Sunday, October 30, 2016

Top 11 Spooky Places to Visit in Scotland

Featured on Scotland - The Gateway to Scotland

Scotland is certainly a spooky place, not just on Halloween. Our long bloody history set in remote forests, castles and glens is the ideal fodder for many gruesome tales of ghosts and ghouls.

Scotland is a nation of storytellers and throughout the centuries accounts persist of the spirits of real people who died in tragic or horrific circumstances. Of apparitions that appear at certain times of the night, or on certain days of the year – perhaps when they were murdered. And of strange, eerie sounds that pierce the chilled Scottish air.

Hauntings seem to have no set boundaries. Ghosts have been reported on bleak roads, in old theatres and ancient graveyards across the land. Is it just a draught seeping through an ancient wall or something altogether more sinister. In Scotland you can never be too sure.

1. Scotland’s Spookiest Street

Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh. The street leading from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse is known as “The Royal Mile”, with dark and spooky lanes leading off. One, Mary King’s Close, was bricked up during an outbreak of plague and only recently re-opened. Said to be the most haunted place in the Scottish capital, the spirit of a young girl has often been seen. Guided tours will take you to the close, Greyfriars cemetery, where the ghosts of covenanters who were tortured and executed linger, and also to the place where body snatchers Burke and Hare first dug up corpses to sell for use in medical experiments.

2. Roslyn Chapel

A few miles to the south-east of Edinburgh. Made famous by the novel and movie “The Da Vinci Code”, this working church was built for the Sinclair family in the fifteenth century. Ghostly flames apparently flicker in the burial vault when one of the Sinclairs is about to die, and an apparition of the apprentice who carved the famous Apprentice Pillar and was then murdered by his teacher, can sometimes be seen or heard.

3. Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle was the home to the Kings and Queens of Scotland. Trouble, intrigue and death were never far from their walls. Stirling is not short of a ghost story or two. Some of their origins are clear, others are shrouded in even more secrets. The Pink Lady falls into the latter category.

Some say she was a pretty noblewoman engaged to a brave knights who starved to death inside Stirling Castle – while under an English siege in 1304 - during the Wars of Independence. She in turn died, not from malnourishment but from the pain of a broken heart.

Her spirit roams the castle awaiting the day their souls will be entwined once more.

Others say she is Mary Witherspoon, a victim of Grave Robbers who sold bodies to educated men for dissection. While the robbers were brought to justice her ghost still seeks her mortal remains. People report a faint scent of rose-blossom in the air before she appears, her favourite flower.

4. Fyvie Castle

Just north of Aberdeen, this castle is haunted by the spectre of Lilias Drummond who died there in 1601. Some believe she was starved to death by her husband, others that she died from a broken heart. Whatever the truth, it is said that Lilias’s ghost carved her name on the stone window sill of her husband’s bedroom on the night that he took a new bride. The writing can still be seen and the green-ghost of Lilias appears when time bodes ill for the owners of Fyvie. A dead drummer and a haunted trumpeter are also believed to haunt the Castle – with the trumpet sounding when death is near.

5. Cruden Bay

On the Aberdeenshire coast and to the east of Fyvie, Cruden Bay is a pleasant looking fishing village. But in the 19th century it was the holiday haunt of Bram Stoker. The ruins of Slains Castle, which drape down from the headland inspired his vision of Count Dracula’s Castle. The Kilmarnock Arms Inn, where Stoker stayed in 1895, is still there. Would you risk a visit to the place where Count Dracula was brought to life?

6. Cawdor Castle

Shakespeare’s Macbeth was given the title of Thane of Cawdor in the classic story or power and revenge. While the castle did not exist during the time of the real Macbeth, could the stories of Cawdor Castle, close to Nairn near inverness, be stranger than Shakespeare’s fiction.

One ghost is thought to be the daughter of and earl of Cawdor. A wayward lass who insulted her father by flattering an enemy chieftain’s son. When the Earl discovered their tryst she fled to the highest tower of the castle as he followed in murderous pursuit. She lowered herself from the window to escape the threats of her father. He showed no mercy and chopped off her hands sending her to her death.

Visitors have reported seeing the ghost of this handless girl still roaming the castle.

7. Dunstaffnage Castle

On the west coast of Scotland, close to the town of Oban, the castle is more than thirteen hundred years old. Besieged and rebuilt many times it was visited by Robert the Bruce, King James IV and Flora Macdonald – who was imprisoned at Dunstaffnage after helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape Scotland following the Battle of Culloden. A lady dressed in green walks the ramparts when momentous events are about to unfold for the castle owners, Clan Campbell. When smiling the fortune will be good. But if she is seen weeping, trouble lies ahead. The castle is open daily, with restricted hours during the winter.

