How many times over the years have fans of Outlander the book series heard “Gerard Butler would be the perfect Jamie!” Or, “Gerard Butler could never play Jamie because he’s too old.” Or my personal favorite, “No one could ever portray the characters as well as I imagine them”?
Too many to count.
Ready or not, most of the major characters have been cast for the Outlander the TV series, and boy has the fur been flying! Here’s a sample of some comments seen on Diana Gabaldon’s Facebook wall:
Re: Sam Heughan (Jamie): too old/too young/not Scottish enough/too delicate/too British looking/too grouchy/not tall enough/his hair is not red enough/his hair is too red/his eyes are not blue enough…or, “he’s perfect!”
Re: Caitriona Balfe (Claire): too thin/not bosomy enough/not Scottish/too Irish/too tall/her hair is to straight/her eyes aren’t brown…or, “she’s perfect!
First of all – really? I mean – REALLY? Have they never heard of hair dye? Or contact lenses?
Even I was partial to a couple of different actors at one time or another (Andy Whitfield RIP, and yes, Chris Hemsworth), but I’ve always kept an open mind. Plus, I trust 100% that series Producer, Ron Moore, will stay as faithful to the books as he can.
I recently had the opportunity to personally ask Ron at the New York Starz Outlander event if the final decision on casting rested with him:
“Well it’s a lot of people who are involved; it’s myself, it’s Starz, it’s Sony, Diana… It was very important to us that she liked them, so when she was off, you know, watching [the audition tapes in Arizona] we were sort of holding our breath in Scotland hoping this was going to work.”
That was music to my ears and should be to yours too. Not just Ron but Starz and Sony are keeping their word about involving Diana, making an effort to please her and by default, the readers – statistically that almost never happens. Book-to-film adaptations rarely live up to the source material, so we should count ourselves extremely lucky.
After all, Diana is the author, the one who conceived the characters/created the Outlander universe. In my perfect world, her opinion should carry the most weight.
She did address the casting brouhaha recently on her blog, and this is part of what she had to say to any naysayers of Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser:
“Why anyone should expect a film company to a) telepathically extract your personal vision of a character and b) try to replicate that onscreen is one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe, and I’m not about to try to solve it here – I got a book to write, among other things, and there are only so many hours in the day. So I’m just going to say This about That: Y’all have not seen Sam Heughan “be” Jamie Fraser.
…I was madly googling “Sam Heughan” on my iPhone (my husband was driving, I hasten to add).
Frankly, I thought he looked bizarre. He’s 6’3”, that’s fine…very chiseled face, but oddly chiseled, and what’s with the large forehead and cleft chin?!? Jamie doesn’t have a cleft chin and his nose is not all that long, though it _is_ straight…and good grief, I know we wanted somebody who could play a 22-year-old virgin, but this guy hardly looks like he has hair on his behind, let alone the dangly bits…but…
But. But you know, I _do_ understand what it is that actors do.
(Do you know that, btw? What they do is magic. They can become somebody they aren’t—and their physical outline is just Really Not That Important. (Within limits. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is a long way outside those limits…).)
So I sat down at my computer, sort of looking warily through my fingers. Willing to suspend disbelief if I could, but kind of dubious, you know? So here he is, dark-haired, in a long-sleeved gray T-shirt, and I’m thinking, “Boy, he doesn’t look _anything_ like his IMDB photos, he actually looks pretty human, that’s a relief…”
…And five seconds later, Sam Heughan was GONE, and it was Jamie Fraser right there in front of me. True. No costume, no makeup, no props, nothing but cues from an offstage casting director, and…it was him….And he had it all: patience, seriousness, annoyance, patience, humor, menace, humor, and…enough sex to drop anyone with functioning ovaries in their tracks.”
“Enough sex to drop anyone with functioning ovaries in their tracks”? Yes please!
I say we trust in the process and let them do their jobs – they dinnae seem to be having any trouble thus far, ken?
Jennifer Townsend is a Writer/Blogger from Connecticut, USA, best known for her <cough> healthy and completely normal addiction to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She is the Owner/Administrator of OutlanderFan.com.