' for Jamie than those usually proposed, so Chris might just fill the bill. Come look, and then post your own cast. :)
19. Kim67
I would like to see Tom welling to play roger Mac
Katherine Bloom
21. lsbloom
I've always liked Chris Hemsworth for Jamie, he's tall and physically imposing and young enough, and I think he could do the accent and the endearing mix of wisdom and naivete, but he's got to be too expensive for Starz. :-(
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