What we see and what we show, both are choices we make. Some of the time they are conscious but very often our subconscious compels the choice for us. Personal bias, life experience and past judgements skew our perception of what we see. It becomes a dance of our closely guarded secrets along with the desire to influence, determining what we expose.
What we ‘think’ we see isn’t always the truth.
This has been both beautifully subtle throughout the first half of Season 6 of Outlander and ‘smash you in your whole damn face’ obvious, at the same time.
It screams of what is going on in the world as well as my journey over the last few years. I found myself drawn to sit and write; this could be a doozy. You may want to grab a snack and cuppa of something strong.
Dram or twelve…you know the deal.
Our favourite drama sucked us in with a 1753 flashback of Jamie first arrived at Ardsmuir Prison. The wary man simply wanted to bide his time of misery. Having lost everything that meant anything to him, he was entirely over it. He had played every game, he was done like dirt. Us Outlander fans love them a duuurty Jamie. Not dirty enough for some fans but I digress.
You missed me…I know you did.
Ferrrrgus (he makes me purr, I can’t help myself). What was happening with Fergus is something that we may see in ourselves, and loved ones and I promise, this is something we will project onto others fully when our personal lens is clouded.
Once proud, capable, and steadfast, his confidence in his ability to protect his family was shattered. It didn’t only shift or crack. For Fergus, it was not only his wife he failed to protect, it was his children, living and unborn…it was also his mother. Fergus may not use maternal language when referring to her, nevertheless, she has that motherly connection with him. If we go back to the season finale and look at César’s performance, if we weren’t so sucked into the brilliance of the episode, we would have seen his despair unfolding. Fergus was fragmenting more every moment we saw him.
César Domboy’s performance at the end of season 5 was so subtle, it’s only when we go back after seeing his performance in season 6, we can truly appreciate it’s nuance. The coming storm cloud hanging over him in the shot of the family *chefs kiss*.
What was happening with Fergus on the inside, didn’t stay there like many other characters this season. Feeling useless and worth nothing, his mission became to ensure everyone else saw him the same way. This is another means by which we punish ourselves when we believe we are a failure. It isn’t enough to punish ourselves, we create chaos around us to have others validate how shitty we are. It becomes a perpetual cycle of self-flagellation. In turn, others will wind up telling us how horrible we are because of it. Cycle completed.
There was a fatal flaw in Fergus’s logic. He was loved completely. No one blamed him for the things he blamed himself for. It was how Fergus was externalizing his self-hatred that grew sinister. This happens to many of us. When we are aware of a ‘tender spot’ subconsciously we will begin to create our story. He knew Marsali’s history of violence due to an alcoholic father. What better way to poison her against him? It would surely complete his pursuit of isolation and bring about his wife hating him. Then she would surely admit the attack on her, Henri-Christian’s disability was his fault. Claire’s kidnapping, beating and rapes, were all his fault. Once she hated him, as she hated her alcoholic father, she would admit it all. All these things can and do happen in our subconscious minds.
Fergus wasn’t wrong. Marsali did see her father in this messy and drunk Fergus. What she also knew was that version of Fergus wasn’t the man she married, loved or who he truly was deep down. She was giving him the grace to heal but she wasn’t going to tolerate his shittiness around her or their family any longer.
And there ya go…You just got Marsalified.
Marsali loves him, and setting a boundary with him proved that more than allowing him to continue the self-destructive behaviour. She Marsali’d him straight upside the head. There is only so much a woman who has recently given birth to a disabled child, has other children to raise and a household to deal with will be emotionally and physically able to tolerate. She did precisely what she needed to do. Protect herself. It wasn’t easy, but at that moment, she stopped a cycle of generational trauma in her life. There would be no more tolerating a man putting their trauma responses above the family unit. This is something that we all can sit with for a while.
The things that make us go hmmmm…ahhh…wait wha?!
Suicide is never an easy subject to talk about. It should make us feel uncomfortable. It’s heartbreaking we could get to a place where we feel the answer is to end the pain we feel. Treating the subject with anything less than empathy and compassion would be callous. The Outlander writers handled Fergus’s suicide attempt as genuinely and touching as possible.
Fergus lost sight of the man he was. He accomplished seeing himself as the nothing he felt, through others’ eyes. Even had convinced himself into wanting his wife to find a ‘whole’ man by twisting Marsali’s words to validate the action he was about to take. When someone chooses to die in this manner it isn’t done without a great deal of thought – yet – it is often done on impulse. That is why having Jamie catch him in the act and being able to articulate the logic of it isn’t what he does… it’s who he IS, that matters. It struck home. Fergus realized then the person he was drowning with booze was the *who* he was referring to. The man he was punishing for not being there was the one they needed. That was the Fergus that was emerging. Fergus was able to see the man his father was speaking about reflected in his eyes. He felt that man still existed within him and that is why he held on.
Thank all the little children and Jamie’s sliding down hills in kilts.
We can take many lessons from Fergus’s story into our own lives. Hurt people…hurt people. When we think someone is doing horrible things to us and we react in anger, maybe, just maybe they are hurting and are punishing themselves – inviting you to do the same. It could be you are doing that to yourself, right now.
Speaking of hurt ass people…whoooaaa. The whole Crusty Christie family has a “there is something WRONG with you people” vibe.
I am going to put Jessica Reynolds on BLAST. As Malva, the 5’2” actress manages to circumvent all obstacles in her way, read…men of ANY size. Mark Lewis Jones, nearly 5’10” and Richard Rankin at 6 ft, this girl didn’t cause them to shrink at her looks of defiance or threats. She grew over them, the measure of her nefarious strength washed upon them and engulfs each moment.
As fans, we are shook’th! As we bring our judgement of Malva to moments that would seem inconsequential, they become disconcerting. It was bad enough she was creeping on Jamie and Claire having barn sex. The directors’ skilful choice in showing her hike herself up on her tippy toes caused fandom-wide goosebumps. It not only elevated Malva’s view of the twosome – it took the viewer to another level of shudderhood.
I am sure by the time the season wraps I will have a TOP TEN BUTTCHEEKCLENCHING MALVA’SPRESSIONS. Easy. I might not even be able to narrow it down to 10. It might have to be a desk calendar. I look forward to it either way. She WILL get her own blog post. Eventually.
