Outlander’s executive producer Ron Moore showed up on Carson Daly’s late-night show yesterday, and the announcement that he would be appearing set off a flurry of tweets among the Outlander community – and a just-as-quick “follow” of those accounts from the Carson Daly show! Moore talked about Outlander and about his current show on SyFy, Helix. This was a taped piece, filmed at the Tall Ships production office. During the discussion of Outlander, most of the first trailer was shown, but there was nothing new. (I apologize for the quality of the photos – they’re off my television!)
Carson Daly: In his career, Ronald D. Moore left his stamp on the greatest tv shows the genre has ever known, including Star Trek, Roswell, and Battlestar Galactica. You can see his latest work on the new thriller Helix, and the highly anticipated summer series, Outlander. Filmed at Ron’s office at Tall Ships Productions.
Ron on his early years: I did for a time work on what was going to be a Star Wars live action series. We would go gather at Skywalker ranch periodically every couple of months, write stories for a series George Lucas was interested in, and George was in the room with us every day. It was a fascinating, amazing experience to sit with George and argue stories. There was a point that I found myself in an intense argument with George Lucas about what Darth Vader would or would not do. Part of my brain went, are you really going to argue with George Lucas about what Darth Vader would do? (Who won that argument?) George gets to win all the arguments.
On Helix: Helix takes place on an arctic research base. There’s a virus outbreak that’s very dangerous. They put out a call to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta who sends a team of doctors out there to help them. Every episode is one day so you’re watching 13 days trapped in this base with a virus sort of running amok and changing people. (clip of Helix) There’s a lot of peeling back the layers of the onion on this show. People are not what they seem, and there are secrets within secrets so it’s an unraveling mystery that starts on a very simple level and keeps getting more complicated.
Starting as a writer: I sold my first script. I was in Los Angeles trying to be a writer, so I had taken a variety of jobs from messenger to animal hospital receptionist. I started dating this girl, this girl found out I was a fan of the original Star Trek series. She said I know some people over there, I can get you a tour of the set. For whatever reason I decided to write a script and take it with me. Which was an incredibly stupid thing to do, so I showed up on the tour with my script under my arm, I convinced the guy who was giving the tour to read it, he submitted it to the show, and then one day I got a call could you come on staff starting tomorrow, and I was there for the next 10 years on Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.
On the importance of good characters: I think character is critical especially within the show. I think if you return to a series it’s because you like those people and you want to bring those people back into your home every week. The original Star Trek series, because you fall in love with Kirk, Spock and McCoy, the friendship of those three men anchors that entire show. It’s not so much, hey I can’t wait to see what planet they’re going to go to next week, it’s I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen to Kirk and Spock next week. So think it’s critical in this genre particularly that the characters are believable.
If you’re going to ask the audience to go into a fantastical world, you need to make that as believable as possible. You’re asking the audience to feel what they feel, be afraid when they’re afraid, if they’re in a place that the audience thinks is silly or doesn’t really exist, the audience doesn’t want to extend themselves.
Outlander: The show I’m working on now for Starz is called Outlander. It follows a woman named Claire, she’s an ex-Royal Army nurse, she discovers a circle of standing stones, she touches one, and ends up in 18th century Scotland. (clip) The show is about her trying to get back to her husband and get back to her own time while being swept into the world of the Highlanders and the Jacobite rebellion.
The books were written with tremendous fidelity to what really happened, and authentic to the time, and we took that very seriously for the show. This is not one of those series that presents you with the 18th century and then sexes it up and makes everyone look cool and hot. We went for truth, we went for reality. The 18th century was a weird enough time, with social mores and technology, and the way they thought of the world. It is like an alien planet that Claire finds herself in.
My wife is the number 1 fan of Outlander, and my job, simply put, is not to screw up her favorite book.
Thanks to Kay’ee Pipkin, admin for the Seattle Retreat Facebook page — A couple of new articles about the production of Outlander surfaced yesterday, both from Phil miller of The Herald Scotland. The first quoted Sam Heughan on sex scenes in the series: On the sex scenes in Outlander, he said: “It’s definitely in the books, so we are not going to shy away from that. The books are quite sexy in places, but it’s about the nature of the relationship. They are two people that get to know each other and through that they discover their deep admiration for each other. It’s wonderful. We have filmed a few scenes with Cait, and she is such a great actress and so calm. She has obviously worked on sets before in her modelling career.”
The second one focused on the sets and the production: “Much of the Scottish parts involve speaking Gaelic, which will be presented on the show with no subtitles – the actors have learned the language from Gaelic tutor Adhamh O’Broin and non-Scottish actors have received help in Scottish accents and language from dialect coach Carol-Anne Crawford. Sam Heughan, from the Borders, and trainer at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, is playing the main role of Fraser ‘who gets beaten up a lot’.