8. The Home of Walter Scott at Abbotsford House

Abbotsford House in the Scottish Borders, was the home of novelist Sir Walter Scott. When you visit you can walk his library and even sit in his dining room. Be careful though. That is where the great man died after exhausting himself writing in an attempt to pay off huge debts. Might you catch a glimpse of his ghost?

9. Culloden Moor

It was here on a windswept patch of ground near Inverness that Bonnie Prince Charlie’s rebel army was crushed by government troops in 1746. The Prince’s army was made up of Scottish clans like the Stuarts, the Macdonalds and the Frasers. Many were slaughtered after the battle was over. Cairns, or rock monuments, stand where these men died. Visions of the battle and apparitions at the memorial cairns are said to occur in this sorrowful place. A refurbished visitor centre is open all year round.

10. Edinburgh Castle

The castle has a long and bloody historyand is reputed to be haunted by many ghosts, including that of a headless drummer boy. His appearance is said to be a warning that the castle is about to be besieged and was first seen in 1650 before Oliver Cromwell and his English army attacked. The castle is now a major tourist venue and is home to the Scottish crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny an ancient rock on which the Kings of Scots were crowned.

11. Overton Bridge

A modern day mystery, the Overton Bridge in West Dunbartonshire has been the site of many unexplained dog suicides. The dogs are reported to take the plunge from exact same spot on the same side of the bridge. Some of those lucky enough to survive are said to return moments later to try again. It is alleged Overton Bridge has taken the lives of 50 unfortunate canine companions.

There have been many attempts to explain the phenomena. Some think the problem lies with mink trails leading over the side of the bridge. However, in Celtic beliefs Overton Bridge is called a "thin place" where the realms of the living and the dead cross. Others believe that dogs are super sensitive to the spirits and spooked enough by the bridge to take their own lives.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Outlander’s Sam Heughan on Why Season 3 Is “Like Having a Death in the Family”

By: Joanna Robinson, Vanity Fair

By Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s been just under four months since Outlander fans had to say good-bye to Claire and Jamie Fraser during the emotional Season 2 finale. But it’s also a long wait until the time-traveling, star-crossed couple returns to Starz for Season 3 next April. Thankfully, in the meantime, there’s a new Blu-ray edition of Season 2 out on Tuesday, November 1. And, for the true devotees to both the show and the Diana Gabaldon novels, there’s also a special Collector’s Edition that features an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming Outlander novel “Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone.” Outlander star Sam Heughan took a break from his grueling 11-month shooting schedule to reflect back on Season 2 and give a preview of why Season 3 feels like “a different show.” (Hint: It has to do with him missing co-star Caitriona Balfe.) 

Vanity Fair: After the overwhelmingly warm reception for Season 1, was there a particular fan reaction to Season 2 that you did not see coming?

Sam Heughan: I think the first half of the season set in France was quite complicated, and it certainly wasn't going back over the old ground of Season 1. I think we were very aware that the first season was this young relationship and about new love. We wanted to show something a bit more complicated [in Season 2]. I think fans were surprised. People tune in expecting the same show or the same sort of scenes and, yeah, I think we surprised fans with that.

I know you hear from fans who are put out or surprised by changes from the books. Was there any particular book aspect left out of Season 2 that you felt like fans were most hoping to see and didn’t?

Diana is all over this. I mean, I have constant e-mail updates, several times a day, about things she’s watched or things she’s read. We confer a lot, probably more than the producers want us to. There’s always going to be little details that will be missed because the show is only an hour-long episode each week. I know myself and Caitriona, we read the books and if we can sneak in a small detail that may not be in the script or even just that we know ourselves, that going from one scene to another, that something's happened in between that maybe we haven't been able to show, but at least we know it and, hopefully, in some way it manifests itself. Hopefully it’s all in Diana’s world. I know that she said herself that Season 2, especially at the start, was kind of complex and difficult to make into episodic TV. 

There’s a behind-the-scenes feature on the Blu-ray of you, Caitriona, and Graham McTavish prepping for your big Season 2 fight scene. Can you tease anything about what fans might not know about how you prepare for combat? 

Yeah, I mean, my God, the show is incredible. Not to give away much, but today, one minute I was on a horse riding across the Scottish countryside, and then I'm somewhere else in studio, and then I'm laying in a cot. But that particular Season 2 scene was very emotional. I absolutely loved doing a fight scene with Graham; I've always wanted to. He absolutely hated me fighting him. We actually shot several alternate endings to the fight because, obviously, in the book, Claire isn't complicit. We thought, Jamie and Claire are a couple and they need to be both guilty of this deed. It's not that Claire wants to kill anyone—she's not a killer, she's a hero—but she wants to aid Jamie and she basically ends up being complicit in the death of Dougal. 