This girl glares, gazes, starts fires…
What makes the Christies fascinating in the lens of what we see/what is shown/ how we perceive them is that we know very little of their personal experiences. We are left to assumptions. Oh and we ASS- U – ME, don’t we?
Tom, for instance. He likes to believe he is this holier than thou dude. When, in fact, he feels the same feels any other human does, instead of feeling them, processing them, and moving forward he chooses to suppress/deny them. Moreover, he swiftly takes out his frustration for those feelings, out on his daughter. That somehow is the punishment he looks for. Let’s make it clear, Tom Christie is the poster boy for projection. Tom absurdly thinks he can stop Malva from becoming the kind of woman that tempts a pure-minded/hearted man such as himself *eye-roll*. He, being the one who obviously could not read a few words in a book without feeling impulses and urges.
Imagine though? Using ones intelligence to say “These feelings are natural, not evil. It is what I do with the feelings that will make me a good or bad person.” This guy denies the feelings and is off trying to beat them out of someone else. Pretty damn evil, bro. How about accepting the feelings, expressing those feelings with love and consent…good? So, good.
That is why Claire seems an enigma to ole Tom. He was under the impression she was good. Then, he read this smut…and he thought of her. That’s right. He didn’t think better of her, he thought OF her. That is why he was fuming. His body and his mind are taken over by the sensations evoked by the words. He was baffled by his thoughts of this woman and the reaction of his body. But nooooo, not HIS fault. So he literally turns to lashing the one female he believes he controls, his go-to. You know, how about Tom take responsibility for his own emotes? No? Too real? I get it.
I am going to take a moment to speak on this as I feel it is pertinent to my view. I have always felt, even reading the books, that there is an unspoken truth to sexual violence when it comes to those who want to overpower others. Some speak of “too much rape” – I, too, am of the mind that there IS too much rape. In real life. Rape takes place every day, more than any of us will ever see on TV. That is why it is uncomfortable, triggering and upsetting. We do more ranting about rape that happens on TV and in books than we do about rape that happens in real life. I’ve heard it said it is ridiculous that every member of a family would be raped. It isn’t. Generational trauma is a very real thing, trauma response and reaction are conduits for this exact thing. It not only happens in one family, it happens in generations of families until it’s finally revealed, discussed openly and healed. For me, It’s about honesty in storytelling. Sexual violence would be no more a plot device than a fire, death, traumatic birth, murder, betrayal, or any other tragedy that occurs when storytellers are being truthful within the scope of a dramatic narrative.
In the case of Claire’s kidnapping, she is taken by men who want to see her shredded, torn to the last vestige of nothingness. A man who thinks nothing of raping his own wife would feel no remorse. As Lionel showed, he deemed he was within his rights to take her, teach her a lesson and give her away. As I saw things, it wouldn’t be sincere if that wasn’t a part of the kidnapping tale. There is something about suspending belief and fantasy about time travel, big houses but not that. Not that kind of base human behaviour of evil. This is how people, women, in particular, have been torn down and controlled for centuries. Do I hate it? Of course. It’s happened to me…it’s reprehensible. I recognize the need to share these moments with care, as Outlander has done through the years. It is why I was grateful to see they raised the stakes in Claire’s ongoing trauma from the many rapes. This shouldn’t have gone away quietly.
I am fascinated by Claire this season. I was curious as to how they would handle her PTSD in addition to her resumed sexual relationship with Jamie. My triggered heart was soothed in so many ways. The way both Caitríona and Sam are playing their characters this season is filled with nuance and almost a bubble wrap of care. Claire isn’t sharing all of her pain with Jamie because she can’t. She isn’t capable of doing that. There is something about trauma that many people don’t understand. Claire even voiced it very well last season as she went through a list of her many traumas, stating they never broke her. The reality is, they all still live within her. She never would have been able to rattle them off with such passion if they didn’t. These complex traumas build up in us and when something massive comes along, we don’t have any more room to hold them. It isn’t that we aren’t strong enough or we have been strong too long. We need to heal. Everything.
It’s not easy for anyone. I love that is being represented.
We all want to scream and shake her by the shoulders “TELL JAMIE ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL”, this is us speaking from a place of observation. We aren’t considering her suffering. The fear, the pain, the confusion, and the need to fix it herself. This isn’t Claire’s pride, this is Claire’s wound. It’s still wide open and healing. For her to say it out loud for someone to hear, especially the people she loves, the ones that count on her…she would fully become the wound in everyone’s eyes, right now, it’s controlled. Within her.
She shows everyone the Claire she needs them to see. Bree sees pieces of herself in her mother, not because Claire is showing her but because Bree recognises the behaviour she once projected. Jamie isn’t seeing what is wrong, not because he is too preoccupied but because he doesn’t recognise it. He also needs Claire to be ok. Claire blows sunshine up his kilt and he takes it. It is what we do for the people we love the most, on both sides of the coin.
When we face tough times and we know our partners have a lot going on…you know, like building communities, facing down an unavoidable war and being the king of men ‘n shit. The last thing we want to do is take their eye off the ball with us falling apart since we know they will drop it to take care of us. We don’t tell them because A) we are too proud B) don’t think we deserve it C) don’t believe it’s as important as all the other stuff. Claire, amazing as she is, is not a singular being in her trauma. What does make her unique is…she has ether. Truly a magic pill of sorts. I’m not sure it was altogether an accident that she perfected it at this time. Claire was in search of something not only to add to her surgery but something, anything that could assist in turning off an inner voice. The one that repeatedly haunts her and takes her back to the centre of her trauma.
We are reminded that Claire’s trauma doesn’t only lay at the clearing with Lionel and his sorry excuse for men. It lies in the many times she had been sexually assaulted. Being triggered at Flora’s party by the mention of the King was a profound bit of writing. This rape was often overlooked. Some argue it isn’t rape because she gave consent. The truth of the matter is consent without a resounding yes, is not consent. Consent that is manipulated, bargained for, coerced or bought is not consent. Observationally, someone may SEE it as consent. When the person EXPERIENCING the act feels they are being raped, which is what matters. It is not just happening to their body, it is happening to their brain, their gut, and their heart. It is rewiring their system. It’s why people who get sexually assaulted vomit afterwards, it’s a brain/gut connect reaction. It is why they feel a need to get clean, scrub the feeling OUT of them.
