Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"To the Haggis!" The Burns Night Supper

Outlander Homepage Originals By Nancy M Guillory

While drunkenly bellowing "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of New Years midnight, have you ever wondered where such an oddly worded song originated?
Well, it originated in Scotland, penned by native son Robert Burns (1759-1796), who is not only considered one of the Greatest Scots, but is celebrated worldwide every January 25th, with Burns Night festivities commemorating the poet's birth.

Now, you're probably thinking; well who was this amazing man, who is still celebrated two hundred and fifty eight years later? Surely he must have been someone of noble birth, a man of great importance from a well known, wealthy family. Perhaps he even held a title, or made history with feats of bravery in some great battle? 

Not hardly. Despite his strict, hardscrabble, agricultural upbringing, 
Scotland's National Poet was the 18th century equivalent of a modern rock star. Sadly, his short life was spent living from pillar to post, while fathering twelve children with numerous women before his death at age thirty-seven. Then again, what would we expect from the guy who wrote bawdy ditties with titles like: Nine Inches Will Please a Lady.

One would think a poor farmer's eldest son would be the least likeliest of lads to become his nation's most celebrated poet, yet the "ploughman's poet" is still frequently recited, and used in other literary works. 
 Mr. Burns witty and sometimes sage quips, have become famously quoted sayings. 
My favorite being: "Man's inhumanity to man, makes countless thousands mourn."

Besides the previously mentioned Auld Lang Syne, popular poems (written in both Scot's and English languages) such as: "To A Mouse" (an ode to the field mouse whose nest he destroyed accidentally while ploughing), have been credited for inspiring the literary likes of John Steinbeck, (Of Mice and Men) and Sidney Sheldon, (The Best Laid Plans) as well as other well known authors.

"To a Mouse"

"But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!"

Other well known lauded works by Robert Burns include: Ae Fond Kiss, Tam O Shanter, A Red Red Rose, and The Battle of Sherramiur, just to name a few. But the most recited of his works besides Auld Lang Syne would have to be, The Selkirk Grace, and Address to a Haggis. Both required recitations at any proper Burns Night supper.

The Burns Night supper has become an international event as celebrations are held by Scots around the globe each January to commemorate "Our Rabbie". It's much more than just a pot luck, or a casual gathering of friends. A true, and proper Burns Night is quite the show, with revelers garbed head to toe in Highland/tartan finery, the sound of pipes and drums, polished swords and the most important guest... the haggis. 
Those attending are piped into the venue, and once everyone has their dram ready, the haggis is piped into the room. The procession is led by the bagpiper, followed by a sword bearer, next the whisky bearer, the haggis bearer in the middle, ending with two more broadsword protecting the rear flank. Once the haggis is carefully settled in it's place of honor, it is "addressed" by some lucky fellow reciting Burns poem by the same name, in the Scots dialect, as he slices open the steaming treat with his dagger. 

Finally, the haggis is toasted with everyone tossing back a dram of whisky, (you cannot have a Burns Night supper without uisge beatha, the "water of life") shouting "to the haggis!!". 
The Selkirk Grace is then spoken over the meal, and supper of traditional Scottish food is served.

Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat an

canna eat,

And some wad eat that want it;

But we hae meat, and we can eat,

And sae let the Lord be thankit!

As guests are polishing off a repast of neeps, tatties, oatcakes, cottage pies, and desserts like cranachan, and tipsy laird, (whisky trifle) traditional toasts are made, always in a specific order. 
First there is the Immortal Memory honoring Robert Burns himself. Next is the toast to the lassies, always made by a gentleman, followed by a toast to the lads, naturally made by one of the ladies present. 
These three toasts usually border perilously close to roasting the intended recipients, but rarely ever cross the line. 
Lastly there is a more respectful, and reverent, toast to Scotland.
The rest of the evening is then spent reciting, or singing selected poems and verse from the birthday boy's vast body of work mixed in with music, and dancing,

aka a ceilidh. The party concludes with those present gathering in a circle, crossing arms, and holding their neighbor's hands, while singing the first two verses of.. Yup! You guessed it! Auld Lang Syne

If this sounds
like a lot of fun, that's because it is. It is an event like none other, and anyone is welcome to join in. You don't have to be a Scot to enjoy Robert Burns poetry, attend, or even host a Burns Night supper. You don't even have to wear tartan if you don't have one, although it is a sight to see the kaleidoscope of clan colors swirling around the dance floor. All you need is a haggis, some neeps, and tatties, and plenty of good single malt scotch whisky, to share with your friends.

Slàinte mhath!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Outlander stars Sam Heughan & Caitriona Balfe filming in Edinburgh

Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe pictured filming in Tweeddale Court. 

Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe were in Edinburgh’s Old Town today to film some scenes for the upcoming third series of the programme.

The series, based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, focuses on 1940s nurse Claire Randall, played by Balfe, who time-travels to Scotland in the 1700s where she meets Jamie Fraser, portrayed by Sam Heughan.

Caitriona Balfe, left, and Sam Heughan were filming in Edinburgh today.

The series, which airs on the Starz network in the US and is available on Amazon Video in the UK, films many scenes in Scotland including at Doune Castle in Stirlingshire, Glencoe, Kinloch Rannoch, Linlithgow, Falkland and Blackness Castle. Some locations, such as Culross in Fife, have seen visitor numbers soar by up to 40 per cent since the TV series aired.

In June last year, a further two series were agreed and filming for the third series has been under way since August last year.

Gabaldon, who wrote the novels from her Arizona home and had never set foot in Scotland at the time, said in October that she was ‘surprised’ by the tourism boom since the novels were turned into a TV series.

She pored over history books and delved into Scotland’s past to research folklore and the landscape while writing the novels.

