Walking up to the scene of the Starz Outlander Premiere Red Carpet Gala was a truly thrilling sight to behold. A huge, stories-high banner of the official Outlander poster hung on the front of the Spreckels Theatre, and the marquee flashed brightly, welcoming everyone to the gala. Huge throngs on fans wrapped the sides of The Spreckels Theatre in San Diego in eager anticipation of seeing the Premiere of Outlander. As bagpipe music played, fans anxiously awaited the arrival of the show’s stars. People had come from all over the country to be a part of the release of the first episode in celebration of their love for the story and excitement to see it come to life on the screen. Most were dressed in cocktail attire for the Starz Outlander Premiere, with many men donning kilts and ladies incorporating tartan into their outfits. At last, their waiting was rewarded when vintage cars from the 1940’s containing the cast of Outlander pulled up to the curb for them to be interviewed by press as they walked the Tartan Carpet. Smiling brightly and dressed festively, they entered the gauntlet of well-wishers and those excited to learn more about the production.
First up in the Outlander contingent was Emmy winning composer, Bear McCreary. The crowd went wild, and he was very popular among the interviewers… McCreary, well-known for his work on series like The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica, has written the amazing soundtrack for the Outlander series.
Beautiful Nell Hudson, who plays Laoghaire McKenzie followed and gave insight into her often-misunderstood character.
Diana Gabaldon, of the Internationally Best Selling Outlander book series, on which the television series by Starz was based, looked stunning as she answered questions about her thoughts on the production.
Famed for his work on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, Ron D. Moore, the Executive Producer for the Outlander series, walked with Gabaldon and gave insight into his vision for the series the goals of the production. This included staying as true to the book series as possible and bending it back to the original story whenever there was a variation.
Graham McTavish, who is known for his role as Dwalin in The Hobbit films, plays Dougal McKenzie in Outlander.He discussed the complex nature of his character and also the amazing opportunities of representing Scotland to the world in this production. Very friendly and full of personality.
Next up was the handsome Tobias Menzies, known for his role on Game of Thrones and plays two characters in Outlander, Black Jack Randall and Frank Randall. Menzies spoke of his enthusiasm for the project as well as the experience of playing a double role.
A message for viewers: http://youtu.be/BdMcekGqgS4
To conclude the Tartan Carpet, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe showed their fantastically fun personalities as they answered questions about their experiences with the show and the Outlander fans.
Heughan plays Jamie, the handsomely rugged Highlander, whose life becomes entwined with Claire, played by Caitriona Balfe. Claire falls back in time through the standing stones at Craigh na Dun in 1945, landing in 1740. Here they speak to their fans:
Following the introduction of the cast, the press followed them into the Spreckels theater for the World Premiere of Outlander’s first episode. The lobby was richly decorated with greenery that echoed the lush beauty of Scotland. Tartan banners bearing the crest of Clan Mackenzie hung from poles along the path leading to the seating area. Gentlemen that were clad in formal Highland Dress lined the same walkway, greeting the arriving stars and guests and graciously posed for pictures. After being seated in the historic and beautiful theater, guests anxiously awaited the start of the episode premiere and the evenings festivities.
To kick off the evening, three pipers began playing beautifully haunting music from a balcony at the front of the theater, and the audience listened, spellbound, until the pipers’ tune turned to a festive dance sequence. At that point, the crowd began cheering, clapping and stomping along in time.
The SVP of Sony TV Drama, Chris Parnell, welcomed everyone and exuded enthusiasm about the show’s impact on the viewing population in the world. He then introduced Bear McCreary, the aforementioned composer of the show’s musical score, to begin a musical presentation. Guests were treated to an amazing performance by McCreary on the accordion and Paul Cartwright on the fiddle. The duo began the concert with an age-old favorite, “Loch Lomond”, then revealed “Jamie and Claire’s Theme”. This breathtaking piece of music had the crowd spellbound and will be a vital part of the Outlander viewing experience.
Experience it here:
Raya Yarbrough then joined them on stage to perform the soul-stirringly beautiful “Main Theme” from Outlander. Following this incredible concert, the premiere viewing of the episode took place.
As viewers were sworn to secrecy about the contents of the episode, I won’t be discussing its amazing content here, but my fully detailed review of it will be published August 2nd. I can say that it blew my already high expectations for the show out of the water, as a lover of the novels that inspired it, and someone whom has followed the production details of the show for over a year. The public will be cheating themselves and missing a modern-day masterpiece if they don’t watch it!
Following the riveting episode, a Question and Answer panel took place with the cast members, Diana Gabaldon and Ron D. Moore and the audience was privileged to hear fascinating insights by them. There was frequent humor and great reactions from the crowd in response to the answers given. Much of the discussion that took place is episode sensitive, so in order to maintain that secrecy, I will detail those responses in my upcoming episode review.
Everyone onstage praised the unyielding support from the fans for the series and them individually, and expressed sincere gratitude repeatedly. When asked about how she prepared for her role as Claire, Caitriona Balfe said that she focused on how a nurse would be affected by the world of life and death following her experiences in WWII and then coming back into an estranged marriage. She also discussed how she internally follows Claire’s journey by reading the novel as they film the story and this enables her to reflect authentic reactions to the story’s plot.
Sam Heughan was asked about his thoughts on the physically demanding parts of his role and he said that he enjoyed the battle/fighting scenes very much, but that he couldn’t ever complain about being uncomfortable after Caitriona had to “run around cold in the dark of night wearing only a shift for four weeks”. This concern for his cast mate reflects the glowing description that Graham McTavish gave onstage of Heughan’s true character as a person, and that Heughan “IS Jamie”… A truly great, kind guy.
McTavish also gave interesting insight into his character Dougal’s psyche saying that, while he is a complex man, that his main GOAL is the restoration of the Stewart throne in Scotland, and that anything else was periphery. He discussed his romantic feelings for Claire and his relationship with his brother, Colum, the Laird of the Clan McKenzie. After the conclusion of the panel session, guests were lead to the exit by pipers. They also gathered around to take pictures on the Tartan Carpet and of themselves with models of the infamous “Standing Stones” outside the entrance. The Premiere-goers excitedly discussed all of the incredible things they had heard and seen during the star-studded event.
Starz did an amazing job of putting on a world-class premiere that will be a fondly remembered occasion in the lives of many, cast and production staff included, I believe. The conscious inclusion of the Outlander fandom in these amazing events is indicative of the desire of all involved to make this a truly beloved series and a highly successful one as well. They have succeeded!