Spring is finally in the air for this Canadian and I figured, there is no better way for the LOVELANDER project to bloom into the season than with the couple who defied the dastardly Brown family. They rode off into the sunrise-ish together. (We will have to wait and see if we get anymore of their saga later on.)
I do these interviews to give you the people behind the characters. Their careers rarely start with Outlander and they most definitely will not end with it. This fandom of ours has a way of following the lives of cast members so it is my hope #TheLOVELANDERProject helps do that. I am going to start with Jon Tarcy, aka Isaiah Morton, as we were introduced to his character first.
The Isaiah Morton/Alicia Brown story was one I wasn’t sure we were going to get to see on screen but I was delighted, as were many other fans that these characters were introduced.
I admit ‘the Isaiah’ I had perceived from the books wasn’t quite as dashing or balsy as the Isaiah who showed up on screen but I am not complaining.I give all the credit to that discrepancy to the man playing him, Jon Tarcy.
Jon grew up along the River Thames in a borough of London called Kingston-Upon-Thames,. He has a close relationship with his younger sister, Emma and brought her into his world of make believe very early.
Many actors had a flare for performance at a young age, is the same true for you?Like a lot of kids, I was performing weekly shows in the living room for my family when I was about 4 or 5 – magic shows were a particular favourite, with my sister always being recruited to play the magician’s assistant. That led on to me getting involved in as much drama as I possibly could at school, but it wasn’t until I was in a teenager that I started to think this was something I could do as a career, and my family have been hugely supportive ever since.
It is apparent your talent and their support was a winning combination. As I was looking through your previous achievements, including the ones I already mentioned, you played Tony in West Side Story. You have an incredible singing voice. Hey guys, don’t take my word for it, see for yourself in this video of Jon and Christina Bennington.
That video shows how strong your sing voice is, was that something that has always been a passion? Thank you! Yes, Singing has always been something that I’ve loved to do. I was in a church choir when I was younger singing a lot of classical music, but then as I started to perform in school shows I fell in love with Musical Theatre (Playing Marius in Les Misérables and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd were real highlights!). When I was 15 I gained a place at the National Youth Music Theatre which really helped propel me towards singing professionally, and I’ve always looked for opportunities to combine my acting and singing ever since.
Theatre has such a rich history in the UK and you firmly embedded in it. What is it about theatre that you love? Theatre is a great passion of mine and I’ve loved all of the roles I’ve played thus far. I particularly enjoyed my time with the Royal Shakespeare Company – it’s such a fantastic training ground for a young actor and was a huge dream of mine to be part of that company. I’ve also really enjoyed working on the development of new projects, whether that be a new pop musical or adaptation of a novel, it’s always very exciting to be in the rehearsal room in those early stages.
When we are creative people, we tend to gravitate to certain performances or people, do any stand out for you? I think it can be anything or anyone. It can be just as inspiring to go and see an incredible performance in the theatre or on TV, as it can be to go to a gallery or listen to an album. Particular people who I’m currently inspired by are: John Owen Jones, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, & Mark Duplass.
I obsess over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Everything she has done, or will do. I seem to do that, obsess. You of course, seem much more laid back in your enjoyment of entertainment.
Fans following you on Instagram will be able to tell you have a love of travel, do you have a top three favourite locations you have visited? Oh that’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a top three, but my most recent adventure (pre-covid) was a trek to see the incredible Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Something I’ll certainly never forget!
That sounds so majestic and a little bit terrifying. Is there a destination still on your must see list? I’d love to go to Madagascar, but I’m also keen to go to South America….there’s just so many places, I can’t decide! The UK is also a brilliant place to travel, and there are so many places I’m still to tick off my bucket list here.
It’s my understanding the Outlander production was becoming fairly well known to the industry in the UK, had you heard of it before you auditioned? Yes I had, and I’d heard such lovely things about the show & the team so it was really exciting to audition for it.Had you auditioned for any other roles besides Isaiah?No I hadn’t. What was that process like? My agent had organised for me to send in a tape for the role of Isaiah, and I then had a recall in person with the brilliant casting director Suzanne Smith. A few weeks later when I heard I got the part I was absolutely over the moon and couldn’t wait to get started.
Did you read the book at all to get the back story of Isaiah? For a bigamist, he is a pretty decent guy. I mean, the Brown’s weren’t the best choice of ‘second family’ but you can’t win them all. I did, I really enjoyed reading ‘The Fiery Cross’ and it was important for me to read all of that extra detail about the character that Diana Gabaldon describes in her fantastic books.
I admitted your portrayal of Isaiah came off as much stronger than I gave him as a reader of the books. You gave him a certain dignity that I believe bolstered him. How did you prepare? I did quite a lot of work on the accent (I’m not originally from Scotland sadly), and read up on the history of the period that the show is set. How would you describe Isaiah? I would describe Isaiah as a someone who follows his heart, but doesn’t always think first with his head….
Seems to be a “I’m an Outlander character characteristic”. One of the scenes I cheered on your performance was when Isaiah, in essence told Jamie and Roger off. Was it tricky to play that scene when you have only spent brief moments together on screen with Alicia? It really wasn’t hard at all. Anna Burnett who plays Alicia was a joy to work with and we had a lot of fun shooting episode 4.
What were your favourite scenes to shoot? I loved all of the scenes I shot on the show. I guess highlights were, the scene you describe above with Jamie, Roger and Claire, and the night scene where Isaiah pulled a gun on Jamie. I learnt so much performing scenes with all of those actors, and Isaiah’s journey in those scenes was particularly fun to play.
They were equally enjoyable to watch. It’s always fun to see other characters to get one up on the shows lead characters. Were there any other experiences that you felt you learned something new on set? Horse riding was a big one. I hadn’t done that before so was a little nervous, but the brilliant horse team (including Olly, Matt and Leah) up in Scotland trained me up, and I was riding in no time.
When in good hands we are capable of great things! It is pretty sweet when we can learn not only a new skill but an recreational activity while we are getting paid.
What are 3 things you do to relax? Swimming, watching movies and, as of recently in lockdown, playing a lot of chess.
Given your character Isaiah penchant for love and that spring is in the air, would you consider yourself the romantic type? I absolutely am – put me in front of the movies ‘Before Sunrise’ or ‘Before Sunset’ and I’m a total mess.
What would you say the most romantic thing you have done or had done for you was?Now I’m not sure I’ve answered the previous question right, as I can’t think of many sweeping romantic gestures I’ve done. Perhaps I need to plan a few more surprises….
We could all probably do with a few more of those. I would say Isaiah played his cards right when it came to Alicia.
Speaking of Alicia Brown…Anna Burnett had the very tough job of bringing this young lady to life in such a short amount of time. It was her job to first, ingratiate her self to viewers so we would connect to her plight without judging her. As many know, Outlander fans are tough nuts to crack in that respect. Anna then had the task of making us root for Alicia. It was up to her to have us wanting Alicia to escape the misogynist patriarchal Brownsville thumb she was held byand run away with Isaiah. A man who we find out is for all intents and purposes, a bigamist.
Anna, take a bow. Well played.
Anna grew up London and like many young actors her love of the arts started in school. It was the drama department that sparked her interest. She began taking drama classes on the weekends and from there, the auditions came along. The rest is ‘herstory’.
Your first job listed on IMDB is the series Jonathan Creek , the next year you went on to star in The Falling, which is such a fantastic film. Two obviously distinct experiences for you, can you share what those were like?They were both brilliant, but very different. I filmed Jonathan Creek over a few days, but for The Falling a group of us all lived in a house together in the countryside for 4 weeks. The director Carol Morley is an incredible filmmaker, and the cast and crew on The Falling were almost all female, which was hugely inspiring for all of us as young actresses. We would film Sunday to Thursday, and on Fridays I would be back at school trying desperately to catch up with my schoolwork! It was my first experience of spending a long period of time on one job, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.
You have worked with what I would guess are some inspiring actors (Maxine Peake, Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas – to name a few), have you taken advice or picked up something you feel has made you better at your craft?I think with every job I’ve done I’ve learnt something new. Just being able to watch these actors do their work has taught me a lot, and there’s so much I’ve picked up from working with such brilliant people. Being kind and keeping a good sense of humour definitely goes a long way, and that’s something that the cast of Outlander does so well!
Since you brought it up *wink*, let’s turn to your Outlander experience. What was that process was like for you? I was really lucky to meet both Suzanne Smith, the casting director, and Jamie Payne, the director, during the audition process for Outlander. Alicia is a character that really wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t hold back, so it was liberating to really throw myself into Alicia’s emotional side as well as her complete determination during the audition. That’s what I loved about playing her too, the fact that she’s so open and wild, completely guided by her heart. It was great to read the source material alongside the script to really build a picture for myself of who the Browns were and what Alicia’s place was in their world.
I must say, for the little time Alicia is given, you were able to portray her deep sadness convincingly. You gave Jon (Isaiah) the perfect amount of dedication to not make it overblown or dramatic. I was impressed by your ability to convey your emotions with limited dialogue. Is there a secret to this or are you just that good? *smile*Thank you! I think the secret is working with great actors! With such an intense storyline, it was amazing to work with actors who are so generous and skilled. It always felt like we were working together as a team, and the friendly atmosphere on set really put everyone at ease. I think that made our jobs ten times easier.
Speaking of that, many of the cast on Outlander speak about how easy going everyone is, how it feels like a family on set.That’s completely true! I always think that the lead actors on any project really set the tone for everyone on set, and Caitriona and Sam were constantly upbeat and welcoming to everyone throughout. All of the cast and crew were so easy to work with and I was definitely sad to say goodbye when my filming time was up!
You had intense scenes with Caitriona Balfe, which to your credit, you shone in. I cannot imagine what that would be like, a regular day on the job or super intimidating? Although it was such a big show to be a part of, Caitriona made me feel so welcome and at ease on set. She’s such a fantastic actor, I was really lucky to work alongside her and loved doing our scenes together.
Do you have a most memorable moment from your time on set? I think, apart from all the fun we had, one moment that sticks in my mind was from my last day on set. It was a sunny day (which was rare during filming!!) and we were shooting the scene towards the end of the episode where Alicia and Isaiah escape. All Jon (Isaiah) and I did all morning was sit on this beautiful horse in the sunshine – lush!
We are still living through this pandemic life. I am going to wrap up by asking some fun and fluffy questions that might ignite fans into reading or watching something new.
What was the last book you read?The last book I read is called ‘I Am Not Your Baby Mother’ by Candice Brathwaite. It’s a non-fiction book about being a Black mother in Britain and it was so thought-provoking and moving, I would highly recommend it to everyone.Sounds like a must read. This goes on my reading line-up, for sure.
Many of us have been doing a lot of binge watching. What was the last show that trapped you?The last show I binge watched was a brilliant Australian show called Upright. It’s only short, and once you settle into it, it really takes you along and makes you care so much for the characters.
Tick! Added to my watchlist. Now, what are three shows you think everyone needs to put on their watchlist? And 3 shows everyone has to watch are Succession, Normal People and Euphoria!
AGREED! It’s nice to have the same taste as a young and talented woman. Makes me feel good about myself.
As Outlander fans, we should all continue to thank Suzanne Smith for always casting humans that dive into their roles with all that they are. They take the time to breathe life into them, give them a depth we can be grateful for. Without a strong, vibrant supporting cast building these stories Outlander’s main cast would be stretched too thin.
I want to thank both Jon and Anna for taking time out of their busy lives to join #TheLOVELANDERProject and make our days a little brighter. This fandom is a lucky bunch.We have so many things to keep our thirst quenched this Droughtlander, friends!
It was a no brainer for me to ask Courtney to be my next guest with The LOVELANDER Project. I have a crush on her. She’s smart, she’s got dimples for days and her blue eyes…you can swim in ’em ! Holding a conversation with her is easy and exciting. She is the one who is used to doing the interviewing, so I knew she was going to be hard to pin down, she was but I got her! Here she is, Courtney Williams from Outlander BTS.
Thank you, Courtney for giving me your time and being a part of this passion project of mine. Sher, I think you do great interviews, and I love the spirit of yourLOVELANDER Project. As you know, I’m usually the one asking the questions, so it took me a bit to get in the right headspace to be the interviewee. Thank you for inviting me.
You are literally the “Behind The Scenes” of Outlander for thousands. They rarely get a true look at you. Tell me what makes Courtney – Courtney. Alrighty, I’m mostly of Irish and Italian descent with some other stuff mixed in. I’m from Texas, the youngest of 3, two older brothers – all close in age. I was a tomboy, liked to be outside most of the time, (still do), and was a little toughie. I left home at 19, and the adventure began. I’ve lived all over the Washington DC area, Madrid, San Francisco, and the Denver area. Today, I’m a wife and mom, I love my family, being with my horse, beach time, reef swimming, and nature hikes/runs.
What do you think it was from your world that helped you become the producer of OutlanderBTS?The pieces of what it takes to produce my blog have always been in me. I’ve always been a writer. Journaling, writing down thoughts and observations. As a child, I kept diaries, and later, before iPhone (notes), it would be on napkins and receipts, ticket stubs, magazines, etc., whatever was around. I love to travel. When I was little, we would take family car trips, leaving before dawn; Dad says the boys would go right back to sleep in the back of our station wagon, but my little bobble head would be wide eyed, looking out the windows, pacifier plugged in. I traveled in Europe for two months in my 20’s, with a Eurail pass and a youth hostel card, and I was absolutely in my element. I became interested in photography and photojournalism as a kid. Dad had an old manual 35 mm camera that I taught myself how to use. I liked photographing nature and people – Candids. Faces. I would write stories about trips and experiences with photos I’d taken, and gift those to people. And doing interviews- ha, as a little kid, I used to interview my friends using my tape recorder with a little microphone!
I remember doing the same thing with my friends, as a military brat we moved around and I wish I could have held on to the tapes to have at hand now. The relationship with your Dad sounds so strong..and stands out to me. I still have some of those tapes, they are hilarious. Yes, I love my dad. I started running with Dad when I was 13 – he’d wake me up before the sun, and we’d go run under the stars. I loved the fresh morning air, the aliveness of my senses in the dark, the silent, one-on-one time with Dad. The only sound was our feet on the pavement; we were in a quiet, rhythmic bubble. At the finish, the sun would be coming up, we would speak, and the spell would be broken. We would laugh and joke around, and the day would’ve started – I felt strong and happy. He’s 88 now, and still a lot of fun. I get my irreverence from him..
It truly is a extraordinary thing to have a close relationship with a father, you are blessed and the way you speak of him, I can see the influence on you and know it is appreciated by those in your world.Tell me more about what makes you tick. Hmm, well, I like to learn, I like to understand why, I like people watching, and I like making connections. I speak Spanish fluently – I graduated from the U. of Maryland, and lived in Spain 6 months, doing a semester at University of Madrid. I’ve worked since the age of 15 doing lots of different things, from waitress to corporate wellness manager, to software project manager, to guest ranch wrangler, and lots of other things. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and have done lots of fun, interesting entrepreneurial things over my lifetime, my blog being the latest. I’ve traveled a lot, to Canada, all over the US, Mexico (repeatedly), Europe (repeatedly), Australia, Japan, and Africa. I like long decadent meals with people I love, or at least interesting people *smile*. I love the beach, and I love water – oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, puddles – any water. And I like riding my electric bike around town.
All of us flying through this Outlander universe have a story of how we were pulled into it’s orbit. What is yours?I loved the books; my mom introduced them to me in 2006, just after my 2nd baby was born. In 2014, while checking out at my local grocery store, I noticed the TV Guide, with Sam and Cait in character as Jamie and Claire on the cover. I thought, “That’s gonna stink, I’m not watching it.” You know how the movie’s never as good as the book? Well, these are my favorite books, so I didn’t want to spoil them with a crappily done TV show.
My kiddos were 8 and 11, and one day I was home alone with spare time (which didn’t happen much then). I plopped down on the couch and started flipping through channels, also rare, as I’m not a big TV watcher. I came across Episode 101, Sassenach, for free. So, I thought, what the hell. As I watched, I noticed how well done everything was -the casting, sets, costumes, Scotland, Jamie, the authenticity of it, the Gaelic, etc. I became really excited. I found Starz and watched Episode 102, Castle Leoch, soon after that. A defining moment for me with the show, was when Annette Badland walked out of Castle Leoch as Mrs. Fitz. I thought, damn, they’ve nailed it again. I was worried Mrs. Fitz would be played by Cameron Diaz in a cleavage dress (it is Hollywood, ya know). I knew that if they’d be willing to get Mrs. Fitz right, the rest of the show would be fantastic. I was sold, hook, line, and sinker.
I love that you got sucked in that way. I had no idea. Tell me more…I saw somewhere, maybe Facebook? That Sam and Cait would be doing a Twitter Q&A, so I joined Twitter, and followed Diana, Sam, Cait, Terry Dresbach (Seasons 1-4 Costume Designer, wife of Ron D. Moore), Gary ( Seasons 1-5 Production Designer), et al., and started meeting other fans from all over the world. I’d never been in a fandom before, so this was all new to me. I read and watched interviews and enjoyed discussing the show and books online. My husband was working internationally at the time, so I arranged to tag along on a trip to London, and then hopped over to Scotland by myself. That was November, 2014; no one in Scotland had even heard of Outlander, the show, only the books. Season 1, Part 2 wasn’t even out yet.
I have a friend in show biz, who got me tickets to the Paleyfest premiere of Ep 109, The Reckoning, in LA, in March of 2015, and then I went to a local event where Diana was speaking and met her for the first time in April of that year. This kind of thing continued, and I wanted a place to write about all the Outlander adventures I was having. I also found the mainstream media coverage at that time to be unfulfilling, and I knew from discussions that others felt the same way. I was in conversation on Twitter about that with several people, among them, Terry, and she said (or wrote) to me: “Do something better.” And, I thought, OK, yeah, why not?
That is as good a reason as any!My wee blog, Outlander Behind The Scenes, went live on April 6, 2016. Funny story, the night it went live, my little family was crowded around me in bed, watching Google Analytics for the site on my laptop (thrilling!). There were two people on the site, and one left, and my then 10-year-old said, “Don’t worry Mommy, Grammy probably just had to go to bed.”*laugh*
With the support of my husband, my web designer, my Patrons, and lots of other people, the blog has continued to grow ever since. It really has been a fabulous journey.
You are such a natural when working with cast in panels and interviews, there is an ease and intelligence that people are drawn to. Can you contribute this to something in particular?I prepare a lot for my interviews and panels, but in the moment, I let the conversation have space to go where it does, naturally. I’m genuinely interested in the people I’m interviewing and what they have to say (as a fan first). I’ve been around celebrities from a young age, enough to know they’re just people like the rest of us, and usually appreciate being treated that way. I also have some stage experience – I’ve acted and danced in a couple of theatrical dance companies. In one show, my character became tempted by and discovered drugs, partied her ass off, became addicted, overdosed and then died. Good thing it was all a dream…. I’ve also performed with an equestrian dance company, on horseback. So, maybe my (limited) performance experience helps me relate somewhat to those I’m interviewing.
My crush just keeps getting bigger n bigger. If I had more time I would start a Courtney fan club.Part of your work on BTS is breaking down the episodes. Can you give me a synopsis of how the show has done so far, for those who may not be 100% familiar with your thoughts.Season 1 exceeded my expectations, in all ways. Season 2 exceeded my expectations, in some ways. I absolutely love the first half of Season 3, and then… there was a phase I didn’t prefer between Episode 307 and Episode 501. *smile* No, there are some good episodes and moments in the second half of Season 3 and in Season 4, but I did feel things went off the rails a little during the transition from Ron D. Moore to Matt B. Roberts and Toni Graphia. To be fair, most of the original writing team left at that same time, and those are the two seasons they did back to back with no break in between (S3 and S4), so it was a tall order for first time showrunners. Maril Davis and Matt Roberts were at the helm for Season 5, Sam and Cait came on as producers, the writing team for that season was much stronger, and for me, that season put them right back in the flow. I enjoy creative adaptations, I do like the characters to stay in character, especially Jamie and Claire.
With so many events and experiences you have been a part of, I am sure its hard to narrow it down to your favourites but do you want to give it a shot?
OK, let’s see. Meeting Diana for the first time.
Watching Episode 109, The Reckoning, as it premiered in front of a live audience. Going to my first performance at the Royal Lyceum theater in Edinburgh, meeting Bill Paterson (Ned Gowan).
Dinner with Graham McTacvish in Cologne, Germany.
