I had actually planned to write various very long blog posts about the German Outlander Gathering in Cologne that took place last weekend, just like I did when Outlander were part of RingCon in 2015. And there will be several, separate blog posts, but I’m not sure how long they will be, because I realized I really don’t have the time to write detailed recaps of everything that has happened during the panels or such. As much as I’d love to, but I know me and once I start trying to fit everything in, I’ll spent way too much time on writing these posts. Time I could and should use differently.
Add to this, that I just had to rewrite half of this post because I had written the draft this evening in a simple text editor and for some stupid reason didn’t save when I left the computer to watch the final episode of “The Replacement” :-(
Anyway, I’ll mostly focus on my own experience in these posts, like questions I’ve asked and my photo / autograph moments. Focus on my own internal “OMG it’s Richard Rankin” freak-outs. And all my emotions, which there were a lot :-) But let’s start with a few (ehm, quite a few) photos…
On Saturday morning on my way to Cologne I told myself I wasn’t overly nervous about meeting Richard that day. Excited, but not nervous. But if I was being honest: of course I was nervous. I’m a “worrier”, so I worried about what I should say? How I would act? Would I ramble or make no sense at all when I open my mouth? Would I make an embarrassing fool of myself at any point, because I’m such a klutz?
Spoiler Alert: I did neither. In fact I managed to keep my nerves in check for most of the time. On the outside at least anyway. Looking back I can say I’m rather proud of myself for a few things. That I had the guts to ask questions at Richard’s panels, but also at a few of the others as well. That I was able to obviously get my idea across when I asked or said something and wasn’t met with a confused “Sorry, but I have NO idea what you want from me?!?” look. LOL. That I was able to ask my “Thirteen” question and got the reaction I was hoping for. And that I managed to spend 30 minutes an arm length away from him, easily chatting in the Meet & Greet and wasn’t just gazing at him open-mouthed, because “OMG it’s Richard Rankin!!!”
He was very good at putting me (and everyone else, I guess) at ease. Really. He’s friendly and down-to-earth and funny and entertaining and just so incredibly lovely. And his voice… let’s talk about that voice for a bit, shall we? I mean: Have you heard him speak? Stupid question, because if you’re reading this you at least know of him or more probably are a fan, so of course you’ve heard him speak. On screen most probably. But let me tell you: it’s so much better in real life. I can’t even explain what I love about his voice so much. Maybe its depth. Maybe the very distinct accent: the rolling “R”s, this very unique Scottish lilt, whatever… Be assured: it’s pretty awesome to hear that voice talking not out of your TV speakers but To. Your. Face! Next to you for 30 minutes during the M&G.
And even in these 30 minutes I managed to stay calm and collected (on the outside at least) and I was able to speak in coherent sentences. Go Me!
The photo session with Richard on Saturday afternoon was the first time I actually saw him and might have been my most nervous moment. Because all of a sudden there he was. In real life! Making small talk with the fans. Talking (see above *g*). With the fans in line in front of me I saw him ask for their name when they stepped to his side for the photo. For some reason – nerves probably – I decided to be “pro-active” and when it was my turn I reached out my hand and said “Hi, I’m Susanne.” He shook my hand and introduced himself with “Hi, I’m Richard.” To which I replied: “Yeah, I know…”
I mean: WTF?!?!? “Yeah, I know” ?!?! Really? That’s your reply, Susanne? *headdesk*
But… that was the only moment I felt like I made a fool of myself and I didn’t even dwell on it for long, which was a nice surprise for me. The photos turned out really nice, like actually every photo I’ve seen taken that weekend. They had really good photographers and all in all a much more relaxing atmosphere than I’m used to from the bigger cons like RingCon. They took 2-3 photos, checked and sometimes took some more. All in a very un-rushed atmosphere, which definitely helps to put nervous fans at ease, I think.
Richard did one Q&A panel on Saturday and another on Sunday, but I’ll combine my thoughts/memories of both in one. They were fun! I think he might have been a bit more relaxed on Sunday, at least he did a great entrance and clowned around a lot for photos before the actual panel started that day. On both days Scott Kyle MC’ed and he did a great job. When he first came on stage and introduced himself he mentioned that Richard and him went to school together and that Richard did a few pantos with him. In one of those Richard wore a Baywatch bathing suit costume to play one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters and we might want to ask Richard about that in one of the panels. Which of course someone did and it was hilarious. A clip of parts of it was on Twitter last night and is now probably all over the internet.
