Millions of fans worldwide know and love Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. The life journey of Jamie and Claire Fraser is captured in these beloved books which are highly ranked by readers everywhere. Youtube video after Youtube video, fans have flocked to create their own imagined version of the Outlander cast or ideal for a movie or stage production. But only one man has the full endorsement of Diana Gabaldon herself. That man is Scotland’s own ginger-haired multi-talented, Allan Scott-Douglas.
Fresh from his recent gig on the Beatles Musical Tour that played to standing ovations all across Italy, I am ecstatic to have him as a guest on my blog today.
Allan, I know that you are very busy so I thank you so much for making time to answer some questions and allowing us to get to know you better.
First, let me congratulate on the huge success of “Outlander the Musical” CD. Back in September 2010, I received my fresh copy all the way from
. I played it until I knew all the words and I immediately downloaded to my iPod. To this day, it is my most listened to playlist. I’ve seen “Outlander the Musical” on Amazon’s Top Seller list fluctuate as high as #4. How does it feel knowing your beautiful voice is being played all over the world? Scotland
Thank you very much! To be honest, I still find the whole thing a bit surreal... The fan base that Diana’s books have is absolutely phenomenal so I sort of knew there was always a slight chance that the CD could really fly, but I honestly couldn’t ever have envisioned just how well it’s been doing, and how far it seems to have reached. To date, I’ve had messages of support and congratulations from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Australia, South Africa, Turkey, Germany, France, Russia, the U.K. and Ireland...and probably a few more besides, so apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone!
In terms of the CD’s place on the Amazon Best Seller’s list, I think the most amazingly humbling moment was when Les Miserables was having it’s huge worldwide 25th Anniversary celebrations, which included a star-studded performance at the O2 Arena in London which was screened live to over 100 cinemas worldwide and a brand new 25th Anniversary Edition CD – in their anniversary week, when their celebrations were in full flow and #LesMis25 was a worldwide Twitter trending topic...Outlander The Musical outsold Les Mis - comfortaby! (if memory serves, we were some 5 or 6 places above them for the entire week) Being a huge Les Mis fan myself, that was the moment that really made me go ‘wow, this thing could be absolutely huge!’
Can you tell us how you came about earning the lead role as Jamie for “Outlander the Musical” CD and how long did it take to record those beautiful songs?
Pure dumb luck really... A wonderful actress named ‘Anne Kane Howie’, with whom I had recently performed in a critically acclaimed new imagining of the legend of King Arthur, contacted me and said that a writer/director friend of hers (Mike Gibb) was looking for someone to record a few songs for a CD and that the character was tall and red-haired. When she mentioned me to Mike she basically said ‘I worked with Allan on ‘King Arthur’, he’s tall and ginger, but I’ve got no idea if he can sing or not...’.
Fortunately Mike contacted me and asked me to have a look at one of the songs from the CD (‘I Am Ready’) and come up to Dundee to audition for him and his fellow writer Kevin Walsh – I was suffering with a very bad throat infection at the time so I feared the worst but, fortunately (depending on whether you believe in fate or not) my voice held up and they offered me the job there and then!
For my part, I think I was Kevin’s recording studio for about 4 days in total to get all of the songs the way we all wanted them...and I was delighted with the results when the CD was edited and ready to go!
Have you read any of the Outlander series?
I have! I’ve read ‘Outlander’ itself (‘Cross Stitch’ in the UK) twice now and absolutely love it! I’ve also read the wonderful graphic novel ‘The Exile’ too, which gave me a fantastic insight into Jamie’s side of the story... I have started reading book two, ‘Dragonfly in Amber’, (it’s actually sitting next to me as I’m writing this) but people keep giving me jobs and auditions that rather inconveniently pull my attention away from the plight of the Frasers, sporadically! But I’ll get there – I’m really taken by the whole Outlander world and desperately want to learn more...
At several book signings and conventions, Diana Gabaldon has passed around your picture announcing that you are her choice for Jamie. Other than the obvious height, hair, and (swoon-worthy) Scottish accent, how do you feel you measure up?
First off – I am beyond humbled that Dr. Gabaldon has taken such a positive view of me as an actor, and a person, to such an extent that she has willingly stated publically that I would be “her choice”. That in itself, regardless of what may or may not happen in the future, is a massive personal and professional highlight in my life thus far! Thanks again Dr. G!!!!
