In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, series producer/writer Ron Moore discusses what drew him to the story, working with author Diana Gabaldon, and Outlander being referred to as “Game of Thrones for women.” Moore also discusses Syfy’s Helix, where he serves as executive producer and the resurgence of genre shows on television. Read the entire interview from The Hollywood Reporter.
With Starz’s Outlander, what’s the draw there for you?
I really like the period — and I get to do two periods. I’m a fan of history and historical fiction, so I get to do the 1940s and I get to do the 18th century, which is a treat for me. I really like creating those worlds; that’s the one similarity to what I’ve done in sci-fi. WithBattlestar Galactia, everyday, we were creating a world that doesn’t really exist and I really enjoy that. I enjoy the challenge of it in the production sense and I like creating something that is a departure from where we all live.
Do you think Outlander could have worked on a basic cable or a broadcast network?
I don’t think it could have worked in broadcast. The elements we would have had to change from the book, they would have freaked out about a lot of the sexual stuff, especially the latter part of the book and the whole plot with Jack Randall, Jamie and the prison rape. We never would have been able to touch that on broadcast television. I also don’t think that they would have gone for the first-person narrative. There are a lot of things you could not have done in broadcast. This had to be cable.
Is there a note that Starz has given you that you found particularly helpful?
One of the very first notes that [Starz CEO] Chris Albrecht told me was to trust the book. He said, “We love the book. Make the show for the fans of the book and believe that anyone who doesn’t know this material, when they see it, they’ll be swept into the story like everyone else is. “I was really taken aback because nobody says that in this town. Generally, people [option] books and say, “We bought it for the cover, do what you want and nobody really cares.” Starz had integrity.
Outlander has been referred to as a Game of Thrones for women. Would you agree?
I don’t know. That’s a hard label because they are such different pieces in every sense of the word. I love Game of Thrones. I didn’t read the books, but Game is about a lot of different characters and a lot of different storylines. Some of the joy of that show is the continual turn of moving from this character to that one and back again and watching it all come together. Outlander is a central, single narrative about one woman and her journey. One is a fantasy world that doesn’t exist; one is a real historical place. The only thing that I take from Game is that the adaptation of a successful book with an existing fan base can not only work, it can be wildly successful, so it gives me great confidence and hope that we can do that.
With Outlander, there are seven books in the series. Do you want to do one book per season?
It’s really hard to say at this point; we’re just trying to get season one. I’m starting to think ahead about what season two would be in the second book, and I’m starting to shape what the outlines of that would be in my head. But beyond that, it’s just too far off. I think there’s a comfort level and a simplicity to say that every season is one book, but it doesn’t have to be. You can start moving the pieces around deciding where one season begins and another ends.
Would you like to do that Walking Dead model where you do the eight and eight split-run or should Outlander run for 16 straight weeks?
I don’t know if I have a preference with that. I know I don’t want to do it like Galacticawhere fans kept getting confused about when we were on. It felt like we were broadcast randomly at times. They would split the season and then we’d be on a different night; there was no rhyme or reason to it. I don’t know that I have a preference between eight and eight or 16.
You’ve said before that you’re using Diana as a sounding board. How does that work? Has she been instrumental in a specific scene or an obstacle you’ve encountered?
It was like a growing comfort level of sending her the scripts and seeing her reaction. I would pitch her things and say what I’m thinking about doing and ask for her thoughts. She was always so positive and sometimes excited. It gave me a sense of confidence of where we were going, and it was good to have her along the way. And to know that if she’s signing off on it, I’m pretty sure the fans are going to sign off on it. So it just gives you the confidence to keep moving. I’ve asked her a couple of times if there was anything in particular she was looking to see shot and realized that she has an overall love of all of it and is just thrilled to see it. It’s nice. It’s not Saving Mr. Banks (laughs), which I really liked. Doing what I’m doing and watching this movie, I thought, “Wow, this could have been a whole different thing!”
The book series is very sexual. Have you had any issues with boundaries from Starz?
I haven’t run into any boundaries yet. There’s a lot of sex in the book, so we put it in the show where it is in the book. It’s organic to the story because this is the way the story was laid out. We don’t have to overdo it; we don’t have to just take somebody’s clothes off for the sake of doing it. I feel very comfortable about it. I’ve got a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old at home who know about this project and love this stuff. I’ve showed them some footage and the trailer, but at the same time I’m not going to sit and watch this with my 12-year-old daughter once we really get going. I wish I could, but that’s not what the book is and that’s not what the story is.