It was very funny because we were actually shooting a pick up on that and we didn't have Caitriona there at the time; it was actually a double's hands that are on the dagger. Graham was very wary of this double pushing too hard down on him that he might actually get stabbed. He was just this very hard man complaining that someone was pushing a fake dagger too hard on him.

Of course, with any Blu-ray, there are deleted scenes included here. Which deleted Season 2 scene were you most devastated not to see included in the original episodes?

There was one recently that was released on social media; it was the “Faith” scene. Certainly, from my perspective, you got to see a lot more of Jamie and his angst. I mean, he’s kind of not present for most of that episode. I think that's important, that's an important cut. We go on that journey with Claire and see her go through all the stages of grief and mourning and then some sort of brittle resolve. Almost, in a way, we didn't want the camera to blink from her. I think that’s what was decided. Watching Jamie also go through it, well, absolutely, it’s another side. I certainly know that I really felt very strong in that scene. I felt that it was a very awkward place for Jamie to be that will have some sort of repercussion—even now in Season 3. I don’t think Jamie or Claire get over the loss of Faith. I think it’s wonderful that the fans actually get to see a glimpse into some of the other work that we do that’s not always on the screen.

I’ve heard you say that, as opposed to Caitriona with her elaborate costumes, it only takes you five minutes to get into wardrobe when Jamie is wearing the kilt. But I was curious, since we’re going to jump forward several years in Season 3, if you have some extra time in makeup chair this year and if you can tell us anything about what older Jaime looks like? 

I mean, I’m probably not allowed to say much, but I think we all know that the books do span a great amount of time. Season 3, in particular, yeah, I mean, there was an aging process. There was definitely a different look to the characters, but you’ll have to tune in to find out, I guess. But even in Season 1, I had hours and hours of prosthetic makeup whenever the back scarring was on or Jamie got shot or injured. By no means does that stop in Season 3 so, yes, there’s been a lot of very long days where I’ve been in makeup.

The end of Season 2 saw Claire back in her own timeline so I really don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that you filmed a good part of Season 3 without Caitriona. Since you two have been such close partners on this whole experience, what was it like to go on without her? 

Yeah. Honestly, it’s like having a death in the family. Well, I don’t know, I mean, it’s just like a different show. It’s hard to separate yourself from the character. Jamie’s present, living in his world, and Claire’s present and living in her world, and they both believe the other is dead. It’s always hard when we’re apart, actually, because she’s a great person, great to come to work with, and a very good actress. But I think it all adds to the reunion—if there’s a reunion, or when there’s a reunion—well you know there’s one in the books. It should be very special.

Do you have a fondest memory from Season 2 that you’re excited for the fans to re-live via the Blu-ray?

Wow. Whoa, that's tough, I think—Paris was almost like another world and it was great fun—but for us getting back to Scotland, to Lallybroch, and then to having all the MacKenzies turn up, Graham McTavish as Dougal and Stephen Walters as Angus and all the others. It was so rewarding to be in Scotland with the wind and the rain and the cold and everyone was miserable but kind of happy because we were back and it felt like coming home. I think it’s a very sad ending because we all knew that people were going to die— that’s what history tells us—that's what Jamie and Claire are fighting to stop is the end of these people. So it’s a bittersweet return home to Scotland. In the back of your mind, you’re aware that it’s sort of coming to a close.

Joanna Robinson is a Hollywood writer covering TV and film for

Sunday, September 18, 2016

"Outlander' Season 3 Premiere Episode Script Written by Ronald Moore; Expect More Sexy Scenes

*Blog editor's note: Really happy to hear that MAYBE, Ron and team listened to the fan's displeasure over the lack of intimacy in Season 2, but a bit wary nonetheless.  He admits there will be more "sexy scenes" but doesn't specify between whom. (Is anyone really looking forward to Jamie and his other dalliances or too much Claire and Frank?)

Article by Sachin Trivedi, IBT, Australia

Executive Producer Ronald D. Moore answered a few fan questions about “Outlander” Season 3 recently. Moore revealed that he has written the script of the premiere episode, and shared other titbits about the new season online.

Moore took some time from his busy schedule to answer a few fan questions on his official Twitter page. When he revealed that he had written the script for the premiere episode, the fans had more questions about it. The fans wanted to know why the first episode was important enough to demand his personal attention, and they wondered if he wanted to set the tone for the season. Another fan wanted to know if they have already filmed the episode.

Both Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) and Moore released videos from the first day of filming online. The videos showed the filming of scenes related to the Battle of Culloden. While the previous season was a build-up to this big battle there were no actual action sequences of the fights featured.