Seeing Terry’s Season 2 costumes live in the windows at Macy’s in NYC with my mom.
Photographing Cait and Sam for the first time at that same event (Cait is stunningly beautiful).
Meeting and getting my first hug from Gary Lewis, and meeting all the “guys” early on.
Interviewing Sam and Cait, live, for the first time in NYC and then seeing Ep 301 on the big screen with a live audience
Meeting Gary Steele for the first time, in Glasgow. Seeing Laura Donnelly in The Ferryman with my mom in London. Gillebride MacMillan singing The Woman of Balnain to my mother, acapella, in a large empty room with amazing acoustics, in Linlithgow, Scotland.
Sam’s first MPC Gala at the Kelvingrove in Glasgow with Mom.
A special night out with the BTS Lasses in NYC
All the people I’ve interviewed, but Gary Young (Mr. Willoughby), is a standout.
Standing backstage with Sam, as he watched King Fireman’s tribute to Jamie video for the first time, at Wizard World NOLA, and then interviewing him.
Doing our Wizard World NOLA BTS panel.
And, our fan gathering afterward – seems like a dream now! No masks!
It is lovely to know that it was the BTS chats and moderation with Antoinette, Catherine and Karmen that developed into this wonderful world for you. Those chats do have quite a following in the fandom, what is it, do you think, that draws people to your discussions?Thank you. Based on what people tell me – they like our familiarity with the material, our love for each other, our humor, our ability to discuss intelligently, and disagree civilly, our diversity, and the subject matter expertise of each person. And, we’re fun. We go deep, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
All of that is true. I like to add my favourite bits of the episode chats. From my perspective, I view Outlander in a really weird bubble, I always am disagreeing, agreeing, having wtf moments and laughing my face frozen. It’s the ability to know that you are all coming from a place of kindness, respect and love of the product that makes it a great place to hang out, virtually.
You have a great grasp on the content of the show, I am very curious as to what your vision is for the future of it?My hope for the TV show is that they’ll do all 10 seasons. As long as the audience is there, and I believe it’s still growing, and the core team is willing (Matt, Maril, Caitriona and Sam), I think they’ll continue.
Of course, there is no show without Diana’s books…what is your expectation there?… gosh. I get teary just thinking about the story ending. I know it has to, at some point. We’ll get Bees very soon, and then there’s one more book. I don’t want to know the ending until I read it, at the end of that 10th book. I think I’ll have to have Outlander sitting next to me when I finish it, so I can start all over again and not be consumed by my grief! *wink*
So polish off that crystal ball a little more and tell me how you see Outlander playing out.Plot wise? Well, Sam just let us know that the Christies will be in Season 6, and I’m pretty psyched about that. I just finished re-reading ABOSAA – there is so much in that book. It’s the longest one of all (so far). If it’s well done, and I expect it will be, it’ll be great TV (as Antoinette would say) *smile*.
How about the books? Any wishes that way?And as for Bees, I don’t try to guess ahead. I’m a fan first, and I love just discovering everything as it happens. When Bees comes out, I expect I’ll drop everything and devour it, like everyone else, and I look forward to that. I hope Diana figures out an endless loop type situation for Jamie and Claire, so they’re always alive!
That is the dream! Funny, it is what I have been saying the same for years. Great and twisted minds…Speaking of that mind of yours, what are the things you do to relax and escape?I do most of my relaxing offline. I wasn’t able to read for leisure for 2+ years due to a vestibular injury, so I started using audible. I listen and read now, and love both. I take long walks and runs with our dog, Mocha, in nature. I take Epsom salt baths, I drink chamomile and green tea, and I take naps in a sunny window whenever possible. One of my favorite ways to relax, is hang time, hand grazing or grooming our horse.
I find so many of us in the Outlander Universe are like minded so getting referrals from one another is something I love encouraging. How about books, what are your shares? Funnily enough, I’m reading a book recommendation from Laura Donnelly right now –Shuggie Bain, and I’m loving it. I’m always re-reading an Outlander book – I just finished ABOSAA <sigh>. I recommend The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung. This one’s not an easy read, it’s almost written more for doctors, but it’s worthwhile. I gained a lot of weight between 2016 and 2020, due to illness and injury, and this book helped me understand how to lower my insulin levels. How about movies or binge-watchers?Movies I’ve enjoyed lately with my family are “Ocean’s 11,” “Ocean’s 12,” and “Casino Royale.” I’m not a very good binge watcher, but the closest I’ve come lately is “The Crown,” “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali,” and re-watching all seasons of “Seinfeld,” over many weeks. *SMILE*
This is turning into an awfully long Droughtlander thanks to Covid-19, one I am ok dealing with if it keeps people safe. How are you holding up? Thanks for asking. This has been a challenging year for our family, but also one of tremendous growth and healing. And I agree with you, Sher. Safety, and getting through this as humanely as possible is what’s important.
What have you been doing to stay sane-ish?To stay sane, first, I acknowledge that we are in a unique time, and I try to cut myself and the people around me a break. I go back to the basics, as much as possible. I realize my energy is finite, so I nurture it, and use it for my priorities – my health, my family and loved ones, and my work. Those are my top 3. For me, my health starts with my thoughts. I try to focus on the outcomes I want vs my fears. When I have conflict with someone, I try to work through it consciously, and own my part. I try to practice compassion and forgiveness, and also gratitude. The key word is practice – I’m not always successful, but I don’t beat myself up about it. I get outside and move my body as often as possible. I limit my exposure to news and social media. I have a few reputable sources I go to for updates, and then I take breaks. I avoid going down my habitual mental rabbit holes whenever possible. I work on our home space, continually, because we are always here right now. I’m mindful about what we eat. We started using a local CSA (community supported agriculture), and I have a new love for fresh vegetables. I prioritize my sleep. I cultivate quality time with loved ones, in the house, and afar, and I balance that with alone time. And, I take one day at a time, and give myself permission to rest when I need to. Other than that, we wear masks in public, wash hands, and pretty much stay at home. As my very beloved sister-in-law used to say, “this too shall pass.” I think of those words often.
It is official, my crush has just leveled up. The words you have shared are truth. They are open and kind and I know will help many people find a balance where they may have been falling over. Thank you for them.
Time to give yourself a Tagline, Warning Label and a Theme Song.
OK this one was so hard for me!!!
Tagline:“Smart, fun, and gets it done.” This one was so hard for me! You would not believe how long it took me to come up with that, and it’s just OK.
Warning Label:Spicy when hot
Theme Song:What a Feeling, by Irene Cara
What a feeling is right. This fandom is much more than blogs, podcasts and fan groups. It can be a community of like minded people sharing things they love, bringing laughter, comfort during difficult times and being a family to one another where one may not exist. People like Courtney are at the gooey center of that community. Always a warm, welcoming presence and a place to get great Outlander content. If you didn’t know a lot about the person behind the scenes of Outlander BTS, I think you are the better for it now that you do.
Until next time, stay safe and much love, The BeavSHER
Like the titles play on words? I promise, it is true.
Every time I send a request, whether it be a current or past cast member, someone in production, close to production or a fan account I always expect them to say no. It’s in my nature to expect nothing, not because I am “suck joy Sherry” but I find this way I will always be thrilled when something good comes from it. Call it handy self-preservation.
I’ve had it in mind to approach Stephen Walters to participate in #TheLOVELANDERProject from the start. He being an original cast member that made us fall in love with Outlander, a part of an ensemble that has become a revolving door for fans.
What held me back? I am going to be honest, intimidated isn’t the right word, I have always had the impression there is something about Mr. Walters that goes…well…beyond. I have watched his career closely since he left Outlander, also digging back for his previous work. I highly recommend you do the same because DAMN. My concern was “Would I be ABLE to interview Stephen Walters? Would I be able to do this man justice?” I suppose, now, you will be the judge of that.
Here he is…as impassioned, authentic and veracious as they come.
You grew up in Merseyside Liverpool, England. What was your childhood like there?I am one of four children. The third of four and so a middle child. I come from a working class background. My parents were both from that generation that never really received what one would deem a “proper education”. From a social and political perspective, it still rankles with me. As a good education should be the God given right of any child. Sadly it’s still not the case. In those days (the 1950’s) young people were expected to go out into the work place and make a living. Mum and Dad made sacrifices for their children. In retrospect it was a poor upbringing on a monetary level but that cliché of ‘but we were happy’ was true for me. My mum particularly was a genuinely spiritual person and I got most of my life philosophy and teaching from her. It’s never left me. My dad was and still is a clown, so it was perfect yin and yang situation. I may not have received inheritance in a typical sense, money, a house, etc. The usual perception of that. However I received something way more valuable than that. A spiritual inheritance that has never left me. There was also an atmosphere of ‘you can do anything’ in our house. I was never not encouraged to be creative, which is so important for any child. It was a tough environment but there was humour and a real community of people. Sadly, that’s lacking more and more nowadays, that sense of helping your fellow neighbour, of being able to turn to someone in times of shortage. I have lovely memories of the mother’s sitting outside on the wall, talking, laughing, putting the world to rights. We were always, as kids, up to mischief, inventing some new game, digging a ditch, swinging in some tree, the estate was like one big playground to me. You could play out and you knew it was safe, everybody knew everybody else. The sense of memory is honestly fond and full up. I feel blessed by my childhood. Sometimes I go back and it’s a shell of what it was. That’s kind of sad to see.
I hear you speak of your childhood and it may not be filled with the fields or beaches of some, it does have have the quality children need. On the surface, it was rough however it was a beautiful nurturing environment. One that obviously encouraged the creativity we have been blessed to witness. When did this performer in you, start showing up?I started to learn guitar at ten years of age. My neighbours the Caulfield’s, were 3 older teenage boys, Kevin, Mark and Chris. They taught me a few chords and allowed me access to their record collection. It’s where my love affair with music and in particular the Beatles started. It really affected me, the sound, the philosophy and the talent. Their story inspired me, in that you could come from a place like Liverpool and ‘do something different’. So the seeds of creative allegiance and creating a better world were formed then.
An interesting aside, I wrote a song about my mother at 17. Sadly she passed with cancer the same year and this same song I sung on stage in New York in 2018. My son was also present. Her spirit, her energy, her memory and her belief in me, was standing right beside me. Sometimes, if your blessed, you have moments in life that ‘you couldn’t write’.
Acting wise, I did the usual nativity at school, progressing from shepherd to Joseph. I remember the buzz of the lights in the church (the play was always performed on the church alter, in the evening). I felt comfortable, at home, escaping into a world of my own imagination. Later, l studied drama at Southport collage and then finally trained at the Bristol old Vic. The latter was tough to get in. There were 15 places in my year and there were thousands of applicants. It was another moment that ‘Mum was watching down on me’. In those days there were educational grants, otherwise there was no way a kid from my background could afford to go. This is no longer the case and in many areas still represents a marginalisation, an exclusion of the working class from the arts. Ironically it never escapes me that I am in ‘a middle class, privileged profession’.
That is something that stands out for someone living it but will often go over the heads of people who haven’t faced it, tell us more, please…Drama school was full of young people with a plan B. They were mostly from families that had money, or a family business, or another option. I had no plan A and even then I was winging it on the drapes of my trousers! *laugh* Acting and music are part of the same spring well of activity, be it poetry, writing stories/scripts or singing. I can’t act in the shower but l always sing! It’s all expression. Sometimes these disciplines have merged on the screen like in a show I did called “Tin Star” or another called “Ragged” for Sky Arts. In my mind I do not separate these expressions. They are simply different branches of the same tree.
I loved you in Tin Star, you were shady af but we will talk about that in a bit. I want to delve a little deeper into how your journey started. You had your first acting job at 16, that’s impressive…Here’s the strange thing. The first job I ever did was a thing called “Ghost Story” for a series “Dramarama” A lad called Gary Brookes and I both knocked on the door of the only agent in Liverpool at the time, called ‘ART’. It was run by national treasure, Ricky Tomlinson. On this particular day, these two snotty nosed kids knocked on the door and there he was. It was the first famous personthat I ever saw. We asked ‘were there any acting jobs going’ and by chance there was a show being cast and he sent us along. I got the job whilst still in my final year at school! I was completely blind to the whole situation. I remember ‘Ghost Story‘ coming out on the tv and all the family sat round the television screen to watch. It was another surreal, special moment. With my first ever pay cheque I bought mum a ‘brand new red bike’. I wanted to show my thanks to her. Unfortunately she passed away the next year but gladly she rode it for many miles. I still have that bike.
It does seem like this life was the one that was meant for you, Stephen. The one thing I felt I always had, was good instincts to read a room and people, although I had no formal training to speak of. Long story short, 23 years later, I ended up playing the real Ricky Tomlinson in a biopic about his life on the screen.
That’s incredible when you think of it. I find the way your history webs together fascinating. Not all actors have this ability but you become the characters you portray so thoroughly … often physically morphing into them. Some actors talk about their method, if you have one, can you tell us about it?The method is precisely that. It’s ‘your method’. These things get convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. I have played many accents and different roles, so it’s your job to nail that as best as possible. I think my working class roots, bring me a working attitude, that you are there to do a job. It’s always grounded and informed my approach to the business I am in. More important than this though, is to find ‘the truth of the character’. Without it, the aesthetics mean jack shit. The truth is always something connected to your own life. It helps in order to sympathise with the character, to relate and understand it. That’s why a life outside of what you do is so important. It will feed and seep in to what you do. There is an element of intellectual observation but it has to be married by choices from the heart…from the gut. I also think good acting is brave, it has elements of courage and heart felt desire. Add to that the ‘imagination level’ then somewhere in the mix is your character.
A storyteller at heart, Stephen, there is no doubt…I love that it’s a process and it’s not set in stone. From a learning perspective this always appealed to me. Some actors are gregarious and brilliant, some are quiet and focused. It’s horses for courses really. My old acting teacher, a method teacher from the old school by the name of Rudi Shelley (he was Russian) always told me …”Stephen find out for yourself”. It’s served me well. I ask questions and I probe. There’s also a mystery element to any character, that you should never explain, a private space between you and yourself. Sometimes a brilliant director unlocks a door and the quality of the script always comes into play. There’s nothing worse than fighting an incoming tide. So many elements make up the whole part.
I have to ask about these complex roles. There is always something ‘behind’ the eyes of the characters you play.I guess I like complex roles. Life is complex. People are complex. Situations are complex. It’s all a discovery of those strands. It’s more interesting to play a multi dimensional character. It’s more of a challenge and if your not being challenged, your not developing, growing as a performer. It’s just the way my career has gone, that I tend to play people on the periphery of things, on the outside, just how I like it. I remember my acting teacher saying once “Stephen stop trying to walk in a room like John Wayne because you will never be John Wayne…walk in it using your physicality”. It’s about utilising your strengths, your physicality, your way. Keep it true.
The more we peel back, the more I see how complex you are, this is all making a lot of sense to me. Speaking of complex characters, let’s chat Charles Manson. You became him in the short film, I’m Not Here. I have to say, it was disconcerting to watch as I didn’t connect ‘Stephen’ to the person on screen…at all. What made you want to be a part of that project?Manson was a frustrated artist. A lot of people don’t know that. He was a talented one too. He was from a broken home and was probably destined for a life of crime. His story is one of ‘what if’? Aren’t all our lives and stories? I know people in my own school year died of drug over doses. My brother Brian passed in a similar manner. He was a brilliant artist, a beautiful mind and no less talented than most people l work with. The sad irony of that a that he understood that. He was my greatest supporter and I always feel his presence around. If your really honest, or your really awake, you know life is never that simple. “There but for the grace of God go I”. There’s a lot of wisdom in those gutters. Anyway, back to Manson. Charles was close to a record deal and it nearly happened for him. There’s also people in our industry that but for a break or a chance encounter, could have gone ‘the other way’. Not necessarily to the extremes of Charles Manson but it’s all margins. There is something interesting to investigate there. Plus we demonise people, label the monsters and put them nicely in a box. We were all children once, from the king on the throne to the guy in the doorway. That’s how I feel and see it. It’s my spiritual out look, that does it’s best not to look up to anyone or down on anyone.
The outlook you have shared here is one I hope readers can take and use going forward. I believe it may be a piece of this puzzle our world has lost over time. Many of us are able to grow from each of our experiences, good and heartbreaking. What have you taken from each of your experiences on set, in both those large and small productions from your early days to now? That each experience is different from the last one. People who are good at their job, barring the odd exception, tend to be the best to work with. It’s those with opinions of themselves that are not grounded, that are not really rooted into some kind of reality, that are most difficult to work with. Each role one plays is the roll of a dice, there’s a lottery element to it. I think for me, it was always about trying to create a quality body of work. To not look back, that you are only as good as your last job. It’s only when someone puts a question like that to me, that I think about those things. Lovely that it is to reminisce, it’s always about moving onto something else. Other wise it’s like staring down and admiring the same old shoes! *laugh*
I get that, still, I’m going to get you to check out that rear view mirror for a bit longer *smile*. You worked on a series in Canada, not just Canada but in my province of Alberta. In fact, the small town my uncle lives, High River Alberta is where Tin Star was set. What was your time like here?I was in Calgary for about 8-9 weeks. The Canadians are such polite folk and the place is so ‘clean’. I remember canoe rafting in Banff which was stunning. The clear blue water and the mountains. The place looked like a country and western set. I was mostly with a brilliant actor Ian ‘Pulverston’ Davies and we had digs that shared panoramic views of the city. There are many moments like that when I wish mum and brother Brian (or even Dad) could have had. They paved the way for these things to happen to me. You count the blessings and you never take it for granted. I think if you do, the games up. I’ve see that happen to people. You have to hold on to you and the journey that gets you there.
I remember driving with SatNav(GPS)and getting lost in Alberta too. I remember pulling over on a road to watch a black bear and it’s cubs about 50 metres from myself. I remembered a deer running across my path, as I drove on the road. I loved my character and got to sing/play guitar. In fact the song that plays out the end of episode 3, I wrote. What more can a man ask for?
It sure ticked a lot of boxes, I haven’t even gotten to see a mama bear yet. The song at the end of ‘The Comfort of Strangers’ was hauntingly beautiful. It would be nice to see you not die in a series…I have come to the conclusion, I have seen you die on screen enough.
As much as I loved you as Angus, the role of Thomas Malone in Shetland is my favourite, thus far. Your portrayal of this misunderstood and complicated character made those watching confused and empathetic. It was a wild ride. What attracted you to this character and why do you think others became so invested in his story?It was a gift of a role written by David Kane. Brilliant show and great writing, with fine actors. A rich six episode character arc, full of plot twists and turns. Thomas Malone is a maligned and misunderstood character. Often in episodic stuff, you play the killer, or the killed, or a filler role and there is no real context. No real meat in the bones. Here’s the thing. It’s much much harder, to make an impact with limited screen time. The more screen time you have, it’s just easier. You can allow a character to breathe, to pace it, to take your time. The camera can ‘indulge’ the character more, watch and observe him/her. This series of Shetland explained and expanded upon why this man was so broken. It delved into why someone is the way that they are. That’s what good drama does.
I was gutted by his death, it seemed so…pointless. What are your thoughts on that?I was shocked when I read the final script but here’s the thing. Things happen out of the blue in life and often to people who least deserve it. It was the final gut wrenching blow to the solar plexus. People still come up to me now and mention that moment. Drama has the power to move, to change feelings, to relate and to fascinate.
I recall you mentioning in previous interview that writers can describe a character as in depth as possible, but it is the actor that ultimately brings them to life. In playing Angus there were many things you added that weren’t included in the ‘written description’. It’s more an attitude. A lot of that was complimented with Rupert played by Grant O’Rourke. He’s a big fun energy, and it infused scenes before we played them. That’s how I felt anyway. The superstitious side of Angus, was made up from reading a book about a Scotland in that time period. The humour was something that happened more organically than planned. Anyone who visits Liverpool will tell you that everyone is a comedian. Ken Dodd a famous comedian said the Liverpool audience, is the inky audience that thinks it’s funnier than the comic! *laugh*. So it’s in the genes somewhere I think. The more serious you play a character like Angus, the funnier it can be. No matter how ridiculous the situation may be, if you play it straight, something true will always come through it.
