Starz’s hit television show, Outlander, could be subtitled sex, swords, Scotland (and time travel!)—and three of the four were the topics of conversation this Thursday at PaleyFest. (Sorry, Jaime: no swords allowed in the Dolby Theater). Actually, two of the four—but if Scotland was not spoken about at length, its national alcohol was certainly drunk.
The E! Entertainment Network talk show host Kristin Dos Santos moderated a panel featuring executive producer Ronald D. Moore, novelist Diana Gabaldon, and actors Sam Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and Tobias Menzies. Dos Santos kept it lively with a series of games (drinking and newlywed) and the cast spoke animatedly first impressions, upcoming episodes, and butt doubles.
Heughan, who plays the protagonist, Jaime Fraser, might be a beefcake (one audience member asked him about the “pressure” of being a sex symbol), but he is also a ham. From waving enthusiastically to walking on the stage, he reveled in the attention, pausing before answering questions to mug at the audience.
Balfe, talking about the first time they met, gave a straight answer. “From the moment that I met Sam,” she said, “he really put me at ease.”
Heughan had a very different response. “There was a moment when I put you in a bear hug and was thinking you were really pissed at me,” he recounted. “You nearly punched me in the face.”
“And I thought this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship,” Heughan added.
But they not only talked about the past. They talked about the future as well—as in what the spring season has in store. “A light little tale, it’s fun,” Moore joked, before getting serious. “It does go to some harrowing places,” he said about the upcoming episodes. “If you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll be surprised.”
Gabaldon had some surprises of her own as well. Asked by a nurse in the audience how she had learned enough about nursing to describe the situations in the novels and the television show, Gabaldon opened up about her own past. “I was a nursing instructor for a while, at Temple University,” she said. “I had taught anatomy and physiology many, many times. And that’s where Claire’s broad but shallow grasp of medicine comes from.”
An audience member later asked an anatomically-minded question of her own, surprising Heughan with “Do you have a butt double?” Moore could not save Heughan blushes, but quickly chimed in, “That’s called the magic of CGI.”