Jamie is expected to rush back to take part in the action, alongside the other Highlanders in “Outlander” Season 3. There are at least two major deaths expected in this battle. The TV series will then show the viewers the aftermath of the battle.

Moore teased that the filming is “off to a great start” and they have “almost finished with block one.” The next season is based on Diana Gabaldon’s book “Voyager.” The producer said that his team is still considering their options about where to film the scenes involving ships.

The big event the fans are looking forward to in “Outlander” Season 3 is the reunion of Jamie and Claire (Caitriona Balfe). The two characters will be separated at the beginning, as Claire is still in the future when the last season ended, and she was considering travelling back through time again. When asked in which episode the two characters will be reunited, Moore chose not to reveal that information. He did, however, tease that there will “definitely” be more sexy scenes on the show this time around.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Female Directors and Writers are Essential to Outlander: Sam Sums it Up

Nice interview clip with Sam Heughan, who reminds us why female input is so integral to the success of Outlander, and why we love the intimacy. (clip courtesy of ABC RN -Australia)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Duncan Lacroix on Why You should Always Take A Murtagh

By Katrina Tweedie, The Daily Record and Sunday Mail

Murtagh has become the unlikely hero of Outlander and here actor Duncan Lacroix talks about the enduring appeal of the character.

MURTAGH has become one of the most loved characters in Outlander, as Jamie Fraser’s right-hand man, Godfather and trusted confidant.

Irritable, funny, loyal and brave and with the most expressive eyebrows in TV Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser even has a hashtag on social media in his honour - #AlwaysTakeAMurtagh. *

But his slow burning appeal was a blessing for actor Duncan Lacroix, giving him the time to fully realise the character as the show developed over two seasons.

“I’m not sure many people really knew who he was for the bulk of season one until the Search episode when my character and Claire tried to find Jamie , then you got more of his back story,” says Duncan.

“Then, in season two, he was the only Highlander who accompanies the main characters to France, which was lucky for me.

"Murtagh is capable of extreme violence and tenderness at the same time with that sense of humour running through him,” adds Duncan.

But his unrequited love for Ellen (Jamie mother’s) was one of the integral elements of the show and one that Duncan latched onto.

“That idea where you have one love and stay true to that one love, was very revealing to me.

“We’ve all had one person that you can’t get over for a long time, that haunts future relationships.

"Murtagh is also the most open of the Highlanders. He accepts Claire through her actions rather than judging her as a ‘Sassenach’ or a woman.”

The transformation of the irascible Highland warrior, from the pages of Diana Gabaldon’s books to the small screen, has been Duncan’s big career break.

Originally from South London, and with an accent to match – yes, we were shocked at this revelation too – Duncan had a succession of office jobs after studying drama.

Fearing his “dream was starting to fade away” aged 30 he upped stakes and moved to Ireland. “There was a nice artistic community and I was able to properly learn my trade doing play after play after play.”

Acting is an addiction, he says: “It’s a habit, something you can’t do without. There have been times – and very long periods of time - when I’ve had no money and have been in desperate situations but I just can’t let it go.

“Especially when you really pull it off and in theatre you get an immediate gratification from the atmosphere in the room.”

Actor Duncan Lacroix

In September, Duncan joined cast members including Grant O’Rourke, Graham McTavish and Stephen Walters for ScotCon, the first fan convention in Scotland and at Starfury's "The Highlanders" convention in London, where he was also joined by Sam Heughan, Steven Cree, and Gary Lewis.

Duncan looked forward to connecting with Outlander’s famous fan base.

“We’ve had the most amazing fans from day one and I love these conventions and the chance to get their feedback.”

But do they even confuse Duncan with his character?

“As soon as I open my mouth they are disabused from that,” he laughs.

In Outlander he has a soft Scottish Highland brogue, which makes his real South London accent even more incongruous.

Sam Heughan and Duncan Lacroix in costume for filming at Troon Harbour

The accent worried me,” he admits. “Luckily we had an amazing voice coach in Caroline Crawford who really broke the Highland accent down.

“But there are still times when I look back on certain early scenes and wince.”

At ScotCon, Duncan will judge a Battle of the Bands competition, something he and his fellow cast members are all taking very seriously, mindful of the precarious nature of success in showbiz.

“Outlander has afforded me great lifestyle changes. I was just quietly working away in theatre for 13 years before this big break happened,” he says.

Now based in Glasgow during almost 10 months of filming every year, Duncan enjoys a life of relative anonymity, as without his famous beard few people recognise him.

But he’s looking forward to joining his band of merry men on set again.

Caitriona Balfe and Duncan Lacroix as Claire and Murtagh

Before the filming of season three starts again in a few weeks, Duncan will join Sam Heughan and Catriona Balfe for a two-week bootcamp where they’ll reconnect over dinner and literally ease them themselves back in the saddle again.

