‘Outlander’ Cast and Crew Celebrate New York Screening: ‘Make the Show for the Fans’

Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe Tobias Menzies
Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Six days prior to its multiplatform preview debut, Starz’s “Outlander” preemed Monday at the 92 Street Y to a very enthusiastic crowd.

An adaptation of author Diana Gabaldon’s popular historical novels, the 16-episode series follows the passion and adventure that awaits a time-traveling nurse named Claire Randall played by Caitriona Balfe.

“It was the great Scarlett O’Hara search to find Claire,” exec producer Ronald Moore told the audience following the screening of the premiere episode, “Sassenach.”

“At the onset of the project, I said, because I’m an idiot, that we are going to cast Claire first and (her love interest) Jamie Fraser is going to be the one we cast at the last minute. Because in the books Jamie is the “King of Men,” so I thought well, that’s going to take forever, but of course it’s exactly the opposite of what happened.”

Producers found actor Sam Heughan almost immediately, but after seeing “a lot of really good, really talented actresses” Moore explained it was just before production began that they found Balfe to play the married World War II combat nurse who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. Upon her arrival, she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened and her loyalties are tested.

“I believe that they (threw me in at the last minute) intentionally just to make it seem like it was happening to me for real,” Balfe joked.

Gabaldon explained that after 23 years of trying to make the books into a two-hour feature film, producers decided against it.

“I was so relieved,” Gabaldon said.

Moore admitted that it took him about five years to convince series rights holder, Jim Kohlberg, that the books should be a television series and not a film.

“We agreed to disagree for a while,” Moore said. “But every year we would call and ask ‘how’s that feature coming along?’ Then finally two years ago he said, ‘You know. Maybe it is a television series.’”

When the project landed at Starz, Moore said that CEO Chris Albrecht told him “the greatest thing you can hear from an executive.”

“He said make the show for the fans and trust that anyone who is not a fan will get sucked into the story.”

If the audience at the 92nd Street Y is any indication, the series is off to a glowing start.

(Pictured: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe Tobias Menzies at the “Outlander” screening in New York)

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  1. Barbara says:

    Very nice write up. As someone who has been reasing the Outlander books since 1992. I am so looking forward to this series. Saw the first episode at the San Diego premiere and was thoroughly impressed.

  2. Jane Warren says:

    I am so excited about this show! I never thought I’d subscribe to a pay channel, but I have signed up for STARZ just to watch Outlander and support my favorite series. Love everything I have seen so far! The cast is perfect! Ron Moore is brilliant! I couldn’t be happier!

  3. Laura Carmichael says:

    As a 20+ year fan of Diana Gabaldon’s extraordinary Outlander novels, I am thrilled to see the great care and skill going into the production of the TV series. Ron D. Moore and Maril Davis have achieved something extraordinary in the (obviously extraordinarily challenging) adaptation of this complex, rich story from the pages to the screen. The casting is perfection, as are the authentic costumes, sets, locations, even the Gàidhlig (Scots Gaelic) spoken by the Highlanders. What a thrill this is, after so many years waiting! And while many book- to-screen adaptations disappoint the book fans, Outlander is stunning even the most picky and particular among us (I have to raise my hand there). This is epic, watch over-and-over, tell all your friends television!

  4. Rita Bowen says:

    Thank you

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