Jan 11 2014 6:34pm

Outlander Panel & News Recap

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in Outlander

We may still be a few months out from the series premiere of the Outlander TV show (Starz hasn't set an official date yet but says it'll be in “the third quarter of 2014”), but more and more details are starting to emerge about Jamie and Claire's live-action story. Here are some news tidbits we've seen around the web in the last couple days:

Plus, today in Los Angeles, Starz is holding an Outlander Fan Gathering (the hash tag on Twitter is #OutlanderInvadesLA) featuring a panel with series stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heugan, executive producer Ronald D. Moore, and book series author Diana Gabaldon. The panel starts in just a few minutes, at 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern. To view a livestream of the event, go to Starz's Outlander home page. After the event, I'll update this post with the highlights. Feel free to comment on this post with your own thoughts on the event!

Bagpipes for the opening act! Very cool.

A Starz Managing Director Carmi Zlotnik has taken the stage to introduce the moderator. Tells audience he's in awe of Ronald D. Moore and now in awe of this project. Introduces:

The event moderator, Alicia Qaurles, who is introducing guests:

  • Diana Gabaldon (today is her birthday! fans sing “Happy Birthday”)
  • Ronald D. Moore

Moore explains how he first learned about Outlander; it was as BSG was wrapping up, and he was told about it at a meeting talking about potential future projects. He read the book and was sold.

Gabaldon, when asked “Why now?”, says people have been wanting to make a movie of Outlander for the past 20 years, which she felt just wasn't possible with such an epic book. Moore's was the first script she actually liked.

Jamie's the “King of Men” in the writers' room. Moore talks about how casting Jamie was the first to be cast. On the other hand, Outlander is Claire's story, so getting her right was very important. “It took a while, we saw a lot of great actresses.” But when they saw Balfe's tape, they knew she was the one.

Exclusives coming today! Moore narrates a slideshow with art for the series.

So neat to see the art for the castle both in 1800s and 1940s. That'll be a neat contrast.

Stable where Jamie and Claire “hang out” and where “*things* hang out”!

Gabaldon says settings are sometimes even *better* than what she would have imagined.

Debuting never-before-seen trailer! “What if your future was the past?” Footage looks FANTASTIC, guys. I'm sure it'll be online soon for anyone who missed it. (We'll post when we can.)

(Updated 8:51 pm: The Outlander trailer is now online! See Jamie and Claire in action here!!!!!)

And now, two more panelists

  • Sam Heughan
  • Caitriona Balfe

Woo-hoo! They both look gorgeous, and fans are giddy.

Moderator asks what chemistry tests were like. Sam says: “We knew as soon as Cat left the room.” Balfe brought a tartan dress for the audition.

“He's all right!” Balfe says when asked if he's a good kisser. They joke they'll give him more lessons. (They're so charming! They're going to be great together.)

Have yet to film the wedding night, which Heughan's looking forward to doing. “We're going to cut that,” Ron D. Moore jokes.

Turns out Gabaldon's a pantser! She doesn't outline her books but writes until she can see something. Gets inspired with a line of dialogue or something and then writes from there.

“Each moment there's something great to look forward to.”

“I'm looking forward to killing someone,” says Balfe, adding, “I'm really quite a nice person!”

Moore knew from the beginning he wanted to film in Scotland if possible. Makes it authentic.

Balfe speaks Irish Gaelic vs. Gaelic.

Heughan says they wear kilts quite a bit on set (and he's wearing the Mackenzie tartan today!).

Moore says they shifted the seasons of the story. TV show starts in autumn versus spring because of shooting schedule.

Balfe got a couple perms to make sure Claire's hair was curly, figuring it was important to character.

Heughan dyed hair, wears prosthetics for Jaime's back scars, worked out a lot, etc.

Balfe says Claire being a badass is her favorite part of Outlander as well as beautiful love stories between Claire and Jamie and Claire and Frank, being torn between two loves; Gabaldon loves seeing characters under pressure and how they react (why she likes seeing men beaten up!).

Moore gives a shoutout to the writers of the show. Talks about adapting from book. In writers' room, you start with book 's story and dialogue, but then have to decide how to make it work for each hour of television.

“How far are you going to take the sex and violence” since show will be on Starz? Moore says: “Until someone says stop, I suppose! ... We're just doing what's in the book.” Balfe has already filmed some scenes with Claire and Frank and “It's been great!” Heughan says he looks forward to “getting some loving.” These guys are SUPER charming, wow.

Heughan was obsessed with Dexter and is currently reading a book about Scotland he's loving.

Balfe loved Mad Men. They both loved Friday Night Lights (excellent taste!).

Gabaldon's a few weeks from finishing a book, so she's not watching anything. She does read a lot and loves Phil Rickman.

