In the second half of the first season of Starz’s OUTLANDER, Saturdays at 9 PM, accidental time traveler Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a WWII-era English Army nurse who has wound up in mid-1700s Scotland, has decided to stay with Highlander husband Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). However, there are all sorts of perils ahead, some coming from known enemies like sadistic British garrison commander Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies), the spitting image of his twentieth-century descendant Frank (also Menzies), who is Claire’s husband, and others coming from unexpected quarters.
OUTLANDER, to no one’s surprise, has already been renewed for a second season. Executive producer Ronald D. Moore, who has adapted Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling novels for the Starz series, talks about the rest of Season 1 and gives some hints about Season 2. Moore also his creative reunion with Bear McCreary, who composed the music for the Syfy Channel series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, also adapted and executive-produced by Moore.
AX: How did Bear McCreary come to do the OUTLANDER music?
RONALD D. MOORE: He was already doing BLACK SAILS and DA VINCI’S DEMONS at Starz, and then I checked to see if he was possibly available to do our show, and he was excited, because it turned out he was fascinated with the Jacobite movement [the Scottish rebellion that Jamie participates in] and had written music for it already. [For] our main title, he sent me an MP3 file right off the bat, saying, “Oh, I performed this accordion piece quite awhile ago. It’s a traditional Scottish song and it’s great.” And I listened to it and I said, “That’s the main title of the show,” and then it was all about just getting a deal made and making sure he had time to do all the projects.
AX: What about the main title lyrics?
MOORE: It’s a Robert Louis Stevenson lyric to the song.
AX: Simon Callow guest-stars as a British noble in the second half of the season. Did he come to you? Was he a fan of the show?
MOORE: No, we went after him and it was one of those calls where you thought, “We’re not going to get him, he probably won’t do it.” Then it was like, “Yes, yeah, baby, we got him.”
AX: Tobias Menzies is extraordinary in his two very different roles …
MOORE: Oh, yeah.
AX: Did he just come in and audition for you, or did you already know him from stage or some other work he’d done?
MOORE: I’d seen him in ROME and I’d seen him in something else that I’m blanking on. But I knew his work a little bit, and we all thought he might be a good choice.
AX: His Jack Randall character has a memorable monologue about flogging. Is that from the book?
MOORE: No, not at all. In the book, that whole sequence is really just a couple of pages in the book. Ira Behr, who wrote that episode, wrote that whole monologue. That whole scene, you can’t look away – it’s really powerful.
AX: Do you have any other scenes that are like that for you, where you feel, “This is taking things to a new level”?
MOORE: I think some of the scenes coming up in the finale, in the last two episodes, are up there in that same kind of territory.
AX: You’re actually making OUTLANDER in Scotland. Are you learning anything as you go forward about how to do this, or how not to do that?
MOORE: It’s mostly learning about production, about doing something as complicated as this, doing a show that’s a traveling show, that doesn’t have a standing set, it isn’t rooted in some base it’s going back to. So we learned a lot of lessons about planning and prep and making sure we’ve really covered all our bases. The scope and the scale of the show is very big. So now that we’ve done a season, we’re a little bit better prepared to go into it logistically in the second season.
AX: Are there any sets you can re-dress to look like they’re somewhere else? Can you re-dress a castle to be a different castle?
MOORE: You can, but the second book [which is the basis for Season 2] doesn’t really have as much in those castles. The first half of the second book is all in Paris, so that’s a completely different world that we have to start [as if doing] a new show, because nothing that we did in Season 1 is applicable. The costumes are different, the sets are different, the set dec is different – everything about it is new, so we have to really recreate the show, and then it will return to Scotland in the second half, but it really is more out is more out on the road, because it’s really a war story as the Jacobites rise up against the British. So there’s not really much we can do in terms of re-use of castles even if we wanted to.
AX: Can you re-use fields?
MOORE: We can re-use fields and forests, yeah. We’ll do that.
AX: You’ve talked about using the Scottish historical reenactment troupe Clan Ranald as background for both Redcoats and Highlanders. Did Clan Ranald come to you, or did you go to them?
MOORE: We went to them. They were known in the area and came highly recommended and everybody said, “Go and talk to Clan Ranald,” so we sought them out very early, and they were very, very helpful.
AX: Are you involved in anything else we should know about?
MOORE: Not at the moment. I’ve got various other things in development, but they’re in such an early stage that they’re not worth really talking about yet.
AX: And what would you most like people to know about OUTLANDER Season 1, Part 2?
MOORE: I think they’ll be surprised. I think there are a lot of twists and turns in the second half of the season, I think it’s a faster move than the first half. The first half of the season was about getting to know the world, getting to know the characters, getting the relationships started, and then there’s a lot of change and a lot of tumult and a lot of surprises that happen in the second half.
This interview was conducted at Starz’s party for the Television Critics Association at Pasadena’s Langham-Huntington Hotel.
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Article: OUTLANDER: Ronald D. Moore talks the second part of Season 1 – exclusive interview