Fans of the books will be aware Murtagh dies during the Battle of Culloden and there is much speculation whether producers will deviate from the original story to retain this popular character.

“The dynamic is very interesting between Jamie and Murtagh, especially around Culloden,” he says.

Catching himself from revealing too much, he laughs, adding: “I’m still to fully find out myself but even if I knew I wouldn’t give the game away.”

But tellingly, Duncan, at the age of 46, is going to strike while the iron is hot

And dip his toe into the water in Los Angeles.

It’s a daunting and bold move for the actor, who wishes he had a real life Murtagh of his own for support.

“I’ve never had someone like that,” he says. “He’d be a good character to have in your pocket during tricky situations. The fans are right - It would great if you could Always Take A Murtagh.”

* The hashtag was coined by our very own writer Connie Verzak in her popular Outlander recaps for Scotland Now.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Looks Like Outlander's Newest Cast Member, David Berry, is the Perfect Actor to Play Lord John

Congratulations and Welcome to Australian actor David Berry for landing the role of Lord John Grey in the upcoming seasons of Outlander! Read on to see why he may just be just the perfect guy to play him

Shunned, Abused and Tortured: David Berry Portrays What Many Gay Men Endured in 1950s Australia
By Shannon Molloy, News Corp Australia Network

ACTOR David Berry would be so traumatised by his television character some days that he’d break down in hysterics on set.

The 31-year-old star of A Place To Call Home would be totally inconsolable — a sobbing mess. And he began to take the heavy experiences of James Bligh with him at the end of a day’s filming.
It wasn’t just the heavy storylines from the Foxtel period drama, set in 1950s Australia — it was that so much truth was woven in to the fictional heir to a farming fortune.
James is married but gay and, in the previous two seasons, has experienced everything from forbidden love to family disapproval and even horrific “treatments” including electroshock.
“In the beginning, I did a lot of research about what it meant to be a gay man in this era,” Berry said.
“But I also interviewed men who lived through this time, as well as those ordeals — including the so-called therapies. I looked at real stories so I could tell an honest one with these characters.

“That’s why I feel an enormous burden. I have a very real possibility to do James well because there are so many people who can relate to him.”

Heavy role ... Actor David Berry’s experience of playing James in A Place To Call Home has taken a sometimes significant toll.

Berry has heard from many of those men, who say seeing a familiar battle waged on the small screen has had a profound impact.
For many, it helped them to come to terms with the often barbaric events they lived through. A few said they felt closure — an inner peace.

“That’s humbling,” Berry said. “It’s also very scary. I owe these people — they’re invested in the character.”
Those investments include very vivid recollections of being held against their will in hospitals, electrocuted, pumped full of drugs and mentally abused.
Things have certainly changed in 60 years. It’s no longer illegal to be a homosexual, society is far more accepting and horrific medical torture like that no longer takes place.

Shameful treatment ... Some doctors in that era tried to “cure” homosexuality with barbaric practices like electroshock and drug aversion. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

But Berry said things are still far from perfect.

“You only need to look at the gay marriage debate to see that,” he said.

“There’s still a certain amount of prejudice in society. I think if James was a character set in present day he’d still have his own battles.”

In fact, he’s heard from young gay men who say James has helped them to accept who they are.

“He’s relatable to those who can’t be who they are, whose families and communities don’t or won’t accept them.”

When Channel Seven axed A Place To Call Home in mid-2014, Berry and the rest of the cast bid farewell to their much-loved personas.

Several months later when Foxtel saved the drama — an unprecedented move in television — most of the actors were ecstatic. But Berry admits he felt sick with anxiety.

“It’s not that I was reluctant … let’s say apprehensive. I didn’t sleep very well. I even developed an eye twitch!”

It wasn’t just that he’d moved on — Berry was in two war-themed documentaries in that year — but he was nervous to go back.

“Everything that James had gone through, I was terrified about having to live through that again.”

It’s why the actor argued for a progression of his character’s storyline in season three. Berry wanted to see James with a bit more strength, after so many episodes of being the victim.

“At the end of the day, he’s a wealthy and influential heir who’s a born leader. I thought more of that should come through.”

And while it will in the new episodes to air from this Sunday, there’s no shortage of heavy drama either.

Haunting storyline ... There’s a scene in the new season of A Place To Call Home that left David Berry an emotional wreck for days. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

There’s one particular scene coming up that Berry said still haunts him.

“I can’t say too much without giving it away, but there’s an argument between James (and his wife) Olivia that gets extremely heated. It really shook me.

“When you see it, I think you’ll understand why.