One of my favourite things about Angus was his erratic nature. One-minute laughing and joking, the next raging and wild. Did you formulate a back story for him that would explain why he was the way he was?I think that’s more the invention side to creating a character. Of acting. There are characters like Angus, from way back in the Liverpool memory bank. Unpredictable, keep you on your toes people and you’re not sure what they are going to do next. What’s interesting about that question is this. Is it by design… or is it they simply don’t know what they are going to do next!? *laugh*
You and Grant O’Rourke seemed to have had a chemistry that was natural and easy. It was said by Ron Moore in his podcast it was because you were so good together it was a natural progression to keep moving in that direction. Was this immediate between the both of you? Like, we got something that could be a lot of fun…let’s do this?Grant like I said is funny…’he’ has funny bones. I can be like that but it’s more personal, more specific. He often entertained the troops whilst waiting for long set ups, in between takes and I admire that. I tend to more fade into the background. Like I say, I consciously plugged myself into that. Chemistry is there or it isn’t I guess, it can only be manufactured to a degree. It’s difficult to be objective but l think we did have ‘something together’ on screen. It was a love hate thing. Angus loved Rupert, Rupert hated Angus!*laugh*
That’s hilarious! *laugh* You two definitely had ‘something’ and it was a joy to watch. Who am I kidding, it is STILL a joy to watch. What would you say were your most enjoyable scenes to film on Outlander?I enjoyed the physical things. The fights were a hoot. The sporting games with wooden bats. I remember one particular day, getting carried away and biting this poor stuntman’s ear and it bled. I was in shock and felt so bad and this big cockney guy stands up and says…*wiping the blood away from his ear*…”Don’t worry mate…it’s all in a days pay!”*laugh*
That sounds challenging, for him…*laugh* What would you say were the most challenging for you?The elements were challenging. The huge set ups, waiting around in the mud, the wind and the rain. There was always someone with a funny story, a joke, something to relieve the boredom at times. Roy Ramsay, God bless his soul, was one of the horseman. He had a neck like Mike Tyson and hands the size of a garden shovel. A big, gentle giant. I loved his stories and his strange mad wisdom. Something of Roy, bled itself into Angus somewhere. I’m always looking for a clue, an inspiration, a fact, a spark that may start a fire.
I know fans carry memories of Angus and his antics still.Do you have any particular memories from your time on the Outlander set that you feel you carry with you?Every job has a memory I carry. The people and the place I would say. I was lucky enough to film Shetland so north of the border is ‘in the bones now’. Duncan La Croix (AKA La Crotch) was my first port of call on the job. I just remember we spent months just talking. A lovely soul. Andy Gower was special connection. Scott Kyle, Ronnie Goodwin, all good people. Through the conventions, we sometimes meet up and there’s a commonality, a sense of a shared experience. No matter what you do next, these things cling to the heart in some way.
You have one of the unique experiences of being a part of the cast that created the Outlander universe. Every week more people are discovering this world and in turn, you. Falling in this weird love with this wild character of yours and then being absolutely devastated when he dies.As incredibly sad as Angus’s death was, it was heroic in the same breath. His friendship with Rupert, as humorous and sometimes volatile as it is, at it’s core there was a love for one another. He sustained a blast in order to save his friend, in turn, his own life was taken.
Do you believe that Angus would have done the same thing, had he known the outcome?I think the scene around the camp fire says it all…”what’s yours is mine” etc…they were soul brothers. Had each other’s backs. It’s a friendship that goes through all the 4 seasons, sometimes in one day as the old song goes. It’s a weather beaten friendship, it’s challenged and it’s often fraught but there is love there. That’s the making of any true connection. They would have taken a bullet for the other person. A strange, paradoxical nature line comes to mind…” I can call you a fuck head but no one else can!! *laugh* It’s that sort of thing”
I just know you are going to have fun with this one. If you could describe the following cast mates with one word – what would it be? Caitriona Balfe-Grafter. Grant O’Rourke-Melancholic. Graham McTavish-Fanny. *laugh* Lotte Verbeek-Exotic. Nell Hudson- Warm. Annette Badland-Sweetheart. Sam Heughan-Tall. Duncan Lacroix –Cunt.*laugh smh*.It seems men do that thing too, well, I do that thing with my friends. Gary Lewis-Socialist. Andrew Gower-Tommy.
Speaking of Andrew Gower’s Tommy reference, this was the short film he starred in, that you wrote and directed called Humpty Fu*king Dumpty . It was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that was very well received. You ended up releasing the film online during the lockdown as special gift to the fans worldwide. We thank you for that, as it was brilliant! What was it about Tommy Quickly that made you want to tell his story in this way?Thank you to the fans first. They allowed us the opportunity to physically make the film. That was a really beautiful thing. Tommy has similar parallels to the Manson story, the only difference being Tommy actually made a few records. Ultimately it’s the story of failure, or of when something doesn’t turn as planned. Every project we under take as actors, walks the fine line between flying or falling flat on your arse. It’s part of the joy of it all for me. Sink or swim mentality. It’s a heat instruction for being in the moment. Tommy had the world at his feet and something never clicked. It’s almost like he was ‘in the wrong place at the right time’. Maybe it was a chemistry thing?… Maybe he wasn’t cut out for show business?…Maybe he just wasn’t good enough? However there were people of less ability, who went on to greater platforms. These things are never black and white. What’s important is to ask the difficult questions without ever expecting any definitive answer.
I am incredibly curious about this production. Could you share with us what went into bringing it to the screen? Passion projects have such rich stories behind the scenes…It started on a late night flight to Morocco. Andrew and I both did a biblical show called AD. It was a chance meeting. We got talking about Tommy and he knew the song written by Lennon/McCartney, “Tip of my Tongue” given to Tommy.
Tommy Quickly had been an impulsive obsession of mine for years, almost like a macabre running joke. I started to formulate an idea for a story, then wrote it. Andrew had to play Tommy. I think for what it’s worth, that it’s his best performance. So brave, so nuisanced, so bold. I wanted an actor I knew I could safely push beyond their comfort zone. There’s not many actors that could do what he did in that role, to be so emotionally naked and available. I deliberately stylised the piece as ‘a mini head movie’. Like we are experiencing the protagonists dilemma, his pain, his point of view. I wanted it to feel like a dream, one foot in reality, the other in the subconscious. See, I told you that I love those fine lines. We are in pre production on a feature film, based around the premise of “Humpty Fu*king Dumpty”. We have a producer and it looks promising so watch this space.
I am always watching this space but now I will now be tuned in on the daily. Of course in this world of covid, I have lots on tune in time. Speaking of which, it has certainly changed many things in our lives. What is it that you miss the most about the world pre-covid?I miss going the shop or to work without having to wear a mask. I miss seeing people’s faces. I miss a more innocent time, even though this whole mess kicked off only 9-10 months ago. I missed picking up my son from school. So many things.
Same…Stephen…Same…We do things to feel, well, normalish. During the lock down you started Radio Roger, little blurbs of hilarity on Sound Cloud that adds a glimmer of laughter and…’man, I KNOW that guy’ moments. *laugh* Is there a plan for Roger … what’s the scoop?Roger radio was done on the spur of the moment. I just record it into my iPhone and play the voices. It’s often unrehearsed and in the moment. I’ve always been fascinated by the people who ring into radio stations. I can’t believe that stupidity can reach such levels. I seriously worry for some callers, for their mental health, their observations etc…but the dark side to my humour thinks it’s hilarious too. Roger is also “Mr. Neutral” which bugs me in away. I know it’s the role of the adjudicator to be an ‘unpartisan’ role but it’s annoying, especially when it’s clear to the audience, what their affiliation is.
Itis a relief that you aren’t playing out a segment of your own personality there.*laugh* I think I have a general idea to the answer of this next question but to be honest Stephen, you as a person, are as complex as many of the characters you play. I find you fascinating. I would love for you to tell me what you would say make Stephen Walters tick.Love makes me tick. Life makes me tick.
That might sound simple, but most of us know, the depth of love and the intricacies of life…that’s a whole lot of ticking going on.
Since you are an incredible musician and actor, this question is a must ask, is there a dream biopic about anyone you would love to be in? I am working on a feature length version of the “Charles Manson” short film I made, “I’m Not here”.(as seen above)It would be a different angle to the usual musical biopic. Paying Bob Dylan would be amazing, or Woody Guthrie his genius predecessor. I would love to play Sam Cooke but that might be a stretch too far.
I mean, you are a great actor but I do think the Sam Cooke idea might be pushing the envelope a tad far.*smile* Now, Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie – I am paying good money to check those out. As for a feature length of you as Charles Manson in the same vein as I’m Not Here? That is going to be dark and delicious. Riding the same path here, are there any people you have on a ‘bucket list’ to work with in the future?I am working on a project right now that has one of my ‘acting heroes’ in. I can’t say much about it but will do when I can. I don’t believe in heroes if I’m being honest, but there are a rare breed of artists that changed the game of their profession, who made the world sit up, who had a massive ‘impact’ on the senses.
You for one, Stephen, have had an impressive and consistent resume since you began acting. Between music and screen, is there anything else you could imagine doing?Yes! I have started writing/directing and will continue to do so. I have made about 6-7 short films now. Each has been insightful, instructive and just a treat to be honest. I am developing a comedy right now and I have so many stories I want to tell. Writing is something I have secretly been watering, tending to that particular garden, in the safety of my own privacy. So yes, making and creating my own films, forming my own philosophy/perceptions. I also write poetry, I love constructing words. I love writing lyrics to songs. It’s all expression in the end. We come into the world screaming and I want to leave it screaming. * laugh* That scream is a pure expression of ‘I’m here’…it’s a manifestation of something so deep, it’s a longing to connect and be connected too. That’s in each and everyone one of us.
It feels serendipitous to be in the world at the time you are in creation mode. I look forward to the stories you have to tell.
I have probably exhausted you…but I have three more requests. I would like you to give yourself a A) Tagline B) Warning Label C)Theme Song.
A. Ragamuffin from Liverpool. B. Beware the Ragamuffin from Liverpool. C. The singing Ragamuffin from Liverpool.
Put your hands together for the Ragamuffin from Liverpool, bringing you his latest…
As we wrap up this year of complete chaos I must say that custom made Lovelander/Sherry song…was a highlight. I was hoping for a couple highlights this year, thankfully the Universe and you, Stephen came through!
It was such a pleasure getting to know you outside the confines of a character you play. The parallels I see between the childhood you had and the man that you have become are something I believe will stick with me the most. Though rough on the outside, there is a deep meaningful understanding of what is important in this world. It is most certain your Mum, is most proud of you. Putting it as simply as I can, Stephen. Thank you so much for being you.You are welcome. My mum taught me that the most powerful thing to be in this world is to be yourself,
I happily wrap up the last instalment of the LOVELANDER Projectfor 2020 with pride. What has been a very difficult year, this has been a welcome distraction for me and I do hope, for you as well. If this is your first time reading please see the links below for the other interviews in the project.
Happy Hogmanay/New Year. Take a breath and I will be right here, continuing the LOVELANDER Project until you bore of me…nah…until I bore of myself.
Many Outlander fans were introduced to Barry Waldo as the proud (yes, handsome) husband of Jon Gary Steele,(referred to as Gary) brilliant production designer of Outlander from seasons 1-5 (amongst many other productions). Barry is an accomplished producer and writer in his own right. Once I found him on social media, I was immediately attracted to his wit, compassion and talent.
Yes, he shared BTS photos and rarely seen JGS sightings in the wild but it was Barry himself and his warmth that kept me and others engaged.
I was quite beside myself that Barry was so receptive to The LOVELANDER Project. I am grateful people can’t see me doing the happy little dance wiggle when people reply positively to my queries. The fact that we he was also massively open and honest with all I asked was a thrill. It is time to grab a lil somethin’ somethin’ and settle in for the Barry -n- Sherry show.
Thank you so much for agreeing to be a part of The LOVELANDER Project.Your twitterand IG presence developed your own fan base in the Outlander world, did you expect that to happen😊?What a very nice thing to say—no, I didn’t expect it at all. It’s quite hilarious actually. Gary and Terry(Dresbach – Outlander’s former Costume Designer) gave me endless grief for being on social media years before Outlander began— “it’s an invasion of privacy” and “whatever you do, don’t post that photo!” (self-admittedly, I’m a bit of a shutterbug). It’s funny how it all evolved, and although neither of them would admit it, I think they eventually enjoyed it… eventually 😉 It was only in the last year Gary stopped calling it “Tweeter!”
I’ve always been curious about the world, discovering what people are up to, taking travels of the mind, learning about other cultures and traditions. Everything shifted a bit when we moved to Scotland. When you work in entertainment and live in Los Angeles, you feel like you’re in the heart of it all—you hear the gossip, you hear about projects being pitched about town and then one day, boom, you’re in faraway Scotland looking at gorgeous lochs and mountains, trying to figure out exactly what haggis is, trying to hide your LA wardrobe under a foreign object called a raincoat, and concentrating really hard to translate Scottish into English. At the same time, everyone back in the States was asking where we had disappeared to, so I figured why not share it?
I am sure your friends back home were happy you did, I know all of your new friend’s aka, me, were!You grew up in Arkansas, can you tell me a little about your childhood? Wow! This is better than therapy! How much time do you have?Others have accused me of deep diving into their brains before. so you aren’t far off base. I have allll day.
It’s a fish out of water story, really. It’s the complete opposite of my twenty years in Los Angeles. I grew up in the country, riding bikes then motorcycles on dirt roads, camping, hunting and fishing… I must have built a fort in the woods every single week. We ate Mom’s fried chicken and Dad hosted the neighborhood fish fry with hushpuppies and fried okra every weekend. Friday night high school football games, getting bullied in school, ‘goin’ Jeepin’—I mean it’s almost a cliché, right? My first real job was at Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck E. Cheese) during high school and afterwards I went to The University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the exact same college that Gary attended although we never met or knew each other. To this day, I’m still a massive country music fan. I am forever grateful for the freedom of a small town, southern childhood, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But I always knew, from the youngest age, I wanted to see more of the world.
It is very apparent that you are a storyteller and a damn good one. What do you think sparked that light in you?When you grow up in a small town in the southern US, it’s just built into you. My parents were big on the philosophy children are to be seen but not heard. If we wanted to hang out with the adults—which we always did— you had to be quiet. My dad is the best storyteller I know. Even when he re-tells a story, there is always a new twist, a detail he simply omitted from the first time. I would listen to all the stories and take it all in. Then we would get bored and go play. The mindset of kids is amazing! We were fearless in designing our own plays, dance routines and poems and couldn’t wait to perform them. How could anyone not love our creations! I think the first story I ever wrote was about a hot dog with a cape that wanted to save the world. As a maturing adult, I forgot that lesson—to be fearless. Things happen, life happens, and I had to focus on responsible things. It never occurred to me that people could make a living telling stories. It was only when I started working at Disney that I realized you could, well not anyone, but if you worked in a certain division, you could. Years later, I went to work for Mattel where there were fewer rules, and I had more freedom. One day a peer who oversaw research walked into my office, showed be a really rough sketch of monster dolls and asked me if I thought I could see, then create, a story from it. That became a world called Monster High. Once the book was released and the very first Nickelodeon special (New Ghoul at School) was aired, I wanted to do more and I haven’t been able to quit doing it since.
I’m not sure if you know but Diana Gabaldon, also had a turn at writing comics for Disney in the 70’s, so there is a connection that you and she share. I am an Eeyore lover, he and I connected in Disneyland 13 years ago 😉. I hear that you and Winnie the Pooh have a special relationship, can you share?Diana has my complete sympathy! Disney is a tough customer when it comes to working with outside creators. I really enjoyed my time there. Yes, I am unapologetically a major Winnie-the-Pooh fan. It was one of the brand portfolios I managed across the globe during my time there. I learned so much from studying A.A. Milne’s journey. I love the entire ensemble of characters—and used to travel and give presentations with my very own Happy Ears Eeyore and Tumble Time Tigger; I championed The Heffalump Movie—it was so exciting to bring the franchise back to the big screen. I own a Happy Ears Eeyore…LOVE him. I might love all 50 of my Eeyore’s.Oh to see one of those presentations!
Years later, it was quite a twist of fate to be back on the lot as a creator pitchingStar Darlings, a world that was created with my partners Shana and Ahmet Zappa. Disney eventually acquired it from us. I still love those characters and that world!
It was an incredible story culture, and I can’t say enough about the talented artist and illustrators that I’ve worked with there over the years. I think anyone who has worked for Disney would tell you not to over glamorize it; it is still hard work and has typical corporate politics—don’t expect blue birds to bring you lunch.
Your career was certainly on an uptick when your spouse had this job opportunity that happened to be in Scotland. As a former military spouse, I know that “Let’s do this and support them feeling.” What was like for you?Wow, this really is the best therapy session EVER! And you nailed the feeling which is hard to really understand unless you’ve been through it which you have. Fair to say, I underestimated it.
When Gary, Terry and Ron started working on the pitch lookbook for Outlander, I was working for Coca-Cola on a celebrity partnership and then became the Chief Marketing Officer for will.i.am’s (Black Eyed Peas) company. At first, we didn’t think too much about it—Terry and Gary had a history of crazy shenanigans that, well, over time, I had learned not to ask. One day, he said he was going out to T’s to start thinking about a conceptual lookbook for a possible new series, then poof! Next thing I know, he and Ron were in Scotland doing location scouts!
What most fans don’t realize is how developing a series is like walking on a frozen lake—at any minute it could crack and fall through, the pilot could get green lit or cancelled, or it could be one [season] and done.
So at first we didn’t overthink it—and chalked it up to a great adventure for Gary. He packed a suitcase and went off to Scotland while I continued to work and take care of things at home in Los Angeles. Because will.i.am spends a lot of time in the UK (he is one of the original judges on The Voice UK), I was able to visit the UK frequently. At some point, about midyear 2016, Sony greenlit two additional seasons at once (S3 and S4). At that point, I had been commuting from Los Angeles to Scotland for several years, and I had taken eleven international flights in twelve months so it just wasn’t good for my health—you’re always jet lagged, the weather was often terrible, flights delayed and so on. Don’t forget, the first season was a whopping 16 episodes—a massive number and very unusual‑ so Gary couldn’t really come home or take any time off so it was all up to me to get to him. Not to mention his intense workload, hours and pressure to get that first season perfect; it was all-consuming so we were barely able to fight, er, I mean talk, on the phone once a day 😉 When I would see him, I would be so jet lagged and he would be so exhausted, we would just sleep through the weekend and then I’d have to leave again. It took a heavy toll on us and we had to make a decision: his job or mine. I think I’m oversharing – am I oversharing now? Sorry. Perhaps I should just say “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” *laughs*
These things are never easy...what tipped you toward Scotland?It wasn’t a black or white decision—financially it made sense for us to do one thing, emotionally his passion for the project and his recognition with the Emmy nomination pointed a different direction. We were loving our time and friends in Scotland, and ultimately decided on adventure over practical matters. Now, all I had to do was reinvent myself.
That is something the ‘spouse that goes’ has to do, reorganize and resettle. It’s tough. marriage is hard work!
Which by the way, congratulations on celebrating 21 years together! The photos of you and JGS really are too much handsome in one place it’s pretty distracting.That is incredibly nice of you to say to two country boys from Arkansas so I will simply say “thank you” and please don’t look too close at those photos.
I’ve zoomed in, I have no idea what you are talking about. Now, you are handsome in 10X zoom but o.k. *smile*
As someone who has been with her partner a long time too, I am curiouswhat you believe are the most important qualities in a partner? This is such an individual thing, but there is one universal truth: saying “I’m sorry” (whether I am or not, and many times I am NOT, but yes, I am very, very sorry!) If you can’t ever admit you’re wrong, or very importantly for us, when you are supposed to be wrong – hint: I am always wrong after his 16 hour workday arm wrestling for every color or construction detail for a set, and he is always wrong after my fifteen hours and two layovers of flying. If you ever hear someone scream “I AM SORRY!” really, really loud at the airport or train station, it’s just us.
That visual, is hilarious.Thank you for sharing it.
Still, you are your husband’s biggest fan, it is not hard to see that the feeling is mutual, of course.I’m going to get nosey and ask how you met.
We met in Los Angeles through a mutual friend. It went something like this –Producer/Writer Friend: “Seen any movies lately?”Me: Yes, I just saw this really disturbing film called American History X *shiver*”Producer/Writer Friend: *screaming across the yard* GARY! Get over here! He just saw your movie!” Gary was the art director on the movie. I was working for Procter & Gamble and thought all Hollywood jobs were fluff!
See? You can teach an old dog new tricks!