She said: “I love Scotland and I feel it’s given me a great deal so I’m very happy if I can give something back, but it was never my intent to raise Scottish tourism.

“It is part of what we call the Outlander effect, which is very strange and certainly nothing I ever expected.

“It has this very odd effect. People who like the book want to extend their experience.”

Jenni Steele of VisitScotland said last year: “The interest in Outlander around the world is absolutely phenomenal, especially in the US and Germany, and it’s growing a lot in the UK, even though it is not on mainstream TV.

“We’re really lucky that Scotland was voted the best cinematic destination in the world last year. I think we may have a lot of Outlander fans to thank for it as they were continually trying to encourage people to vote for Scotland. “We beat some very good destinations like New Zealand and America.


Caitriona Balfe: Claire and Jamie's Outlander Reunion Will Be "Very Fraught"

It's complicated.



Full article

It's finally back on for the time travel-afflicted lovers in Outlander season three. Viewers were devastated when Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) were left facing 20 years apart in the season two finale. But luckily, the couple are set to find each other again in a "very heartwarming, very tender" reunion, Balfe told at the pre-Golden Globes BAFTA tea in Los Angeles.

"You can't keep these two apart, really," she said. "We do spend some time on what both of the characters go through when they're separated. We see a lot of Jamie's life in those 20 years, and we see some of Claire's. My story picks up where we left at the end of episode one, season two. So you'll see definitely some Tobias Menzies, which is never a bad thing, I would say."

Caitriona Balfe at the BAFTA Tea Party

But like in all long-distance relationships (time travel counts, right?), things are not exactly straightforward for Claire and Jamie.

"It's also very fraught," Balfe said, "because I think anyone who's spent any time apart from someone that they love, even if it's just a long-distance relationship, once you see each other again, you have all the expectations, and you have all of the things that you think you'll say, and the way you think it'll go. Life's never like that. I love that it's kind of complicated."

But will it get steamy between the historical sheets?

"It might be a little bit. I'm not a good objective judge of how steamy it is."

Having battled her way through literally several eras of chauvinism, what would Claire think if she landed in our present-day political situation?

"I think she would just want women especially, and everyone, to stand up for what you believe in," Balfe said. "Don't take no for an answer, and continue to fight the good fight, which I think we all should do."

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The People's choice Q & A 2017 with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe

Congratulations to Starz, Outlander, Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and the entire cast!

With the People's Choice awards upon us, we know the value of our fandom...  We did this!

Im very proud as an Outlander fan, we worship well and when it's up to us, we win big!

Congratulations Outlander!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

“Je Suis Prest” An interview with actor Ryan Ralph Gerrard from your Aussie blogging lass!

OutlanderHomepage Originals By Susie Brown

Any true Outlander fan can tell you that the Fraser clan motto, “Je Suis Prest” means “I am ready.” For actor Ryan Ralph Gerrard, it’s a motto that he seems to have taken to heart. After appearing as an extra on Outlander’s season 1, Ryan knew that he too was ready - ready for more. So much so, that he’s set to return to the show in season 3 in a larger, yet-to-be-announced role. While the specifics of his return are currently under wraps, Ryan agreed to talk to Outlander Homepage about the rest of his career. He also shared his choice of time period were he suddenly able to travel through the stones himself!

Indeed, it was travel that first set a young Ryan on the acting path.

"As a child I was lucky enough to go abroad quite frequently with family,” he explained. “Unlike my sister, Laura, who was quite reserved as a child, I possessed a lot of confidence and so I would talk with the hotel manager and performers, to organise a way in which I could be involved with their shows! I must've been about 4 or 5 at the time, but I remember vividly - at a bar in Benidorm - watching a man named Martin Kemp perform his one-man show of impersonations. For me, the idea that one man was making a room of 100 or so people laugh or cry was magical. I think from that moment on, my flame of ambition to become a performer was lit and it still ultimately drives me forward to this day.”

It took a while before Ryan’s performing life could begin, however.

“I grew up just outside of Glasgow and there were never any artistic opportunities in my area,” Ryan told us. “Luckily for me, my parents could see my passion from a young age and so they raised the funds to send me to The Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre and Arts. During my 3 years at the school, I made contacts from both the theatrical and TV/film industries which led to me joining an agency for background artists. During my high school years, whilst all of my peers were experimenting in the world of 'partying', I tended to spend less time socialising and more time learning about the craft. I would spend most of my free time on the sets of BBC’s Waterloo Road and BBC Scotland’s River City as an extra. This really opened my eyes to how a tv or film production was run. It was something I'd never been taught and ironically it’s where I now spend all of my time.”

Family continued to play an important part in Ryan’s developing career, with an early role reliant on him having had an emotional personal experience.

Ryan on set of "James and the Urn"

“My grandad, Tom Gerrard, had recently passed away,” said Ryan, “when I saw the audition for ‘James and the Urn’ come up. It required the actor to have knowledge or experience of being connected to a loved one who had recently passed. So, in my audition tape, I used my Grandad’s urn and ashes. This was the first time I was emotionally invested in a role, because what was happening in reality had parallels with the story. ‘James and the Urn’ premiered at the Edinburgh Filmhouse cinema in 2014 and enjoyed a sold out run. I then went on to do ‘Outlander’.

When Season 1 began filming, Ryan was invited to be a background artist for a month, while the Witch Trial scenes with Caitriona Balfe and Lotte Verbeek were being shot. It was an unforgettable time.

“I can honestly say, that at that time it was one of the best jobs I had ever done,” Ryan said. “I met some incredible friends during that month and because we spend mostly every hour of every day together, we bonded really quickly. All of the actors were extremely humble and warm towards me.”

With Melissa Boreland and Emma Findlay during Outlander Season 1

But Ryan knew he was ready for more.

