• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor


I’ve been getting a number of enquiries, since press releases have started appearing about the movie production of OUTLANDER—excited folk asking “Is it true?” “When?” and (I hope you’ll pardon a brief roll of the eyes here), “Who would you cast?” (I couldn’t begin to guess how many thousands of times I’ve been asked that over the last twenty years.)

It’s very early days as yet, but I’ll answer what I can.

Yes, Essential Productions is developing OUTLANDER as a “major motion picture.” (What that means is that they want to make a two-to-two-and-a-half hour feature film.)

And yes, Randall Wallace (the talented gentleman who wrote both BRAVEHEART and PEARL HARBOR—hey, ancient Scots and WWII, how about that?) is writing the script.

No, I have absolutely nothing to say about the casting of the movie. The production people do occasionally ask me what I think of this or that person, but this is simple politeness on their part.

No, I have no control whatever regarding the script.

No, I really don’t want to have anything personal to do with the development of the movie.

Why not? Well, two major reasons (putting aside the fact that producers seldom want the original writer sticking his or her oar in and causing trouble):

1. I have books to write and a family to be with. I can’t be hopping planes every other week or dropping everything else at a moment’s notice to do script adjustments. (I do know that all movie scripts go through many (many, many) iterations, rewrites, etc. in the process of development and filming.) That kind of thing eats your time and sucks your soul, and to no good end.

2. For nearly twenty years now, people have been saying to me, “Oh! I’m dying to see the movie of your books! But I want it to be just like it is in the book!” To which the only possible reply is, “Yeah? Which forty pages do you want to see?”

Obviously, a book of the size and complexity of OUTLANDER won’t fit into a two-hour movie. But it might be possible for a good movie based on the book to exist.

Adaptations can be either good or bad—they’re seldom indifferent—but a skilful adaptation is just as much a feat of skill as is writing an original book or script.

Yes, I could adapt the book myself. With the net result that even if a) no one then messed with the script (and they would; that’s how film works), and b) the end result was wonderful (odds of about 900:1)—ten million people would still email me about, “But how could you leave out that scene?” Or “But why did you change this character?” Or “But you left out my favorite line in the whole book!

I’d really rather write a new novel.

Now, do bear in mind a couple of things here:

1. Essential Productions have an option on the book. This means that they paid us a modest amount of money and we gave them a span of time, in which they can do anything they want to, in order to put together the necessary financing and logistics to make a movie (that includes hiring a scriptwriter).

We (my agents and I) get a lot of option requests. We decided to grant Essential Productions an option because we like them, we think they understand the book and its central characters, and insofar as such a thing is possible, we trust them to do their best to make it a great movie.

But it is an option.

2. Not all movies that are optioned actually get made. Even movies that have excellent scripts, A-list directors and recognizable stars don’t always get made. Naturally, we hope this one will, because we do like the EP people and think that of all the producers who’ve approached us about the film rights, they have the best chance of succeeding in making a great movie.

But we’ll all have to wait and see what happens next.

And that’s all I can tell you.

Le meas,


P.S. Well, I can also tell you that a) yes, Gerard Butler is a fine-looking specimen of Scottish manhood, even if he is a Lowlander, but b) I think he might have difficulty playing a 22-year-old virgin; c) Keira Knightley would probably make an excellent Claire (she has the accent and the capacity for sarcasm), if she gained forty pounds, but d) James McAvoy is probably a wonderful actor, but he’s only 5’7″, for heaven’s sake. (Mind, none of the production people has mentioned any of these actors to me as serious casting prospects, either.)

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97 Responses »

  1. And though I guess that Diana might be annoyed by all the suggestions made (sorry if it does, Diana, but it's so much fun to talk about the possible cast ;))
    I just want to share a picture with you. I saw it and thought WOW.
    Its Robert Pattinson and in this picture he looks scruffy and sexy. Though he was not the first one wo came to my mind I think he could do a great jamie (hes got the age -22; he is qute tall – 6'1; he is very talented; he's got qut the looks without being such a wimp like some other suggestions)

    So look at this picture ( I hope the link works ;) ) because I was really impressed by it.


  2. Ooooh, yah, Lisa! I agree with you..that photo of Robert is very appealing!
    (I still think Tom could be Jamie, tho’!)
    It’s fun to dream and speculate who will grace Jamie’s very large presence perfectly.

  3. Dear Diana,

    I was just distressed to read that there was another film recently made with the title ‘Outlander’ — this one about vikings being invaded by aliens. I popped right over here and was relieved to read your entry on the only ‘Outlander’ film I have been waiting to see (yours.)