“For a week after, I had total anxiety. I’d start crying for no reason — just totally bawling on set or at home. I had zero control over it.”

The emotion of someone who doesn’t exist bleeding into his own world was a frightening experience, Berry said.

“I guess that’s all good for the character,” he laughed. “Probably not so much for my wife (in real life).”

There are many things about this show that Berry is fond of. The opportunity to tell such a rich story, for one, as well as the high production values and quality feel of the show.

But the young performer has also discovered something a white, heterosexual man rarely does.

“I’ve experienced what it feels like to not be loved or accepted for who you are,” he said.

“That’s a very potent emotion. It’s such a big, important part of life, and not having it is pretty rough — you end up wanting and yearning for it and there’s not a lot of room for anything else.”

But will James ever get the one thing he desperately wants? Berry said to watch this space.

In teasers for the upcoming season, his character is seen in flirtatious situations with a handsome doctor, hinting at a possible romantic dalliance to come.

“I think James will always fight to be at peace. Whether he gets there is another story. It’ll be difficult, given the time and his circumstances.

“But I know I’ll fight to get him there.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our "Blood of My Blood" Auction Was a Huge Success!!

By: Outlander Central

We can't thank all of enough for your enormous generosity during our Blood of My Blood Auction to benefit Bloodwise UK, one of Sam Heughan's many supported charities.  We featured the gorgeous artwork of the verra lovely and talented Joanna Michalak (@joaellaine),which, apparently, you all love as much as we do!  Joanna was lucky enough to meet Sam at Jibland in Italy this past spring and, being the really nice guy that he is, he graciously signed two of her pieces, which were included in the auction.  All totaled, we raised $5000.00 for Bloodwise UK!! We know they'll put that money to great use in beating blood cancer.  Thanks SO MUCH to Joanna for providing her beautiful work and for all of her help with the auction, and to all of you for your amazing support!! The Outlander Fanmily ROCKS!

Joanna and Sam (the artist and her muse!)

In case you missed them, here are the pieces we auctioned off:

The Promise

James Fraser

Blood and Bone

Fire and Gasoline
Have No Fear

Just Once

May Child

The Frasers

Wild Strawberries

Both Sides Now
Dragonfly in Amber (contest winning Lithograph)

Dead Man's Box

Casting for New Outlander Season 3 Characters Gets Underway

By: Valarie Kinney, Daily Record

News that casting had begun for new characters Young Ian and Lord John Grey was confirmed on Twitter by the show’s executive producer Maril Davis.

Outlander fans worldwide are excited to learn that casting for the characters Young Ian and Lord John Grey has begun

The show continues to be hugely successful as it makes plans for its third season, and fans of the books are looking forward to seeing much-loved characters Lord John Grey and Young Ian come to life on screen, eagerly anticipating news about which actors are cast for the roles.

Oscar Kennedy was cast as the younger version of Lord John Grey, and we saw a quick glimpse of him in season two on the episode Je Suis Prest , when he makes a feeble attempt on Jamie’s life in an effort to ‘save’ Claire from the savage Scot.

Oscar Kennedy was cast as the younger version of Lord John Grey.

An older Lord John will become an integral part of the story as it moves forward, and those who feel unable to wait for the story may want to pick up the Lord John series of books by Gabaldon.

Young Ian, the son of Jamie’s sister Jenny and her husband Ian, plays an important role in Claire and Jamie’s lives in the book Voyager and beyond.

With his independent spirit and curious mind, Young Ian’s escapades will set life-changing events into motion for Claire and Jamie.

As fans continuously refresh their Twitter feeds looking for casting news of Lord John and Young Ian, they can rest assured Starz will find the perfect actors for the roles.

After all, their casting has been spot on thus far in the series.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Actor Steven Cree on Outlander and Taking the Mickey Out of The Hoff

Welcome to Twitter, Steven! @MrStevenCree

By Scotland Now

Actor Steven Cree plays Ian Murray the Starz hit Outlander

WHEN Steven Cree sends an email from his phone, a note at the bottom claims it has been sent from Dolly Parton’s bathroom.

It’s a surreal footnote but not unexpected from the Scottish actor whose career is anything but predictable.

In the past year he has tackled roles as diverse as a one-legged Jacobite in Outlander to a spoof with David Hasselhoff.

Steven, who is originally from Kilmarnock, moved to London 17 years ago but was thrilled when the trans-Atlantic success story that is Outlander brought him back home.

“When I got the part I had no idea what Outlander was and it wasn’t until we started filming, that I realised how massive the whole thing is,” he says.

