One of the greatest pleasures as both an Outlander book and show fan, is waiting to see which characters from the novels make it in to the television adaptation each season, and who plays the part. Season five of the Starz hit series has not disappointed on that score, as we were introduced to several new residents of Fraser’s Ridge in the very first episode. Outlander Homepage was lucky enough to enjoy a brief Q&A with one of the newest members of the Fraser’s Ridge community, Ronnie Sinclair, portrayed by actor, boxing coach and fight director, Paul Donnelly.
Outlander Homepage: First of all, thank you for taking time to talk to us! We are so excited about this season of Outlander! Please share with us how you joined the cast of Outlander. How did you land the role of Ronnie Sinclaire?
Paul Donnelly: I have known one of the casting directors, Simone Pereira Hind for a few years, and she thought I’d be good. She had always said, “I think you would be great in this, I just need to find the right part for you.” I auditioned for some parts in the earlier seasons but it didn’t come off. When I went for this part I thought it was really exciting and a great part. So I was really keen to land it. I auditioned for it and having been down that road a few times, auditioning, then hearing nothing, I forgot about it and was away doing something else. I think I was away coaching boxing when the call came in offering me the part. I was just over the moon and absolutely delighted. The first thing I did was call my girlfriend Natalia, and then my mum. LOL!
OH: Well Congratulations and welcome to the world of Outlander! You mentioned to us in earlier emails that your mother is huge fan of the novels and show. What was her reaction when you told her the good news?
PD: My mum “wee Mags” never knew much about the show or the books until I got the job. She started reading the books a few months ago and quickly got obsessed. She has now binge read all the books in the space of six weeks I think. She tells me about my character more than anyone else.
OH: Holy cow! Six weeks! I think your mother may have set a reading world record! Those books are well over a thousand pages each! But I can attest they are addictive and hard to put down once you get started. You’ve worked on several movies and in television. Compared to other TV series you’ve been in, how is Outlander different?
PD: The difference between Outlander and other shows I’ve done is huge. The scale of production alone is just massive. I think the best part of the show is the cast and crew. I knew a lot of the crew from other productions I have worked on, but didn’t know many of the cast. I knew Richard Rankin, as we trained at the same acting college, and I choreographed the fights on a show called “Trust Me” that he was in. Joining the show I’ve made some incredible friendships with all of the cast and crew. I’ve made friends and brothers for life, and as for the fans… I’ve just been blown away by the reaction and support. So positive! I’ve never had that on other productions.
OH: That's wonderful to hear! Yes, just from what we see on screen each week the detail is amazing, I can't imagine what it's like on set. Is there any part of the Outlander story line that speaks to you personally?
PD: I’m a Scotsman, and proud of my Scots/Irish heritage, so I can connect with the story and the historic battles. I also love the camaraderie of the men that follow Jamie. We are a team who look out for each other and I’m like that in my own life.
OH: In reference to that camaraderie and loyalty, your character Ronnie Sinclaire, is one of Jamie’s men from Ardsmuir prison, and would follow “Mac Dubh” anywhere, no questions asked. Is there a “Mac Dubh” in your life that has helped shape you either personally or professionally?
PD: I’ve a few! My dad. He has always been there and been supportive of everything I’ve done. So he has always been my hero. Beulah Koale (star of Hawaii Five-O). He is my “uso” which is Maori for brother. We met on a movie set a few years ago and just clicked. We always say to each other “uso Mo aso uma” which means brother for life. So I’d follow him through thick and thin. Gabriel Robertson (Scottish writer and director). We were best pals for years and then found out we were related, which blew both our minds. (Second cousins!) He is someone I can go to with anything and he will always be there.
OH: True friendship and loyalty are more valuable than anything of material value. Sounds like you might have much in common with your Outlander character. What traits/characteristics do you have in common with Ronnie Sinclaire? Are you kindred spirits or total opposites?
PD: We are similar in some ways I think, as far as we are loyal, and would be there for people. However the books say that he is not very trustworthy, so I’m not so sure about that side of him.
OH: Hahaha! Listen to your mother about Ronnie! Mothers are never wrong! Obviously, you are very much into physical fitness, coaching/training boxing and performing stunts. How well do you think you would get along if you actually had to live in an 18th century wilderness like Fraser’s Ridge?
PD: I think I’d be fitter actually than I am now. I’ve got an addiction to cakes and biscuits! I don’t think I’d be eating them as much. I love coaching boxing and martial arts. I don’t really drink alcohol, but I think I’d be in a bar organizing the boxing matches that happened back then. Maybe trying to win money doing that.
OH: Well steer clear of those lady brawlers! Hahaha! From the looks of episode 502, they fight dirty! Paul Donnelly, thank you so much for chatting with us! We are excited for you to be a part of Outlander and look forward to seeing what awaits your character Ronnie Sinclaire, and the residents of Fraser's Ridge this season. Slainte!