Creator Ronald Moore Is ‘Very Curious to See How People React’ to ‘Outlander’ Return

Sam Heughan,Caitriona Balfe, Lotte Verbeek and
Jamie McCarthy/ Getty Images

From “Harry Potter” to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” there’s few things more valuable to the entertainment industry than a fiercely beloved book series. There’s also few things more daunting for a producer than the prospect of letting down the protective fans of a fiercely beloved book series, and “Outlander” fans have been obsessing about Claire Randall for more than two decades now.

Ronald D. Moore is no stranger to fan expectations. As a writer and producer for “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (among other “Star Trek” titles), and the executive producer and showrunner of the “Battlestar Galactica” reboot, he learned that it’s impossible to please everyone with every creative decision. At Wednesday night’s New York screening of the mid-season premiere of “Outlander” — an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s popular historical romance series which began airing its first half of season one on Starz in August — the show’s producer and showrunner Moore told Variety that it helps to remember that impassioned fans always mean well.

“I started my career in “Star Trek,” then “Battlestar” and now this, and you have to understand it’s all coming from a place of love,” he said. “They are fans because they love this material and all they want is for you to not screw it up, and they have lots of opinions about what equals screwing it up, but they all come from this extraordinarily positive place.”

“So I always take it in that vein and say, ‘I’m trying to give you something you’re going to like,'” Moore continued. “It’s not a democracy. You can’t vote on what scenes we’re going to do, but our intention is to deliver to fans of these books a story they love in a way they can enjoy it, so they can say ‘yeah, that’s the “Outlander” that I know.'”

Moore told Variety he was inspired to adapt Gabaldon’s series because “it just kept changing and evolving, and that was really appealing to me” — and that the second part of the first season, which returns to Starz this Saturday, will start to gather momentum after picking up on plot points set up in the first half. Fans of the book, he said, should be pleased with how the first season wraps up, as he and his team endeavored to be true to what was on the page.

“The (first) book ends in a very dark, disturbing, harrowing place, and we went for that,” he said. “I think we pulled it off, and I’m very curious to see how people react.”

At the end of last night’s screening, which took place at New York’s Ziegfeld Theatre, E!’s Alicia Quarles held a brief question and answer with Moore about “Outlander,” in which Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal MacKenzie, said that his most interesting encounter with a dedicated fan was when one “had a bit of a lie down” in front of him in an effort to look under his kilt. “It could have happened to anyone,” he said with a laugh.

Though “Outlander” is ultimately a fantasy show that features time travel and no shortage of bodice ripping, Moore strives to be as historically accurate as possible, from the material of the costumes to speech patterns. Unlike some of the actors, Lotte Verbeek, who plays Geillis Duncan, didn’t have to learn Gaelic for the role, but she did have to develop a Scottish accent. “And I’m Dutch,” she said, “so there was a bit of a double translation for me.”

Verbeek wasn’t familiar with the book or its fans, or how divisive her character is to the “Outlander” fanbase, before she auditioned for the role, but has grown to appreciate their support.

“There’s a lot of female fans. They really like the boys,” she said after a quick smile. “They really like the details of everything. They ask you about the sets, the costumes, even the Gaelic. They’re so interested in everything.”

“I try to take the support of the fans, but don’t take that as a pressure on my shoulder,” she went on. “And it’s amazing that way, you can just go with a lot of love of the fans and their anticipation.”

(Pictured: Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, Lotte Verbeek and Starz CEO Chris Albrecht at the “Outlander” Mid-Season New York Premiere after-party at The Oak Room)

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  1. ML says:

    I liked the idea of outlander but of course like every other show the woman is a damsel in distress shes not strong you made her weak and you made her cry and be pathetic when her husband had a nail shoved thru his hand. 1) she had a knife in her garter and 2 ) there was a stake in the room because jamie stabbed his cell mate and killed him with it and 3) a wariorr would fight someone that got close enough to him. I think that claire should be killed off in the pathetic way she acted. Plus the actress was not a good actress. She had no true emotion, she made me feel like I hated outlander not that I would tell other people to watch it.

  2. Vicki Hauptmann says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS SHOW!!! I so look forward to each new episode. Can’t wait to see it. Will be sad when Season 1 ends but, can’t wait for Season . I tell everyone to watch it!

    • JGC says:

      Outlander is just a very excellent TV show series. And I am absolutley addic ted. Last week I decided to get the novels=== 5 of them. I am now on Book 3 : Voyager. As a former counseling psychologist and marriage and family therapist I must say that the episode of the return to Lannybrook was just
      awesome. The family dynamics were just so true and played by the ensemble of actors to p;erfection.
      The rhythm of the four perfomers as they played against and with each other was like watching an opera; a quartet!!! By the way since I am in my eightees and too old for Jamie/ Sam I plan to
      reincarnate as a woman young enuf to share his bed.

  3. Carol DiGianni says:

    Ron, as a follower of the Outlander story for 20 years, I believe that it’s impact is about love. Jamie and Claire remind us that love is what we want, what we look for, and Jamie, is the embodiment of love ( towards Claire and all of his family, clan, etc.)
    In episode 10, it was shocking to hear him utter that gratuitous remark to the McDonanld men, about rutting with their own mother. That is not Jaimie. It was so out of character, that I was dumbstruck.
    I felt like it blew a hole in the character that is Jaimie. I never experienced that in any of the books, which I have read many times. He has a reverence for Mothers – read Outlander again.

  4. Jenny says:

    In a nutshell, Ron, ME LIKEY!!

  5. Lisa Vyles says:

    Having never read the Outlander books before the new series began on Starz, I really didn’t know what to expect. I am, however, a fan of most anything that has romance and history combined, and was hooked from the very first show! I immediately grabbed my Kindle after the end of the first half and ordered the whole Outlander Series of books and immediately started reading them. I didn’t want the story to stop!! Personally, I think the show is doing an amazing job of portraying the story as written, and really not losing anything in translation!! Thank you all for everything…a great story, amazing acting, and giving me an hour of escape at the end of very busy work weeks! I love it!!

  6. Mary Anderson says:

    This is a wonderful tribute to the Outlander books and yet, has its own grace and style..
    I’m VERY excited to see the remainder of season one and anxiously want more with Season two, I hope it will continue for many more Seasons.
    Thank you for an exciting and wonderful story that satisfies the imagination and brings it to life!!!

  7. Brandy says:

    I too took the chance having been a fan of Outlander since I read the books at 13 and 14 years old. (yeah kinda young but it kept me busy and entertained) I was scared to watch because I didnt think they would be able to bring my favorite characters to life n the way they existed in my head. I finally broke down and watched and must say the series is just as amazing as the books !!!

  8. WingsofCrystal says:

    I am a raging “Outlander” book fan. I didn’t watch the series when it first came out. I finally broke down and purchased season one, part one on dvd. I was certain that I wouldn’t be happy with the production. Boy was I wrong. I am gobsmacked at the amazing job they have done. What a wonderful surprise to see “Outlander” coming to life before my very eyes. They should be very proud of the job they have done.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The placement of Albrecht’s hand shows he hasn’t changed his ways.

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