“Essentially, like any aspiring actor, I have been climbing the ladder,” he said. “There came a time where I had to call it a day doing extra work. Watching Caitriona and Lotte perform really inspired me to keep pushing and to fight to get to where I wanted to be. Background artists are extremely important to making a scene look believable, but I knew that I wanted to be next to the main actors on screen, not behind them.”

And it appears that his determination has succeeded.

“Who knew that one day, I would be back on Outlander, as a cast member?” Ryan teased. “I definitely struck gold!”

On set for season 3, with Sam Heughan

Unfortunately, Ryan is not allowed to talk about his season 3 role or experiences just yet, but he has promised to do so later in the year. So, while we wait, we contented ourselves with asking him which time period he would travel to, if he suddenly found himself able to go through the stones. 

“I've always said that I'm an old soul,” Ryan answered. “I really love the 1920s and the whole vibe and glamour that was associated with that era. Of course, it was awful for the majority of people who didn't have money - but if I could go back and wake up every day, throw on a three piece suit, smoke a cigar, listen to jazz music and sip a cocktail, I'd be quite content!”

This sounds like a relaxing lifestyle, so we asked Ryan to tell us about his real life “down time” and to share his idea of a perfect day

“Most of an actor’s life is 'down-time',” Ryan commented, “so to be completely honest, most of it for me is filled with constant auditions and liaising with contacts about work. However, my idea of a perfect day is to relax at home with a coffee nearby, reading lots of new plays and watching the new uploads to Netflix. It's important for me to keep up to date with TV and theatre. It's constantly changing and I'm always learning. I'm also really beginning to enjoy 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. I used to think it was a waste of time, but some of the projects I'm currently doing require a lot of emotion. Getting into the right state of mind and being focused is key to getting it right.”

So what’s coming up next for Ryan Ralph Gerrard?

“Now that having a role in Outlander is checked off my bucket list, I really want to expand my range of roles,” Ryan told us. “I think it's important for any actor to really explore the range of their ability. It's really easy to be stuck in a box and told, "this is who you should be" all the time, so I just want to play and see what I do and don't connect with.

In late 2016, I played the lead in “Great Expectations”. This was a contemporary take on Dickens’ classic tale, written for the stage by Neil Bartlett. It was a show that was part of my acting diploma and it allowed me to network with lots of people. The footage was shown to an agent in London and I gained representation as a result."

As "Pip"

With co star Hannah June Simpson

2016 also saw Ryan make a short film for Edinburgh University with MuckyPup Productions. The film, “Brothers” can be viewed here:

And as for 2017 and beyond?

"I already have a few projects lined up that take me through into 2018," Ryan said. "I'm working with Matthew J. Howie on "Roxy Smiles”, that's due to film in Spring.

As well as that, I have a film I'm shooting in Scotland between now and summer called, "The Second Life Club" written by Simon Jake.

In the Autumn I'll be shooting "CATALYST" in London, written by Elizabeth J. Cassidy. It's one of the projects I've most been looking forward to. It's been in development for a few years now and it's finally happening.

2016 was a fantastic stepping stone in my career, but in 2017 I'm aiming even higher. I can't wait to see what the year holds for me.”
We can’t wait to see either and want to thank Ryan for taking the time to speak to us. We’re already looking forward to our next chat!

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She’s impatiently waiting for season 3 to begin, so that she can find out the identity of Ryan’s mystery character! 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Tobias Menzies is best known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Outlander and Rome.


Full article

Tobias Menzies is known for giving a complex portrayal of a villain, from his turn as Brutus on HBO's Rome to his Golden Globe-nominated performance as Black Jack Randall on Starz's Outlander. He'll soon be taking on a very different type of villain in Underworld: Blood Wars, but he attempted to bring the same amount of complexity to the villainous Lycan.

In Blood Wars, Menzies plays the leader of the Lycans, Marius. He's a "more efficient, more impressive foe" than Underworld's vampires have seen before, and has a personal connection to Kate Beckinsale's Selene. Though the production had looked at a few different actors to play the film's villain, director Anna Foerster suggested Menzies because of their work together on Outlander, where she directed him in several especially notable episodes, and the team behind Blood Wars decided he was right for the part.

Tobias Menzies plays the Lycan Marius in Underworld: Blood Wars

"[Marius] can easily fall into a cliché of the big bad wolf, and having worked with Tobias I know he has the possibility to be between charming and seductive and then yet extremely cruel," Foerster explained during a December 2015 visit to the film's Prague set. "After talking with him and asking if he could imagine that -- because that’s a big question -- we both thought it could be quite exciting."

Check out our group set visit interview with Menzies below, where he talked about transitioning from Outlander to Underworld, his relationship with horror and the surprising way he prepared to play a werewolf.

Can you talk about coming over to this from Outlander with Anna Foerster and playing another villain with her?
Tobias Menzies: Anna and I worked together for two blocks on the first season of Outlander, culminating in the finale. We got on very well. She is fantastic, Anna, and I was very glad to hear that she was helming this project. It is always exciting to see a woman helming one of these kinds of projects, I guess, which are known for their action and kind of maybe a little boys-y. She's come over from sort of action camera in a way as her background. What’s interesting is she combines character and character intention with all of that really well, I think. So, it was really exciting to join forces with her again. Yes, she did [fight for me]. I don’t think Lakeshore and Sony really knew my stuff, so she had to kind of stick at it. And it is true, I haven't done stuff like this, more action material. I generally come in and do quite a lot talking and now I do a lot less talking and a lot more fighting.

How do you like that?

Menzies: I really enjoy that. It is really a very different experience, but hugely enjoyable.

How easily does it come? What kind of prep did you do?

Menzies: They sent me to a trainer, so I had to get stronger, lose some weight, but the actually fighting, it has come all right actually. I've sort of picked it up pretty quick. It is a lot of fun to do.