For those who do not understand being triggered, that can be the same sensation that takes over the body. It brings them to the same place of fear and panic. These are the moments that Claire reaches for her escape. It isn’t because she is weak or selfish. It is because she is in the middle of that clearing, the middle of King Louis’ bed, bent over Black Jacks desk and and and…ether is her quickest way out…for now.
When we see others in distress like this, we may have a low tolerance for their inability to cope. We may let our high expectations combined with our desire for them to be ‘better than that’ create a narrative that they are worse or somehow less than. The truth is, our observation doesn’t match their experience. They are filled with panic, fear and chaos and desperate to stop it. Addicts don’t become addicts due to personality flaws. We should ask ourselves what someone is trying to escape from not judge them for wanting to escape a debilitating pain.
I love this quote so much.
I observed some conversations referencing it would be better if the writers had made her a “drunk” along with Fergus. I found that theory interesting given that Claire’s remaining present, for the most part. Her need is to turn out the lights, to reset, a few seconds here or there. She drinks on the regular as it is. She wouldn’t be able to keep utter intoxication from anyone, for their safety or hers. The ether has been discreet enough to resist if she needs to and she has shown she does.
What many viewers fail to appreciate is we genuinely see things through the lens of our own experiences. It sometimes gets us stuck. Some see Jamie and Claire in a bad place right now because Claire is struggling and Jamie seems clueless. Truth being, Claire wants him unaware of this one thing. She is communicating with him, sharing laughter and connecting sexually. Those encounters are not merely for show, not only to make Jamie feel like everything is peachy in pound town. They are also there for Claire’s healing. She needs that connection with the man she loves. Her distress doesn’t always involve him but she knows how he can help her and she is incredibly adept and utilizing his skills. Telling him everything would cause him to treat her like a victim, and for Claire to heal with Jamie, she can not feel like that. Not yet.
Jamie isn’t being obtuse or neglectful. He is picking up everything that Claire is putting down for him. Exactly how she wants/needs him to. The thing that makes it different is, it’s not complete. She leaves out the information that she is still processing, trying to work through, the stuff that she knows he can’t help her with.
I wish we would grant her that…hell…I wish we would grant ourselves that. We ALL do it. We hold onto shit that we are going through. WHEN do we end up sharing it? A) When we finally realize we CAN’T fix it alone – after we’ve tried everything on our own. B) We’ve hit bottom and have no choice. C) We fixed it and the scare has passed. D) Processing has been accomplished, we require love, support, and family to commence cuddle warfare.
The idea of having Outlander suit the wants and desires of fans quickly becomes impractical when reality strikes that “we” as viewers are in the millions, around the world. We made this beautiful choice to be seen, heard and engage with one another. I am infinitely grateful the majority do with kindness, respect and thoughtfulness. I am also grateful that I get to be a part of a group that chooses to voice their opinions and thoughts. We are small in comparison to the viewership but damn it is fun!
I was right…this WAS a doozy. I hope you are still awake.
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!
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.
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!
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.
One of my ‘not a recap’ blogs during season 5 was called ‘A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime.’ . My chance exchange and subsequently getting to know Vinny, had ‘a reason’ written all over it.
The more we spoke, the more I wanted to get to know, the more he shared,the more I learned his story wasn’t simply ‘a cool insiders take on the set of Outlander’ but one of overcoming adversity and grabbing a hold of your life and making shit happen.
Let me tell you about Vincent. He experienced a very happy childhood in the small village of Westquarter in the Town of Falkirk. As the youngest of four, he would spend his days climbing and exploring in the glen next to his home. It was as a child his love of animals was sparked due to his mum who was known in the village as the ‘go to woman’ for animals in need. Vincent was her helper in caring for those injured animals as they fostered them back to health. They also had many pets at home to love and shower their affections on.
“Like most kids I was full of fun and cheek, I could also be a little brat who came close to a walloping more than a few times.”
As Vincent grew up, all that running and jumping through the glens led to him excelling at sports and athletics. He concentrated on football and was also tipped for a promising future as a 100m sprinter. Sadly, he was plaguedby persistent knee injuries so his running spikes were hung up by the time he turned 16. Not one to sit still, he stayed in the gym, took up boxing and later, Krav Maga self defense. This led him to the very impressive achievement of becoming an instructor.
I am going to fast forward to the story of Vincent finding Outlander. Many fans have said Outlander changed their lives, it undeniably transformed how Vinny was living his.
“I had lost my home, my business, my physical health and can say Iwas in a very dark place. I guess that darkness got darker round about this time, I was suffering insomnia due to anxieties about my health and hadn’t slept for about 30 hours when I started watching Outlander. I had been awake for over a day and finally started getting tired about episode 3, but I managed to keep my eyes open until the first season was finished.
The more I watched the more alive I felt. Like from nothing else before it had put some sort of fire in my belly to get back in the rat race instead of giving up. This may sound corny but I feel watching Outlander kinda saved my life. Within a few months I was on the show.”
As I mentioned before, Vincent was a very active man. His caring nature had him working on an NHS community mental health team. Life doesn’t always go the way we plan, in 2009, his life started taking some turns Vinny could not have predicted.
“Whilst playing football I slipped on the wet pitch, going into the splits, usually I’d be fine but the match had just started and I didn’t have time to warm up or stretch beforehand. I went down with a high pitched scream. It was kinda like when you’ve been walking and went over on your ankle, at first it’s really bad, then you start moving and the pain eases. It eased enough for me to carry on. We were low in numbers and this game was one I had arranged for my mental health clients to participate in. It meant a lot to me and the guys that I was playing with. I had pain but thought it would continue to ease off. I worked round it.
In April of 2009 I collapsed and spent 3 weeks in hospital with a minor brain injury. All physical health took a back seat for a while. I had cognitive challenges to deal with, a year of rehab and a year and a half off work. I did eventually get back working and training. I was still having groin pain but Ibecame used to it.”
This is something many of us with chronic pain do, isn’t it? We learn to live with it. Keep moving forward until – something else kicks our knees out from beneath us. Vincent’s battle was not behind him yet.
“In 2016, I aggravated it more, leaving it difficult to walk. At hospital a scan showed I had fractured my left hip years earlier and torn the labral muscle in my groin. Having left this untreated and continuing to train led me, at 35, to require a double hip replacement. I was devastated, a year earlier I had passed all my training to become a Krav Maga Instructor. With that though, I had caused a cam and pincer impingement and osteoarthritis spread thru my hips from the fracture. I even lost an inch in height.