    This came hard on the heels of some other upsetting news — a film called ‘Amazon’ has been written where an gladiatrix avenges her homeland and goes up against an entire army. (And Scarlet Johansson may well be a very nice girl but she is hardly my idea — or hers apparently — of an Amazon.) This same screenplay (title included) has been sitting in the left file drawer of my desk for the past eight years. Now, I know it’s a coincidence, and I know that it wasn’t a very original concept or title to begin with but I wanted to know how you feel about titles or ideas for other works that may overlap yours especially when your book and success preceded it.

    Cheers and Much Long-Lived Admiration,

    Lauren Buck

  4. Kevin McKidd – he’s all I think about when I read Outlander. Although older..he would be a perfect Jamie. I can see Gerrad Butler as Dougal but I have a harder time with Kiera Knightly as Claire.

  5. Alex Kingston would make the most amazing Claire… once they reached the Voyager movie they wouldn’t have to make her look young as well.

    Gerard Butler should definitely be in the movie, but maybe not as Jamie, perhaps as Dougal?

  6. OI! Ok, I just found the PERFECT Claire! I compared a portrait of her to the Graphic Novel Picture of Claire and they are almost identical! OMG, I'm so thrilled right now…
    check this link out, I've put both of the pictures in it so you can compare them…


  7. Diana,
    I am a die-hard “Outlander” fan. And I REALLY love Gerard Butler… but I have to side with you on that one. He’s too old… maybe Dougal? Mmm…. My vote is still for Keira Knightley as Claire, despite her exceptional thinness. I recently saw “The Duchess” and I was convinced of her talent.
    How about this… Cate Blanchett as Geillie. Eh? Geillie WAS supposed to be in her 30′s when she met Claire in “Outlander”, correct?

  8. Does anyone know anything new about the project??? I'm afraid that the movie wont happen after all…

  9. Just wanted to say that I LOVE LOVE LOVE your books! I find that I can get so lost in them that I sometimes forget to put the one I'm reading down to sleep, and often find myself checking the clock and finding out that it's 4 am and I've been reading for hours and have 2 hours to sleep before I have to go to work! As for making a movie, I'd love to see it, but my imagination has Kevin McKidd playing Jamie right now (of course I'm only on The Firey Cross), and my brain would be so disappointed to see someone else. Either way, I love the books so far and love to get lost in them! Thank you for writing them!

  10. I ADORE the Outlander books… and completely see why you'd rather not be involved in the movies as much as you could be. You could never please everyone with a movie… My thought is I love what HBO can do for a book series (ex/ Sookie Stackhouse books)… they could do a whole season or just a mini-series (Outlander is the one that NEEDS to be made!) of Outlander and not need to make it 'pg' the way a normal tv mini-series would have to. I really hope HBO somehow can manage to get their hands on the rights… I don't know how that works, maybe Essential can team up with them somehow?! But that would be my dream… an HBO series or mini-series…

    As for casting… gosh that would be hard. I can think of no one to play Jaimie but I'd be accepting to whoever tried. I think of Rachel McAdams (Time Travelers Wife, The Notebook) or Rachel Weisz for Claire. And I think Jason Isaacs (bad guy from The Patriot) would be perfect for both Frank and Jonathan Randall (Always thought it would be fun for the same actor to play those characters as they look so much alike).

  11. I was never so surprised as when I saw an ad on Amazon.com, that Jaime and Claire were back! Her supposed "last" book was very good, as usual, but now the story continued. And now, a very hopefully a movie in the works. Your fans are with you, Diana.

  12. I would think that the person who plays Claire needs to be more filled out, (she was a physician more devoted to her family than someone trying to get a Grammy from it. As for Jamie, he should be an actor from Scotland. A Scots accent is very difficult to replicate, as I always get a Scots accent and an Irish accent confused, and people will know. In my best wish for the movie, would a Scotsman during a war, when Claire shows up 300 years later.

  13. Does anyone know if there is new information floating about in the process of this film being made? I have loved all of the books in the series and I am studying costume design and making in London right now–looking to volunteer to work on the film, and nothing would be better than working on this series! But there is no production information/development to be found which is relatively current. I would think if it is due for a 2011 release, there would be more press, right? Any help would be appreciated.

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  16. I think the lovely Australian fellow who played Thor would make a very good Jamie ……Chris Hemsworth- without a shirt he is quite amazing…. and he did a great job of playing a God who was no longer a god…… He had plenty of arrogance and just enough humility to pull off Jamie….. But Please NOT Natalie Portman for Claire.

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