There was some singing with Scott (“Caledonia” on day 1 and a “Happy Birthday” on day 2), and he also talked about playing Roger, of course. And how much he is looking forward to Roger’s journey in season 4 and hopefully beyond. I had asked a question on both days and looking back on it now, it’s kind of funny how “spur of the moment” I did that. The only definite goal for this weekend was to ask about “Thirteen”, but I hadn’t thought about any other stuff to ask. I did spend the whole hour of my drive to Cologne on Sunday morning trying to find the right words to ask this question, so my mind didn’t have any more room to come up with different questions in advance. My spontaneous questions prompted some rather long replies from Richard though, so maybe that’s the way to go next time as well :-)
My first question was if he had a preference between doing period TV like Outlander / The Crimson Field or contemporary stories like The Replacement or if it was more about playing the right character? Richard replied that he doesn’t really prefer one over the other but that a period piece might make it easer to get into character because of the costume and set and everything. He talked extensively and very positive about his experience on The Crimson Field in that regard.
My second question was about how he got into acting and if that had been something he had been interested in early on in life? I was afraid that he might have told that story dozen of times before and I just hadn’t read/heard it because until this weekend I considered myself a fan, but more in the “I like to see him on my screen” kind of way and not in the “I need to watch every show / movie he ever did and read every interview he ever gave” kind of way :-) It’s an interesting enough story though, because he had been creative (singing, writing) when he was younger, but decided to go into a IT first, because he always loved computer and technology. A trip to LA when he was 21 got him interested in acting and he decided to go for that and he did. Obviously. There was a funny story how he talked his brother into reading/acting some lines with him and their dad not being overly impressed by their work at first. Richard ended his answer with a “That was a good question” which, I admit, made me a bit happy.
On Saturday evening the autograph signing happened and just like every other actor that weekend, Richard took his time to chat a bit with everyone who stepped up to his table, which was lovely. In my case it went something like this, after he had read my name on the slip of paper. “Hi, Susanne, how are you doing?” – “Honestly? I’m tired. And nervous.” – “Why are you nervous?” – “Because of you!” – “Me?!? What did I do?” LOL I started rambling a bit about not being nervous about him exactly, but about him being there… or something like that. He was very nice about it though.
And Sunday afternoon six other fans and I were the lucky ones to have a 30 minutes “Meet & Greet” with Richard. I will only write about the few things, which I prompted him to talk about and the rest of the stories are not mine to tell, because I didn’t ask him all the other questions. We all talked about “The Replacement” at first and he was full of praise for the two main actresses and the script. A praise we, who had watched it, could only agree to. For some reason I mentioned that I thought the baby was really really cute. “Babies“, Richard grinned. (because of course they work with twins or triplets on TV shoots). He then told us he had been a bit terrified when he had to hold baby Lea with one hand and the phone with the other while talking angrily to Ellen on the phone. Terrified because the babies were just three weeks old and they are still so very tiny at that age. I also asked him about which was his favourite Outlander filming location in Scotland so far and that prompted a conversation about places in Scotland he had re-discovered and travelled to again now as a grown-up after being dragged there on weekend trips with the family when he was a kid. We all know these kind of trips, don’t we? And then there was my “Thirteen” question, of course…
All in all it was a wonderful half hour, because Richard was so down-to-earth and funny and entertaining and just so very lovely. It was kind of surreal, because there was this guy from TV sitting at our table, talking to us about Outlander and other projects and Scotland and all kinds of stuff. But also surreal to me, because I didn’t feel overly nervous or even anxious in that moment. Excited, yes, but in a good way. Somewhere at the beginning of this post I mentioned how I worry a lot and that often screws up nice moments for me, because I tend to overthink and not be present in the moment and thus can’t fully enjoy it. But that wasn’t the case with Richard. I fully enjoyed every single minute of it.
So thanks a lot to everyone involved, and most of all, of course, to Richard himself. We should do that again some time ;-)