I spent the next year of my life on elbow crutches until my surgery. I had a Chromium cobalt hip put in, this is a new type, stronger with a larger femoral head. That was supposed to allow me to go back and teach self defense, unfortunately I took a reaction to the metal. I spent a bit longer in hospital than I should have, couldn’t do physiotherapy for the first 4 months dueto my leg being twice the size of the other one. From there I got a blood clot, stopping in my groin. 5 months later I got another extensive clot that started down the bottom of my leg to my groin. This required me to be on blood thinning medication for life. That meant I couldn’t go back to Krav Maga, it was too dangerous for me. Krav is pretty full on, one of the reasons it’s so effective.“
An expression I have used before is “The teacher will appear when the student is ready”. Our heart and our mind will be open to receive the messages we need to hear. It seems quite apparent when Vinny talks about his exposure to Outlander, that is exactly what happened.
“I was physically broken and had almost given up mentally. To be honest, I was a wreck. The magic of the show really stirred something inside me to get myself better, it gave me a goal. it made me want to be a part of it. I binge watched all available episodes in about 5 days, I was hooked.
The effect Outlander had on me is pretty hard to explain. From the start I couldn’t turn the television off. I think it was a combination of many things that really had an effect on me, It being filmed entirely in Scotland and about Scottish history. The way fact and fiction were mixed with time travel, something that would have probably put me off watching it if I knew. *laughs* The attention to detail from costumes to sets, colourful characters and some Scottish humour added in amongst the serious stuff. I won’t forget the amazing chemistry between Jamie and Claire” *smile*
It was such a pleasant surprise hearing about Vinny’s love of the show and his desire to be a part of it. Not only because it made us both ‘fans’, which you know, cool, but in that it galvanized him. He made this huge change in the trajectory of his life due to that desire. I was even more excited to talk to him about it.
Let’s do this thing, shall we?
I know one of the first things people will want to know is what the process was like for becoming a supporting artist on Outlander? “It was a lot simpler than I thought, after getting over the initial self doubt, thinking I wasn’t capable of this type of work. I did my homework on casting agencies and sent an email off. I was invited to an open day a week later and was pleased to get signed up that day.“
I’m not sure it would be so simple for everyone, you have a pretty specific look, pretty rugged. That must have been a fantastic feeling. Now, as a fan, what was that like? Showing up for work on the first day? “My heart just started pounding thinking about being there *laughs*. It was a crazy surreal, pinching myself moment, if I’m honest. I was the first on set, arrived an hour early and I hadn’t slept a wink the night before. I was so afraid I would sleep in and ruin my chance of being on the show.“
I can’t say as I blame you for any of that. I would have reacted much the same way. I probably would have camped over night, but I think I’m a bit more dipped in the crazy than you. You have provided a fantastic video for us of behind the scenes – the fans will be sharing the hell out of it. Can you tell us what the ‘rules’ are for the supporting artists? “Ahhh … A few of the things would be to always be on time, be polite and courteous to everyone you meet, listening to direction, remaining upbeat and knowing when to be quiet. Be positive. *smile* In between shooting there is always some sort of hilarity going on somewhere, there are a few included in the video“
Many supporting artists just fade in and out of the back ground, we don’t get to see their faces, you on the other hand, we can pick you out frequently. Share what scenes fans can find you in.“I can be seen throughout Ep04, The Company We Keep, usually working my stall or in the pub salivating over the offerings of whisky. I was the Brownsville Butcher, a role I absolutely loved. When I arrived on set, I remember thinking how real the pigs heads, rabbits and birds looked that were displayed on my stall. It wasn’t long before I realized the attraction the flies felt was real *laughs*. Ironic that I turned vegetarian 27 years previously *laughs*. I realized straight away that it is more authentic that they were real. I didn’t have to, but I had no problem chopping and dicing whilst the cameras were rolling.
In Ep07, The Ballad of Roger Mac, after being enlisted into Jamie’s Militia I can be seen carrying Isaiah Morton into the medical tent after he has been shot in the lung. He’s a big lad, my back felt it the next day.”*laughs*
Speaking of the authentic sets, even though you all are supposed to be in North Carolina, you are working in some tough Scottish conditions. That Brownsville set up is something else but damn, it looked a mess of rain and mud sometimes. “You’re correct there. Some days/nights can be 16 hour shifts at the mercy of the Scottish weather in all sorts of terrain. You can be tired and hungry and knee deep in mud, but it actually gives you an idea of how it really was back in the day. That helps the show be so believable.“
Alright, now I am really curious. What would be a regular day on set for you, as a supporting artist?“Well you usually arrive on set (early), sign in so they know you’re there, into makeup or costume then time for a very large (with lots of options) breakfast to keep us fueled for the day *smile* Grab a cuppa and chat with colleagues before we head off to set. The makeup and costume guys come round to check we are all spot on and good to go, they continue this regularly throughout the day in all weathers.
We’re all given our little stories and scenarios that we will carry out for filming etc, it’s great. Sometimes you’re really busy filming and other times your waiting about but that’s the same for everyone. They always set you perfectly for a tasty lunch though *laugh* then after that.. back to set to finish what we started. We always get refreshments and snacks throughout the day. It’s tough going and long days so when you here the director shout “That’s a wrap guys” everyone cheers and thanks each other for the day, it’s a good feeling. *smile* Then it is time to head back on our transport to base and get out of costume. It’s always a good feeling to get my wig off. *laugh* Once I’m back to modern attire, I sign out, say my goodbyes and head home for some much needed sleep. *laughs*
It sounds like you really love this gig, Vinny.I was impressed with everything, they pay so much attention to detail. They really want everything to be as close as possible to how it was back then. I think it shows on screen.. you don’t get flies attracted to plastic animal carcasses do ya? Everyone from SA’s, cast and crew know exactly what there doing. It’s a well organized production.
Was there anything else you learned for your role as a supporting artist? “To prepare for the Battle of Alamance we had to attend Outlander’s military boot camp. We became competent in firing weapons and fighting skills. I also learned more about Scottish history in a few months on Outlander than I did at high school.“
Has your experience on Outlander sparked you to do more in the world of entertainment? It certainly has. My first week of working on Outlander finished on a Friday, I had booked an intensive acting course for that weekend. I continue to train as much as possible. I have a few short films under my belt and a small role in a feature film due to start whenlock-down finishes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many featured SA roles in various productions. I was also the stand in for John Cena in the upcoming Fast & Furious 9. My goal has changed and hopefully I can gain more work on the acting side of things. If not … I know I can keep myself busy doing as I am just now.