I love it! And you were not so old then, not that you are old now…o.k., changing the subject…
I have learned not to ask for one favourite so if you could give me your top 5 Outlander sets -what would they be, and why?Maybe it’s because we’ve been apart for 6 weeks, or that I’m on an airplane back to the UK right now to rejoin him, but this question has me sobbing (sorry lady sitting next to me‑I’m really going to be OK; thankfully crying is not a symptom of COVID or people would be parachuting out the windows).
You know what? I am his biggest fan—yes as a professional designer but even more so as a human being.
OK! OK! Enough with all that! I’m not crying, you’re crying! On with the show: My Top 5 Outlander sets—wait, only five? I know! I’m horrible!
The Star Chamber:not only is it amazing, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen JGS so excited as when he was building it. God help the man that got in the way of JGS and his Star Chamber!
The Great Hall: No one ever talks about this set but it was magical. The Great Hall was the set playing on one of my first few trips to Scotland. I was allowed to hide up in the rafters, out of the camera’s sight. John Dahl was directing the scene with Jamie agreeing to take the punishment for Laoghaire. The set was full of extras (don’t get me started about Terry and the costume team’s brilliant work. The sheer volume of it! I just wanted to touch everyone—the details were amazing, the volume of work unfathomable). I remember watching the crew lower and then light every candle on all those chandeliers and sconces (those were 100% real candles y’all). It took over 30 minutes to light them all, then raise them on their chains back to ceiling level. I was so scared that if I moved, I would get in trouble so I couldn’t wait for the Director to yell “cut” so I could frantically try to wave the smoke away, and cough!Picturing you doing this makes me giggle and look for you struggling to breathe in the background scenes. Which I know I could never find because this production isn’t going to let that happen but it’s still fun to imagine.
Claire’s Kitchen in the Boston Apartment: The appliances, the colors, the checkered floors—all the details instantly made me what to grab an ice cream soda, play Elvis on the Jukebox, watch I Love Lucy and smoke a cigarette like I didn’t know it caused cancer. It’s times like this when the writer in you just flies out, Barry!
The Parisian Apartment—I would never leave…ever. Comprenez vous? Totalement! Idem.
Master Raymond’s Apothecary — He had me at “hanging alligator.” Geillis’ attic was a close runner up.
Your work is so filled with cheeky humour, bright characters, and uplifting messages. This is also a large part of your presence on social media. It is a gift you bring to the world. How important is that to you? Life can be hard! On any given day, you can feel a moment of sadness or a tough time that someone in our social media fanmily is going through. I try to remember that lesson from childhood – listen before you talk. I read as many comments and DM’s as possible. Some days, I just want to brighten someone’s day. It means so much when someone actually messages me and says – your post made me smile or got me through a rough day. I try to keep that perspective—most of the time.
It is something more of us could practice. I love your way with words. Which is fantastic segue to mention your book, Anna and the Apocalypse, a great YA read, the concept was born on a train in the UK, is that something you can explain to me? When I first moved to the UK, I still had some work to finish that required me to live in London. I would commute every weekend to Glasgow via train. On one of those crowded train rides, I struck up a conversation with a young Scottish Producer and we chatted for the entire five hours. Toward the end, he mentioned he was producing an independent movie in Glasgow and asked if I would like to come by and meet some of the team. When I asked what it was about, he replied “it’s a high school zombie musical.” I thought this sounds like the worst idea I’d ever heard. He gave me his info and said please come by on Monday. I honestly thought I would never go, but on Monday, I input the address in google maps and, to my shock, their offices were literally twelve doors down from our flat. When I walked in, I saw Dave Frew, one of the post production editors on Outlander. It was an instant short-handed way to verify we were both legit; it reminded me of the benefits and familiarity of being in a smaller city. Then I met more of the team, listened to the rough tracks of the brilliant songs and just sort of fell in love with it, the team and their sincere passion for making the best story possible. It was an earnestness that you don’t see in the Hollywood community—the sheer joy absent all the politics—it was the way content creators were intended to create. Luckily, they invited me to join in.
Months later, we were on set shooting Hollywood Ending, a signature musical number for the film, and I kept thinking the song lyrics are absolutely brilliant story telling. I fell completely in love with the young cast and their characters—a testament to not only the talent but the creator, writers, producers and director. It was the kind of production that would have never happened in the US. It reminded me of being fearless. It was also the complete antithesis of Outlander. If Outlander was Champagne, Anna was that mysterious local homebrew created by the pub owner, and always on special for 99p—absolutely brilliant in its own right. I kept thinking how else can we tell this fun story? What other mediums can we tap into and share its current generational insights? Recall Monster High was introduced to the public by a YA book so I seem to be a magnet for this genre.
I’m attracted to the things that bring me to a place I want to go back to, but to relive them my way. I’m not sure if that is the same for you but you really have that genre, nailed. Any hints on the next book? *innocent eye flutters*Sure – there are four projects I’m juggling at the moment. A terrible way to do it but the imagination wants to go where the imagination wants to go! The first is an adult fiction novel with a rather large ensemble group of characters – not the easiest one to take on when you’re still learning. I’m just about to finish the development edits on it.
The second project is a Children’s Picture Book series. It’s about a young bear that beats to his own drum and wants to discover friendly faces in faraway places—I am completely obsessed with it. It is, by far, my most challenging project.
Then there are two more YA fiction books. The first is still in early draft stage. It is about a protagonist with Asperger Syndrome that discovers an alien species. The second one is a female-empowerment fantasy story along the lines of Monster High and Star Darlings. I am co-writing it with a good friend who is a talented British author.
These all sound intriguing and extremely exciting! I know everyone is going to be looking forward to these coming together. You are most assuredly doing some multitasking. Where do you find is the best place for you to write? What do you find are ideal surroundings for you? Anywhere where Gary is not!
Oh, I’m totally kidding… kind of *wink* I am more productive in the UK than the US, perhaps that is due to having more rainy days in the UK, fewer fires, earthquakes and hurricanes to dodge?
Honestly, I’m constantly on the move so it’s just about making it work. Those five-hour train rides between London and Glasgow were great for writing unless (1) there was a football match and the train was filled with inebriated kilts, or (2) you sit next to a pre-schooler who needs help with her Princess sticker book. Then they are great in an entirely different way. If you don’t make my heart melt with your pictures online, you go and make my heart melt with comments like that.
I love writing in the British Library when it’s not overly crowded. There’s something about sitting in the shadows of towers of books that makes me want to be a better writer. I like to write for a few hours, then relocate and write some more.
You are vocal about the world’s (and your own country’s) current state of affairs. Even when there is clap back that people believe celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves. I personally don’t think our professions in any way dictate our right to an opinion. I am however curious, how this affects you or those you know when you are faced with remarks like this.When you create stories, you think about who are the good women, and who are the bad guys all day long 😉 So is it really any surprise that, in the real world, the people we talk the most about are those that fit into those classifications? Do you really want to read posts about the most average person that did the most average thing?
Celebrities have a whole different thing with which to deal—people want to believe they are actually their characters in real life. When you live in California, you don’t really pay attention to the celebrity thing—they are friends, family, friends of friends and people entitled to opinions just like us. They put their underwear on one leg at a time, they have feelings, they are not the characters you see on screen. I’m not one so you’d have to ask them—but IMO that pressure is a privilege and I think most of the talent I know personally accept it and handle it with great respect. They are human after all.
That same expectation has trickled over into social media. People want to think you are only what you post, and in many ways that’s understandable because it is more like a reality show. It is a privilege to have people follow you— even if there are only five of them and one is my mother, another is Gary and three others are someone’s pets.
Seriously, the world is a big, beautiful diverse place! That’s what I love about it! We are all not the same. So I have to expect, and respect, that my followers are going to be equally diverse. Social media is an amazing place to learn about new things. Gary must send me ten DM’s a day with dreamy cabins, sculptures and fantastic art. As a kid in rural Arkansas, I yearned to know so much more about the bigger, broader world beyond my small town. I see it was a wonderful gift to be able to communicate with so many people around the world with a few simple clicks. Amazing, right? And what is also amazing is CHOICE. With a simple click, we all get to choose to follow or unfollow someone. That is a big truth, we do have the choice and Barry, you happen to be selling yourself short. You are pretty big deal in your own right. Though I sense that isn’t something you take seriously, which is also endearing. What do think is important when interacting with people in the social media age?Now let’s talk about respect. It is the linchpin of any relationship, be it social media or in person. If we can agree to disagree respectfully, we can still be friends. Deal? We don’t have to agree on everything to respect each other, even this poor country boy from rural Arkansas knows that! Even if I didn’t like a friend of my parents, a teacher or the neighbor next door, we still called them Ma’am, Sir, Mr. or Mrs. and we said please and thank you… it’s called respect and hiding behind a social media account doesn’t give you permission to throw it out the door, even if you happen to get elected as the leader of the free world. Which brings me to the ‘current state of affairs’ as you so gracefully called it.
Anyone who ever went to grade school knows a bully when they see one. It’s why the school or office bully in one of the most effective characters and archetypes to include in any movie, series or book. We know them, we see them clearly and we oppose them. Period. Some people are more like the bully’s parent(s)—they are the only ones that seem unaware that the bully is a bully; they are the only ones that chose to not believe the facts that are available to them; they are the ones to explain away terrible acts, give truth to lies and back their bully all the way until that bully raises bullies of his own. I prefer redeemable bullies, ones that eventually learn then evolve and rise to a better humanity. I have little time for the one’s that stay the course their whole lives and then impose it on others.
I like to share my POV, particularly after a pot of good coffee in the morning but I try not to tell other people what to do or what to think. I want people to vote. I don’t need anyone telling me who to vote for, and I don’t expect to tell others. Sharing information is important. Educated voters are SO important. I’ve voted conservative. I’ve voted liberal. When you boil it all down, people vote on the most important issues to them. I vote on the issues that are most important to me. You know who is a good person. You know who is a bad person. Now go vote and own your legacy. But always be open to evolving.
Let’s talk about something lighter now. The joy of…COOKING! (You aren’t the only cheeky one 😉) You and your husband seem to have not only a loving relationship but one that might be just a little competitive, in the kitchen. Has that always been a thing?Gary can cook?
It’s very polite of you to ask about our weight gain in such a nice manner.
Yep, it’s always been a thing. It is one of the main things I missed the most when we were apart in the first few seasons of Outlander. I would bake an entire batch of cookies and then just stare at them wondering how they use to disappear so much faster before he left. Then I would end up eating them all by myself. When I would arrive in Glasgow, he would slip in a comment like “oh, have you been baking cookies?” when what he wanted to tell me it was time to diet. “Oh, have you been drinking with the [fill in cast or crew name here] again?” I would reply. Then we would go home and see who could make the best bread! That’s where our hashtag#KitchenMesswithGaryandBarry started. We needed help judging who was better at what, and to showcase our holiday experiments and competitions and pretty soon everyone joined in.
What would you say your favourite dishes are to cook? I think it’s fair to say we love all food equally. Favorite recipes? Yes, all recipes that involve butter.
Here is a tricky one…who does it better?Gary is a better cook. I am a better baker. He likes to experiment with a smidge of this and “oh, what about some of that.” I like precision. Someone else made the recipe fifty times before publishing it and those measurements are in the recipe for a reason!
I have to admit defeat when his experiments turn out great, although some of the credit I have to give to Terry who told him to do it. I get to claim victory when he tries to experiment with baking as most bakers know, it often goes awry.
It all kind of went to hell when we started living in Europe since we soon exhausted of googling every measurement conversion and just decided to wing it together. I mean come on! What proper butter company does not put those little measurement markers on the wrapper! European butter companies, that’s who!
Oh, I could go on with your kitchen adventures all day but I want to talk about your time in Scotland. You went on many adventures, can you share some of the things that you loved the most about the UK?The great thing about being a newbie was our blissful ignorance to the local geographical politics. But now that I am wiser, I must caution everyone not to mix Scotland with the UK in the same sentence lol. It turns out that the Kingdom is about as “united” as the States these days. *Duly noted- all my friends across the pond please accept my apologies and poutine*
We were typical tourist at first—we preferred scenic Edinburgh, we loved the Fringe Festival and pretty much any castle regardless of its condition. Glasgow, where we lived, took a little longer to figure out, and it is true: the people make Glasgow… we love our Weegies! But the north country! I mean wow! The drive to Skye is so beautiful, the Loch’s so majestic, the Fairy Pools, the Old Man of Storr! I mean if you have to be cold and wet, you better be looking at something spectacular! We did a Burn’s Night on the Isle of Lewis, hung out with native Islanders, and learned how to avoid stepping in sheep poop. Of course, we had to stop every few miles so I could talk to the Highland Coos. But most of all, when I think about all our years in Scotland, I think of being with our mini-melting pot of the most lovely and crazy friends—Irish, American, Scottish, Australian, English, South African—next to a fire, laughing, dancing and drinking.
It sounds like a remarkable time. All good things do come to an end, as we know. What are you looking forward to the most in the next chapter of your adventures?I can’t wait until we can travel again. I can’t wait until some of the most interesting places in the world are safe to visit—we have to get to Egypt.
I can’t wait to get these stories published; hearing from you all what you think about the books, talking about the things that aren’t on the page, doing some virtual book clubs while drinking a great vintage. It’s much harder, and much more work than I ever imagined and the idea that they might not make it out into the world, well, I just refuse to except that will happen so let’s leave it there!
I can’t wait to see Jon Gary Steele accept his Emmy and Oscar. That will be a very good day indeed. We are all with you on THAT one!
Going back to your stories, who would you say are your biggest influences when it came to inspiring you as a writer? Hands down, Jon Gary Steele. Sometimes, when you least expect it, the person you least expect it from, can give you the biggest gift of all. I had a long track record of always taking the safest route, the one that provided the most security, the most peer recognition, the one that I thought other people expected me to take. Gary is the absolutely best at manifesting what he wants and going after it. When he graduated from college, he packed his car and drove to LA to pursue his dream to design. When I graduated from college, I passed the CPA exam, took the best paying job and planned my eventual MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School. No regrets but along the way and later in life, I needed to unlearn in order to learn anew. I needed to give myself permission to be creative. I needed to not be afraid to succeed or, very importantly, fail.
Remember your earlier question about what it was like to give up my career to move to Scotland? Well that was an important moment. Gary knew this desire was brewing and renewing inside of me so when he sensed my hesitation about giving up a more traditional career path, he said, “It’ll be an adventure. You can finally write and develop, and I get to design a historical period drama. We both get to chase our dreams!” Wait… did I say he was the master of manifesting? I probably should have said master of negotiating.
Either way, it’s worked out beautifully for both of you. When we find the partner we want and they turn out to be the partner we needed too, it is a beautiful thing.
And now, more than ever I believe we need inspiration, who inspires you?
1. Brilliant Artist Fearless and pure of talent, it’s always inspiring to see how they transform their thoughts into a physical manifestation of something that we can all touch and see. Some favorite examples: Javier Marin, an amazing Mexican sculptor; Eugenio Zanetti, a brilliant Argentine painter; Neil Gaiman, a fantastic English storyteller and wordsmith.
2. Teachers! They opened my eyes to literature, art, stories, cultures, science, humanities and so much more from the very first days of preschool. I am in awe of the effort and knowledge they provide every single day. They taught this small-town boy how to travel in his mind, and pushed me to dream beyond my limited reality realm.
3. Dreamers The best thing about social media? Discovering other dreamers! It doesn’t matter if you have two followers or two million. A Geocaching Adventurer, a golden-paper-pastel-wielding-portraits sketch artist, an Alpaca wool scarf-maker, a willow sculptor, a cross-stitching master or a fellow tennis fanatic that likes to do a little dance… just to name a few within the Outlander community. Gary and I talk about this often—we often wonder if they know how much they inspire us.
I don’t think many of us realize how we affect others; we are too busy thinking of how others affect us. It only makes sense that our lives touch others in the same ways. Mutual lovefest aside *smile* reading is obviously a passion for most writers and storytellers. What was the last book you read and loved?I’m currently deep in The Sandman novels. Before that, I read Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book which I really loved.
What would you say your top 5 reads of all time were?I’m exempting Outlander books as everyone here already is aware of Diana’s brilliance. I also have to exempt the Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie and Harry Potter —they are series that I would never dare just picking one.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was my absolute favourite growing up and as I was reading about In the Night Kitchen…I know I have read that, but I was very little. Wow…great list.
I wonder, with your affinity for the YA genre of writing, if you could go back and give advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
Go! Don’t dream of going somewhere, don’t let money be the reason why you don’t see the world. Don’t have enough vacation time to travel abroad (hello my fellow Americans!)?—figure it out. Just go!
Be willing to unlearn to learn. You have to unlearn some preconceived notions, prejudices and stereotypes that somehow got embedded in your brain in the earliest of years, and be willing to replace them with real, personal true experiences. Meet as many people as you can and listen to their stories.
Companies are not people. Don’t expect them to be human. Respect the relationship, work hard but have outside interests that feed your soul. If you work for a company, expect to hear “our best asset is our people” over a hundred times but always remember you control your own destiny.
Not only good advice for a young Barry, but good advice for everyone. There has been such a shift in the world since Covid19, what things do you miss the most from our pre-covid days? I’m a hugger. I like to embrace people I care about. This elbow thing is for the birds! I miss hugging so much (and smiles)!
With that also comes a new normal, what have you embraced post covid?(as far as we have gotten, I mean)From what I see in the communities I’m in, I don’t think “post-covid” exists yet but I don’t see that mini-bottle of sanitizer in my pocket every going away for quite some time. It also causes you to have to think a bit deeper about your friends and family. I have to laugh when someone gets really vocal that we are all over-reacting to wearing a mask, and then a few months later wonder why no one is calling or seeing them. Hello! I love life! I like being healthy! You don’t value life as much as I do—no problem—I wish you all the best.
We appreciate that! And same. Now for some LOVELANDER Project fun– I am going to ask you to give yourself a 1) Tagline 2) Warning label 3) Theme Song.
Tagline: Breathe. Believe. Release. Receive. 👏🎬
Warning Label: Comes with opinions, free-of-charge.Perfect!
Now, Barry and I have come up for a little LOVELANDER Project treat for you!
I was so honoured to have Barry and Gary allow me/us into their home for a few questions. I know it took Barry some work to get JGS to participate as he isn’t one for the spotlight. I think what was obvious, Jon Gary Steele, loves his husband and will do anything for him, even if it is making that video for that thing he is doing.
I was right, you know. When I asked Barry to participate in the LOVELANDER Project, I did it because I related to him and thought he was such a delightful person. I didn’t tell him I had a crush on his husband (I even blogged about it in 2016) because that seemed weird. Still is but…I think he might be used to that bit of me now.
Do stay tuned to the ABOotlanders twitter feed for ‘Sherry queries with Barry ‘n Gary.! (Dare ya to say that 10 times fast!).
Fan accounts like Outlandish Scotland keep us going through Droughtlander with daily meme postings celebrating birthdays, characters, themes. This account also created the special brand of books to help Outlander fans tour Scotland in all its glory. It might be hard to believe that it isn’t a whole troop of people behind this account, it’s a person. The one responsible for this one is Chas. When I invited her to join the LOVELANDER project I had no idea what to expect. She surprised me.
Chas AKA Charly lives in Nebraskan farm country with her 4 cats (or as she likes Katz), a cottage built 130 yrs ago is their home. On the property she has created a space where her companions can enjoy outside without fear of the coyotes getting after them, with their own Kat Habitat. There is the ‘Big House’, about 100 yrs old, for guests to lay their weary heads. Thus, yes, you can rest assured, Chas’s humble abode is known as the “Little House”.
Chas’s 64 yrs have been full ones. From what she has shared with me, her life has been abundant with adventures of the stage, as an actress. The medical world, as an EMT and Emergency Medicine Consultation for trials. That in itself is exciting stuff. She has given back to those who need some love in their lives by bringing her cats to care homes. Chas has brought her love of fiction to become an author of travel guides based on well loved books. We of course, can not forget the Outlander giver she is today.
I didn’t know too much about Chas before I invited her to be a part of The LOVELANDER Project but like her tour books (which you will hear more about) there is lots to know, let’s get started shall we?
Us fans, all have what I refer to as, our ‘Outlander love story’, what is yours? I discovered the world of Outlander sometime in 1993, when the first 3 novels were available. Of course, I was hooked within a few chapters of the first book. The number of my favourite genres encompassed was a huge attraction for me: romance, science fiction/fantasy, adventure, and history. I think it was Diana Gabaldon’s writing style that most appealed to me. Her characters, situations, reactions and dialogue, were so realistic that it was easy to believe in time travel, easy to believe whatever she wrote. Plus, everything I read just stuck with me. I never tried to “memorize” the history, but I did.
