Confession: I didn’t know much about Outlander until very recently. And even once I picked up the main facts—Diana Gabaldon’s historical fiction series about a 1940s nurse who falls back in time to 1743 Scotland and falls in love with a highlander—I still didn’t get all of the allure.
Now, having glimpsed the fandom at San Diego Comic Con, and having seen the first trailer, I do.
Starz was incredibly savvy in how they brought their TV adaptation of the series to SDCC: They had volunteers running around in kilts; released cheeky posters with taglines like “The Kilt Drops” and “Summer of Sassenach”; and they actually brought a castle to the convention center.
And of course, there was the Outlander panel, with author Diana Gabaldon, series creator Ronald D. Moore (yep, the man behind Battlestar Galactica), and stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, among others. Here are the highlights:
- Moore came out on stage—wearing a kilt. Points for immersion!
- Scotsman Heughan (Jamie Fraser) says he’s delighted to return to Scotland, calling the country “its own character in the show.”
- He also gave Gaelic lessons to the audience at the start of the panel.
- To that end... “Big sections of the story are in Gaelic,” Moore explained. “There are no subtitles because Claire doesn’t understand it.” I love when shows do this.
- When casting, the producers assumed that it would take forever to find their Jamie, but that they’d have a Claire in no time. Turns out the reverse was true! Moore called it “a great Scarlett O’Hara” search for their leading lady, adding that Balfe’s audition tape was “such an amazing thing.”
- If given the chance, Heughan would travel back in time to the 1950s, thanks to his love of the Back to the Future films. Or does that mean he’d want to go to the 1980s...?
- Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie) is another kilt fanatic, saying, “I just wish that we dressed like that now.”
- Heughan hasn’t yet filmed all of his scenes with Tobias Menzies, who plays both Claire’s husband Frank in 1945 and his 18th-century ancestor “Black Jack” Randall. Considering that the two men literally fight over Claire time and again, we don’t blame them for working up to it.
- When Gabaldon told George R.R. Martin that Outlander was getting 16 episodes, he responded, “What? They only gave me 10!”
- She and Moore seem to have worked together wonderfully in adapting her books and respecting each other as different sorts of writers. “[He] is in charge and a very capable artist,” she said. “It’s artistic respect. He respects me, and I respect him.”
- “I don’t think of it as a man or woman’s show,” Moore said. “People will fall in love with it because it’s a great tale.”
- McTavish closed the panel the only appropriate way, echoing Heughan at the start—by declaring “Long live the Stuarts!” in Gaelic.
And here’s the trailer!
“Let’s try not to get flogged or stabbed today.”
“No promises, sassenach.”
Yep, count me as a convert. I can’t wait for Outlander’s premiere on August 9.