Underworld: Blood Wars - Domestic Trailer #2

Even though this character is the antagonist, you said you thought of someone that is trying to lead kind of a slave uprising. How is the film approaching this? Is he sort of a sympathetic character?

Menzies: I guess the genera of Underworld is kind of mythic now, isn't it? So, it doesn't naturally lend itself to huge complexity. These characters are relatively black and white, but I suppose I've tried, along with Anna, to get as many layers into Marius as possible. On the face of it, yes, he is just sort of the main villain, but we have tried to tease some stuff in around the issues of blood, because throughout the film he is hunting Selene's child, who is a hybrid child and he is appearing to try to get ahold of her to get her blood.

We tried to sort of fold into that a little more about why that is and make him that he is dependent, almost sort of a drug addict on this blood, for his survival. Yeah, I suppose I just try to make it a story about an underclass seeking for equality, which I suppose we can all relate to, and feels in its own way relevant to some of the stuff we are seeing around Europe. So [there’s an] attempt to kind of fight from a position of subjugation, but that is what it was in essence. In between quite a lot of punching and shooting I'm trying to give him a bit of sympathetic-ness.

How do you prepare to play a creature?

Menzies: I did a bit of going to London Zoo. There was no wolves sadly, but there was an African dog, some African dogs. They slept most of the time I was there, but I had a look at them. I really wanted to, in little, subtle moments have [elements of that]. ... So, for instance, there was a shot when we first meet the character. We meet him from behind and the camera follows me and this character comes and tells me a bit of information. I tried to be quite tactile with the men in my troop, so there is something sort of dog-like about that, about how they interact, how they assert dominance with each other. There’s quite a lot of intimacy. Those were sort of the thoughts about the physicality of it. Less in the sound, I suppose. There's moments where there is a roar in the sound and stuff, but in the performance I tried to make it too not like that, but maybe try and bleed some into the physicality, and I suppose just really watched lots of footage of dogs and wolves.

Underworld: Blood Wars - Trailer 4

Were you a horror fan? Did you ever think of playing a character like this?

Menzies: No. I’m not a horror fan. I'm actually quite weak-stomached when it comes to watching stuff. I remember watching The Shining when I was about 14, and that was about my limit, I think.

No exposure to werewolves up until this point?

Menzies: Not really.

This is your own pure werewolf?

Menzies: This is me just sort of making it up as a go along. Maybe it has all been done before.

Working with Anna in a very, very different situation, obviously those Outlander episodes were completely different. Is her style the same in Underworld, or does it change? Did it take some adjustment, or do you guys just have a language now?
Menzies: No, we seem to fit in quite easily again. I guess we have kind of built up a rapport over the months we’ve spent on Outlander. Of course, it is also some filming language for this, a lot more technical as we do the fight stuff. We do these sort of snatches of filming. But no, given that it is very nice to have someone you trust, and who you know and trust has an eye on sort of the arc of it as well.

Kate Beckinsale Says Her Underworld Character Has Suicidal Tendencies - NYCC 2016

Were you familiar with this franchise at all before you got the part?

Menzies: I honestly wasn't, actually. I've watched it since I came into it. I was certainly aware of the iconography and the posters and Kate and her little bob, but I hadn't watched any of the films. I guess the vampire genre seems endlessly fascinating to moviegoers and this seems like a very confident take on all that. ... I think we are maybe trying for something different. I think there's been a certain Englishness to some of the earlier films. I suppose I wanted to go something a little earthier and push it a bit more of the animalness of it, brutishness of it.

How strange is it to have Marius transformed into a werewolf, such a vital piece of your performance, completely in someone else's hands?

Menzies: Yeah, it is the first time I've been in that position. It is curious, because there are major sections which I will have nothing to do with. But I suppose you just hope they do you justice, and that you do that justice, that you serve them a good enough ball that they can then do something interesting with it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

“The Life of a Clansman” An interview with Ronnie B Goodwin by your Aussie blogging lass

OutlanderHomepage Originals By Susie Brown.

For 2 seasons now, Outlander fans have been kept enthralled as events led the characters inevitably towards the Battle of Culloden.
In the final episode of season 2, Jamie Fraser sent those he loved to safety, before turning back to the battlefield to meet his death. 

But while each episode of the show focused on the main actors, what of those unnamed characters in the background, the many brave men who ultimately followed their chiefs into battle? Actor, Director, Photographer, Writer and Editor, Ronnie Battenberg Goodwin portrayed one of these unnamed members of the McKenzie clan. He graciously agreed to talk to Outlander Homepage about his life, his experiences and his idea of a perfect day! 

To begin our interview, we wondered, with such an impressive number of career descriptors, whether Ronnie identified with one of them more than the others.

“Like any other creative, I live a very varied life,” Ronnie explained. “Yet the one thing I truly relate to is film making. It encompasses all the skills that I have developed and learned over the years, including photography and story telling.”

Interestingly, the opportunity to audition for Outlander came to Ronnie’s attention via social media.

“I saw a post on Facebook that read 'Bearded Horse Man required', so I ticked the box,” Ronnie said. “A couple of days later, I was sitting on a 17.2 Hanoverian called George! I was one of a few people chosen to join the show. At this point I didn't have a clue about Outlander, but I had a job! WooHoo! I had played a period rider before, on the show Lorna Doone, many moons ago, but the experience I had on Outlander was definitely once in a lifetime.”

Actors have many different techniques when it comes to creating a character. For Ronnie, it all came down to the look and the posture.

“As soon as they put the wig on, my character appeared in the mirror,” he said. “Then, when I sat on the horse, it felt like I was made for the part.”

When asked to recall funny or dramatic moments on the Outlander set, Ronnie was not short of examples. 