For Instance, in 2003 I was on a bus & boat tour of Loch Ness. It was one of Tony Harmsworth’s original tours, before he founded Inverness Tours http://www.invernesstours.com, the company he sold to Hugh Allison in 2006 and our favourite Outlander tour company. About halfway through the bus bit, the driver/guide began quizzing folks about the Jacobite rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie. I’d wait for someone else to provide an answer, which they rarely did, then just before Allison resumed, I’d chime in with the answer. Later she pulled me aside and asked why I was so well-versed in the history of the ’45, and how I’d known that BPC was born (and died) in Rome. She’d never heard of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, but I think she might have investigated the novels after the tour. I hope Allison became an Outlanderite! *laugh*
How did you react when you heard Outlander was being made into a TV series? As for my personal reaction to learning about the STARZ TV project: SOOOOOOO happy! Especially when I learned that Ron Moore was at the helm. Having thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed his Battlestar Galactica series, I knew that Outlander was in extremely capable hands. When I learned that Diana Gabaldon would be respected by all involved, and encouraged to participate, I had no worries about the quality of the show.
You have written and published a book about traveling through Scotland and hitting all the Outlander sites. An interesting and entertaining read, btw! Can you share with us how this all came about for you? I came up with the idea of “A Novel Holiday” travel guidebooks sometime around 2008, when I completely retired from Emergency Medicine. I stopped working the streets in 1998, after 18 years as a paramedic, but continued EMS writing & teaching until 2008.
My idea was to create travel guidebooks based on places mentioned in people’s favourite novels and their associated film sites. The plan was for me to start the collection by writing travel guidebooks for MY favourite novels/films, and later encourage OTHERS to write travel guidebooks for THEIR favourite novels/films—also publishing those. http://anovelholiday.com/
As it happens, I wanted my first travel guidebook to be based on Diana Gabaldon’s Scotland! But, there was no movie being planned (only hopeful rumours) … and friends universally badgered me to start with a Harry Potter travel guidebook. So, I did.
After more than three years of research, we managed to find sixty-nine Harry Potter Places in the UK that are associated with the Harry Potter Universe (the Potterverse). Each Harry Potter Places (HPP) travel guidebook provides directions for finding the real-life locations described in JK Rowling’s books, the places where Harry Potter filming took place, and the sites that significantly influenced movie studio set design—real-life sites that look just like what we saw on screen.
The 5-book Harry Potter Places series was finished in August of 2012. Still no Diana Gabaldon movie on the horizon, so I started work on a series of four Tour The Twilight Saga travel guidebooks.Tour The Twilight Saga Book One was published in May of 2014—Book Two was published in July of 2015.
Oh, how I wanted to stop working on that first TTTS book the moment I learned about the STARZ TV Outlander series, and knew I’d finally be able to do my Outlandish Scotland Journey travel guidebook! But, I’d committed to doing the TTTS series and felt I had to see it through.
When sales of TTTS Book One were so very poor, however, I stopped the project after finishing Book Two and dove intoOutlandish Scotland Journey!
I spent more than 3 ½ years researching the Outlandish Scottish locations associated with the first 3 novels, and first 4 seasons of the TV show. While doing so, I met loads and loads of lovely Scots. Although I visited many of the Outlander locations during my previous travels to Scotland, I hadn’t been researching Outlander when there, and didn’t have the money to visit again. Thus, I relied heavily on Internet research. When I couldn’t find the answers I needed on the Internet, I’d find someone associated with the location to contact and ask for help, via email and occasionally, phone calls. I cannot remember a single instance of a Scot refusing to assist me and my project. In fact, many went out of their way to provide me with information and photos.
That is a helluva lot of work that has went into these ventures for you. Being able to plan a trip so thoroughly and have it ready to go, I know I am anxiously waiting for my trip with my sister and our hubbies. Your book is going to help us immensely in our planning. It’s a shame we have so much time to plan *shaking my fist at the covid virus*…but I know it will be worth it!
Another thing you have become known for in the fandom is your injection of daily memes collected from around the fandom – generally with a theme for the day. How did you come up with this?It really must be time consuming. I am not Social Media savvy. I still don’t have a smart phone! I knew that I’d have to do Social Media to market my travel guidebooks, but didn’t have acluewhat to tweet or post on Facebook. Then, a good friend gave me a 2012 Harry Potter Daily Calendar for Christmas. Bless her! I realized I could scan and post the Harry Potter Daily Calendar on my Harry Potter Places Twitter and Facebook accounts. The daily calendar scan and a few Harry Potter birthday memes are all I’ve ever posted on those accounts.
In January of 2016, when I set up the Outlandish Scotland Journey Twitter and FB accounts I had the Outlander Daily Calendar, but I wanted to offer more. I started collecting and rerunning Outlander memes created and posted by others.
Each day I rerun at least five memes based on the Daily Calendar’s pic or quote subject or, based on the day’s Outlander-related BIRTHDAY.
I have researched and created files/folders for many, many Outlander characters and the actors/actresses who played them on TV. Obviously, every season requires additional research and creation of additional files/folders. The biggest difficulty related to the birthday project: some actors don’t want to divulge their damn birth date, even when the year isn’t required! Hello, @GrantORourke!. At his request, I simply picked a Grant O’Rourke Appreciation Day: July 19th.
I have over 120 subject subfolders. They range from “Adso,” “Angus Rupert Ross Willie,” “Animals Frasers Ridge” to “William S3,” “William S4,” “Willoughby,” “Wool Waulking,” & “Young Ian.”
On days when there’s not a birthday, I determine the day’s rerun “theme” based on its Outlander Daily Calendar pic or quote. Then, I go to that subject’s subfolder to find 5 reruns to post. If there aren’t enough reruns available, or *GASP* there isn’t a subfolder for that subject, I make one or more new memes to post.
And, that’s about it! It’s a ton o’ work, but I enjoy doing it.
I’d say it is a tonne of work, that’s a lot of dedication to the fandom. I know that some of this is wanting to sell your guide books, of course. Let’s hope this exposure helps some. What other reasons do you put so much time and effort into your social media presence? Which I know are appreciated.Even though my travel guidebooks aren’t selling well, yet, I enjoy having a presence in Outlander’s Twitterverse and on Facebook. In my mind, I am offering Outlanderites at least six moments of entertainment each day. I think that is important, especially during the abominable Reign of tRUMP and the current pandemic! And, I will continue to do so until I am physically incapable of working at my computer.
I truly admire that, Chas. I am grateful for fans like you, as a fan. I always look forward to your posts. Plus, it is nice to recommend you to new peeps in the fandom. What advice to have for them? I still consider myself non-savvy when it comes to Social Media, so I don’t know how important my advice might be. But, here are the tips I live by.
Follow Outlanderites who post things that make you happy … things that pique your interest … things that warm your heart.
Participate! Post things on YOUR account that would make other Outlanderites happy … pique their interest … warm their hearts.
Happily, I’ve not been the target of Twitter Trolls. *Knocking on my forehead – aka on wood* But, I have a response plan: If some unknown person, for some unknown reason, criticises your contribution or says something unkind about you, BLOCK THAT PERSON’S ASS. Do not reply! Do not ENGAGE with the scumbag! And, no matter what, you must never, ever take ANY negative comments posted by some unknown scumbag seriously!
Lastly: In my opinion, there is no good reason to be critical of the Outlander STARZ TV series, especially when it comes to the TV show’s occasional deviation from the books. If they deviated, they had DG’s blessing to do so; just go with it. Actually, I enjoy the deviations! It would be extraordinarily boring to always know what was going to happen. ERMAHGERD! That episode 411 cold open with Roger in the shower?! What a gasp-worthy WTF moment, I loved it!
Bottom Line: The Outlanderverse is here to be ENJOYED! So, enjoy it, in all its glory!
That is one of my views as well. I do enjoy listening to others takes, however, my sanity demands I stay in this lane. *laugh* It’s something I enjoy about interviewing fan accounts, and for those reading, you can go back and read for yourselves. We all look at it differently and can respect those views. It’s the cool thing about being adulty(ish).
For us fans, we all have our hopes of where the show will head…what is yours?All I can say is that STARZ and Tall Ships Productions (et al) damn-well better keep it going until ALL the books have been brought to the screen. That includes Book 10, which has yet to be written.
We know this is going to be one helluva long Droughtlander, what is your advice to survive, for all these wonderful people reading this?
Tip #1A: If you’ve never read the novels, READ THEM! They are extraordinary. Yes. The TV series has done a wonderful job of bringing the best bitz of Diana Gabaldon’s world to life. But, you are missing at least 75% of the Outlandish Wonders available in the novels.
Tip #1B: If you’ve read the novels but haven’t re-read them recently, you need to at least re-read #7 & #8 before #9 is released.
Tip #2: I’ve gotta say it—Read Outlandish Scotland Journey! Even if you don’t know when you’ll be able to visit Scotland, take this time to begin learning about the Outlandish places in Scotland, and to compile a list of places to see, things to do. You can start by taking a look at the FREE Book Samples available on the website. There also are several FREE “Outlandish Scotland Extras” available there. Go to our website and play before having to spend a cent. http://outlandishscotland.com/
You do a lot of giving back, it seems to be in your nature. Tell us about your Kat Pat parties that you do. My favourite hobby is taking the cats (2 at a time) to visit residents at a local nursing home, Lancaster Rehabilitation Center (LRC). These poor people are living my nightmare: being separated from my cats. I started taking cats to visit 2 or 3 times a month in 2003—17 years ago. In 2014 it became a weekly visit! Sadly, due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we’ve not been allowed to visit since mid-February. I miss my Kat Pat Party Peeps!
This shows just how giving Chas is, no matter what community she becomes involved in. For all she has done in ours, and others. Giving her Outlandish Scotland twitter account a follow is worth your time, purchasing the Outlandish Scotland travel book is a fab gift for any Outlander fan. Christmas is only 10 weeks away…just saying!
Thank you Chas for letting us get to know you better. It is my wish that some fans out there that weren’t sure who was behind the account, feel they now do and maybe there are new connections made.
I hope you all are staying sane(ish) and well(ish) during this droughtlander and covid-19 world. I am trying to add my little bit of light with #TheLOVELANDERProject, if you haven’t read all the installments yet, you can find the links at the end of this post.
You can look forward to the next edition on Oct 31st. I’m not going to tell you who but I will give you a hint – nah – I can’t anything I say will give him away. *oops*
Josiah and Kezzie have long held a special place in my heart from the books. I find their arcs, heartwarming and entertaining. I, like many other fans anxiously waited for the announcement of their casting. On November 13 2019 , that happened. Paul Gorman would be playing both roles. This young man’s photo shone from the Outlander Starz page, eyes blue and piercing, jaw set and strong. I did what most Outlander fans do when a new name pops up, hit up the google machine to see what I could see. The face looking back from his InstaGram was very different, smiles so big and bright they literally hit his eyes to make them shine. That expression “Their smile lights up a room” – that’s Paul.
I admit, I felt like I hit a double jackpot when Paul happily accepted my invitation to take part in this project of mine meant to help fans through a very long Droughtlander.
Watchers were introduced to Josiah in the first episode of Season 5 but it was episode 3, called Free Will that we first saw Josiah and Keziah together on screen. The performance and the technology allowed fans to see the depth of this young man’s talent and how Outlander was dedicated to showing how important the twins will be to the ridge. It was wonderful to see production weren’t going to be constantly showing them separated.
I hope you enjoy getting to know Paul as I have. He shows us Outlander casting doesn’t only pick the best actor for the job, they also choose those who fit into the family they have created on set.
Welcome to my little corner of the interwebs, Paul. I’m grateful that agreed to allow me to interview you.Hi Sherry, thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of The Lovelander Project!
I want to congratulate you on your graduation from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a huge accomplishment…thank you for the well wishes, RCS has had a massive impact on me as an actor and as an individual which I’m extremely grateful for and I still can’t believe I graduated around this time last year!
Can you tell us a little about where you grew up?I was born in Rutherglen, which is just 15 minutes outside of Glasgow in the south of the city, and between there and Cambuslang is where I went to school. I was raised by my Mum and Dad, and grew up alongside my younger sister Gabrielle who is currently training to be a primary teacher.
Sounds idyllic. Where do you believe those first interests and sparks of performance were lit?When I was younger I was mainly into music and football, it wasn’t until the final years of high school that I began to have a keen interest in acting, I primarily attribute that to my school and the amazing teachers I had there. In my 5th year, they had decided to put on a school show, the first one the school had done. The show was “We Will Rock You” based on the music by Queen. My interest in performing had been sparked by the band and taking Drama as a class in the earlier years of school so I gave the audition a go and got the part of ‘Britney Spears’, the leader of a gang of music rebels who had taken the name from what he thought was a rock legend lost to time. The whole experience of doing the show, from rehearsals to working on the character to that feeling of being part of an ‘ensemble’, being part of a team, working from nothing to creating something palpable and visceral that had an effect on those that watched it – I loved every minute of it. And of course, a high school production based on the music of an 80’s rock band might not change the world, but it offered a sense of escapism and euphoria for everyone in that room for a brief while. After I turned 17 that summer I attended an open day at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and realised I could make a career of doing what I loved, so from then on I decided to give it a shot. I attended college for two years where my passion and adoration for acting matured, and at the end of those two years I was lucky enough to be accepted to the RCS. But I completely owe it to my teachers at high school who organised and supported that first show, without them I would never have discovered what I loved so I’m incredibly grateful.
I found a little something online called “Imperial City” with a pretty sweet grind, with you at the head…I enjoy some punk/grunge…even if my terminology has to be grandfathered in.Oh my God, I can’t believe you managed to track down the remnants of Imperial City, I commend your research efforts!
I was around 14 when we first started the band, back then we were called “Post Paradise” but by the time I was 16 we changed it to “Imperial City” due to the fact that there was an Australian band called “Paradise Post” and we didn’t want our many fans (our mates from school) to get confused, so we stole the name from an Elder Scrolls game. I honestly had the time of my life playing in that band, and the band I played in after “Atlas”. As “Imperial City” went, we were most definitely NOT the best punk band in Glasgow but we just had a ton fun: playing covers we wanted to play (mainly Green Day and Foo Fighters), we gigged at our local UC Youth Centre and got to play some iconic venues around Glasgow like the Barrowlands and The Garage and we always had our friends from school turning up to support us. It was honestly just such a good laugh and being in the band was such an informative and thrilling experience, it was a real confidence-building journey for me that directly fed into my turn to acting.
It goes to show you had that drive and confidence much earlier than many, it seems to have served you very well… In terms of music, it was my first year at high school. My Dad plays guitar and he got me into it, then there was a “guitar club” ran by Mr. Miller who was one of the music teachers and along with a growing love of punk and rock music it inspired us to get the band together. The band was so influential in giving me confidence and helping me come out of my shell, I was quite a shy and timid kid, and by being in it helped me find my voice and gave me a positive and creative outlet during my teenage years. The love and passion for acting came a bit later, although I did have an early acting stint at 4 years old when I played a sheep in the nursery nativity so maybe the acting seeds were sown then? No idea haha!
😂 Aww a sheep…I don’t think it suits anymore. Had you heard of Outlander prior to your auditioning for the role? I had definitely heard about Outlander before auditioning for the show! Outlander, both the books and the tv series, has had a massive and profound effect for Scotland in terms of: bringing people to Scotland’s shores for the first time, encouraging discussion all over the world of Scotland’s history and introducing our culture (past and present) to those who don’t know much about us, and so much more! It has also been positive for Scotland’s film and television industry, employing hundreds of crew members and creatives, and has helped many Scottish-born actors break into the industry, so to be asked to join the cast of the show was such a privilege and I’m very grateful for it being my first job.
It’s an impressive accomplishment, you should be very proud.What was the audition process like for you? Tell us all the deets.The auditions I had during Outlander were a part of an incredibly supportive process and were so informative and enlightening for me as a young actor and this is solely down to the devoted casting teams of Suzanne Smith and Simone Pereira Hind. It was my first audition just after my drama school showcase and it involved reading some extracts from Josiah and Kezzie’s story arc. Both casting directors encouraged to explore and play with the text, while also being extremely sensitive and supportive to the work we were doing and it was honestly just such a fun and creative experience. Later on in the recall stages I had to travel down to London and I remember turning up waaaay too early for the audition so I remember kicking about North London listening to David Bowie while running lines for both characters to pass the time, some onlookers were definitely intrigued by the raving, dancing Scotsman playing two characters in the middle of the street. The London recall involved a ‘chemistry test’ with Caitlin, who plays Lizzie, who was amazing to audition with. She was so encouraging and all my pre-audition nerves left me when we started the scene as she is so giving as an actor, completely selfless and full of spontaneity, an acting partner’s dream! We did three scenes in total, continually working on both Josiah and Kezzie with our director Stephen Woolfenden, and that was us done!
We love us some Caitlin around here too, it’s a not so secret wish of mine to have her take part in The LOVELANDER Project, not gonna lie. It quite thrills me to hear you were brought together to test. **And sidenote for all of you reading, of course I asked what scenes they they did in the audition, and of course Paul wouldn’t say.He isn’t going to give up ALL the goods in one interview – he is a sweetheart but no pushover.**
What was that experience of finding out you had earned the role…ummm…roles like? I had just finished a radio class at RCS, I remember checking my phone and seeing I had a couple of missed calls from my agent, so I walked up to the top floor of the building which is usually quite empty, gave him a ring back and that’s when he told me I got the job! I recall just feeling completely overwhelmed, yet so excited to start my first job and also just extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity. I also remember feeling a slight hesitation about accepting as well due to the nature of playing Kezzie. At RCS, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and work alongside many deaf actors as the school offers a BA Performance course in BSL and English, and my hesitancy came from accepting the role of a deaf/hard of hearing character knowing the experiences of my friends struggling to find roles themselves. I met up and discussed with a couple of the actors on the course, along with lecturers who taught on it, about the nature of the role and if it was acceptable for me to agree to it. All that I spoke to gave incredibly insightful advice and noted how it was a unique situation due to the duality of playing both Kezzie and Josiah, who can hear. Because of this they supported taking on the role, and continued to offer help and advice while we were in pre-production and during filming. One of the pieces of advice was to have a deaf adviser on set and that’s how we got Bea involved!That says so much about your character as a human, Paul. Many, I imagine would be so over the moon with their first job, on this huge hit TV show, yet, here you are concerned about others and going to them to confer.Your generation is wise and compassionate, it’s heartwarming to hear.
When your casting announcement was made public by Starz, you had already begun filming, what was that “HERE COMES PAUL TO THE MASSES” experience like for you?It was bewildering! I don’t think anyone can get used to the fact that people you’ve never met in countries you’ve never been to suddenly know who you are! When the announcement came I was welcomed with such warmth and love from the Outlander community, it felt like joining a big family.
The rest of cast all have experience with the fandom so, they must be helpful with navigating those waters? The cast were extremely helpful in offering advice about this new world I was about to step into. Caitlin in particular was someone I’d constantly go to seeking guidance, as we both have had similar journeys in terms of Outlander being our first jobs. She had gone through this herself and knew exactly what to advise me on. She’s been incredible and I owe her a great deal.
Fan engagement can be tricky sometimes…Like I said before, I have been incredibly fortunate that the vast majority of the fans I’ve been contacted by have all been supportive and welcoming and seemed to have really enjoyed the work we made on the fifth season. I try not to engage too much on social media as you don’t want too many opinions trying to shape your performance, but the backing we’ve had in the past year really spurs us on as actors to give the most honest and sensitive performances possible.
I imagine there are ways that are easier to digest the opinions or critiques of fans, as well. Of course, as actors and artists we welcome criticism, as it helps us to improve our craft and the work that we do, but if viewers did take issue with how a storyline or scene was filmed or executed, the way to do so would to be constructive and in a helpful and supportive manner. This will usually be listened to and taken in positively by those that see it and will be welcomed as affirmative motivation for when they next go to work.
In my, oh so, humble opinion, my job as a fan is to support and enjoy the work you do. You are the professionals after all. There is so much preparation that goes into the whole production. As you mentioned earlier, Bea helped with yours. I’m interested to hear about the groundwork you laid out while forming both Josiah and Kezzie as individualsand how Bea and others helped you with that. Knowing that the show’s storylines are based heavily on the books I thought by reading Josiah and Kezzie’s storyline in “The Fiery Cross” and “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” would be a key source to draw on for the performances. What is so good about the Outlander books, as an actor, is that Diana Gabaldon writes such detailed background stories, so you don’t have to join the dots as much, all the information is there! When it came to the actual performances, I wanted to focus on the features that distinguish the two boys while also finding similarities between them, as they continue to get mistaken for each other by other characters.
