• “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. I love the sketch of Claire and I had the idea earlier that Catherine Zeta Jones would make a good Claire though I am not sure she could do her justice or that anyone actually could. I agree that Gerard Butler would do Jamie well I think. I love your books and know a movie would not compare but it is exciting to think about.

  2. I think in the end they’d need unknowns to play Claire and Jamie but maybe have a really strong Scottish and English supporting cast. Don’t ask me why but I always pictured Colum and Dougal MacKenzie as Rufus Sewell and Clive Owen… I know neither of them are Scottish but at least they’re British.

  3. Dear Cao–

    I love Catherine Zeta-Jones, but again–too old. Claire’s only 27 in OUTLANDER, and tough as she is, that’s still pretty young.

  4. I was just watching an episode of “The Tudors” and although a little skinny I thought Natalie Dormer could play Claire… She’s certainly okay with nudity and steamy love scenes!! Then again, blonde she might be a better Geillis Duncan. Oh, the idea of this film gets me thinking… I can’t watch anything without thinking of casting Outlander. And don’t even get me started on what happens when I hear a Scottish brogue. Not that they’ll be the same as the novels, nor is it 100% happening, but just the same it’s exciting!

  5. It will be sooo difficult to pick the perfect Jamie. There is one person that I want to recommend because he is close to what I envision in my head when I read the books.

    Gavin Rossdale. At first thought it seems weird, I know. A rock star? Mr. Gewn Stefani? But he actually has some acting experience under his belt. He played Balthazar in Constantine and he did wonderfuly. If you read his bio on IMDB you’ll learn that he’s tall, half Scottish (bing!), natural hair is red (bing bing!), and he could pull off a 22 year old better than some of the other recommended actors.

  6. Dear Diana,

    I was just asking myself if any actors have been suggested by the movie company.

    And though she is way to old as well (42, I guess..) I always kind of pictured Sophie Marceau as Claire. I think that a woman like her would make a good Claire..

    And what do you think about Robert Pattinson for the young Jamie? He played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and he was suggested in other threads.
    And though he is ‘only’ a footballer, there is a guy called Clemens Fritz, I think that he pretty much looks like the describtion of Jamie in the book. Google him if you like, but he looks better in action, sweaty and dirty (jummy) than on photos.

    And a other thing I always ask myself is if you also think that Jude Law would be perfect for Lord John Grey (the older one of course ;) ). He is almost the only suggestion for Lord John in all of the youtube videos and in the threads about actors. I would prefer him myself, but I would like to know how you think about this.

    Well, lots of questions (sorry for that ;) )

  7. Dear Lisa–

    Umm…well, look. I understand that a lot of people think it’s tremendous fun to make casting suggestions, and more power to you.

    For me…a) I know perfectly well that I have nothing at all to say about the casting of a movie, b) I don’t watch TV and only see movies infrequently on DVD, so am not familiar with most of the people suggested, c) I _know_ what Jamie and Claire look like, and frankly, almost all the suggestions I hear are…um…far-fetched (YES, Gerard Butler is a nice-looking man. He’d be absurd as a 22-year-old virgin), and d)…there are literally thousands of you guys and only one of me. I literally can’t respond to things like casting suggestions (other than to the ones that _everybody_ makes, like Gerard Butler); it’s not like answering questions to which there _is_ an answer (like, “How do you organize research,” or “Why did this character do _that_?”; I’m always happy to do that)–it’s just chat, and while I truly do appreciate everybody’s interest…I gotta book to write here.

    So you know–have fun. [g] And if and when I know anything concrete, I’ll tell you.

  8. Dear all,

    I’ve made up my mind. It took some time to formulate the thoughts, but I guess I came to a conclusion.

    The thing is, that I dont think that the actors have to fit as close as possible to the describtion.
    On one hand, it is simply not possible, and on the other hand, no actor can satisfy all of the Outlander Fans.

    What I think is way more important is that the actors can transport the feelings, the charisma and the personality the characters have.
    I mean, we all have our own Jamie in our mind, but what we ALL fell in Love with is his personality, his humor etc.
    So I dont want a model like Gabriel Aubry for jamies part, even if he may look very close like the described Jamie but its highly questionable that he could pull off a great acting performance (Maybe he has hidden acting talent, but…well ;) ). I dont want to see a a man standing around in the Highlands, just being beautiful and visually close to the book but with no personality and charisma.

    And like in the Harry Potter movies (Harry had blue eyes in the movie but green eyes in the book, and the green eyes have often been mentioned)I dont think its necessary to find someone who looks exactly like the describtions.
    Even this would disappoint fans, who might not like the look of the ‘real’ Jamie, I mean, its simply a matter of taste.

