My First Real Life Encounter with the Outlander TV Production

I lost my “Con-virginity” yesterday *g* Friends of mine are huge fans of LOTR and The Hobbit (and some even of StarTrek, Sci-Fi in general etc.) and all of them have been going to various fan conventions for more than 10 years. I like LOTR and the Hobbit and some of the StarTrek stuff, but not enough that I would spend – lets face it – large amount of money to spend a weekend with other fans geeking out. I totally support the “geeking” and being a fan and all, because I’m one myself and I can be a total geek. Just not in the whole fantasy /sci-fi genre which has the most conventions. If there’ll ever be an Outlander convention with some of the cast or crew in attendance, I’ll probably be first in line to buy a ticket ;-)
Outlander was the reason I joined my friends at the German HobbitCon yesterday, because Graham MacTavish (who played dwarf Dwalin) was one of the guests and I thought this will probably be the closest I’ll get to anyone from Outlander in a while. So I took my chance and I had a great time. Not just because of Graham, but in general. I love hearing behind the scenes stuff, because I am generally interested in the TV / movie business, ever since I worked as an extra on various TV shows a few years ago. The panels I watched were interesting and entertaining and some were downright hilarious. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Ori on screen and not think of Adam Brown’s left testicle. [It’s a long story, and I guess you just had to be there… *g*]

As this was my first Con I don’t really have a frame of reference, but I think it could have been organized a bit more smoothly. And I’m not even talking about the extraordinarly slow (and sometimes downright poor) service of the Con-Hotel staff. Sorry, guys, but you really should step up your game a bit.
I did the photoshoot with Graham and that all worked very well, so no complaints there. I wish I could have had more time to chat a tiny bit with him, but they were on a tight schedule it seemed. And still Graham took the time to especially accomodate the fans before me, because one of them was in a wheelchair, so he knelt down to make sure they actually all could be seen well in the shot. Such a nice gesture.
In the afternoon I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into the autograph session, because there was such a long line and not enough information about which tickets were allowed to get into the autograph room or to line up at what point, so that was a bit nerve-racking. I had carried around a basket of chocolate/peanut butter treats with me all day, because I wanted to give those to Graham to take back home to the Outlander crew and I would have been seriously bummed if I hadn’t had the chance to hand them over.
Luckily I got in and managed to give him my present and to have my copy of “The Exile” signed. I chose a page on which Dougal is clearly visible because I still get a kick out of how different the TV Dougal will look from the graphic novel (and the novel) one ;-). I think Graham knew of the graphic novel, but hadn’t seen a copy of it himself yet. I didn’t ask for a special dedication or something, so I expected him to write “all the best” or “thank you” or something generic for these kind of things. So I was thrilled to later see that he chose “Tulach Ard!” as dedication. Nice!
Graham was gracious and kind during the whole autograph session, but also extremly busy, because there had been hundreds of fans in line waiting for his signature. I think, I was one of the last ones I and he still seemed quite relaxed and patient and everything. Kudos for that.

But the first interaction I actually had with Graham yesterday was during his panel in the morning (he was on stage with fellow Scot Ken Stott), when I gathered my courage to ask a question at the end. I had thought of two different question in advance and had even written them down, so I could just read them if I got too nervous. There were a lot of other fans asking questions, mostly Hobbit-related, so I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to get to the microphone myself, but in the end I thought, “just go for it.”
I didn’t want to do the usual “tell us something about your new project Outlander” because it was a HobbitCon after all, so I tried to find a connection between the two projects. I asked Graham how his Hobbit costars would manage to adapt (or not) if they were transported back through time to the 1740s in the Scottish highlands. At first Graham thought I was asking about the dwarves and answered accordingly, which was funny enough. I don’t remember if it was the MoC Mark Ferguson who clarified my question or if he just asked me to clarify it. I do remember asking Graham specifically how he himself would manage if he’d find himself in the 1740, because “there was no caffee latte at Castle Leoch”. Which made him smile “No, there wasn’t.” He answered quite seriously, that he (and everyone else) would be dead rather quickly, because it was such a dangerous time. Infections, diseases and all that the modern men and their bodies just aren’t used to. But he also explained that if he ever had the chance to travel back in time for one day, he would love to go to the Elizabethean time, to see a Shakespeare play in it’s time and all that.
So, that were my two minutes in the limelight, literally, because the spotlight and the camera was always turned towards the people asking the questions at the microphones. But I think I did allright. Not sure if I thanked Graham for answering my question though…

There were other Outlander and/or Scotland related questions and I try to remember what Graham said about it. I wish I had pulled out my notebook to jot down the important stuff during or directly after the panel, but I was so nervous because of the “shall I get up and ask a question” dilemma :-)
Both him and Ken Stott were asked if they remembered the Dwarves language and if they were willing to say something in it. They both declined that, but Graham said, that he is speaking some Gaelic in Outlander and he then said something in Gaelic, a line from the show. It was something about being the war chief of clan MacKenzie and protection, as far as I recall it.
Graham obviously has a great time working on Outlander and enjoys it very much. He said something like “they drive us out into the middle of nowhere and they put us on horses and let us ride around in this amazing landscapes”. He clearly loves the Scottish landscapes and especially the Highlands, even though he is originally a Lowlander from Glasgow. He and Ken Stott were quite serious when they talked about the Highlands. Because as breathtaking and beautiful and amazing the landscapes in the Highlands are, they said it’s important to remember the history of the land. That as wonderfully romantic the cottage ruins and fields might look like today, it’s important to remember that these ruins are in large part a result of the often violent and heartbreaking Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th century. I admit I often enough forget about that connection myself and I was glad for that reminder…

Graham also mentioned that they will shoot a big fight scene in the next week (or the week after?). “Sam Heughan and I will be fighting back to back, there are 10 of us and 17 from another clan”, so I’m pretty sure it’s scene fom “Raiders in the rock” when the Grants try to steal back their cattle. Exciting news! I think I might re-read the scene later today, just because…

In the last panel of the day, John Callen (dwarf Oin) and Peter Hambleton (dwarf Gloin) were asked about the “Naughty Dwarves calendar” which was a present for Peter Jackson’s 50th birthday. All the naked dwarves in their fat suits and muscle suits, posing like the models in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar. They said this calendar will never be made public, as there are only two copies. Peter Jackson got one for his birthday and the second is kept safe (? something like that)  and guarded by Graham MacTavish, because he is the “biggest and meanest bastard of us all”. LOL

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