If Vinny’s past is any predictor for how his future will look, I have to saythe next chapter of his life is about to be written BOLDLY and BRILLIANTLY. Many of us go through very dark times, in fact, the world is facing some of it’s own as I type this. Looking around, focusing on individuals who moved forward when it hurt but they did it anyway, can not only uplift us, they can inspire us.
“I hadn’t put on my information I was disabled or about my hip. I was pretty good at masking my limp. Up until then I hadn’t moved any faster than a walk for a few years. One day the director asked me to do a certain thing for a scene, which included running on uneven muddy ground, I wasn’t going to say no to him. *laughs* He didn’t know my problem. He helped me realize I was capable of more than I thought. My physical health has come leaps and bounds from that day.”
I was so pleased that Vinny and I crossed paths, from across the ocean. We both agreed that these things aren’t mistakes and I know that someone, somewhere reading this…needs to hear his story.
Now before we go, you all know what to expect from an ABOotlanders #TheLOVELANDERProject interview – we end with pure silliness because – HELLO! I’m a Canadian knobsicle.
We have invited Vincent Van Craig for a lovely dinner – providing him withthese Albertan delicacies ofA) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn. Which does he choose & why? “Oooooh lets see *laughs* was tempted to google but I promise I didn’t, *laugh* O.K here goes. I’ll pick Taber Corn, its seems the safest, maybe the closest to being vegetarian friendly” *laughs*
You can find Vinny on social media, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Do tryand ease him into the fandom, o.k? We don’t want to scare him. Actually – with all he has been through, I think he can take it.
I want to thank Vinny, for not only allowing me to interview him, but for putting it all out there. It isn’t an easy thing to do. Sharing such a personal story with a stranger, who then puts it out to the world. Once again, it shows a strength of character many can admire. I know I do.
If you already know her, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn something new, if you only know Erin from her Three If By Space life, then sit back and let’s close that gap. Maybe you haven’t heard of her – it’s possible – if that is the case, stick around, meeting new people, even virtually, can be very rewarding.
I have been following Erin on social media for years. First on Twitter and then I started listening to her TIBS radio show, sometimes live but mostly following a few days later while writing or working on my own things at home. I generally stay away from reviewers as I am the ‘keep things positive’ at all costs type o’ gal. (This is not because rainbows shoot outta my butt – this is because I must maintain my own sanity- it’s a tippy thing) There is something about Erin’s TIBS approach. She has the enjoyment and knowledge of the source material while maintaining a respect for the creators. She never speaks as if her word is the last and always invites discourse and treats other’s opinions with kindness. Her lifetime of experience in journalism may have just a little do to with that but perhaps the diplomacy comes more from being married to the same man for 31 yrs and to raising two sons.
All the things, together – the perfect puzzle.
The super cool thing is, I don’t have to see eye to eye with Erin on her reviews. I still enjoy reading them as her views are succinct and beautifully explained. She helps me understand why she sees things the way she does and that is important to me. It’s not just “I hated it” or “It was stupid”. That doesn’t help anyone see what the reviewer struggled with.
The benefit of a well-written review is we are able to respect the viewpoint because we understand it. We are then able to move on with our overall love of the journey. Kind of like being on holiday together, going out to dinner and one devouring the cake and the other thinking it was too sweet. It was still yummy cake.
Let’s dive in with Erin to see what it is that makes her – the her – that she is. I want those reading to know about ‘everyday’ Erin…give us a glimpse will you? Erin-“Ummm, okayyy… I’m 60, retired last year after our parents had major health issues that required my time and my father in law died. Kevin and I have two sons, Greg and Andy. Greg is 27, a musician, married, and expecting their first child(awww, CONGRATS Grannie!)and they live in New Zealand. Andy is 24, engaged, living about 20 minutes away with his fiancée. I have a degree in journalism – I’ve always been a writer. I stepped back from fulltime work when Greg was 6 months old and did a lot of freelance stuff, then substitute teaching, and a string of admin kind of jobs, most of which bored me silly, but paid some bills. In addition to writing for TIBS, I started doing fused glass work three years ago, and now my basement is full of glass, kilns, equipment. This year was supposed to be my year to start travelling, but of course, that’s difficult now. We’re just hoping to get to New Zealand over Christmas to meet our new grandchild.”
I’ve seen that glasswork of yours, it’s gorgeous! (Check it out peeps). I imagine it becomes a great outlet, and the pieces you have done for your Outlander groups have been stunning, which swings me back around again, we fans all have the story of when Outlander came into our life, how did your journey start? “I found Dragonfly, I think, in the large print section of the library (not where I usually look for books), in probably 1997 or early 1998, right after we moved to Crystal Lake. I realized quickly that it was part of a series, and ran to find the first book. I’ve been hooked since then. I didn’t realize that, other than Ladies of Lallybroch, which I knew about, that there was a huge following until I started writing about it.”
Which leads us of course to Three if by Space… “TIBS started when the owner, Robert, won a contest to go to the set for the show Falling Skies (the site’s name is a line from the show). He started the website as a fan site for that show, and it quickly became a multi-show review site. I loved Falling Skies and found TIBS looking for info about it, then found out they were looking for writers. That was in 2013, right as news about a TV series of Outlander was coming out. I asked if it fell in their world – sci-fi – and he said sure. So I’ve been writing for the site since then, and have been senior editor, second in charge, for a few years now.”
Sounds like perfect timing to me! I am always curious as to what other book lovers thought when they found out Outlander was going to be adapted into a TV program. I almost lost my damn mind. “I was very excited. I have a copy of one of the older books that says on the back that a major motion picture is coming – of course, I was thrilled to see that, and we know that never happened. A TV series is definitely the better choice. It made me nervous, though – how faithful would they be to the books? I was a little reassured that Diana would be involved, but I have enough experience with the world of adaptations and writing to know that there would be differences. Since the show has come out, I haven’t been thrilled with everything they’ve done, but that’s fine – like I’ve said since the beginning, I don’t have the talent, the money or the contacts to do it myself, so I’m happy that someone with all of those is taking it on. I can live with the differences, even if they make my head hurt sometimes – I’d rather watch what’s there than not watch at all. I would give the series a B+ – some of the casting has been off (and some has been spot-on), and I personally think that the show’s angle is skewed in an uncomfortable direction.”