In terms of how I ‘measure up’...wow, I don’t honestly know how anyone could answer that. Jamie Fraser is a hero. A true romantic warrior if ever there was one. I’m just me – a jobbing actor from Edinburgh, trying to make a living doing what I love. But I guess if there are any traits in Jamie that I could see in myself it would be his sense of humour (Diana has always said that is one of the main reasons she “sees” Jamie in me) and his absolute devotion to his family and friends. My family and friends are the most important thing in my life and always will be – I think if I was ever to do anything truly ‘heroic’, it would be for them and they would give me the strength to do it.
In my introduction I said “millions of fans worldwide”. For me, if Diana Gabaldon, the genius behind these masterfully written books picks you, then you’re my Jamie. I trust her. How hard is it to deal with such passionate fans who disagree? It must be tough to read negative reviews.
The wonderful thing about the Outlander series is exactly what you mentioned; the ‘passionate fans’. Without those fans, the books wouldn’t have been the success they are and ‘Outlander the Musical’ and any future movie or television series would never exist. For that reason, I have huge respect for the opinions of the Outlander fan base – both good and bad. It would be absolutely impossible for any actor to be ‘Jamie’ (or Claire, or Black Jack, or Dougal etc etc) in the eyes of every single fan – or perhaps even in the eyes of the majority. Everyone who reads these amazing books, or listens to the wonderful audio versions, will have ‘their’ idea of these characters formed in their heads very firmly – especially afer 20 years!
I have always said from the very beginning of my involvement with ‘Outlander the Musical’ that I fully respect every fan’s right to voice their opinion whether it be glowingly positive (of which there have been a truly over-awing number) or deeply negative. All I can say is that everything I’ve done in relation to Outlander, and anything I may do in the future, comes from a place of true love, respect and passion for the story and characters as I have come to know them – I am honoured to be a part of this unique community and will always be deeply grateful for any support, advice and feedback that I receive. It just shows how much people genuinely care about this series, and that is THE most important thing...
Okay, so let’s learn a bit more about you! I understand you recently visited the
. First you were in Vegas, and then New York. What can you tell us about your experiences in those two cities? Any plans for future visits? USA
I LOVE THE U.S.!! America was the first country, outwith the U.K., that I ever visited. When I was 18, I had the wonderful opportunity to work at a summer camp in Derby, Vermont. I had the time of my life that summer; teaching drama, music, sports and even archery and riflery believe it or not. (it was a 4-H camp...)
Being invited to perform in Las Vegas at the 6th Annual Gerard Butler Fan Convention (in aid of ‘The Shade Tree’ abuse shelter) was an absolutely wonderful experience! I was made to feel like a king all weekend and met some of the loveliest (and craziest) people I’d ever encountered! They made me feel so welcome and like a proper ‘celebrity’ despite me being totally bemused that any of them even know who on earth I was in the first place. They have been kind enough to ask me to return next year so, schedule permitting, I am hugely looking forward to another wonderful weekend with the GALS in Sin City!
New York was somewhere I had always wanted to see – especially coming from a musical theatre background – and I was fortunate enough to have a gap in my schedule which allowed me to spend a week in the city just being a proper tourist! In Madeira, Italy and Vegas (to a lesser extent) I had been working so hard that I didn’t get much of a chance to just see the place I was in so I made the most of my time in New York, to say the least! I saw FOUR Broadway shows, did the Empire State Building, a sunset cruise to the Statue of Liberty and had some of the most amazing food ever! (even giving Italy a run for it’s money) I even had the chance to create my very own ‘Muppet’ at the Whatnot Workshop in FAO Schwartz – his name is ‘Frank Monster’ and he’s an aspiring Vegas lounge singer...watch out Donny!!)
My time in New York also happened to coincide with ‘ThrillerFest 2011’ so I was ‘thrilled’ to be able to catch up with Diana and even had the honour of being interviewed with her for a very popular web-based literary television channel. That was a very exciting and unexpected bonus!
If you had to move to
Canada or USA for a production of some kind, besides family, what would you miss most about ? And what wouldn’t you miss? Scotland
I’ll answer the second part first because it’s much easier – the weather!! I remember a conversation I had with one of the Italian technicians while I was in Italy – it was a particularly horrible rainy day in Florence and he said to me “we have a word for days like this in Italian” (I won’t repeat exactly what he said it as it is a little less than polite – but basically ‘a lot of excrement’), “really?” I replied, “we have a word for days like this in Scotland too. Tuesday!” I’m not sure he got it exactly, what with the language barrier and all, but my point was that weather like that was so common in Scotland that is wasn’t even worthy of special mention any more...
