Ronald D Moore Interview on ‘Outlander,’ the Wentworth Scenes, Accents, and Book Fans

Ronald D Moore on Outlander, Accents, and the Wentworth Scenes
‘Outlander’ writer/executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Photo © 2014 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Outlander writer/executive producer Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Roswell, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) says fans of the bestselling book series by Diana Gabaldon can expect the remainder of season one and the following seasons of the Starz series to remain faithful to the source material. While Moore couldn’t promise every event from the books will make it into the show starring Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, he did tell us during the TCA winter press event that he believes 90% of the major events from Gabaldon’s riveting book series will be included in the Starz series.

Ronald D Moore Outlander Interview:

How did you decide the way you wanted the characters to sound?

Ronald D. Moore: “First, we take a clue from the book and the style and structure of the voices that were established in the book. Then you translate it to screen and you’re hearing a certain rhythm. It’s a subjective process. You’re listening for something that sounds odd to your ear and that doesn’t work, something that sounds too modern. Sometimes you have to look up specific idioms and see whether or not they actually would’ve said this in the time or not. What we know of the period was a more formal time. They did tend to speak in a more formalized way. They weren’t as casual in conversation. So you’re trying to ride that balance where you’re giving the audience a sense of a time and a place without making it so impenetrable that they have trouble relating to it.”

Do you put in surprises for people who read the books?

Ronald D. Moore: “Well, you try to put in as much as you can. I wanted it to be a faithful adaptation. I wanted people who love the book to love the show, so you’re starting from that place. But then you’re also thinking about it with two parts of your head. You’re also aware of the audience that has never read the book and you have to be clear and make sure that they’re able to follow it, they’re not getting lost in some reference to something that you’re throwing in for no reason.

Most of the major events of the book are present in the series. I would say, really, 90-something percent are all there in some way, shape, or form. Even if we alter them or maybe did them in a different sequence, we always start from a place of ‘be as faithful as you can to the book and then make changes when you need to.'”

Did anything surprise you because it turned out even better than you anticipated?

Ronald D. Moore: “The big thing was, in terms of Claire, I needed an actress who was really intelligent because I thought that was her defining characteristic. She’s a really smart woman and everything comes out of that. Her strength comes out of her intelligence, her empathy, her sexuality, and her competence or humor, it was all based in her intellect. And, it had to be somebody we could watch in every scene and listen to her voice on top of that. So you kind of cross your fingers and you hope that you can find an actress who can take that kind of burden.

With Caitriona, she makes it look effortless. I never get sick of watching her or listening to her. There’s just ease that I didn’t really expect. I thought we might have to work a little harder to get you to like that character because you’re going to be with her for so long.”

Did Diana Gabaldon do all the research about the time?

Ronald D. Moore: “Yeah, she did a huge amount of research so we can take the book as already researched. Then when we have questions beyond that, we have resources to go to, to check in with other things or to fact check this or that. All the different departments have their own individual research that they do in addition. They’ll bring things to me and they’ll just say, ‘Well, the research actually says…’ For instance, there’s a boar hunt that we did in the first half of the season. Our research said, ‘Well, actually, the boars were all gone in Scotland by this point. Do you still want to do this?’ And I thought about it for a minute. I thought, ‘Well, we could do a stag hunt instead of a boar,’ but then opted… You know, I get it, that’s anachronistic but that’s pretty down in the weeds. We’re just going to make it a boar hunt because that’s what it was in the book.”

Are the Wentworth scenes going to be even more brutal than the Jamie flogging scene?

Ronald D. Moore: “Yeah. I mean, they’re different obviously but they’re pretty difficult and pretty challenging, and it’s spread across two episodes as opposed to just being all in one episode. So, yeah, it’s pretty tough stuff.”

What are they actually drinking in the booze on the set?

Ronald D. Moore: “Oh, it’s all iced tea and colored water because they have to do a lot of takes. We couldn’t get through the day otherwise.”

Do you know when season two will air?

Ronald D. Moore: “I don’t think we have an air date yet. We’ll start shooting season two in May. We’ll be shooting in Scotland until around February, and I assume we’ll be on the air sometime in 2016.”

Did you ever consider following season one directly in the timeline, or are you going to follow the books?

Ronald D. Moore: “Well, we’re playing around with the structure of that right now. But the second book is structured in a specific way and I think it does work, so we’re going to follow that template pretty much.”

Have you cast Brianna, Roger, or John?

Ronald D. Moore: “We’re casting. We haven’t cast them yet, but we’re looking at tape. We’ve been looking at tape for a while so it’s an active process.”

Are Sam and Caitriona in the series until the end?

Ronald D. Moore: “I hope so.”

– Also of Interest: Sam Heughan on Fans, Sex Scenes, and Romance / Caitriona Balfe on Her Co-Stars and Book Boyfriends

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