“I remember many moments of near disaster!” he joked. “To give you an idea, imagine trying to get on a monster horse at 2am in the rain. It was slippery and I was cold and very uncomfortable. Next, imagine getting on and off the horse for 9 takes - and don’t forget that I was in full highland dress as well. Eventually, you lose all your strength. I ended up needing to find a block of wood or a tree stump to help get a leg up!”

But mounting the horse was only the beginning.

“Another time, we were filming the ambush episode, when my groom didn't tighten my girth enough. I was sitting on George, but another one of the highlanders, Roy Ramsay, had to get on as well. In the story, Roy’s horse had been shot from under him, so we had to ride two up. He and I locked arms and I hauled him up, but the saddle slipped and we both ended up under the horse! Fortunately for us, George didn't move. We were very lucky.”

Unfortunately, Ronnie wasn’t quite so lucky whilst on location at Doune Castle.

“Probably my most painful memory would be the time that I bumped my head on the castle archway,” he said. “I didn't do that twice!”

When asked where he would choose to go if given the opportunity to travel forward or backwards in time, Ronnie’s answer was heartfelt. 

“I would travel back in time to see my grandad,” he said. “My grandad was my hero, and I didn't get to say goodbye.”

With such a busy life, spare time is rare and we wondered what Ronnie’s perfect day would look like.

“ I rest in my spare time,” said Ronnie. “I’m definitely an early to bed, early to rise person. I love the morning light for my pictures. My perfect day involves sitting on Betty Blue, casting a fly for a couple of hours and enjoying the outdoors.”

(Luckily for us, Ronnie provided a link to illustrate this perfect day. 
Go here:  and you might just recognise another Outlander actor, providing the voice of the soundtrack...)

Finally, talk turned to the future, as Ronnie shared a little of what might be coming up next.

I have a great opportunity,” he explained. “I’ve been through the first process and did OK I think. Now I just need to wait!”

We’d like to thank Ronnie for giving up his time to talk to us - and certainly wish him all the best for his new opportunity! 

As a final treat, why not check out his ebook, which has some wonderful photographs and stories - and some more appearances from a familiar Outlander clansman... 

The link is here: 

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and writer who lives in Australia. She has never been fly fishing - but Ronnie’s video certainly looks inviting! 

Caitriona Balfe talks to Variety Season 3!

Caitriona Balfe on Claire’s Season 2 Journey and What’s Next for ‘Outlander’

Maureen Ryan Chief TV Critic @moryan

For full article

Few women on television have been through more than Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. A nurse who was in the thick of it during World War 2, Claire was re-connecting with her husband, Frank, in post-war Scotland when she was transported back to the 18th century via a circle of mystical stones.

The ever-practical Claire made herself useful among the clans of Scotland and connected deeply with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), whom she eventually married. The war between Scotland and England drove the couple to France, and in the second season of the Starz drama, Claire and Jamie mixed with the high society of Paris while enduring a bruising series of personal and political setbacks. The end of the second season saw them back in Scotland as a defining battle loomed, and then separated when Claire returned to her own time — without her beloved Jamie.

Caitriona Balfe’s unerring ability to communicate Claire’s complex inner life while the character went through all those changes is one reason the lush drama has been such a hit. Balfe talked to Variety about what it was like to take on such a complicated and challenging role as a newcomer to television, what stuck with her most about Season Two, and what’s to come for Claire and the people she loves.

With this role, at times it almost seems like you’re not really just playing one part or appearing in one show — it’s almost like you’re doing multiple shows, because there are so many timelines and the settings can be so different. Does it ever feel that way for you?

I mean, definitely, some days it can be a little confusing. I think when we came back to Season Two and we were in Paris, and we had all of the Parisian sets and it was a whole new set of characters, it was quite jarring in the beginning. Essentially your character remains the same, even though they go through such different situations, and you have Claire with Frank in the ’40s and then she’s with Jamie and then she goes back, so it can be quite confusing in some ways. But I’ve always thought that Claire retains her center, no matter where she is, and that’s one of the things I love about the character.

How would you describe that center?

For me, Claire is such a survivor. It doesn’t matter where she ends up or what has happened to her, she finds a way to get on with her life and make it something great. That’s what I love about her. In Season One, where she first goes through the stones and arrives in this dangerous and dirty place, she doesn’t just cower and fall down and get destroyed. She finds her place and she finds a way to make herself useful, and she finds a way to enjoy herself and then to create a life.

And again, when she comes back into the 20th century, even though she’s lost the love of her life (as far as she knows), she doesn’t just disintegrate. She gets herself together, and she becomes a surgeon in a time when there were very few female doctors. So it’s just that strength that she has inside — that no matter what befalls her, she will find a way to [draw on] the best of herself.

As you play her, have you learned from her? Have you taken any of that from the character as you go through this experience with her?
I think you can’t help doing that, in some ways. This whole experience and this whole journey — I mean, it was something that was incredibly new for me. I’d never done any TV before, and any job I’d had before, they were small parts. I think the longest I’ve ever been on anything was five weeks on an indie film. So you don’t go through an experience like this without growing personally in an enormous capacity. But I do think playing someone who is so resilient and who has such a reserve of strength — it makes you examine yourself and it makes you, I think, aware of strengths that you weren’t necessarily sure that you had before.

When you first took on the role, how far had you read? I think my question really is, how much did you have a sense of what you were taking on?

I had no idea. Before I tested, I’d read the first book and when you’re reading it and it’s just this idea that maybe you might do well in the audition — you’re not really thinking in terms of the reality of filming what you’re reading. What I was struck by was how exciting it was, and all of these different experiences this woman goes through. “Imagine, you’d be riding horses and running and there’s action and there’s heartbreak and there’s love!” It just seemed like an amazing role.