Since I listen to your radio shows and read your reviews, I get exactly what you are saying and where you are coming from. If those reading haven’t tuned in –CLICKITY CLICK RIGHT HERE– You can listen to past episodes. So, what would you say your vision is for the future of the TV show? “As much as I would like to see the show finish out the entire book series, I don’t really know that they will. I think I can live with it if they don’t. I don’t really want to see 80-year-old Jamie and Claire, except in a flash-forward at the end. I’d rather see the show end on a high, rather than dribble on and on toward an end where it’s cancelled because of low viewership. I LOVE David Barry as Lord John but don’t really need a spin-off. I’d watch it – don’t get me wrong – but I’m not going to live and die over it.”
I’d love to hear your vision of how those books will end? “Now here, I’d be happy to see an 80-year-old Jamie and Claire. I don’t know that Diana wants to go that far. She’s said one more after Bees, and for the main series, that’s good. I’d love to see Germaine and Jemmy and Mandy as adults, solving crimes and taking names (just kidding).”
Damn, that would be so awesome. Can you imagine? The Mystery Conestoga *snort* My imagination has been tapped. That is never a good thing.
You’ve attended many Outlander events over the years and this is something that many fans might not get to experience. I, personally, am a serious introvert so I know there are certain events I would be overwhelmed by. There will be certain readers who think “I wanna be like ERIN!” tell them about events you dove into. “Of course, this year, a lot has been cancelled. One I’m hoping doesn’t get cancelled is Thru the Stones, in Davenport, Iowa, in December. This is a great every-other-year event, and it’s different than others – there’s always one BTS guest and one actor guest (although last time Terry Dresbach, former costume designer, came for her second appearance and brought Ron D. Moore with her). But organizer Deb Ford does classes and a trivia contest, a lot of things that other events don’t do. Last year, I went to Outlandish Vancouver for the first time (even though I’ve been good friends with the organizer since my very first Outlander event in 2014) which was really a lot of fun and where I met YOUUUUUUU. (I mean, that had to be the highlight for all *snort*) That one’s been cancelled for this year, and because of Andy’s wedding next year, I don’t think I’ll make it then either, but I encourage everyone else to look at that one.”
These women love each other so much. Meet Alyson, Cardboard Bonnet, Erin, Cardboard Jamie, Samantha, Cardboard Young Ian. Pass some Droughtlander hours and go back for a listen. Stay Tuned for new ones!
I’m going to live vicariously through you because I think my only cast experiences will ever happen at Outlandish Vancouver (I’m not complaining, because they have been freaking life-altering– not even kiddin’) Please share your most memorable fan experiences… “My favourite was probably my first – the Random House MOBY book debut in Seattle in 2014. I met so many wonderful new people, met Diana Gabaldon for the first time, saw the first TV show trailer…
I love being in the position to be able to meet the stars and creators personally when I’m interviewing, or on red carpets, etc. For the S1 Part 2 premiere in NYC, I did my first red carpet. I had a minor role in helping the SoCal group meet Sam at what they thought was just going to be a chance to look at the packaging for the upcoming DVD, and Sam walked into their review session. For my assistance – which was just providing a name – Sony sent me a personalized photo of Sam holding up a sign for me. At that red carpet event, I brought a printed out copy of that picture. Sam saw me holding it, and ran over to say “That was for YOU?? Can I sign it for you?” That was a thrill. Everyone has been wonderful to meet.”
THUD! Yup. Just THUD. I’m that person that says something inappropriate to break the ice and ends up wearing it forever. I’ve seen you on the red carpet while watching live streams and you are always so damn dignified. It’s annoying and why I like hanging around you – you make me look like a grown-up. Just put your cursor right here and click! You can see for yourself how cool she is. I am always grateful for the people that Outlander has brought into my life. What do you feel it has brought to yours? “Outlander has really expanded my personal and semi-professional life (since I don’t get paid for any of this). I’ve met the BEST people, women I never would have met otherwise, and that’s enriched my life to no end. I’ve also done things I couldn’t have conceived of doing – I’ve interviewed not only Outlander stars, but then had the confidence and opportunity to meet stars of many other shows, hone my interviewing skills, and develop a bit of a reputation. I’ve really enjoyed managing Facebook groups, setting up and running an annual Holiday Gift Exchange (6 years and still going), and doing an internet radio show.
Now that Droughtlander is in full swing, have you any advice for fans that are starting to get antsy? “Find something else to do in real life. Like I said before, it’s not healthy to be so invested in one book and TV series. I see people, over and over, saying “nothing else lives up to it,” and I don’t get that. There are SO many books, TV series, real-life adventures, children and grandchildren, things that need to be done. And then when it comes back on, you’ll enjoy it even more because you’ll be ready and refreshed, rather than in agony over every little word and delay.”
That’s some damned good advice, my friend. For those reading, leave any books you have read and enjoyed in the comments or the thread of whatever media you are reading this on. Share and share alike!
This is the ABOotlander finale question. You have been invited to dinner with us and you have been offered these Albertan delicacies A) Moose Droppings B) Beaver Tails C) Prairie Oysters D) Taber Corn. Which would you choose & why?“AHHH. I know what Prairie Oysters are, not having those. I like most things corn-related, but somehow this feels like a trick question. I hope moose droppings have something to do with chocolate, so I’ll pick that one.” I love you think I would trick you with corn. It speaks so much of what you know of me.
The Outlander fandom started before the TV show was even created due to the popularity of the novels. When the show was announced, the book fans started an online presence that was impressive. Erin was certainly a part of that wave, we are grateful for her dedication. Thank you, my friend for sharing your mind and your heart with so many…especially me!
Droughtlander became a thing the very first ‘break’ Outlander took between episodes 8 and 9 of the first season. Each break we experience as a fandom seems longer than the last and we all know, this Droughtlander is bound to be the longest of them all. Through no fault of anyone but this blasted virus that has taken the world to a halt.
Our fandom is like a family in many ways. It can be a place we go for support and love, we can sometimes feel alienated by it, we can laugh with one another and we can argue…there is disfunction and there is passion. It becomes what we want it to be, our bubbles become custom made.
