There are a ton of high-profile science fiction television projects coming up this fall, and beyond, but one of the most anticipated has to be Starz Network’s adaptation of Outlander from creator Ronald D. Moore. After all, he was the driving force behind the Battlestar Galactica reboot, and has worked on multiple entries into the Star Trek universe. At this point he’s practically geek royalty. Outlander features a trio of main characters, and now the network has announced that two of these three key pieces have been cast.
Sam Heughan recently joined the team as the male lead, Jamie Fraser, and Starz, via a new press release, just announced that Tobias Menzies has been added to the cast. You may recognize the 39-year-old Brit from turns on HBO’s Game of Thrones, Casino Royale, and even an appearance on Doctor Who, among numerous other credits. Menzies will play multiple roles across multiple historical eras, both Frank Randall, as well as his distant ancestor, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall.
Based on the seven-novel series by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander crosses genre lines, encompassing sci-fi, historical fiction, and romance, combining these disparate threads into to one epic, sprawling story. Claire Randall is a combat nurse who, in 1945, is mysteriously pulled back in time to 1743 where she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a young Scottish warrior who is described as both chivalrous and romantic. He’s sounds like the total package. Problem is, she’s already married in 1945. Does it count as infidelity if it happens two centuries before? This, predictably, leads to some internal conflict within our heroine.
Frank Randall, Claire’s husband, a professional historian, is stuck back in 1945, alone, while she encounters something akin to a doppelganger, the evil Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. Though the two men are related by blood, and happen to bear a striking physical resemblance to one another, looks is where any similarities end. Black Jack, a captain in the English army, stationed in Scotland during a time of strife, is a vicious, cruel man, while Frank is kind, gentle, and bookish. You know, a nerd. The elder Randall is not above taking what he wants by force, and you can presume those desires soon grow to include Claire.
This may sound like a hard concept to sell to TV audiences—though it does sound strikingly similar to what Fox is trying to do with their upcoming Sleepy Hollow reboot—Gabaldon’s novels have sold more than 18 million copies since they first appeared in 1991. So there’s already a huge built in audience, and you can bet your ass that Starz is banking on that fact to put butts in the seats. Both the show and Gabaldon’s next book, the eighth installment in the series, are scheduled to appear in 2014.