But in terms of what that entails to film and what that was going to mean — I had no idea, and I think ignorance is definitely bliss when it comes to that. Because for the first five or six months, I was running on sheer adrenaline. We were shooting 11-day fortnights, which is something that they sometimes do over here. So you’re shooting five days on, two days off, six days on, then one day off, and then back into it. And we were outside for most of it. It was cold. It was wet. I was wearing barely anything. But because you don’t know what the next week is going to be looking like, you just keep going, and it was fun and it was exciting, so that definitely carried me through those times.

Scotland is amazing, but there’s a particular kind of cold, wet damp there that just gets into your soul.

It just gets into your soul and it doesn’t leave.

I have memories of being cold in Scotland where I just thought, “I love this place and these people, but I will never be warm again.”
A long hot bath is the only thing that will cure that. Believe me.

So much happened to Claire in Season Two — what were some of the scenes that for you, had the most resonance, or the ones that really stood out for you?
In the first half of the season, definitely losing her child was probably the huge defining moment in Claire’s life. It’s such a catastrophic event for her personally, but for her and Jamie, there is also so much unease between the two of them. The first half of that season, they’re so apart and they’re so distant, and they’re struggling to try and find that bond and that connection that they had. The one thing that did sort of bring them together was that pregnancy and this potential life that they were bringing into the world.

And then for them to have lost that — it was one of those moments where, this couple may not survive that. And for Claire personally, as a woman who lost her child, especially in such a late-term miscarriage, it was catastrophic. [“Outlander” writer] Toni Graphia wrote one of the most beautiful scripts. When I first got that script, I was sobbing reading it, and I emailed her straightaway, and I was like, “What have you done to me?” There were such powerful themes to read and then to film.

And then to have a lot of women who had seen the show reach out afterwards and say how it had spoken to their own experience or it had touched them in a way, because they’d gone through something similar — that was an incredible thing to be a part of and it was very humbling. And also in Season Two, we also had the wonderful scenes with the PTSD, where the writing again was incredible. Matt [Roberts] wrote that.

For me as an actor, one of the more interesting and great challenges was then jumping forward 20 years and playing 1960s Claire. We were filming that alongside a lot of the lead-up to the Battle of Culloden and the goodbye to Jamie. That was a fantastic script too, and it was pretty challenging as an actor to go through that. But it’s the kind of material you just hope to get, and I felt very lucky.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the 1968 version Claire in the Season Two finale. How did you approach taking that on? She’s had more experience, she’s basically had the love of her life taken away from her. She’s built this new life and as you said, she’s been very successful. But I think you did a great job of conveying that underneath, there was still a lot of unprocessed emotion and heartbreak.
Thank you. With Claire, I feel part of her ability to forge ahead and be strong and make the best of any situation is an ability to compartmentalize. For her to be able to put her love for Jamie and that experience in a box — she didn’t have the ability to talk about it, to share it with anybody. It was a side of her that, in many ways, she shelved, and then threw herself full force into her career and raising her daughter. And that comes with a price.

I was interested in finding how that affects her, and what is it to have been such a passionate woman in terms of romance and sexuality, and to have shelve that side of yourself for 20 years. The looseness that I feel that she has when she’s back with Jamie, and that that kind of elemental side of her, when you see her out in the wild and she just fits in that countryside, and you can feel that she’s part of the earth in that way, I wanted to sort of [tamp down] that side of her. There’s a stillness, and she’s much more closed off than we’ve maybe seen her before.

But the research that I was doing for her was fun. I watched some of my favorite actresses. I watch films that they’ve done early on in their careers, and then later on, and it’s interesting to see – we change, but we don’t. We think we change so much, but it’s about noticing those little things about how people carry themselves, or what edges get smoothed out or what remains. It was also trying to cram that in a very short space of time, but that’s what I was interested in finding for her.

Are you in production for Season Three, and if so, what has that been like so far?

We’re almost halfway through [Season Three]. It’s been great. Obviously Sam [Heughan] and I — our storylines are quite separate for the first few episodes, so I’ve been filming a lot with Tobias [Menzies] and Sophie [Skelton]. And it’s been quite interesting. We’re trying to tell sort of vignettes of a person’s life over the space of 20 years, and it’s been really fun. But I think we’re all ready to get back to the Scottish Claire of it all.

And at some point, you get to trade the damp but beautiful Highlands for some adventure in Jamaica, is that right?

Yes, South Africa, which will be standing in for Jamaica. We go there next year, so that will be interesting. I don’t know what all of us are going to do when we have sunshine on tap.

Caitriona Balfe earns an Oscar Wilde Award!

By Show Biz Junkies

Rosie Day (as Mary Hawkins) and Caitriona Balfe (as Claire Randall Fraser) in ‘Outlander’ (Photo © 2016 Sony Pictures Television Inc.)

Outlander star Caitriona Balfe will be honored with an Oscar Wilde Award during the 2017 US-Ireland Alliance event set for February 23rd. 

This year’s awards ceremony will be emceed by filmmaker J. J. Abrams, with the ceremony taking place at Abrams’ Bad Robot headquarters in Santa Monica, CA. In addition to Balfe, Glen Hansard will pick up an award and is confirmed to perform.

Announcing Balfe’s award, US-Ireland Alliance Founder Trina Vargo stated, “It’s been a great year for Irish actresses and we’re delighted to honor one who is receiving well-deserved recognition for her success in Outlander. Given Caitriona’s intense schedule of time travel, and the cold and rainy Scottish weather, our event should be relaxing for her. The one thing that Outlander and the Oscar Wilde Awards have in common is whiskey.”

In addition to Outlander, Balfe’s credits include Money Monster, Escape Plan, Now You See Me, Super 8, The Price of Desire, and Crush.

Caitriona Balfe stars as Claire Fraser in Starz’ popular Outlander series, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. 

