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.