Key areas to focus on were differences in attitudes, body language, speech and the skills that each of the boys possess. Josiah is a skilled hunter it was important to think about his posture, while his keenness to prove his worth to the Ridge would show in his focus and his conscientiousness towards certain tasks. As I’m most definitely no hunter myself, it was useful to research hunting methods of the time and tools that Josiah might use, they would then have a lasting effect on Josiah’s body language and were good focus points.
For Kezzie, I focused on his more compassionate nature (looking after the barn cats), so he would have a softer touch to his posture, a willingness to smile more and because he relies much more heavily on his other senses to survive he may run his eyes over objects and people more frequently than others would, in order to gain the information required to assess a situation. To work on Kezzie’s deafness we wanted to approach it with sensitivity and accuracy in order to give the most honest representation of the character as possible. To do so, I interviewed some of my friends on the BA Performance BSL & English course at RCS to hear their own personal accounts and how they might intertwine with Kezzie’s, along with contacting local deaf support groups within Glasgow. What was also important was to try and have someone on set who could advise and monitor my behaviour as Kezzie during filming, so we managed to get Bea Webster, who is an actor herself and graduated from the BSL course at RCS, to be our deaf advisor on set. Bea and Carol-Ann Crawford, our dialect coach on Outlander, worked with me to shape Kezzie’s speech and also helped develop “home signs”, (as ASL/BSL were in its infancy stages during the late 17th century), in order to help the boys communicate with each other. The Outlander team and our directors were again very supportive of this and were happy to assist in helping us be as authentic as possible.
I am always impressed at how Outlander seems to take those extra steps to assist the actors in their process. It something we can easily take for granted because it makes your performance so flawless.
We have fans that know the (book) story arc of Josiah and Keziah, yet there are TV viewers that willhave no idea.You mentioned you’ve read “A Breath of Snow and Ashes” (the next book, and what Season 6 will eventually be based on) We all know not every storyline makes it into the show but on a scale of 1-10, how much would you like to see some version of the Josiah/Kezzie story arc in season 6? Oh most definitely a 9 or 10! Such a key aspect of the boys’ personalities is their relationship with Lizzie as it sparks a growth in their maturity as characters, she helps ground them in their new reality and also, they find a sense of peace at the conclusion of their storyline that almost feels needed after the years of servitude and pain they have lived through. So to see the boys storyline realized from the books would be an incredible way to add to their journeys.
I couldn’t agree more. I think it would be epic to see that come to life on screen, you and Caitlin would absolutely slay!I am one of those fans that see the way you and your costars interact on SM and BTS. You seem to have this true camaraderie. What do you attribute that to? I think it’s down to the fact that everyone on set, from crew to actors to directors, are just so incredibly sound and also committed to making everyone feel at home and welcome. It’s a perfect duality between everyone being dedicated to the work at hand and also completely up for a laugh and a joke, which is so important on those late-night shoots. Everyone is also totally respectful of each other’s work and will put in the time and effort to support each other which brought us closer as an ensemble.
Speaking of that ensemble, let’s play a game. Give me the first thing that comes to mind when I say the names of these castmates –
Caitlin O’Ryan (Lizzie) An absolute hero, I learn from her every day whether it be about acting or something new I never knew about the world. Also, she’s extremely and undeniably cool.
Lauren Lyle (Marsali) Incredibly supportive of everyone on set, so kind and approachable and has excellent banter.
César Domboy (Fergus) So charming and courteous and also effortlessly cool, even when we’ve wrapped after a long day of shooting he still looks like he’s stepped off a fashion show it’s incredible.
Kyle Rees (JQM)An utter legend, such a grounded and down-to-earth guy, so easy to talk to, always up for a laugh, and always brings a smile to everyone’s face. Never met a man so passionate about rugby.
John Bell (Young Ian)Such a compassionate and considerate actor and person, intelligent and witty, and made me and others feel welcome on set.
Richard Rankin (Roger) King of the wind-up and the odd banter, but also very considerate to those around him, he’s a cracking actor and I think his work this season particularly is exemplary and excellent.
Sophie Skelton (Brianna) Such a genial and thoughtful person, super bright and a pleasure to be around! Also incredibly sophisticated and cool like many in the cast.
SamHeughan (Jamie) A true leader, constantly boosts the morale of everyone on set and makes everyone feel valued and seen, he’s both selfless and giving as an actor. Also always up for a laugh and loves his rugby.
Caitriona Balfe (Claire)As intelligent, perceptive and intuitive as an actor as she is a person, it’s really inspiring to see her work and command a space with such presence, learnt a great deal from her.
Speaking of Caitriona, the last episode of season 5, Never My Love, was a very heavy episode. You were involved in what has gone down as an epic scene, the rescue of Claire, the killing of her captors and those who raped her. I am really interested in what it took to hold up those scenes…from your perspective. As an actor entering those scenes, what was vital was supporting our fellow cast members. Like our own characters main objectives in protecting Claire, it was our duty as ensemble members to support Caitriona and treating the setting and nature of the scenes with the sensitivity and care that is necessary. The energy, focus and emotional toll required for Caitriona to engage with the experiences that Claire goes through would be extensive and imposing, and it was our job as cast and crew to make the environment and atmosphere as comfortable and safe as possible in order to help Caitriona. And to see Caitriona at work, like that?I thought her performance throughout this season was stunning, but especially in those final episodes her attention to detail and vulnerability she showed as an actor was both heart-wrenching and exemplary, and to see the way she conducted herself professionally and considerately on set should be commended, it was inspiring to see as a young actor.
I appreciate you giving us such a wonderful visual. I am sure you have many but I am going to put you on the spot and ask you what your most memorable time on set was…thus far anyway.Honestly got so many! I think probably the Fiery Cross scene from the first episode, it was amazing seeing all the cast assembled for one scene, and there were so many people involved in the process of making and shooting it, I’d never seen anything like it in my life! Also, the fact it was a night shoot and we were going until 6 in the morning, there was a great sense of camaraderie and also delirium from the tiredness so we had a laugh and amazing time with the cast and crew.
It was enjoyable to watch as well! Outlander is your first TV role, but not your first role. You star in a short film called ‘Tooth’ that will be releasing, hopefully soon. You worked on that film while still in school.How do you feel you have grown as an actor from then until now? So much! Especially in that 3rd year at drama school, you mature and grow rapidly as an actor and a person as you are introduced to the industry. Outlander has been a great catalyst in helping me develop further as an actor. It has allowed me the opportunity to hone my screen acting skills, taught me the process (and my place in that process) of being a part of a television show and also bestowed on me stamina and durability to survive those long shoots (napping is key). It has introduced me to a world I had only known of on my screen, and to see how it works I now have a deeper and more insightful understanding of my industry.
All you have to do is look at this Instagram post. First, this smile – I mean…and then his words. The gratitude he expresses for those he works with and the credit he bestows upon them for assisting him with his brilliant performances is a credit to his character.
I don’t think it is possible to be “OUTlandered” but I have asked LOTS of Outlander stuff and of course there is so much more to you.I know the fans will love getting to know you more as I have, let’s talk about some other things that interest you…
Some actors describe themselves as introverts, finding acting helps bring out certain parts of their personality they want to tune into more. Would you fall into the introvert or extrovert corner?I’d probably describe myself as a bit of both or neither haha. I love to be around others but also equally enjoy spending time on my own.How do you think your personality influences your work? I think personality has a direct effect on your job, whatever your profession may be. In acting it can come across in the parts that you play but more than anything else it can show in the way you work. I strive to be a supportive and empathetic person and I hope that is apparent in my approach to acting through ensemble work and being there for others. It sounds so simple and basic to say, but being approachable, attentive and respectful are so key in this industry and encourages others to want to work with you, like any job! If I am these things I do not know, but I always strive to be.
With you starting your career with this mindset, I have this not so crazy feeling your career will be fulfilling. Who would you say has inspired you the most in your life? I have been incredibly lucky throughout my life to have had many people to look up to and continuously motivate me; my Mum, Dad and sister especially have been a constant inspiring force that have shaped me into the person I am today. The way they approach their work, the way they conduct their relationships with other people and how they always put others before themselves is a continuous motivator for how I lead my life, I’m incredibly grateful to have them.
I am sure they are proud of you.It is a blessing when you have a foundation of love and support.You have many of years ahead of you, what kind of projects would you like to work on in the future? Oh anything and everything! I’m at the stage in my career where I’d love to do a variety of different projects of an array of subject matters; hopefully those that are bold, thought-provoking and inspire change, but I’m grateful to just be working and doing what I love. I have a massive yearning to go back to theatre, especially as I haven’t been involved in a project on stage since late 2018, so to be part of a theatre production again would be incredible.
There are so many talented people in the industry, do you have any that are on a ‘dream’ list to work with?Honestly the list is so long, I have so many artists I admire. If I had to choose a director, it would be Danny Boyle(Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Yesterday, to name a few). He’s an exceptionally unique filmmaker who makes such visceral, layered and entertaining pieces and the narratives within his films always have such a great collection of characters, also the soundtracks as well for each of his movies are always stunning.
With your background in theatre and your love of all things creative, that would be a great fit. I would love to see you in something Danny Boyle creates.SinceI’ve shared the informations that you can sing, if you could do a biopic of a musician – who would you choose? Ahhh that is very kind of you to say but I assure you I’m no singer! However, if I were lucky enough to be in a biopic about a musician, I would love to be involved in a film about Frank Sinatra. He’s had such a prolific career but also steeped in controversy in terms of his political ties and his alleged dealings with organised crime, it would make for a great character study.
I was thinking something in the punk world and he goes and throws Frank Sinatra out for the win.
Like many Scottish actors, Paul has a versatile CV, 13 theatre productions under his belt, radio, film and of course, now television, he is becoming the total package.
If you follow Paul on twitter or Instagram, you will see quickly that he is passionate about social justice and also has a very creative eye.
It is easy to see you are drawn to things that move you. What would say your favourite creative outlet is?(Movies, theatre, music, TV)Oh, if I’m honest I don’t think I could pick a favourite! They all seem to affect me in different ways and can suit any mood or feeling I’m having. I can find myself listening to a song or album on repeat, diving into the world of a tv series or film or be in awe of some theatre magic I see on stage. I’m gonna be so boring and say all of them cause I can’t pick one.
That isn’t boring at all, I like when people are honest and don’t make up something. To be honest, I am the same way. I can’t pick favourites for the life of me, I have no idea why I put people on the spot like that. Note taken 😂 The world has changed a lot since filming stopped on Outlander, what have you been doing to keep it together? Any ideas to help me out…It has been a difficult time for everyone, and I’m not sure if I would have any new advice, but I would suggest focus on doing things that make you happy, and especially those things you always put off! I’ve been reading books I’ve always meant to read, learning songs on guitar I’ve always wanted to learn, simple and easy things that are manageable and doable but I’ve always put off as I’ve pushed other tasks to the forefront. I also recommend downloading the app “Duolingo”, it’s free and makes learning a language super-easy, I’m currently making my way up the Norwegian course and about to begin my Gaelic one (a must for any Outlander fan). Simple, easy and manageable goals to get you through the day and also encourages you to learn and try something new!
I know thatsome reading are going to be thinking “Paul is too good to be true!” So let’s give them a kick rocks moment *smile*. Give me three things you miss most from our pre-covid life.
The cinema. I would try and go as much as I can to see everything and anything. Though saying that, they have started opening up again and I managed to catch our Colonel Fraser be the bad-guy in ‘Bloodshot’, he was terrifyingly good (as always).
Greggs. It’s like a bakery chain in the UK, but has a special place in Scotland’s heart. They do everything from sausage rolls to baguettes to pancakes, literally everything. But again they’re starting to open up, so I’m able to pick-up my empire biscuits nae problem.
The pub. I’m not even a massive drinker, but the experience and ease of meeting up with a few mates in town and going to the pub and having a laugh was missed a lot during these last few months. Will never take it for granted again.
That is exactly it, isn’t it? Not taking things for granted, you are right. I am sure you could give me a list a mile long, I know I have one,but how about you give me three. Three things you have come to be more grateful for during this difficult time?
Family and Friends. They’ve kept me sane and smiling throughout this entire time, I’m extremely lucky to have them in my life.
My cats. Ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll mention how his cats basically make up his whole personality. Cats in general are just the funniest, most entertaining and beautiful creatures on the planet. Sorry dog lovers.
The NHS. I’ve fortunately been lucky not to need their services recently, but the work they have been doing this year, the years before and the years to come is exemplary and beyond inspiring. We are incredibly lucky to have them.
The cats answer may gain you a whole new following within this fandom and there may be many questions about them in the future. Consider yourself warned. *laugh*.
I know theatre has a special place in your heart and it has been hit particularly hard…The pandemic has brought a wide range of difficulties to the way we all live our lives, and industries around the world have been devastated by it. The entertainment industry has been severely affected by it, as it mainly survives on revenue generated by ticket sales for its performances and the way in which the virus spreads, is of course, halting theatres re-opening.
What can we do to support the theatre industry right now? While theatres remain shut, a way in which you can help them out is if you have a penny to spare, donate to the variety of funds that have been set up by theatres and local charity organisations supporting local arts funding. It is key to support the regional/local theatres across the country, as they have been the hardest hit throughout this pandemic. Understandably, if money is an issue, continue to engage with theatres online on social media and various campaigns they are running and advocating for. Knowing they have your support and your voice can go a long way in shifting governments attention to helping them out!
And one final thing, once theatres do begin opening up and you’re not shielding or suffering from any health issues, I implore you to get out there and see some theatre! Treat yourself to a musical you always fancied seeing, or a Shakespeare or a new up and coming playwright or theatre company! You’ll be giving yourself a well-deserved night-out and also committing to keeping this wonderful industry afloat and inspiring the artists of tomorrow.
Theatre companies are struggling all over the world and the arts are so important to our young people, all you have suggested is worth our attention.
I know I have been spending some time binging shows, Outlander just got the season 1-5 treatment, again. I don’t have a problem. What is the last show you binged? I’m currently watching and binging the show “I May Destroy You” on BBC iPlayer. It is incredible, bold, informative, unsettling yet still manages to be hilarious and superbly acted by all involved! I think it might be on HBO across the pond? Whatever you can get it on, get it watched!
Consider it watched! Now that we are going down the endorsement road, let’s play “Paultimate Recommendations”:
Puzzle is the only one I hadn’t heard of. I popped it on and it has a great mix of heady lyrics and grittiness. I’m not too old for that. I do find much of who we are is developed in our teens, I often think of the advice I would give my teenself if I could. If you could go back and give ‘teen Paul’ advice or words of encouragement, what would you say?Don’t hold back, try everything and anything. Even ABBA.
I’m just going to put that in my pocket and use it now, cuz I might be running out of time.
It is obvious you are intune with the inner workings of ‘Paul’, so I am going to ask you to give yourself a tagline, a warning label and a theme song.
Paul’s Theme Song is Feeder, imagine it playing whenever you see him.
Your kind heart and authenticity shine through in your words and in your performance as Josiah and Kezzie – I want you to know, even if my opinion might not matter in the big scheme of things – I believe you have found your calling – not only for you but those that are blessed enough to find themselves in your circle. Thank you for being exactly who you are. Thank you so so much and once again thank you for allowing me to be a part of this project, it was an absolute pleasure answering your thoughtful questions. It is such a lovely service you are doing for the fans and you and your work are greatly appreciated!!!
It is kind of fantastic when you can say “What you see…it what you get”. This has been my experience with each member of the cast I‘ve had the pleasure to interview or meet. It’s my opinion the casting department has a great deal to do with that. Like attracts like and all that smart stuff.
It was such a nice escape from my Droughtlander to get to know Paul and I hope you can say the time you spent with us today, did the same for you.From this video – I can say underneath the wig and gnarly looking collar, that’s Paul.Gracious, courteous, humble and kind.
I know you have a successful career ahead of you, as for Outlander fans, once you are loved by us, you are on the radar and will be supported by us, always.Thank you so much once again Sherry it was an absolute privilege!
I have done a lot of public speaking and large group trainings but those are things where I am in control of my environment and I know minute to minute what is happening. This means, attending events, especially with large crowds and where unexpected things can happen…NOT my happy place. At all. This means going to any of the conventions or events where an Outlander fan like myself could enjoy herself, was slim to none.
That was until I heard more about Outlandish Vancouver from my friend Cathy. I did a little more research and messaged them through their facebook page and received a lovely reply back from the one and only Koko. I not only have those mental health hurdles to overcome, I have a few physical ones too. I’m a case – let’s put it that way. I wanted to check what the procedures were, how I would be able to navigate things etc. Koko alleviated not only any concerns I might have had but she went out of her way to offer me additional services, to ensure my time at Outlandish Vancouver was as carefree and enjoyable as possible.
That is why she was on my list as people to share with you all for an edition of the #TheLOVELANDERProject. This project is about bringing those in the fandom that have made it their mission to bring light, love and laughter into this community. Koko is one of those people and if you don’t know her yet, I hope you stick around and if you do, read on and get to know her and what goes on behind the scenes of Outlandish Vancouver, better!
Dear Koko, it makes me happy you agreed to be a part of this project. I know how busy you are, without wasting any time, tell the people,who is Koko?I grew up with time split between the US and Europe and my family finally settled in California. I went to Santa Barbara City College and earned a degree in radiologic technology. I did that for a number of years, became an educator in that field, then I decided I wanted to become a plant physiological biologist, so I went back to school and an earned a bachelor degree from University of Colorado at Boulder. The outdoors were a great pull for me and my education allowed me to obtain jobs that had me working outside. Numerous injuries have sidelined that work and I would now call myself an entrepreneur and part-time AirBnB host. Between those activities I do the work for Outlandish Vancouver.
And I am so grateful for that, not the injuries, that would make me horrible, but the Outlandish Vancouver part, can you share with us how OV came to be?Outlandish Vancouver originally grew out of a small group of fans from Seattle and Canada who went to see Diana in Surrey, British Columbia in 2013; the group was formed the following year to organize more fans for the annual trek to see her during the free book signing sponsored by the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) after the show aired in the summer of 2014. We organized group meals and activities in Surrey and New Westminster, BC. After meeting and hosting Àdhamh Ó Broin (the Outlander Gaelic consultant) in Seattle, we invited him to meet more fans during the trip to Surrey in 2016. He met fans, taught them the basics of Gaelic, and we had our first “Party in the Suite” during that visit.
We grew over the years, adding more Outlander cast members as guests and more activities throughout the weekend where Outlander fans could meet and hang out with some of their favorite actors, have professional photos taken, obtain autographs, and still see Diana over the weekend. We have always made sure to build a block of free time into the weekend so our attendees could go to the SiWC book signing. Outlandish Vancouver has been structured with similarities to a larger convention (panels, photo ops, autos) while keeping intimate activities like the Party in the Suite.
In 2019, Outlandish Vancouver had to become a business, so I registered as Outlander Adventures as a non-profit in Washington because the model best fit how we operated. We are all volunteers, no one takes a salary, any extra funding goes toward operational expenses and producing Outlandish Vancouver.
You of course don’t make this beast alone from Washington, you have a team of kickass women helping you out. Tell us about them.
Samantha Kraupner is a wife, mother, photographer, and serial volunteer. She is a lover of travel, books, art, theater, music and lifelong learning. Sam has been an Outlander fan since she first read one of Diana’s books in 1999. She is an IT manager for a non-profit organization in Chicago. She puts all the details on paper and is the spreadsheet queen for Outlandish Vancouver.
Karin Pitterle’s love of all things Outlander began with the books a dozen years ago. Her 40+ years as a now retired flight attendant has taken her all over the world to attend many fan conventions. She loves gardening, ballet, entertaining friends, reading, her special guy and cat – not necessarily in that order! Karin is the volunteer coordinator for Outlandish Vancouver.
Seattle native “Crafty” Christine’s love of beachcombing and Outlander has frequently taken her to the UK where she’s made many like-minded friends in Scotland and England. She lives in a small Washington town with her husband and Siamese cat. A friend harassed her for 20 years to read the Outlander books, which then led to the show. Crafty handles logistics for Outlandish Vancouver.