Starz hasn’t officially announced the season three premiere date, however they have released the upcoming season’s synopsis:

Outlander Season 3 – The story picks up right after Claire (Caitriona Balfe) travels through the stones to return to her life in 1948. Now pregnant, she struggles with the fallout of her sudden reappearance and its effect on her marriage to her first husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies). Meanwhile, in the 18th century, Jamie suffers from the aftermath of his doomed last stand at the historic battle of Culloden, as well as the loss of Claire. As the years pass, Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire attempt to make a life apart from one another, each haunted by the memory of their lost love. The budding possibility that Claire can return to Jamie in the past breathes new hope into Claire’s heart… as well as new doubt. Separated by continents and centuries, Claire and Jamie must find their way back to each other. As always, adversity, mystery, and adventure await them on the path to reunion. And the question remains: when they find each other, will they be the same people who parted at the standing stones, all those years ago?

This Sunday, Caitriona Balfe Would Like You to Ask Her About Something Other Than Her Dress!


For full article

Caitriona Balfe at the 2016 Golden Globes
Photo: Getty Images

When Golden Globe nominee Caitriona Balfe steps onto the red carpet on Sunday night, she’ll have an advantage over the other actresses taking their gowns for a spin. 
Long before she nabbed the part of Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser in the Starz series Outlander, Irish beauty Balfe was walking runways for the likes of Victoria’s Secret and Chanel. And her decade in the fashion trenches has influenced her red carpet choices, inspiring her to don nervy looks like the black Alexander McQueen frock she wore to last year’s Globes. (She’d stomped the McQueen catwalk, too, back when the man himself was still at the house’s helm. 
“When you’re modeling, you’re there to elaborate the clothes, you can’t forget, the clothes are the story. But as an actress, the clothes are there to elaborate you,” she says, “It’s been an interesting adjustment, learning to express ‘me.’ ”) Now, Balfe says, she’s also taking red carpet cues from her Globe-nominated Outlander role, and channeling the outspoken Claire in her approach. “It’s insane,” Balfe says, “that all we actresses seem to get asked about is what we’re wearing. Those interviews go out all over the world—and we’re in a moment now where, as citizens, we should be seizing that opportunity to speak up, speak our minds about the things we see happening around us. There’s plenty more to talk about than clothes.” Here, Balfe speaks up.

Did you always know you wanted to act, or was that something that grew out of modeling?
I was actually in theater school in Dublin when I got scouted. I was in a supermarket, of all places—collecting money for charity. That led to some local work, and then that local work led to my getting signed by Ford, and going to Paris, which is when I started focusing on modeling full-time. Not, by the way, that I was an instant hit; it was the tail end of that Brazilian glamazon-era, and me being very white and very Irish, I didn’t quite fit. But then, all of a sudden, the thing became pale Belgian girls, which wasn’t me either, but close enough, I guess! That was when I started landing shows like Chanel and Vuitton and Givenchy.

And then what ultimately got you back into acting?
You know, the bug was itching. It’s really hard to step away from a gig that’s fun to do, and where you’re making money, but after six or seven years of being in the modeling routine, I was feeling kind of burnt out, and in need of something else. I was living in New York at the time, and started taking classes. And then I moved to L.A., and kept taking classes there—I’d read an article about Amy Adams, and she’d mentioned her teacher in it, and it turned out the studio was walking distance from my place. Which was very convenient, as I was only just then learning to drive.

So then, a role here and a role there and then, Outlander?
Exactly. I don’t think I even knew how lucky I was to get that part—I mean, I loved Claire, and we’d gotten a full season order for the show, so obviously it was a great gig, but it wasn’t until we were four or five episodes into shooting and I flew to L.A. to do some press, that I realized what a built-in following the shows had. We did this fan event, and all these people who loved the books came out, and they were just clamoring for the show to exist. It was like, ohhhh. This is going to be big.

I’ve never read the books, and honestly, when I first heard about the show, it sounded pretty silly to me. Time-traveling bodice ripper? Eh. But then when I finally watched it, I was really impressed by how meaty the themes are. I mean, there’s a lot of fun in the series, but it’s also unflinching in its exploration of feminist themes like patriarchy and sexual violence and women’s need to control their own reproductive choices.
Yes, yes, yes. I think there have been a lot of skeptics, like you, who have been turned around by actually watching the show—we wouldn’t have had such success, if that weren’t true. Basically, everyone who works on Outlander tries really hard, all the time, to stay focused on the human dimension of the stories we’re telling, and if you’re telling a story about a woman living in a time when women’s rights were severely constricted, those themes are bound to emerge, and you have to take them seriously.

Speaking of things that are silly: When you’re on the red carpet, do you ever get sick of answering the question “what are you wearing?”? I’ve been privy to that experience, and it seems like you ladies get asked that like, a zillion times.
Oh my gosh. It’s surreal. Here you are, at a celebration of your craft, and all people want to know is what you’re wearing. Again and again. And not just that, but even down to—talk about your nail polish! You don’t want to be rude, but. . . . [sighs] I mean, I do appreciate, it’s a great marriage between entertainment and fashion, and I love that I get to borrow these incredible dresses, and designers—especially lesser-known ones, who I do like to support—get great PR out of it. But I do wish I had more opportunity to talk about that work. And not just that. I mean, one of the things that’s inspiring about playing Claire is that she’s this strong woman, standing up against chauvinism, and that’s really made me consider my own responsibilities, as someone who has a platform. I realize some people object to the idea of actors expressing their political opinions, but we’re human beings living in this world, responding to what’s going on, and why shouldn’t we be able to take a stand on what we see as injustice?