    As I said, in my opinion the look of the actors is secondary to the ability to transport the feeling that is created in the book.

    Yes, thats pretty much it, I guess ;)

    But another question, because I dont know much about this,
    is the budget a high budget?
    Or is it quite low? For me 10-40 million dollars is a lot, but I dont know what can be done with this.
    And what about the production company? Which other movies have they done in the past??
    Thats another thing thats intersting for me.

  9. Dear Lisa–

    Yes, I’m much of your mind; acting is an art, as much as writing is–and physical appearance is _way_ secondary to the ability to embody a character’s personality.

    I’m no expert, but I believe that’s a medium-sized budget. [g] Movies with tons of special effects would be much more expensive, and so would historical costume-dramas that involve huge battles (like BRAVEHEART), but this is a fairly modest story, in terms of characters, settings, etc.

    The production company has actually changed its name (the original partners split up), but under its earlier name, produced the documentary “TRUMBO,” which has been doing extremely well of late. I’ve seen it; it’s an excellent movie. It has a number of well-known actors (including Liam Neeson), reading letters written by Dalton Trumbo, the famous screenwriter who was blacklisted during the infamous McCarthy Days. Much more fascinating than it sounds. [g]

  10. I would like to wish Diana and her family and all in Gabaldon blogland a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  11. Dear Sharaf–

    Many thanks! And the same to all of you, your families, and friends!

  12. Diana, sorry this is late but Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and to everyone else here as well, and Happy Holidays to come.

    Black Friday finds me shopping on the internet :D I did the day after shopping once (Christmas, but still) and got clubbed by a woman with a very big, very heavy purse who wanted what I’d just picked up. Never again.

    Anyway, I just wondered if you check this site at all, Diana, because it’s a wealth of information and I keep meaning to ask you but never remember to!


    Right now, they’re putting online an old book titled:
    Historical and Biographical, illustrative of the Principles of a portion of her Early Settlers by Rev. William Henry Foote (1846)

    Most of it is brief sketches and things but it’s all centered on life in NC. Very fascinating.

    Anyway, hope everyone had a great turkey day!

  13. Dear Diana,
    this is really exciting!

    I hope all goes well with the production of the movie. No movie based on a book can ever satisfy every reader, just because we are all so different. And (in my opinion) a book can very often give the reader a lot more than a movie can. But I think (and hope) the movie will be good (at least entertaining), considering the fact that the story is so amazing! (Then again a story can be ruined by bad acting. But thats a cuite different story.)

    I wish you all the best of luck.

  14. i think eric dane would make a great jamie! if he could pull off the accent that is..he’s sure as heck cute enough and tall enough! he actually kind of looks like the drawings!

  15. Congrats on the movie makings. Gerard Butler would be a spectacular Jamie. If Hollywood can make Hobbits of men, they can turn Gerry Butler into a red haired 22 year old virgin. I would like to suggest Rachel Weisz (The Mummy) as a possible candidate for Claire. She has the accent and the eyes. I am sure she can be aged gracefully.
    Peace and Blessing in 2009

  16. I agree with crisslass. Casting Jamie fraser is going to be an extremely tall order.I can’t imagine anyone being perfect enough to fill his shoes.

    I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

  17. I agree with crissylass. Finding someone to play Jamie Fraser is going to be a pretty tall order. I can’t imagine anyone perfect enough to fill his shoes.

    I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

  18. Dear Diana,it can be quite difficult for people accepting to see the characters from a book they love on screen because those never seem good enough. When you gave us Jamie, Claire and the rest, we took them and transformed them in our minds using our own literary background, our own fantasies and our own desires. A book has that advantage you see, whereas images are imposed on you, they leave less space for imagination. I know that the actor for the Jamie part has never been on screen before (at least I hope it very much). I will still go and see the film out of curiosity and I hope the people who are making it have at least read the book.

  19. After just watching the first installment of PBS’s Wuthering Heights, oh, how I could see the talented actor Tom Hardy play a red headed Jamie!! No matter that his W H character is gruff and vengeance striven, he COULD fill out the role of Jamie quite sweetly, if given the chance, and he’s a fresh face, not an actor we’ve seen over and over. Oh, I wish you could have a say in casting!

  20. At the moment I’m wondering how long it takes to find an author and actors after having sent out the script. According to the press the movie was supposed to be made in Spring this year. Now that Spring is coming closer and there haven’t been any news about the movie since early November I fear that this whole thing is kind of ‘frozen’ now.
    Does anybody know anything about the proceedings? Or if the movie makers are at least still on it?

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