Chase Pommerville is the head of security for Outlandish Vancouver, and is my son. He loves to travel, has cycled around Europe, is an ultra-marathoner and avid hiker. He works in property management, hospitality, and security in Santa Barbara, California, where he lives with his dog Andy, and cat Murphy.
Outlandish Vancouver had a very lasting impression on me, so much so I wrote 2 blogs about it. Here and here. I know that every event has memorable moments. Can you and your team share some of yours?
Crafty said it was the time that John Bell busted out of the photo op room and ran down the hall giving her a piggyback ride.
Karin was really interested in seeing the real actors from OV 2019 (Ed, John, Kikki, Carmen, Braeden, and Trevor) become friends and develop camaraderie despite some never working together and they had fun, in addition to learning how much different they are than their characters. She also liked how excited the cast were to meet Diana on the Fraser River Cruise.
Samantha thought it was amazing that some cast contacted the team to attend – and they did! She was also absolutely thrilled that Diana was able to come on the Fraser River Cruise last year.
Pulling off a convention and getting to know the actors better. This is something I would not think would be happening when the show was announced. I’ve also developed a friendship with Steven Cree, and I really enjoy supporting his endeavors.Steven Cree side note – He is one of the gifts that keeps on giving to the Outlander fandom. If you don’t follow him on twitter or InstaGram…just do it. You will not be disappointed. Well, you might if you are a complete dick to him because he will clap back so hard your best friend will feel it and the rest of his followers will likely point and laugh.
There was one time in particular that made you giddy in terms of a fangirl moment though…The one thing that made me a shaky fan girl was the fact that I got to introduce Diana Gabaldon to David Berry. Via back and forth messages, we had finally set up a time and place, I picked her up from her hotel, brought her to my suite for a private setting, met up with David and brought him in as well.
I know he has had many happy moments in his life, but to see him walk with enjoyment to where she was standing, saying “Diana!” as he did made me feel like a proud mama. I quickly made my exit and met up with them later at the appointed time. I was shaking like a Populus tremuloides in a fall storm.
I know that what you do takes time, energy and more patience than I would ever hope to have in my lifetime. What would you like the average fan to know about what really goes on behind the scenes of running a con?It is a lot of work! It takes months of planning, starting with the bigger picture (i.e., a theme) and over time we nail down the specifics that will happen at each activity during the weekend. It also takes capital. The team all wear different hats yet sometimes we do the same thing and help each other. Patience is important throughout the entire process from beginning to end. We learn from year to year, by experience and surveys that are sent to the attendees. It takes a village, meaning that a team is important and this event wouldn’t happen without a team (Samantha, Karin, and Crafty). I think what most fans don’t realize is that cast don’t just “show up” in cities, they are invited and when they accept, an event happens. If fans want an event to happen in their town, they need the capital and the team to make it happen. The entire weekend can be like herding cats…Cast A needs to be over there at a certain time, Cast B has to be someplace else at the same time, and where did Cast C disappear to? The saddest part is saying goodbye to them and all the fans.
We all have our ‘Outlander’ story of how we got hooked and ended up participating in this fandom…how did you fall down this rabbit hole of Outlander, Koko?Twenty years ago I took a trip to Scotland to go castle-hopping, not knowing anything about Outlander. While visiting family in Turkey in May 2000, I went to an English bookstore and bought the fattest book on the shelf to read. That book was Dragonfly in Amber. I found the second book in Germany and realized that I was missing something in the books (due to the frequent references to Wentworth), so I looked around on the internet and was surprised to learn that Dragonfly and Voyager were the second and third books, respectively. I was on a mission to find the missing titles and I was hooked. Back in 2013 I was thrilled to learn that my favorite book series was to become a STARZ television adaptation. My excitement pushed me to start the entire series over again, so I did. During the reread of Outlander, I happened to be going to a music festival and hit a large animal on the highway. There was a severe storm, so I had to spend the night in my truck on the side of the interstate, reading Outlander with a headlamp. I happened to comment to Diana about this on her facebook page and she answered! I was rescued the next day but it took two days to get to the festival once I found someone else to drive me there.I’m not laughing – I might be laughing.
This fandom just gets bigger and bigger. What do you find are the greatest joys and the biggest challenges in being in the gooey center of it all? The biggest joy is bringing an event weekend to the Pacific Northwest, to fans who otherwise are not able to travel. Surrey is just over the border from Washington, so it is a great place to see how happy the fans are after taking a photo with cast or getting their autograph.
The biggest challenge now is the pandemic. We were poised to announce OV2020 and then contemporary events started to cancel as well as summer events. We decided that as the state of world affairs didn’t support gatherings and travel, it would be best to consider health and safety before the desire to put on a convention. While I am disappointed, it was the right decision for us to do. The pandemic is touching all realms of life and we want everyone to stay healthy. The good news for us is that we will roll over our plans to 2021 and the cast have agreed to attend next year (October 21-24, 2021)
That truly is a testament to you and your team. The cast spoke of it during the panels and the suite parties I attended. They absolutely LOVE the smaller atmosphere and how at ease everything is.
Tell me, do you have any advice for these poor saps out here trying to survive Droughtlander…AGAIN? Rewatch and reread all of Outlander, and include ALL the side stories in order! There is so much when all the other stories are added in and it makes reading a richer experience.
On May 2nd we postponed OV2020 and simultaneously announced to our fans that we would be doing virtual events, namely turning our signature activity, the Party in the Suite, into a virtual party! We know that many are missing the ability to see friends and our favorite Outlander cast while in quarantine, so this was the best option to get people together on screen with cast since most live events were canceled. At that time we were already in the contracting phase and were set to announce the first in a series of Virtual Parties in the Suite. Nothing compares with gathering in person and the internet has become our social outlet these days, so why not combine that aspect with cast? We were excited that cast liked the idea as well.
It seemed to have started a trend -You have done a brilliant job with the small intimate gathering with the Outlander cast on zoom calls with those who purchase a spot, how can a reader take part in these? I know you still have some coming up. Our Virtual Parties in the Suite – must be a member of the Outlandish Vancouver group: www.facebook.com/groups/outlandishvancouver to get notifications.
It’s always fun to look into the future – so I am going to ask you to. What do you see happening in the Outlander worldas far as the future of the show and the books go?Personally, I would like to see the television adaptation go through the entire series of the main books. There are times when I believe the episodes go off the rails while others are just so spot on. I really don’t care if someone wasn’t killed off when they were in the books, or if someone had on the wrong clothing. I look more at the performances and was the scene believable – as believable as a time travel story can be! I would really really really love to see a Lord John spin off (crossing my fingers!)! My understanding is that if fans want that too, they should send messages to Starz.
Do you have anything else up your sleeve for us?I have a new blog which will be launching soon and it is also called Outlander Adventures, with commentary from cast!I am looking forward to reading that, girlfriend!
A funny thing happened as I was reaching out to different accounts to participate in the LOVELANDER project. I am pretty clueless when it comes to ‘who runs what account’ on twitter unless they are obvious about it or say so on the regular. I messaged the Outmander account and got a response back from Koko in our already DM conversation.
How did your sexy behind become the person behind the Outmander account? The story of the OutMander: it happened about 200 years ago…well, really, it happened a little over 200 hours ago. During some twitter activity on January 4, 2014, an Outlander fan (Mark M.) was tweeting about just having finished Outlander and wanted to know if there any other fans “out there with penises.” I suggested he try tweeting with Donas the Horse (that is a completely different story as told by Donas). I welcomed him as a newbie OutMander and so it began. He then asked if I just made that up, but as I was not sure who or what he was speaking to/about, so my response was “made what up”? At that point, I went to the computer and started the OutMander.
That is how it started, but why? His question sparked what I felt was a need to recruit more men to the readership. Frankly, the majority of readers on the sites are women, including me. It is my firm belief that Outlander (and all the books written by Herself, Diana Gabaldon) are for both sexes. There are many social media groups out there that really are lacking in the male voice. The books are for both and the television series will also be for both. My hope was to gather more male fans and to start social media group or groups that were tailored for males to discuss different aspect of the books without being hounded by estrogen. Men interpret and absorb literature differently and by pitching the books with a slightly different spin, i.e., fighting, hunting, warfare, guns and swords, etc., then more husbands, boyfriends, uncles would read Outlander and the rest of the series and love it just as much. I decided to become a facilitator of a safe zone for males to chat about the books Diana has written. I would like to see more men at the signing and fan events. One does not have to possess an XY chromosome pair to do that.
Let’s face it, guys digest material differently. The OutMander is a way to bring more male fans on board and to see just what they think of the books while increasing the fan base. Social media is flooded with what women think; let’s find out what the men think. Become an OutMander, a male fan of the Outlander series and all things Jamie and Claire.
There you have it. If you have any men in your life that love Outlander, if you ARE a man that loves Outlander, get OutMANder’dand start talking about the show, the books and tell let us of the other gender how you are gobbling this up!
That’s right, it’s a quickie. Look you bunch of pervs – not THAT kind!
This quickie is not my typical interview. Kikki Fleming, Outlander fans know him as a loveable, fierce protector. Lesley from seasons 3/4, that poor SOB that was senselessly killed off, not so courteously by that sunnuva Bonnet.
Kikki has already graciously done an interview with me, so I annoyed him until he agreed to play a silly game of “this or that” with me. To be real, I asked, he said ‘happy to’, that’s the kind of guy he is. Of course, Kikki being Kikki – he’s extra. He didn’t just answer with one word answers…he gave it his all. As he is known to do, it might be why I like him so much.
I tried to make sure my Canadian dialect was curbed to his Scottish and – there was one point where – well, you will see for yourself. Both of us thought “Maybe we should leave this out” but know what, the reason Kikki and I get on is…the things we think we should leave out we usually don’t because, fuck filters, things are funnier without them sometimes.(Including my face!)
Enjoythe THIS or THAT of Kikki(and my odd penny thrown in- a UK penny cuz we don’t have them in Canada anymore).
Dogs or Cats –Gotta go dogs. I love both, and loved the cats I’ve had…but that conditional love, arrogant independence that cats show at times- jeez…Dogs just think you’re great, you’re the best, enjoy hanging out with you having fun…and they show it.You can wrestle them, be more physical. I mean they fart, and stink sometimes after being out, but so do I!! They listen to you…kind of…they always look like they are trying to be your best friend, to understand you….cats look at you like they could care less, all about they are getting out the relationship.
Burgers or Tacos –Burgers….even a bad burger can satisfy. Many of the fillings you put in Tacos you can stick on a burger…Burger is like an old school mate – you know where you are with them, and sometimes they can still surprise you.(I get surprised by burgers – especially when they tell methey are gluten-free and they aren’t- BAD surprise!)
Coffee or Tea –I think tea is my favourite drink perhaps ever. Dunking a biscuit (or cookie for you guys!) in a cup of tea at night is one of life’s luxuries…well mine anyway! I have gotten into coffee more in past few years..and I know the places I like. I think there are so many different coffee shops now, there’s no excuse for bad, burnt, over-hot coffee…competition is intense, and it isn’t rocket science. I don’t make coffee at home really, but I know my tea, and which tea bags…M & S Gold Label are great, as is Yorkshire tea and of course, Scottish Blend!(I can’t handle tea, it’s a childhood disturbance though. I’m special like that. I know better than to get between peeps ‘ their tea though.)
Watching or playing sports –As a kid I played a lot of soccer…every day occurrence. But these days not so much. I think the last full game I played was in Connecticut actually, on a public playing field which had nets – and grass. That would never happen here..folk would be off with the nets in a flash – and the grass….hahaha!
TV or Films –I think our lifestyles have dictated that our attention spans lean more towards TV, and the accessibility of channels like Netflix etc, mean we can control when we watch stuff now – bingeing on series and shows. I think the quality of TV has vastly improved and has come to rival that of the movies. Films and movies still hold that magical fantastical element though, and nothing can quite replace that special occasion going to see something on a huge screen and getting utterly immersed in it.
Wet or Dry -Yeah, I know what I’m doing. Thin ice here…..clearly depends on what we are talking about…knowing you, I’ll say …..humour!! hahahaha – dry, every time..good dry sense of humour. Martini – dry definitely. Weather, we all love the dry don’t we..unless it’s not meant to be and we are fucking up the planet. The Rainforest is so-called for a reason….I have been there and was soaking for 5 wonderful weeks…let’s keep it that way…like my -!!!(The man gets me, I tell ya. He took it in every direction I knew he would. Well played!)
Beaches or Munros –As much as I love my beautiful country, I am under no illusion of it’s inability to provide certainty of weather conditions, and being up a Munro as snow, hail, and fog hit, at the height of summer, hold no dewy eyed lure for me. Looking out to the horizon, to the prospect of opportunity and discovery, and then the other way to the cocktail bar, then up to the sun, however ………
Busy city or quiet country –Ye see, it depends – on a lot of factors ..which city, which country, what state am I in, what do I need? I think the company can make even a place like Coventry for instance seem blissful! I lived in London for 10 years, and a wonderful time, at times too much, but it can wear you down. When I moved back to Scotland, I really appreciated having more personal space, and wondered how I had lasted so long down south. Some of my best times have come in bustling cities – New York, Amsterdam, Lisbon, Chicago, Cape Town – but then the beauty and tranquility of the Tuscan countryside, wonder of the Borneo jungle, the escape to a remote cottage on West coast of Scotland – marvellous self-chosen isolation. I think sometimes we are scared of missing out – so I’ll go for the relaxation of the quiet!(I too, had my city years. I sit in my city house and watch the UK show Escape to the Country – so that’s MY take)
Toilet roll: over or under hahaha…believe or not, but when filming in Cape Town, James Kirk and I had this discussion..as in, how do you wipe your arse..do you stand or remain seated!!? Time on our hands , eh! Not poop however! I’m an over with my reach…though, another actor, Kevin Lennon, wonderful man, he tried to put me on to the under method in rehearsal – what is it with actors?!- told me it would change my life. I tried, but, it’s muscle memory and instinctively my method kicks in. I know I’ve not been doing it wrong, but didn’t realise it was one of those personal conversations that would come up now and then! ps – I just realised what you actually meant, but I like my answer, so I’m keeping it as is!I sat for a second and then proceeded to laugh until I had tears falling down my face. It’s a good thing he is on a different continent cuz I would have went to his door to razz the shit outta him about that one. TOTAL pun intended.
Slapstick or Dark Humour –Dark Humour…comedy is one of the last things standing from the sanctimonious, sanitising do-gooder mob that is threatening every art form. Good dark humour can actually enlighten us to the fucked up-ness that is currently around us. People get too confused and angry about content/context/target in comedy these days…folk will actually watch an act they know will be offensive, so they can then go and complain they were offended!! How fucked up is that? You get up there and make us laugh then, you lonely no mates arsehole…..a joke is sometimes just a joke, not necessarily a point of view..the comedian may have twisted the truth, or their own personal viewpoint to make the joke work…..and the best comedians are true artists..stop sniffling their work..just don’t watch them! People are dicks...Slapstick…the greats are good..really good….Airplane! is one of my favourite movies of all time…but there is so much horror around in the world these days, it’s hard to ignore. Plus, we have a couple of complete slapstick fucking muppets running supposedly great countries on either side of the Atlantic – who could improve on that!?(Hearing you on ALL levels. Comedians are meant stand on that line in society and bring levity when there is very little – plus – comedians, like anyone else will not please everyone, everytime. We also have to be careful of judging ones from 20 yrs ago on today’s social evolutions, IMO. If they STILL did that material – yeah – not cool. But when we know better, we do better. When it comes to comedy – if you don’t like someone’s humour – DON’T pay attention to them, don’t give them your money or a neat trick, you do not have to like everything someone has to say to appreciate some of the things they do. WHOOOAAAA. How’s that for a concept?! As for the slapstick muppets…dude…you are not wrong! Ocean bookends)
Summer or Winter –One of my pleasures, addictions, is buying parkas, coats, jackets….and I love having the cold weather so I can justify having bought them. But there is a nothing pleasant about the imposition of a rotten winter . My favourite time of the day is summer when the sun just starts to set. It’s still light, still warm, but not oppressive. That’s when the cool bats come out to swoop swoop and rock rock! (I was with ya until you said bats were cool…)
Truth or Dare – The truth seems to be such an obscure and rare thing these days, esp from those figures we look towards for leadership and guidance, so a good dose of it is welcome. A dare however…we all need to do something each day that scares us…so Dare..although that will include truth for many.(I’m gonna hold you to that one, heading to Scotland in 2 yrs…)
Heels or flats –Yet again, depends who’s wearing them. I wear a lot of trainers, so I’ll go flats. If my you mean my preference on women, then I don’t mind as I’m normally looking into my partners eyes anyway!(NICELY DONE!)
Straight or mixed –Hahaha…another time bomb question, depending on how I answer….Offended by my choice of orientation at an orgy!! Come one come all…!!Drinks-wise….hmmm…I love a cocktail, you might have noticed esp Whisky Sour, but I’m not really into spirit and coke or lemonade etc….Gin and tonic however….mixed is good though…mix it up, come ooooon!!(Sorry, he didn’t take the bait for the orgy question 🙄😋)
Passenger or driver –depends who is driving, clearly!! I do like driving, but not when I don’t know where I am. Happy to be driven…as long as I’m not pompous about it!
Thriller or Comedy – Great thrillers tend to stick with you for longer…they delve deeper into the soul and psyche…Though Airplane! and Naked Gun are the exception to that rule!(Don’t call me Shirley!)
Work or Play hard –I love my job, when I can do it, and there is a clue in doing something called a ‘play’…we are playing at being other people…..It can be hard work, but as long as that is for the right reason then they both go hand in hand. All work and no play makes Kikki a dull boy.
Intelligence or humour –Sense of humour every time. Some of my heroes, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey..great learned informed minds…world-leaders in their fields of expertise…passionate, dedicated to the cause. They have sacrificed so much for what they believe in…and I hold them in such high esteem for those very reasons.But ye cannae learn a sense of humour…..nothing more disappointing than having to explain a joke, whether it be yours or someone else’s….we all know someone like that – how can someone so bright, appear so thick. (The way I explain a joke…”Nevermind”.)
Save or Spend –Spend – I wish I was better, but hey I still haven’t found the ultimate parka, and I can’t take it with me anyway. (Well, see, how lucky are you that you have a friend like me?)
https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/men/designers/canada-goose – Made of the ANGRIEST feathers known to man.
Day or Night –I like the promise and opportunity of a new day, but due to hours of my profession, a lot of the magic happens at night, so Night it is!(I guess it’s a good thing we all know he is an ACTOR because if we didn’t…)
Piercing or Tattoos –I have none…..never considered a piercing ever, though tattoo yes several…just what to get…John Lennon, Billy Connolly, or the date of the greatest football game in my lifetime, Hibs pumping Sevco in 2016 Scottish cup Final have been the main candidates….Then it’s where will it go blah blah …and never happened. I like the idea of a tattoo, but I’ve seen a lot of shit ones..plus if it’s on yer arm you’ve got to keep then biceps pumped up, or when the skin gets a bit loose Billy or John end up resembling Mother Theresa. (The visual alone. I think you should go for the classic face tat…those seem popular.)
Weird or Crazy –yet again depends how they affect your life. Crazy is good, exhilarating , as long as safety comes into play. Weird is intriguing if it’s as a watcher, but if it’s weird for weirds sake, then gettaefu! Not welcome.(I don’t think you are either but I think you are both. I know I am right. Make sense?)
Sweet or Salty –My partner would say sweet for me, as life’s luxury is cup of tea and a biscuit…but I rarely order a pudding when out for a meal. Starter and main course, just in case anyone was looking at their budget plan for taking me out, so I’d say salty.(You? Salty? Yeah…I see it.😏)
Being too warm or too cold –Too cold…then I could put on one of my jackets….Bingo!!!! (Same! Well, I might have to borrow one of your parkas. I live in a country it gets so cold my face hurts but I only have one winter coat and its not a parka. My trick is…stay the hell at home.)
I am always grateful when Kikki takes time out of his days to chat with me. I have come to more than admire his work or think he is this cool guy from TV. He has shown me genuine compassion and made me laugh til my stomach hurts.The love he has for his partner and his friends shows me, no matter where we go in this world – we will connect with “our people”. They are, indeed, everywhere. I know I already said it to you, Kikki, but thanks again for taking part in The LOVELANDER Project. I might just hit you up for another game…cuz…well…you are you.