Okay, so if you were going to take a stand on something, what would it be?
Well, you know, if you watch Outlander you see stories about rape, about unwanted pregnancy, about women taking matters into their own hands, to provide a solution. To provide a choice. And in the meantime, you see bills like the one just passed in Ohio, where access to abortion services has been rolled back, and there’s no exception for rape or incest. And Planned Parenthood, which provides women crucial medical services aside from abortion, is under attack, and it just seems, at times, like all the rights our mothers and grandmothers fought for are being chipped away.

The thing that’s so odd to me about what’s happening in America, is that it goes against what we’re seeing in other places. I mean, I’m Irish, and in Ireland right now there’s a big movement to make it possible for women to get abortions in instances where their life is in danger—the laws there are so strict, even that’s not a given. There are women fighting for [greater] access to abortion in Poland. Do the women in America really want to go back to that?

I guess it’s a lot easier for red carpet interviewers to ask about your dress. And so, anyway, what will you be wearing?
I haven’t decided! Or, I have; I think I know, but I’m giving myself a second option, just in case.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sam Heughan interview with Popsugar

Outlander's Sam Heughan Teases a Season 3 Surprise That Will Blow Everyone's Minds

Full article here


When Outlander premiered in 2014 on Starz, the historical drama immediately captured the hearts of both fans of Diana Gabaldon's original book series as well as plenty of newcomers who couldn't help but fall in love with the fantasy romance. Part of the rabid obsession with the series is owed to its two fantastic leads, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, whose onscreen relationship as Claire and Jamie is one of TV's most electric. Since we're currently in the midst of one hell of a Droughtlanderuntil season three returns, we decided to go right to the source and hopped on the phone with Heughan to pump him for details. Although he didn't give up all the goods (he's a true Scottish gentleman, after all), he teased everything from the big surprises fans should expect to see in the new episodes to what it's like to age two decades between seasons.

POPSUGAR: I have to say, I really love the interactions you have with Outlander fans on social media. It seems like there are few fandoms that are as strong and supportive as Outlander's, and the cast seems to have a great relationship with them.

Sam Heughan: I think we have possibly the best fans — actually, I know we have the best fans that there are. They're so supportive of what we do, and they're extremely passionate and enthusiastic. They're very discerning as well. They don't take any crap. We started out making the show ultimately for the fans, but we've gathered new fans as well as fans of the books. We just love to interact with them. Sometimes we don't get the chance to, or have enough time to, but it's been great meeting some of them. It's been amazing. After almost three years, you can really feel the relationship with them.

PS: I bet. Have you had any particularly memorable moments with any of them?

SH: Yeah! Last year I was the grand marshal of the Tartan Day parade in New York City, and for me that was a great experience. To be in New York, and lead this march down Sixth Avenue . . . we had a lot of fans there, and not only Outlander fans, but also My Peak Challenge fans, my charity lifestyle program. It was just great to have everyone there celebrating Scotland, and celebrating their Scottish heritage. It was a really special thing.

PS: Is there anything in the upcoming season that might take diehard fans of the books by surprise?

SH: We always try to stick as close as we can to the books, but obviously it's hard to make a book episodic. I think there is going to be stuff in there that the fans will recognize since we put in as much detail as possible, but there's some really incredible moments. Certainly the beginning of season three is a slight deviation from the book. We're going to be showing a bit of Culloden, and what happened to Jamie. You're going to see it, and I think it's important since we talked about this battle, and that the Highlanders are doomed, and that they might be wiped out. It's a reward for the fans. There's one moment in particular that I didn't even know we were going to shoot, and I know the crew didn't, and everyone was like, "What the hell is this?!" There are some big surprises, but there are also some great moments from the book that we try to stick to as much as possible.

PS: There's going to be a sizable time jump in season three, which we already got a taste of at the end of the last season in Claire's storyline. As an actor, are you approaching the role of Jamie differently now that so many years have passed and he's essentially a different man?

SH: In book three, Jamie is many characters. He's at least three, maybe four different things to people. He has different names, and basically he doesn't want to be Jamie Fraser. He wants to die at the end of season two, and he goes into battle thinking he will. To live is not part of the plan, and certainly without Claire, it's even more so not what he was expecting. He has to learn to fight again, and find purpose in his life. Aging became not about giving him a walking stick and gray hair. It became more about the experiences that he's lived, and how that changes him. I think he is, at times, unrecognizable. Sometimes we see the Jamie we know, but it will be a journey for him to get back to being James Fraser.

PS: We've seen that Jamie and Claire's love is incredibly strong, but this long period without each other has to take its toll. In what ways would you say their relationship is going to be challenged?

SH: In his mind she's dead. She's in the future living a different life, and she thinks he's dead. They both create new lives without each other to try to survive and cope, so you can imagine that when they do finally reunite, it's going to be quite special. Time has passed, they've become different people, but they do have this great love for each other and this great bond. Ultimately that's their saving grace, and what brings them back together. They have so much history. It's really wonderful to play these characters who have moved on from where they were in season one, but hopefully you'll still see bits of what attracted them to each other in the first place.

PS: You and Caitriona seem to have such a close friendship off set — does that make it easier for you both to play husband and wife?

SH: Ultimately, yeah. Caitriona and I get on very well, and I'm very lucky. She's extremely talented and an extremely nice person, and we have a lot of fun. Actually, having scenes away from her, and time apart from her, is kind of like losing someone in your family. A loved one. It's very strange, and I don't enjoy it. Whenever we're together it feels right, and I look forward to the days when we get to work together again.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Intro to original Outlander season one promo!

Auld Lang Syne (With Lyrics and English Translation)

We all sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight on December 31 but what are the lyrics? Most people don't know that it is a Scottish poem written in 1788 by Robert Burns and later set to the music of a folk song.

As we ring in the new year remember to take a cup of kindness for the days of auld lang syne.

This version of the song is by Dougie MacLean

What is First Foot, another Scottish tradition: