The Starz network announced today that they have cast one more role for their upcoming Outlander series, based on the very popular book series by Diana Gabaldon. Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a WWII nurse, who travels through standing stones in Scotland (think a smaller Stonehenge) and finds herself 200 years in the past. The show is produced by Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica), who has said that he is a big fan of the series, and promised to make a faithful adaptation.
In July, Starz announced that Scottish actor Sam Heughan had been cast as Jamie Fraser, the young warrior whom Claire is forced to marry. Today, Game of Thrones cast member Tobias Menzies was cast in the dual role of Claire’s modern-era husband, Frank Randall, and his look-alike ancestor, “Black Jack” Randall, a violent English army major. The part of Claire has not yet been cast (or at least we don’t who will play her yet).
Casting as a Group Sport
The 16-episode first season, which will begin filming in Scotland this fall and air on the Starz channel starting next March, will cover the first book in the 7-book series. Fan(atic)s of the books (including yours truly) have been very excited about the prospect of these characters coming to life, and several Facebook pages and websites have been dedicated to speculation and news about the series. A loud and raucous game of “cast the show” came up with suggestions for Claire (Rachel Weisz was popular) and Jamie (fans rallied for Chris Hemsworth and Gerard Butler, who is too old to portray the part, as Jamie is 23 in the first book), among other roles, some of which most likely will not play a part in the first season.
Author Gabaldon Gives Approval
Heughan has the nod from author Gabaldon, who said that she saw her creation come to life in his audition tape. “Oh. My. God. That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters.” Gabaldon has said that she has no creative control over the series, but is confident, after talking extensively with Ron Moore and Starz, that the final product will be faithful to the books and is in good hands.
On Heughan’s casting, Moore added, “From the very beginning, I knew the part of Jamie Fraser would be difficult to cast. I had no one in mind for the part. I knew that someone would just come into the audition and be Jamie Fraser. And that’s what Sam did.”
Immediately following the Heughan casting, “Heughan’s Heughligans” was born – a vocal, active group of Outlander fans who have taken over Twitter, getting Heughan twice named the ENews “Hottie of the Week.” Heughan has been very active on Twitter since the announcement, and his conversations with the author (who calls him Sheugs) are fun to watch.
Gabaldon’s eighth book in the series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (or MOBY for short) was originally scheduled to be published in December, but publication has been pushed back to March ’14 to coincide with the Starz show.