No matter how fans may feel about Outlander’s Laoghaire, we all can agree Nell Hudson’s performance added level of vulnerability to her. It wasn’t until she put her stamp on this often debated character, that many started to soften with an empathy for her. I was one of those people. For me, it turned me into a fan of the actress who gave me a new perspective of a character I thought I knew. I’d been reading about her for 20 plus years afterall. I started following Nell’s career and her social media, as one does in this world of interwebbing.
Needless to say, when Nell said she thought #TheLOVELANDERProject was a ‘lovely endeavour’ and she would happy to be a part of it, I was thrilled. (Since this isn’t about me, I will stop babbling to bring you the very bright and brilliant Nell)
Imagine, a blonde haired blue eyed wisp of a lass, enjoying picnics, riding her bike and swimming in rivers. A farm in the Midlands of England is where she called home. An incredibly idyllic childhood Nell tells me. Until, of course, she becomes a teenager.“Then I longed for excitement and couldn’t wait to get off the farm. Now, of course, I love going back.”
Nell, came into Outlander fans lives as the living breathing,Loaghaire MacKenzie, she even jokingly calls her Leghair, as many fans have been known to. This is an example of Nell’s own great sense of humour. It’s always interesting to get a better look from the person ‘playing’ the character…“Laoghaire is what happens when a broken heart never heals. Like all good villains, she’s a fallen angel. She didn’t start out bad, but circumstance has made it so.”
I wrote a blog on the Women of Outlander and there were fans that did identify with Loaghaire. I know that some think she is just horrible but I understand her. I certainly feel sorrier for her than dislike her.“Hmm…I feel sorry for Laoghaire too! A big part of playing her for me was the back-story of her not having a mother. I think this is the hole in the soul she tries to fill with love for Jamie. It’s deeply sad, when you think about it. As for me, I like to think I know a lost cause when I see one….“
That incredible insight should make it obvious thatNell is so much more than the time she spent on Outlander. I am sure you will see that as we go. I did ask her to recall some of her treasured memories from her time with on the show. “I remember going to the pub in Glasgow with all of the Season One cast (Cat, Sam, Duncan, Gary Lewis, Graham McTavish, Lotte Verbeek) and thinking “wow, I’ll never forget this!”. On Series Two I made great friends with the actor James Parris, who played Young Simon, and had so much fun hanging with him – we’re still good friends! And then Lauren Lyle came into my life and I’ll always love her. Then Sophie, oh my lord, she’s fab. Love her, too.“
As far as Lauren Lyle is concerned, the feeling is mutual. I was lucky enough to be included on a zoom party with her in June and asked her what her thoughts on Nell were. Lauren’s face softened, you know how I mean, when you talk of someone you absolutely adore. She fondly recalled her first days on set and how Nell truly took her under her wing. Lauren sticking to her like glue with her ‘show Ma’ gently guiding her along and making her feel safe and welcome.
As much as your acting, those real life connections do come through in your art. From what I have read about you, you chose to become an actress quite young, were you one of those little girls with the flair for putting on the show? “In hindsight, yes. I was constantly making my siblings act in little plays I’d written, with me – with me as the lead, of course!“
Of course, you are a natural leading lady! When did you officially transition from acting at home to making it your profession “It wasn’t until everyone was going off to university that I decided to pursue acting seriously. I had to give it a shot as there was nothing else I loved quite so much.” I think that takes a lot of courage. What advice would you give a girl, like yourself, who is off to start her life with a dream like yours?“To a young girl starting a career in the arts I would say work your butt off, it’s tough out there, and humility will get you nowhere. Be loud and your own biggest cheerleader.“
You have played many interesting roles since Outlander. One of them, Nancy Skerrett in Victoria. People LOVED Nancy, some didn’t even recognise you as the same person. They just couldn’t fathom how Nancy could be played by the same person who played Laoghaire. That is acting folks. Amazing, on the spot, damn fine ‘Nell’ acting!
Speaking of which, Nancy Skerrett’s life came to a tragic end. My heart – like many others, broke. Your death scene was just so incredibly SAD. “It was my first on-screen death! It was incredibly emotional for me, too. After playing Nancy for three years I had really fallen in love with her. It was, as you say, heartbreaking that she had to die just when she’d got her happy ending. I just had to be incredibly present in the moment for that scene – if I thought about it to much I might not have kept it together.“
But you did. I’m still mad at them for doing it. I had a long list of people thatshould have died over you. PFT! Anyway…If you could give Nancy Skerrett an alternative ending, what would it be?“That she and Francatelli lived happily ever after and had a ton of babies!”
That would have been lovely and I really would have watched ALL of that. We still do get to watch you outside of Outlander. In the Informer, Charlotte is a modern role, I loved it but it was a bit different seeing you in modern attire- acting.“It’s definitely less of a leap playing a modern part as you speak the same language. But period pieces are the opportunity to connect with humanity, whatever era people lived in the human experience remains the same.”
I can imagine as an actor with such a wide range, you would have people you would love to work with…who is on your list?“Oooh….I would love to work with (British Director) Mike Leigh, he really immerses his actors in their roles. Joanna Hogg is incredible. Lena Waithe. Taika Waititi. There are so many!“
With your versatile talent, I’d love to see you in one so, if you could choose a bio-pic to star in, who would you choose to play?“I’d bloody love to do a music biopic as it would be so fun to play a singer. I love singing and did it professionally for a while but was too stage-shy to perform as myself – so I could do it if I was pretending to be someone else! I always got told I look like Joni Mitchell growing up, and I love her music, so maybe her. Debbie Harry would be incredible, too.”
YES! Joni Mitchell is Canadian so ummm. Yeah. And Debbie Harry (Blondie) bc dang, look at you! Plus you cansing, Imma start 2 petitions. #NellForJoni#NellForDebbie
Nell doesn’t have to say many words for you to realize, she is a writer at heart. The way she answers the questions have a melody.
It shouldn’t be a big surprise to us that you have recently finished writing your own novel.“I have indeed! I’m really excited about it. It’s early days but I’m hoping to get it published. I come from a line of writers: my grandfather was Cyril Connolly (a noted critic and author of his day) and my Mum is Cressida Connolly, a best-selling fiction writer.”
That certainly shows it not only runs in the family but that the talent extends as the generations go on. Do you have an interest in writing other creative ventures?“Absolutely. I have a few script projects saved on my laptop. I’m concentrating on the novel, for now, but I would love to develop some screen work over time.”
What is about writing, that you are attracted to, do you think?“Writing for me is in many ways the antithesis to acting – I’m the one in charge for once! It’s complete escapism. If I feel like inhabiting a certain world I just write about it and I’m there. I think creativity is an energy and it has to come out somehow – for me it can be writing, writing songs, acting, drawing (badly), dancing…anything ! I couldn’t live without creative flow.“
I identify with this on a very deep level. Escapism is something I need – it is a part of my mental wellness, my therapy. You have been very honest with your own mental health and wellness. You share on your IG openly your struggles and victories. I find it incredibly encouraging for public figures, especially young women such as yourself having the courage to speak up about such personal issues. “Thank you so much for your support. It’s scary sharing that stuff because a small part of me knows that it could put off potential employers. And then I think, screw that. I’ve NEVER let my mental health affect my work, ever. And if someone judged me for talking about it then I might not want to work with them. I went through a period of depression in my early twenties and took medication for it, and I have anxiety, too. I don’t take any medication anymore, but it definitely helped me at the time. I’ve battled disordered eating in the past, too, which I think is important to talk about as I know so many actresses, and women, who have been through it. These days I’ve found that yoga and meditation, as well as a great support system of friends and family, are all I need. But emotions are like the weather, sometimes it’s grey, but it will pass.“
I always wish I could go back and kick myself in the ass to listen to my inner voice, earlier than I did. If you could give “little Nell” some advice, what would it be?“Awww this question is so moving, always. I would say speak to a doctor – would have saved a lot of time if I’d gone sooner. I would have said baby girl just DO.NOT.BOTHER. with the eating disorder. Please listen to me it’s a huge waste of time. And I would have said you will be ok, I love you.“
I do wish we all could learn to love ourselves fully earlier in our lives. Much like we allow pets to love us, like your pup, Maggie – who might have the BEST ears on Instagram.“Haha aw, thank you, I’ll pass that on to her. I found her on a farm in Abergavenny, Wales. I’d always wanted a dog and it just felt like the right time to get one. She chose me. I knew I was going to call my dog Maggie, and on our first meeting I called that name to her, and she came running. So I knew it was meant to be.”
We can tell she brings you a lot of happiness. What else brings youjoy? “I sound very Goop-y but I really do love yoga. Swimming in the sea, reading a great book. My main vice is going out for supper – I love eating out and trying new restaurants. But obviously I can’t do a lot of that at the moment. At least I’m saving money.”
OK, we are talking about food now, so it’s the perfect segway for my final question. The ABOotlanders have invited you to a fancy dinner and offered you a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn. What do you choose.I have no idea what you’re talking about but Taber Corn sounds like the safest answer.
That’s what I like about Nell the most. She is “what you see is what youget” and at the same time, not at all basic. I am very grateful she gave us a peak into her life by being gracious enough to answer my questions by being featured in the Lovelander project.
If you are not familiar with the recap/review/ponderings of Outcandour – I suggest you check them out. Tracy has been taking us through the episodes since Season 3. She always identifies the core of what the episode is shouting at us and in her very unique way gives us the recap we wanted all along.
Tracy doesn’t give away much about herself in her writing except you quickly see she is highly intelligent, compassionate and damn, the woman is a deep thinker. It becomes obvious she researches what she speaks of, whether it is theological, Greek/Latin based or social issues. You can find these things in her writing and all are clearly composed for her readers.
I found ‘Outcandour’ in season 4 but didn’t nudge my way into Tracy’s life until the middle of the season. One, to support her by linking our blogs and two, to reach out. It is what we should do when we find people out there that we feel “Hey, I would like to have that person in my bubble.” I knew I could learn from her. She was gentle where I was rough. Her prose, eloquent where mine was, let’s just say unladylike *snort*, see? I enjoy the way I write. It’s only, different. I was drawn to her style. That is the reason I asked her to be featured in #TheLOVELANDERProject.
I know Tracy has many dedicated readers, I thought they would like to know about this incredible woman behind her words. I must say, she is just as lovely as I thought she would be. Actually, she is even better and I’m not even mad.
Classical music loving, Tracy, a self described awkward child, she grew up in southern California.Frizzy haired, thick eye browed and a step behind her peers in regards to the latest trends, she thought herself a late bloomer.Like many introverts, Tracy was quiet around people she wasn’t familiar with but goofy around her closest friends and her family. Being a good student, a rule follower, her love of books and athletics helped her build her confidence in senior high school. Thus developing into this woman we have grown to admire so much.
Tracy now lives in northern California with her husband and two young sons (ages 4 and 7). She is a small animal veterinarian. Hearing this was no surprise, even with only online interactions her compassionate nature shines through.
I wanted to know more about how Tracy found her way to her profession as a vet – “Like most people, I’ve always loved animals but I wasn’t someone who had wanted to be a veterinarian since a very young age. My uncle is a veterinarian so I saw a bit of the profession growing up. But I actually started college at the University of California, Irvine as an International Studies major. I thought I might want to work for the UN someday. I had to take a few basic science classes as part of my general undergrad education, and I actually ended up doing really well in them. I had never considered myself a science-y person until college, so I was happy to find that I not only really enjoyed biology but I actually understood it! So I took a few more science classes to explore that, then began considering veterinary medicine as something I might pursue. I began working as a veterinary assistant near the university (one of my friend’s fathers was a veterinarian), and then before my junior year I decided to transfer to UC Davis to study Animal Biology. After college I worked for three years as a veterinary technician in my hometown (huge shout-out to Dr. Edward Jezbera of Riverside) so I could get even more experience, and then I applied to veterinary school. I just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of my vet school graduation this week!“
Such a wonderful achievement. Congratulations on that. I could easily see you working with the UN as well *smile*
Having a young family is enough to keep any mom busy. Tracy is one of those women that I look at with a touch of awe and a side of ‘good on ‘er’- She is an avid runner, having completed four marathons. She and her family (pre-covid) are very active in sports, basketball, little league and soccer. This little family is a whirl wind of activity and laughter.
Tell us how Outcandour came to be. “I’ve always loved reading in-depth takes on television shows or movies. I’m that person watching movies with the director’s commentary turned on. Tom and Lorenzo are some of my favorite bloggers, and they used to write great recaps for Mad Men and Outlander. They stopped recapping Outlander during Season 2, and I found myself missing the sort of commentary I was used to. When Season 3 started I figured, why not attempt to write something myself? And thus Outcandour came into creation.“
When did your interest in Outlander start, Tracy? ” I discovered the show first during Season 1, after reading a number of articles praising its female gaze. I was hooked from the moment I saw those opening shots of Glen Coe with Caitriona’s voice narrating the mystery of what was about to unfold. I read all the novels in the Droughtlander between Seasons 2 and 3, and I’ve since read them all multiple times.“
Someone else in your family was a long time fan –My grandmother, who is 95, was amused when I discovered Outlander and started my blog. She read all the novels back in the 90s…like all Outlander fans, she wondered what had taken me so long!
I want to take a moment to remember Tracy’s grandmother, who since we did this initial interview has passed away. “Her name was Sherry, too! She was born Shirley but she always hated the association with Shirley Temple, so she went by Sherry her whole life. Her death wasn’t totally unexpected and she was suffering quite a bit at the end, so although it’s so painful I find some solace knowing that she’s finally at peace. Like all conversations that we wish we could remember, I can’t remember specifics as it relates to Outlander. I know she read the novels and I think perhaps Dragonfly in Amber might have been her favorite. She was rereadingit just a few years before she passed away. She was very proud of her English heritage and her outspoken nature, so I think she really identified with Claire.” Sherry, sounds like a woman we all would have been honoured to meet. I’m very sorry for your loss.
It seems there may be something hereditary going on there. 😘 That, and the compassion that comes out in your writing. Who or what would say were some of the bigger influences in your life? “Well, thank you for that! I’m not sure I can name only one thing or one person. Certainly, my parents are most responsible for instilling a sense of compassion and empathy in my life. My husband and sister are my best friends and I’d say they probably keep me the most honest. I was fortunate to have some truly great English teachers in middle and high school who really fostered my love of reading and critical thinking.“
Critical thinking, yes, that and a depth of knowledge of the subject matter. You introduce those aspects so clearly to the themes in your recaps – why do you think that is important to do – delve so deeply? “I could never presume to know what the Outlander writers ever intend, but I think it’s important to remember that they are writing intentionally and with their own artistic perspective in creating an adaptation. Sussing out an episode’s theme makes me appreciate the writing; I find I enjoy the episodes more if I try to look deeper. Hopefully my readers feel the same way.“
It is one of the comments I see often. Your readers thanking you for giving them a new perspective. It’s refreshing to have an unbiased view dig into the middle and work their way out. It is akin to reading comprehension but via a different medium. When did you realize you had this gift with words? “I’ve always really enjoyed writing. As I mentioned before, I had some really wonderful teachers growing up who gave me invaluable feedback and encouragement. And so much of my love for writing comes from my love of reading…I’m so jealous of beautiful prose that I’m anxious to create it myself.“
I’m curious, many writers have a certain process, where they feel comfortable gathering ideas, do you have a time or place you do your writing? “Usually while I’m running. I’ll start thinking about something, then pull out my phone to jot it down before I forget. Running really is mind-clearing for me. Otherwise I do most of my writing at the dining table after my kids are asleep.“
I find that fascinating…while you are running.It makes sense as your writing has such a flow and beauty to it. I am going to wonder aloud, if you were to write a book…I think you should…what genre do you think you would lean towards? “Hmmm, well, that might not be a totally theoretical question! *wink* So I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say it is an adaptation of a well-known story with a modern political and feminist slant.“
I completely agree, I seemed to have read them over and over until I knew the characters so well that I was “O.K. NOW, I can leave you all for a bit. *laugh* It was ridiculous. I now can read other genres, fluff and stuff but I do always return to them and they feel like home. Sort of like the show. I know you have a love of it, like I do. If you could put the five seasons in order of favourite…What order would you put them in? “Hmmm…well Season 1 will likely always be my favorite as it was the one to capture me with its magic and beauty. Then I suppose I would rank them as follows: 3, 5, 2, and 4. But, honestly, it’s only a hair’s difference that separates them in my mind…I have truly enjoyed them all.“
Same, same. Though I am a bit of a weirdo *shocking I know* I always seem to put the latest season as a favourite. I love them all. I hope it goes on til Diana is done with it. Is that likely? No one knows. What do you expect the future looks like for the show?*HUGE shrug* “I do get the impression that Season Six may be the last one…it is so rare for a premium television show to last longer than six seasons. I really hope I’m wrong, of course. I can definitely see a Lord John spinoff coming down the line, as well as a feature length film, similar to what Downton Abbey did.“
Anything is possible, I am happy we got anything at all. Now what’s your take on the books? Any thoughts or ideas? “As for the books…only Diana knows! I’m personally hoping to have all my conspiracy theories about Frank either confirmed or denied.” *wink*
Oooooh, I got some of those myself! So many things I am hoping are wrapped up all nice and neat – however, Diana has a lot more writing in her devious/delicious mind, I am sure.
It is due to that deliciously devious Diana mind that we have this huge community, this fandom. Which of course is the reason why we have come into each others lives. The fandom continues to grow every day, what do you find are the greatest joys and the biggest challenges of being a part of it? “I’d say the joy comes from the expansion of my world this fandom has given me. There are so many smart and thoughtful people I would have never known otherwise…present company included, of course! Of course! *snort* And I really love reading all the different opinions and takes on the episodes and characters. It’s fascinating to me that we can all watch the same thing and experience it so differently. Such is art! I think the challenges do come from that subjectivity, though. We all feel such a personal connection to Outlander that it’s hard not to be possessive of the characters and stories.“
Sometimes it does get to be a lot.It is lovely to see that much of the interaction you have online is positive and really respectful. “I find the engagement I get through the fandom, especially on Twitter and through my blog is very rewarding.“
It’s Droughtlander time and we are all going through some fandom pains, what is your advice for us to get through this? “It’s going to be a long one, isn’t it? I don’t have the most original advice…lots of reading, catching up on all the movies I’ve missed, discovering new shows, etc. I recently watched Normal People on Hulu and found it to be one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen.“
Oh, Marianne and Connell absolutely broke my heart! I was bereft when I was done the last episode. Genuinely had a good sob. I was 15 again, watching that. *sigh*. It seems we have something else in common, any other shows you love? “Well, like most parents of young kids, I find that most of the shows watched in our house are children-oriented. Shows I’ve loved watching or catching up on recently include Call the Midwife, The Spanish Princess, Downton Abbey, and Mad Men. They’re all essentially period dramas that provide good social commentary on their times.“
That is one of the things I liked most about getting to know Tracy better. It solidified why I was drawn to her. This is a woman I personally don’t have a lot in common with, however, I admire her. We see things differently and we live contrasting existences yet we find ourselves seeking the others outlook. It really is how we grow as people, isn’t it? I want to thank Tracy for accepting the invite to be a featured guest with #TheLOVELANDERProject. If you want to follow her on twitter CLICK HERE . Fill up on some of her archived blog posts, by going back to the beginning, they age well, CLICK HERE.
Finally, our close out ABOotlanders silly Albertan question (which I am going to have to switch up soon because ya all are starting to figure them out- derp)
The ABOotlanders have invited Tracy to a fancy get together and we areletting her choose the main course.
What do you choose, Tracy? Moose Droppings, Beaver Tails, Prairie Oysters or Taber Corn? “Okay, well I know what Moose Droppings are from reading your previous installments of this series. So, I won’t pick that. I have no idea what any of these are! Are Prairie Oysters the same as Rocky Mountain Oysters (testicles?). I guess I’ll be brave and pick that!” See? Tracy is a smart one! That is exactly it. Prairie Oysters are bull testicles – they say they taste a lot like calamari or seasoned rubber, depending on your taste buds. This is Alberta so naturally, we have a Testicle Festival. That is not MY fault, Tracy picked this one.
Now with that wonderful thought in your head and taste in your mouth, I leave you with this. I do hope the fandom sees how truly lucky we are to have people such as Tracy in our orbit. She ‘overthinks Outlander for themasses’ so we can take a look through another window. When we take the time to see the different shades in a painting it creates a depth we may have missed.
Thank you so much for joining me for another edition of #TheLOVELANERProject. I have a great line-up that includes other fan accounts, cast members et al. in order to keep our gullets quenched during this Droughlander.