Ronald D. Moore & Terry Dresbach Discuss ‘Outlander’ with the New York Times

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The New York Times featured a wonderful Outlander piece today with Ronald D. Moore and Terry Dresbach discussing their collaboration on the show. For those who may not already know, Moore, the show’s executive producer, and Dresbach, the show’s costume designer, are married and it was actually Dresbach and Moore’s producing partner Maril Daivs who introduced him to Diana Gabaldon’s series.

The NYT piece details the pair’s shared philosophy on the show’s costumes, but also the challenges they face when story clashes with staying true to the period. There are also a few lovely stories about the couple and how their own romance is reflected in the show. The article also features quotes from a few cast members, including Caitriona Balfe (Claire) and Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie), about costumes, the show’s appeal, and Moore and Dresbach’s roles as “Papa Bear and Mama Bear.” Below are a few excerpts from the article, which can be read in its entirety here.

Costumes- Story vs period authentic:

It turned out to be a perfect fit. The couple share a similar philosophy when it comes to period costumes: Make them as authentic as possible. “I want them to look lived-in, beaten-up and home-repaired,” Mr. Moore said. To that end, his wife assembled a 15-person aging and dyeing department, whose primary objective is to weather the costumes and “make them look real,” he explained.

Occasionally, they clash when the needs of story and the reality of costumes collide. For instance, when the villainous redcoat Capt. Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) literally rips Claire’s bodice, Mr. Moore said, “Terry tells me in excruciating detail how impossible it is to rip open these dresses unless you’re the Hulk, because there are many layers of thick fabric.”

Ms. Dresbach continued: “Then Ron says, ‘I don’t care. Make it happen!’ ”

The appeal of Outlander:

Still, the overall appeal of “Outlander” is less about sex than it is about chivalry. “It’s unashamedly romantic, and that’s very rare nowadays on TV,” Mr. McTavish said. “A lot of shows are cynical, lacking in hope and nihilistic, and we go against that trend.”

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Mr. Moore agreed: “Even as there’s tragedy, it has a moral center, heroism and belief, and that comes from the books. It’s an adventure you want to take.”

“Papa Bear and Mama Bear”:

Mr. Moore and Ms. Dresbach frequently host cast and crew members for dinners and holidays, earning them the nicknames of Papa Bear and Mama Bear from Ms. Balfe, among others. “Part of my job is to take care of the family,” Mr. Moore said. “ ‘Do they have food today? How long have they been in the rain?’ ” Ms. Dresbach added: “I’ll whack Sam Heughan on the back of the head if he messes with his costume too much. It’s like I yell at my kids: ‘Pick that up off the floor!’ ”

These father and mother figures often also find themselves compared with their show’s central characters. “The fans say we’re the real-life Jamie and Claire,” Ms. Dresbach said. “I’m a lot like her — I’m outspoken, pushy and brash. Ron is true, solid and heroic. He’s Prince Charming. He’s one step short of having that white horse.”

Mr. Moore shook his head in disagreement. “I’m more deeply flawed than Jamie is,” he said. “But you are very much like Claire.”

Source: New York Times

  • mlyn peters

    What a sweet wonderful insight to the foundation of an amazing show

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  • Frances Duquette Davis

    I am really glad to have that insight on Ron and Terry. I always read them in separate situations. Wish I knew more….nosy nelly, here.

  • DrBlueFrogPhD

    I adore these two as a collaborative team. They keep each other in check and do a good job of keeping the cast in check too it seems. Book purists can take comfort in the fact that Terry “one of us” and will only make changes when absolutely necessary (or when she’s unilaterally overruled – as was the case with the pearl necklace). For example, many of us had the visions of the bright red Fraser tartan in our heads, but Terry did endless research and discovered that the bright colored tartans that we’re all imagining wouldn’t actually come into existence until the Victorian era some 90+ years after our story takes place, hence the more muted colors of the shows tartans which not only blend into the landscape easily (a verra valuable quality if you’re, say, hiding from the redcoats or members of the local watch), but the colors could be readily produced using the local flora & fauna (no red dye #4 available here in 1743). Ron on the other hand will make sure that the story gets told in the correct way with this medium. They also made sure to surround themselves with a cast and crew that is as dedicated to making this story with as much authenticity and heart as possible. It’s been a delight to see the final product!