This is where I decided, for me, and those who are like-minded, that I felt #TheLOVELANDERProject could help those who wanted to stay connected, do so. Perhaps it will help others in the fandom or new to it – find their people. It can be a way to encourage us to share our stories with one another.
The LOVELANDER Project will also bust into your days with laughter. Sharing giggles and what I hope are unexpected surprises here and there.
I hope you join in. When you find an Outlander story that touches your heart, RT with the hashtag #TheLOVELANDERProject. I’m excited to learn more about the people in this fandom, expand my circle and hopefully spread a little happiness while I am at it.
I debated whether I would write about this episode, I also had an inner dialogue if I’d go my regular route of running further afield. Should I break my streak and face real talk? I have a rather, let’s say, intimate relationship with sexual assault and rape. I have spoken of it pretty openly. In my 30’s, I spent time working as a victim services coordinator which gave me an opportunity to sit with, walk beside and rage alongside women in impossible circumstances. Rape should never be brushed away. It happens often in our society now, we know damn well it happened in the past. In fact, it happened so often that it wasn’t even considered rape. It was considered a right by the aggressor and a duty by the victim. I decided not to take a deep dive there, this time. Droughtlander is going to be long, I do have some things I want to say and I will because I have plenty of time.
The finale was steeped in fear. I know we all have different ideas of what fear is. Motivational speakers like to say fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”, and hey, I’m not knocking that mindset, hell, I have said it myself BUT when you have a boot being swung at your head that’s fucking scary and real, there is a legitimate reason to fear that.
Fear, like many things in this life – isn’t simple.
The series of events we witnessed were spurned by the deep-seated fears that Lionel Brownhad. Before someone thinks I am defending that piece of flaming garbage, I am not. People act with violence ‘because of’ and Lionel was acting through his hate for Claire and everything she was/represented. That hate constructed a fear he felt powerless with. In order to gain some dominance he recruited and included other men. This gave him the impression of strength and control. All the while, his fear and hate continued to build because Claire refused to cower to him.
Sadly, we can see this in ourselves. Naturally, the degree that Brown hits isn’t the norm for most of us🤞🏻 . When we ‘hate’ someone, that is mostly predicated by a perceived threat (or because someone we trust has told us we should). We may feel inadequate, powerless or somehow ashamed when we are exposed to them. Those feelings can cause us to lash out.
In Lionel’s case, they are exhibited in violent acts and rage. We aren’t complete misogynist slime balls so we react in a less vicious manner. We may be passive-aggressive, withhold kindness, gossip or spread rumours. It is a usual tactic to try and turn others against those who we have had felt threatened by, Lionel did exactly that with his men.
Lionel thought he had power over Claire when all along, she had power over him. Did it matter that Lionel’s wife refused his bed? No. He would beat her and raped her anyway. Did it matter that Claire made eye contact with him and called him out on shooting a man in the back? Not really, her accusations held no water legally. None of these things truly changed Lionel’slife BUT he invented Claire being a personal threat to him. He created that narrative and brought his friends along for the ride because when we get others to join in our treachery it validates it.
The big bad girl scared all of them with her big brain.
Let’s face it, spreading hate is especially easy when the one person fighting against it, is bound, gagged, beaten and raped into submission. When this kind of fear/hate finds it target, it becomes emboldened and so do those who follow it. When their target falls they use this as fuel for their hate.
This is something that we see regularly. Those who are oppressed, have to fight harder, be louder and they are still consistently beaten into silence – yet – they don’t give up. Those who are bullied, beaten, shot, denied work, incarcerated and forced to sit at tables alone…think about it. We see it onOutlanderon a dramatic scale, when we travel to the other points on the spectrum, there you will find us. It’s the human condition and not all of it is pleasant to look at.
No matter what side we are on, it’s embarrassing to be ‘in’ this society sometimes.
The show writers made it easy to despise Lionel. We don’t really give a shit if he was afraid of Claire, do we? That’s his own shrivelled up masculinity, too bad he couldn’t keep it to himself. All we wanted to see was that he and his buddies were punished.
The reality of that punishment, in this story, is that would also come from fear. I wanted to look at 2 of the characters that truly used their fear as fuel. This is why being aware of the scope of emotion is so important, why looking at life in black and white can be dangerous.
Marsali and Roger both used their fear as fuel. Marsali, has become aware of her worth as a women in a world that doesn’t especially find worth in her. This man not only threatened her and the child she carried by assaulting her, he tormented and raped her Ma. Brown was laying in the room with her, threatening to kill everyone on the ridge. Her experience with him tells her that he is not lying. These are not threats, these are promises. Marsali is not willing to live with this fear, she ends it the only way she can. I could hear the cheers across the Outlander fandom.
We have the ability to do the same in our lives. No, I am not advocating jabbing a big ole needle full of poison into someones neck, that’s pushin’ it.
Imagine for a moment, we have that person who is in our life that is constantly forcing toxicity into our life. We listen, take it in, allow it to seep into our days because we fear the fall out if we stop engaging. I know many of us can relate to this, afraid to hurt feeling. Confrontation is hard. Yet, here we allow ourselves to go through the stress for a harmful relationship out of fear of hurting the feelings of someone we don’t respect or even like. We need to love ourselves more than that.
Roger. Deep down is a pacifist but his fear was clearly build from love. His fear was for Claire and her safety. He used this to push through his natural instinct to be a man of peace, to fight for his family. We will find this with mothers and fathers regarding their children. It is why I was so happy to see Outlander utilize Roger in this way. His nature is not one of violence, yet, for his family, for the woman who is very much a mother to him, he will do whatever it takes. Even if it means stepping over a line that he will never forget crossing. We have those moments too, we are so terrified, we don’t know if we can do something, yet we do. Getting married, having kids, getting on that roller coaster, taking that promotion, buying that house, moving across the country, getting a divorce, getting help for that thing we don’t want anyone to know about. No matter what it is, if we think it is worth going for, we will push through that fear and do it.
This fear thing, we all live with it. It’s an emotion that we can learn to manage, understand and even embrace.
Now gimme a HUG! We all need it after this season. Let’s try and get through Droughtlander without too many injuries, eh?
It’s been approximately 12 hours since I watchedJourneycakefor the 5th time. I’m still not completely settled. To be honest, I feel like it beat the shit out of me.