As for what I’d miss most, besides friends and family as you say, I think it would have to be the food – where else in the world would you take something as unhealthy as pizza and think “that’s not quite bad enough for me yet...I think I’ll deep fry it!”. We will deep fry absolutely anything! Mars Bars are particularly popular, though I’m more partial to a Curly-Wurly personally!
I am dying to travel to
. I’ve read so many books where Scotland is the main setting. What is one misconception you think a traveller would have about Scotland ? (Men really do walk around in kilts all day, right?!?!) Scotland
Yep, we all walk around in Kilts, chasing Haggis and tossing cabers until the cows come home...
I’m not sure it qualifies as a misconception but my favourite incorrect assumption about Scotland actually happened while I was in New York recently. We were taking a ride on a Rickshaw (which you really shouldn’t do if you have more than 100 yards to travel – unless you want to sign over your life savings) and the driver/cyclist was from Mexico. “Where you from?” he asked. “Scotland” I replied. “Wow,” he immediately retorted “your English is really good for someone from Scotland! They don’t speak English there do they?” “No,” I said, somewhat humouring him, “we speak Scottish!”
What’s on the horizon for you right now? Any more tours?
Right now, I’m frantically learning lines and songs for my next project, ‘Red Harlaw’. It was written by Mike Gibb (one half of the Outlander team) and is set during the Battle of Harlaw in the North East of Scotland in 1411. This was a particularly bloody battle involving an army from the Highlands & Islands who wanted to march south to destroy and claim as many Scottish towns as possible. I play a character who volunteers to fight to protect Aberdeen from this marauding horde despite knowing that the Aberdonian army would be massively outnumbered by the invaders from the north. The script is very cleverly written and genuinely touching and the songs add something very special at the right moments too. We will be performing in St. Nicholas’ Church in Aberdeen on ‘Tartan Day’ (July 30th) – the very same place where we launched ‘Outlander the Musical’ exactly one year before...and what a year it has been! Diana Gabaldon is a guest of the Lord Provost of Aberdeen for the Tartan Day celebrations so will be in attendance for one of our performances of ‘Red Harlaw’ too.
Five interesting things about Allan Scott-Douglas you want us to know?
1. I started out training to become a Primary (Elementary) School teacher.
2. I once spent a week living in a Buddhist monastery.
3. I love reptiles and would really like to have a Komodo Dragon as a pet.
4. My favourite band are actually Canadian!! The Barenaked Ladies!
5. I make the best paella anywhere outside of Spain!
Flash round Q&A
Favourite song to sing for auditions
Ballad – ‘Why God, Why?’ from Miss Saigon.
Upbeat – ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ by Queen (though sometimes the Michael Buble version...)
Favourite actor & actress (any country)
Actress – Audrey Tautou, Kate Winslet
Actor – Kevin Spacy, Paul Giamatti, David Wynham
Favourite Scottish dish
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties.
Most played song on your iPod or MP3/electronic device
Right now, the entire cast recording of ‘The Book of Mormon’.
First thing you do when you get up in the morning
Shamefully, check my Twitter/Facebook/emails...
White Russian. (or Irn Bru for a soft drink)
I actually really like winter! I love the snow...
How many languages do you speak?
Fluently, just English.
I do speak Italian quite well now though and I’m ok with German and Spanish.
In your opinion, one place a tourist in
must see and why? Scotland
Edinburgh, of course! We have one of the most colourful histories of any city and are home to THE largest arts festival in the world!
What’s one question that I didn’t ask you today that you hoped I had?
Where is the one place in the world that you haven’t visited yet, for work or pleasure, that you’d most like to see?
I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese culture so that’s top of my list – followed by Australia as I have family there I would really love to visit! (in case they’re reading this; Dougie, Jackie, Jordan & Shannon - I promise I’ll do my best to come and visit soon!)
Thank you so much for taking the time once again to answer some questions for a group of book lovers. I really do wish you all the best, and if I ever do get overseas and you’re in a production somewhere in
, I’ll aim for front row seats! Scotland
You can follow Allan on Twitter (it’s like being a fly on the wall watching Allan and Diana chat) at:
Or please join him on Facebook here:
Or his website here:
Update - Aug 14/11 Although the CD giveaway is over, please feel free to continue to post comments. I will ensure Allan receives them.