His character, the amiable Ian Murray, is best friends and brother-in-law to Jamie Fraser, played by Sam Heughan, and married to Jenny, played by Laura Donnelly

Steven Cree as Ian Murray, with Jenny ( Laura Fraser) and Claire ( Catriona Balfe)

All three actors studied drama in Glasgow and were reunited on the time travelling fantasy written by American author Diana Gabaldon.

Steven recalls listening, bemused, to the tales of super fandom surrounding Outlander, which he was soon to experience himself after first appearing in the hit series in 2015.

“Sam and Caitriona [Balfe, who plays Claire Fraser] told me about the various things the fans had been sending them, including home baking. I’d never experienced anything like it before. Even the drivers have their own fangroup."

Although not a fan of social media himself, Steven need not worry since several fans have set up twitter and facebook accounts on his behalf.

“All interaction with fans has been extremely nice, but this level of interest is definitely not usual,” he says.

Later this year he will attend the first ever Scottish convention dedicated to Outlander.

ScotCon, in September, is expected to attract thousands of fans who will get the chance to meet key cast members and share a table with the stars at a gala dinner and ceilidh.

The show has done much to support the Scottish acting industry as well as providing an extraordinary boost to tourism and Steven is looking forward to celebrating his role in the production that has done much to showcase Scotland.

“Outlander must have created work for half the people in the Scottish film industry but it has also showed the world that Scotland is such an amazing and beautiful country and it’s the first TV production for a while in which Scotland has been one of the main characters of the show.”

Playing the part of Ian Murray was not without its challenges, says Steven, who had to get to grips with wearing a wooden leg for the role.

“It made for a lot of off-camera comedy,” he says. “I’d been walking into a scene and my leg would suddenly fall off, which Catriona in particular found hilarious.”

Although the Outlander series stretches to nine books, it’s not yet known how many will be adapted for the screen by Starz TV.

“I know that the character trajectory lasts until book six but it depends how closely they will stick to the story in the book. But I’d certainly love to go back as it’s an amazing thing to be part of.”

Soon after Outlander, Steven found himself on set with David Hasselhoff in the ‘mockumentary’ Hoff the Record.

“That was probably the most fun I’ve had on a job. For a start my character was an ex-SAS survivalist called Mike Porridge.

“For the most part it was unscripted and I had carte blanche to do what I wanted. The brief was basically to take the piss out of David as much as possible.

“He was a brilliant sport and was really up for laughing at himself. But it was surreal too, of course, when you grow up in Kilmarnock watching Baywatch as a teenager then find yourself taking the mickey out of David Hasselhoff being in Baywatch.”

Earlier this year Steven filmed The Titan, with Sam Worthington andTaylor Schilling. Set 30 years in the future he plays an scientist called Major Timothy Pike.

“The morning I got the call about the part I was on the Tube and a newspaper next to me fell open at a story about Tim Peake, the astronaut currently in space.” It was yet another pinch-me moment.

Now Steven is about to start filming Churchill, alongside Brian Cox and John Slattery, playing real life RAF serviceman and meteorologist, Captain James Stagg. The thriller follows Winston Churchill in the 24 hours before D-Day.

In between stints in Scotland filming Outlander, London where he lives and LA for casting session Steven has yet to actually find himself in Dolly Parton’s bedroom - but stranger things have happened.

You can buy tickets for ScotCon and get more information from here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

‘Outlander’: Andrew Gower on Bonnie Prince Charles’s Rebellious Past, Uncertain Future

By: Carrie Bell,

Warning: This interview contains spoilers for the second season of Outlander, including teases about the finale, which will air on July 9.

Sorry Charlie, your days are likely numbered. Given that it appears history is going to unfold just as it did before with the bloody Battle of Culloden, the fall of the Jacobites and no return to a Stuart reign, we’re guessing that likely means Andrew Gower, the actor who plays the rebellious royal, is also not long for the world of Outlander.

With Season 2 coming to a close next week, we tracked Gower down by phone in England — where he is doing a play and was on his merry way to get a haircut — to ask about all things Bonnie, from wigs and catchphrase drinking games to how he researched the role and his favorite scenes.

How familiar were you with Outlander before you got the job?
I was lucky enough to work with Stephen Walters in Morocco of all places last year. He had talked about this series he was in that had an amazing, dedicated following and a really interesting story. We stayed in touch, both of us being from Liverpool. When I came home, I weirdly had a meeting to play Bonnie Prince Charlie in my email account, and the rest was history. And Stephen and I were lucky enough to share a little moment together in Episode 10. It is very interesting how small the industry can be and how coincidental.