*sssh* I know, self-inflicted. *blah blah blah*
As soon as I felt a little safe with a bit of happiness, laughter or joy BOOM – kick in the face with sadness, despair or pure fear. It may be partially due to my being in a vulnerable state but jeemziz, it was a doodiddlydoozey!
Do what ya can to get you through it!
I am diving in because if I don’t I will let my mind start wandering and it may never come back. All the dynamics of relationships were on display in this episode. Good, bad and deep dark-n-ugly. The beauty of it all, we can identify with each one and that is why they resonate with us. I want to throw a mental note at everyone, these blogs (even though I’m a book reader), are written in direct relation to the show and what happens on it.
I have always believed that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some will fill one of those spaces and that’s kinda the way it’s meant to be. Not everyone we develop relationships with is meant to be in our life forever. Realistically, some who pass through may not have been put there for us, we may have been there for them. A by-product, for lack of a better word, of something they needed, to teach them a lesson of some kind. Meaning the reason may never be known to us.
This thread was so predominant with our characters in this episode. The opening scene was jarring yet speaks loudly about how people come into our life for a reason. Thedying girl, her connection to Roger, lasts mere moments though it will stay with him forever. We will never know who they were but she needed Roger. As she lay there suffering it was his gentle and merciful hands passing by to set her free from the pain. For that reason alone, they were meant to cross paths.
That meeting may have also been a catalyst to Roger’s desire to return to his own time sooner than later. This isn’t something a 20th-century history professor would ever have to worry about stumbling across, is it?
‘Dr. Rawlings’ made his way to Wilmington and everywhere in between, as unintentional as it was, it seems the reason stretched far beyond Claire’s objective. Women were getting medical advice that was unprecedented. Previous episodes foreshadowed it, where this episode solidified Claire’s life has been put in danger due to her connection with Dr. Rawlings.
Those three minutes on screen with Claire, Rose and Marsali were enough to give the audience a full view of what affects Dr. Rawlings has had. Rose Brown, whose reproductive choices were never her own now had some say, due to the knowledge inadvertently printed in that newspaper. No doubt saving a child being born to the hands of an abusive father.
We are aware that women have been controlled in many ways over the centuries, reproductively we were on the bottom, which is insane since we are the ONLY ones that have that particular superpower. We can easily assume that Rose was not the only one taking this advice. Whether it was because they were in an abusive relationship, had enough damn kids already or *gasp* simply did not want to have a child. We will need to hold the outcome of Dr. Rawlings as a separate entity from the purpose it may have had for the women who benefited from it.
We have those ‘seasonal’ relationships. You know the ones. They come into our lives and we feel like they are going to last forever, they change who we are at our core and then the relationship ends or changes to something less than it was.
With the MacKenzie’s leaving the ridge, we experienced these heartwrenching but beautiful goodbyes. In the land of the interwebs, we are luckier but we still go through them. A friendship, like Lizzie and Brianna, we feel will last forever. BFFs, we say. Forever is a long time though. We attach ourselves to people in times we have a need, they have a need. When those needs change or we change, often so will the relationship. Sure, sometimes our relationships can grow and change along with us however there are times they disappear with the seasons. We often see this as a bad thing instead of accepting it as a part of moving through life. This doesn’t make them less than, they likely taught us something wonderful about ourselves, pushed us through some harrowing times and created a soft place for us to land.
We often make the mistake of thinking those seasonal relationships of growing apart or ending as bad things. If we accepted it for what it was, we would be grateful for the experiences we shared, thank one another, hope we will cross paths again one day and move forward. Instead, we often end up burning a bridge or two because we aren’t sure how to end a relationship in a healthy way. It seems this is something Ian is struggling with. His desperate need to go back to change things with the woman he speaks of.
Otter-tooth attempted to go back in time to change the fate of his people. What was supposed to be a lifetime relationship became one of the seasons. The connection Otter-tooth ended up having with Claire, saved Roger from the Mowhawk but also become the catalyst of Ian finding a home with them. It was planned Ian would stay with them indefinitely except things happen that we can’t predict. These are the moments when our wishes get blown out like a candle.
Those instances can kick us in the back of the knees, can’t they? We think we have it all figured out. Know exactly what is happening with our life and suddenly something that we have no control over changes the trajectory, instantly. Without warning lifetime people fade into seasonals and the adjustment physically hurts. The ridge was alive with this while the MacKenzie’s said their goodbyes and why there were so many emotional reactions by viewers.
Our characters drove home a crucial point, our lifetime people don’t always have to be in our daily lives. Ulysses comes to mind. He has been a free man since Hector Cameron died yet he stayed as a loyal friend (viewed by all others, as a slave) to Jocasta. Never leaving her side until he was finally forced to. The bond that Ulysses and Jocasta had is not the kind that is lost with time or distance. It will be carried across the sea as it is an attachment that was sealed with trust (and you know, weasel killing).
Jamie may have spoken the words clearest during the scene with Bree. “Though I might not see any of you again, You have made my life whole.” Not all relationships within families are this deep. With Bree, Jemmy and yes, Roger, Jamie had been given the full family that he always desired. Whether he held them in his arms or in his heart, he had them and that mattered the most.
The reason why Jamie’s stalwart nature resonated with me is I had to stop and ask myself why isn’t he breaking? I could feel Claire. She was feeling the grief of her daughter, grandson and son-in-law, being gone from her. Jamie, being bold and yes, moved, missing them but then I saw it. He still held them in the very same spot they were as if he could touch them. Where Claire, like so many of us, have done, when our children leave home, move out of the province or country, saw them as untouchable – he saw them as within. Not only did it help him with the transition, but it also enabled him to support Claire better through her grief.
We also have those relationships. The ones that never end. Whether the person is gone from this earth or has moved far away. I have friends that I haven’t seen for years, might speak with a couple times a year yet I know, without a doubt, they are my people. The minute we end up in the same room, no time has passed and we are the same two idiots we always were.
Reflecting on the episode Journeycake makes me grateful for the ‘Outlander season’ part of my life. It has been a hell of a ride thus far. I have no idea how many years we have left on this rollercoaster of a fandom. We can’t even guess who will come into our lives or who will leave over that course of time. I do know that I have met some remarkable people as a result of me sticking my nose in all yer bizznizz and I have a feeling there will be more than a few of you stuck with me for a lifetime.