A new series for the STARZ network, Outlander is a breathtaking love story based on the ultra-popular book series by Diana Gabaldon. Of course romantic souls have embraced the novels, but who would have ever thought that the crazy fans who attend Comic-Con would also find it appealing? But indeed they have, as was demonstrated at a special mini-preview of Outlander for an enthusiastic audience in San Diego last week. Maybe it’s the time-traveling fantasy part of the storytelling that is thrilling for the fan-boys and girls, or maybe they fancy being swept away to the Scottish highlands of long ago. Or it could be the gorgeous cast: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Graham McTavish and Lotte Verbeek, who charmed all who attended their Comic-Con panel. The series’ executive producer Ronald D. Moore and author Diana Gabaldon were also on hand.
Outlander’s official premiere on STARZ is Saturday, August 9th, at 9pm, but we don’t have to wait until then to decree that it is sensational. At the Television Critics Association summer press tour, STARZ gave the TV journalists screeners of the first episode. My heart is still pounding with joy. Yes, it’s that good!
Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married combat nurse in England in 1945. During a trip to the Highlands with her scholarly husband, she is mysteriously swept back in time to Scotland in 1743, where she is forced to marry Jamie (Sam Heughan), a chivalrous young warrior, whose passion endears him to her. Yet Claire’s heart is torn between her two very different loves. It is an epic adventure full of romance, history, science fiction, and much more.
Outlander fans have been teased with promos that announce “The Kilt Drops 08.09.14 on STARZ.” But I got to see the handsome star Sam Heughan in his fine kilt just in from Glasgow during the last winter press tour for TCA. The strapping young lad was joined by producer Ronald Moore, who was also wearing a kilt, and they did interviews about the production.
Heughan told everyone he finds the kilt “freeing and liberating.” And even when Sam isn’t shooting Outlander, he has gotten used to wearing his kilt. “For formal occasions I’ll wear a modern styled kilt. But for filming the show we use the feileadh mhor (philamore) which is the traditional kilt.”
He describes the type worn in the 1700s (the setting for his story) as a very long bit of cloth. “I can’t remember the actual size of the traditional ones, but ours are about seven or eight foot long, and they are basically used as a tool. The Highlanders would wear them to keep themselves warm.” With so much material, he says “you could use is it as a sleeping bag. You could use it as camouflage to blend into the background. They had a variety of uses. They also had lots of pockets and you could wear them in different ways. It took a long time to get used to it, but it’s a real joy to work with it, and you can find various uses. I mean, we even discovered you can use it as a shield you can wrap around your arm for protection.”
Modern kilts can have brightly colored plaids, but all the colors you see in the Outlander kilts are earth tones. They are taken from the environment because the dyes were from natural herbs or berries, Sam says after becoming sort of an expert now on the traditional kilt.
Outlander producer Ronald D. Moore now has several kilts in his wardrobe which he proudly wears whenever he can. His series captures the spirit of the books for “the dedicated base of fans.” Tune in.
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