When asked by a fan what her inspiration was: Gabaldon says her 36th birthday really spurred her to try to write a novel, and Outlander resulted. Decided looking things up was easier than making them up, so she decided to write a historical. A Doctor Who episode where Doctor picked up a Scotsman inspired her to set the book in Scotland 18th Century.

Gabaldon doesn't think anything substantial has been left out, but actually some great additional scenes will make nice touches.

“Will we be seeing anyone in their birthday suits?” Heughan jokes “I think the front row already saw!” Moore jokes “Only if you subscribe to Starz.”

Balfe liked meeting with an herbalist to see tinctures being made and to learn about nursing.

Gabaldon has breakfast regularly with George R. R. Martin; they're both in this unique situation of having their books adapted to series.

Gabaldon's first impressions of the actors in person. “One of the friendliest guys I've ever met,” she says of Heughan. And of Balfe: “I liked Caitriona too, of course.” Ha!

How are actors different from their characters? “Um,” says Heughan. “Jamie, for me, feels like a culmination of a lot of characters I've played. ... Everything just came into alignment, fell into place.” He says you have to pull a lot from yourself to play a character. Balfe says Claire likes to drink a lot and she doesn't at all.

Heughan says “my love” in Gaelic and the audience melts. Thinks Gaelic is a strong part of the show.

Heughan says hello to Angela, the first Outlander fan he met in London.

Gabaldon does callout to Ladies of Lallybroch, which formed in 1997 after romance websites wouldn't give them a place to talk about the books since they were right (Gabaldon agrees they're not romances; obviously Team H&H has to respectfully disagree!).

When asked about where they'd like to time travel, Balfe says 1920s and Heughan says he'd want to go into the future, or to the moon.

When asked about what she most looks forward to seeing visualized, Gabaldon says she hopes he'll take it in the spirit it's meant but that it's the scene in which Jamie's tortured and raped. For his part, Heughan's looking forward to it too because he's he wants to see where Jamie goes in that scene.

Heughan talks about what a wonderful gift it is to play a character who evolves in the book and series like Jamie does as readers/viewers learn more about him.

Balfe found out she got the role when her manager called. She was at a friend's house and her newborn twins had just gone to bed, so she had to be quiet until she went home. Heughan screamed in the middle of a supermarket when his agent called. Neither actor had read the books before getting the auditions. But when Balfe found out she was going to test, she went to her local bookstore to get it, and the cashier said, “Hey, did you know this is going to be a TV show? From Ron D. Moore; I wrote my thesis on him.” Balfe has been back 

Moore says Bear McCreary will be scoring the series, which is AMAZING news for fans of his music in Battlestar Galactica. (This girl is FREAKING. Yay!)

Moore loves how detail-oriented the books are, it's one of the things that drew him to the project. That said, he wants to make sure they get as many of the details as possible right for authenticity.

Balfe's favorite costume so far is the nightgown Claire buys for her trip with Frank. She feels like a 1940s Hollywood star. Heughan likes his kilt and how many ways it can be used (sleeping bag, shawl, etc.). Moore wrote a scene of Claire dressing so that viewers will get an idea of what a process it was to dress then. “In Scotland they say getting undressed is foreplay, really,” jokes Heughan.

Heughan says Jamie is ambidextrous, and talks a bit about that.

Moore talks about the differences between fan groups, but Moore says “Fans are fans.” (Talks about how some of the biggest fans are the ones that hate his work the most.) 

Gabaldon says she was taught to read at 3, so an Uncle Scrooge book is probably the first she read. She says she also read her way through the library. Heughan remembers being a big fan of the Lord of the Rings series.

Last question: What modern convenience would you most miss if you went back in time?/What would you HAVE to take with you?“ Moore says penicilin, and Gabaldon agrees an atibiotic would be good. Heughan says his hip flask, making sure it works first! (He spilled his flask yesterday at a press event, as it broke.) Balfe says ”Soap?!“

Has Gabaldon ever thought of writing from Jamie's POV? She recommends ”The Exile,“ which is from Jamie's POV. Also mentions a second ”Outlandish Companion" should be out later this year.

Last piece of news: Gabaldon's publisher, Random House, will be doing another fan event! Here's the info: Outlander Fan Retreat in Seattle, WA, on June 7, 2014. Tickets on sale at

Crew brings out a cake and the bagpipes play happy birthday. For her wish, Gabaldon says she hopes the next book will actually come out on June 10, and blows out the candles.

Trailer plays one more time and it continues to look fantastic. Then, that's a wrap!

Thanks for reading, hope I did this justice! We'll post a link to both the livestream and the Outlander trailer if/when they become available.

(Updated 8:51 pm: The Outlander trailer is now online! See Jamie and Claire in action here!!!!!)


(ETA 1/15/14: Trailer embedded below. Enjoy!)


For all things Outlander, keep tabs on H&H's Outlander Collection. And stay tuned for episode recaps when the show airs later this year!

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