Sitting down with DianaG and Ron was a great time to get some of my more pressing concerns off my chest. Mainly: ARE YOU GUYS COMING TO TENNESSEE TO FILM EVENTUALLY BECAUSE … HI. Of course, I might have been the only super fan at the table of 7 internet blogger types, so they all looked at me like I was crazy when I got too specific. SORRY NOT SORRY. I really wanted to know what Diana thought about the downtown scene in the first episode, ok?
I want to hear about episode 6, you guys
TN: Can you talk about some of the arcs you had to expand on, like the Garrison Commander [episode 6]which expands to a couple of pages in the book to a whole hour?
Ron: Well, that was interesting bc it’s one of the most memorable passages in the book and I think every fan looks forward to THAT scene. But then yeah, you read it, and it’s really only a couple of pages, and I just felt that, you know, in television you wanted to enjoy that more and spend more time in that room. You really wanted to go there, because in the week to week of the show, Jack Randall is off camera for a big chuck of time. And now he’s back in the show, and if he was back in the show for two or three minutes I think you would feel disappointed, and it wouldn’t have the same impact. It’s different. Just reading and watching are fundamentally different experiences. And for the show it’s: “Oh, he’s back and let’s really enjoy this. Let’s make a meal out of this encounter with the garrison commander. It turned out to be one of the best episodes we’ve done.
TN: Did you work with Diana to expand any of the motivations of the characters in that scene?
Diana: No, it wasn’t the motivations as such; i was a bit of the background of the encounter and the encounter itself. And the gripping-ness of it is due, in large part, to Tobias’ acting of it. It goes well beyond what was actually in the script in terms of impact.
Are you coming to my neck of the woods, is basically what I’m asking
TN: [If there will be] subsequent seasons, I know how you’ve talked about how Scotland is a character on the show, but it seems like as the books go on, that character died, and we aren’t with it anymore to some degree. Is it going to change how you approach the show?
Ron: It will evolve.
Diana: It will be through the second season should we be fortunate enough. But as you read the books you will also notice that there is this constant longing for Scotland from the people who have left it. And they recreate that culture in the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, which are visually very similar … far more trees, things like that. But you know it’s not up to me to say, but it might work in some way like he’s done the flashbacks to the 1940s with Claire going back to those. We might have flashbacks to bits in Scotland. Either things we’ve seen happen before or to things we haven’t seen happen before but were there nonetheless.
TN: Will you stay there in Scotland with the Cumbernauld studio?
Ron: We will. Definitely if we get a second season, we will into the second season, and beyond that, you make me tired.
Diana: [laughs] Can’t think that far ahead.
But really, I just want to talk about Tobias.
TN: Can you talk about casting Tobias a little bit? We don’t hear as much about that, and he seems just as central.
Diana: Hmmm, yeah, I didn’t hear anything about that at the time. I was just informed by phone one day that he was it. They sent me his audition tapes, which were fantastic.
Ron: He had to read both roles, had to read a Frank scene and a Jack scene. We were always looking for somebody who would make a distinction between the two characters without making a caricature. You know, we didn’t want Jack [making villain piratey voice] “to be this” and [in a soft voice] “Frank to be this.” You know, and some actors would just go down that road, and he had an ability to sort of convey the similarities in the men and the differences in the men in subtle ways from just the way he would stand and carry himself to ticks and slight variations of voice. It was just an interesting textured performance, and you realized, “Alright this is ideal because you can see some of Frank in Jack and some of Jack in Frank, and yet they’re two distinct men.”
Let’s Talk about Downtown Franklin (not the Nashville suburb, although it’s great)
TN: I love fan reactions that are bad, as you probably well know.
Diana: Oh yeah (laughs)
TN: We enjoy bad fan reactions because they make us laugh so is there anything that you’ve seen so far, that you’re like, “I can’t wait for fans to kind of niggle at that, to get upset. Because there was that moment in the first episode … the Castle Leoch scene with Frank and Claire … and how that changes the dynamic between Jamie being not a selfish lover and Frank being a little bit more self-involved.
Diana: Oh, he’s not selfish at all. He’s not portrayed that way in the books either. It’s just that he’s a more reserved lover. He’s thoughtful and sensitive and so forth. But as she says, “Jamie having no technique and no experience gave me all of himself.” And you know, that’s just a different thing. But it’s just a matter of personality not whether one is a good lover, and one is bad, because well … we don’t need to go into further things … but you will see slight differences, but they all work. And I thought that worked actually quite well.
There are always the sort of fans who will sit there with the book in their lap, going, “WAIT WAIT that’s not right!” And they are cheating themselves of the both the pleasure of the book and of the film if they’re not willing to accept it as a different thing. It’s just a difference experience of the same story. But it makes the entire experience much richer. Because now they have the visual aspect, and they also have this, as I say, wonderful sense of novelty and discovery for things that are not in the book but could have been in the book or that plainly happened before the book, the prologue in the military hospital. I don’t think anyone is going to complain about that just bc it wasn’t in the book. It works.
Thanks to both of these legends for being amazing, dedicated and willing to play musical chairs for an hour just so we could find out why Frank went down.