How has life changed since becoming a part of a show with such a dedicated fanbase? Do people recognize you when you are in your modern-day look?
Stephen had told me how loyal the following was, and I have been lucky enough to experience it firsthand now. It feels validating. I don’t get recognized on the street. I would be worried if I did, given that I wear a wig at all times on the show and have quite a different wardrobe, and the facial expressions I pull even. The day I start getting recognized as Charlie, I will be worried. There’s been none of that. But virtually over Twitter, it has changed tremendously. I have so many more followers now. And all good, positive interactions. I am quite happy that I can still walk down the street every day in a pair of jogging bottoms and my woolly hat, and no one knows who I am. That’s nice.

You play a historical figure, Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart. Did you do much research on him?
A hell of a lot. The Frank McLynn biography became my bible basically up until recently when I lost it on a flight between Edinburgh and London. It was so important to read his letters and to know more about his relationship with his father and his time in Italy and Paris. When you are playing somebody who did exist and there is good source material on them, whether it is a biography or archives or experts, you would be stupid not to delve into them. But there is a point in the process where you leave the books alone, and instead, you focus on the script and creating your version.

What was the most interesting or surprising thing you discovered?
I have to be honest that before I took on the job, apart from the name and the basics, I had no real idea how he fit into history. I had no idea about the Jacobites or those battles. Growing up in Liverpool, we studied the British side of history, and we only would barely briefly touch on Scottish history. So everything was, for me, a big revelation. The fact that he was born in Italy was a lovely discovery. He was at war as a 15-year-old boy. That he used to dance in front of the groups of soldiers to entertain them.

How would you describe him to people? He seems like he has daddy issues to me. Like he needs to please him by winning this rebellion.
Totally a daddy’s boy. I think he is having an identity crisis. He doesn’t know where he belongs or who he belongs with. He has aspirations to sit on the British throne and thinks the way to that is this war, but as far as who he is, I think he struggled with that. He is forever aligning himself to different people and beliefs to figure out any way to get into power. And he is very devout in that way, that he believes God wants him to be King

And he also seems to be mostly kind and ambitious, at least tries to think long-term like with his theories about how the British should be treated.
Being removed from British society and living in Europe, he doesn’t understand the divide. There is a naivety to him, having been isolated in Italy for his whole childhood. When he arrives in the Highlands, there is a sort of childlike innocence on how British politics actually works, and he doesn’t understand how much anger there is on the part of the Scots toward the British.

He also seems, especially in the last few episodes, like he really has a desire to get in the fight and stand alongside his men. Even though when they finally decide to let him join in this episode, he gets lost and screws up their shot at a surprise birthday attack.
He sure means well, but it doesn’t always work out for him. I think he probably did have the desire to do his part, but he is far from a warrior. I have really liked that the details about the rebellion and the battles have been historically accurate — things like the secret path, the conditions, the introduction of the generals — but that the show has built their story inside of that framework and taken some artistic liberties for the sake of story. I have taken some license with Charles, and I do hope that people appreciate that we are trying to link the beginning of the series with the end of the series.

I’m wondering if his catchphrase “Mark me” is based on research, or was that just something that came from the book or from the writers’ minds?
There is no mention of that particular phrase in my bible on Charlie. It has become such a part of the character. Quite interestingly, it was in a first draft and read-through for my first-ever appearance on Outlander. There was a speech in the brothel, and from that point I wanted to build on that. I kept adding a few more “Mark me’s” because it felt like his way of demanding attention and saying, “This is my moment. Pay attention.” I took it also as a very military phrase, and he is a guy who is interested in that as in, “Mark my gun” or “Mark my sword.” In a way, for me in trying to play someone with a lack of identity, I wanted to give him a phrase that he routinely uses and that speaks to who he is. The scenes where I have not used it, I was a bit more raw and emotionally cut up. I have enjoyed the collaboration with the directors and writers on deciding when to throw one in or when to cut it out. It was a nice thing to add to the character.

Did you ever count how many times you said it?
I have not. But I heard it has become a drinking game. I’m worried if people are drinking with every “mark me.” I’m worried for their heads on a Sunday morning.

Did you have a favorite scene of Season 2?
Definitely the bedroom scene where I climb through the window and I’ve just been bitten by the monkey. That was a direct adaptation from a scene in the book. That was a fun scene to film. The other scene I really loved is more a whole episode of scenes. I loved Episode 10, where I was wearing my tartan outfit and leading my Scottish men and looking out over the English. Working opposite Dougal [Graham McTavish] and the other Scots was fantastic.

What took more getting used to — the wig, the kilts, or the high-neck bows and ruffles?
The wig. Definitely the wig. Although I do not have the knees for kilts either. If I do come back, I am going to have to work on the legs. [Sam Heughan’s] legs put mine to shame.

Can you tease the finale?
I am going to give you very short, mysterious clues — wax, an unfinished battle, and more God. It is going to be a great, great episode. Not to be missed.