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 An Outlander movie?  How would I as a fan envision it?    Powerful.  Earth-shattering.  An experience that leaves the audience moved and shaken by its terrible power and beauty.  Think The Last of the Mohicans, the 1992 Michael Mann adaptation with Daniel Day Lewis and Madeleine Stowe.  (Think also Rob Roy with Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange.)     If a really good movie were made of Outlander, just the first book (or perhaps the first 2 combined), I would want it to have the power and epic scope of the 1992 Last of the Mohicans remake.  As some critics said, that movie “blends action, romance and history,” is an “exciting, visually stunning and satisfying epic adventure,” “lush and irresistible.”   To have a successful movie/television series that goes on to cover most or all of the books, the first Outlander production has to capture an audience.  It can do this with the right “ingredients.”   Four things are essential for a really good adaptation.  First you must have an outstanding script/writing; second, an absolutely charismatic Jamie (played by a Scot!) whose fierce and graceful body language and manly beauty appeals to women of all ages; third, a strong, feisty Claire (played by an Englishwoman!); and fourth, powerful music.   Wonderful scenery is a must, as is powerful chemistry between Jamie and Claire.   Rumors are that Katherine Heigl is interested in playing Claire.  I’m afraid that she could never come close to embodying Claire.  Claire should be someone with the beauty, curves, and acting ability of Rachel Weisz, the feistiness of a young Susan Sarandon, the bravery, physicality and resourcefulness of Anna Friel in Timeline, and the wit, sarcasm and presence of a young Emma Thompson.   But your Jamie is the key to the success or failure of the production. The actor must convey charisma, presence, confidence, physical grace, charm, wit, humor (with a definite twinkle in his eye on occasion), wiliness, leadership, ruthlessness, hard-edged almost feral maleness, ability to withstand physical and mental torture, unflagging energy and intelligence, vulnerability, sensitivity, steadfast devotion to family, honor and love, and deep, intense, unshakable love of his chosen woman.    There’s only one actor who could BE Jamie - Gerard James Butler.    So he’s 41.  Hollywood make-up artists and correct lighting can make him look like a much younger man with Jamie’s coloring.  Yes, Josh Holloway, model Gabriel Aubry, Charlie Hunnam, Chris Hemsworth, Jamie Campbell-Bower, etc. are good looking enough to play Jamie.  But they do not embody him.  Some of them are still callow boys.  Jamie may be just turning 23 when he marries Claire, but he is a man full grown, not a callow boy.  He’s a brave man who has emerged from boyhood.  He’s already been tested by horrific beatings, family tragedies, foreign study and mercenary military service, suspected betrayal and almost death by a family member, outcast status, a man with a price on his head when he returns to his beloved Scotland.    (BTW You absolutely could not have Mr. Butler playing Dougal as some have suggested or any other part in the film.  He’s a scene-stealer of the first order and frequently overshadows those around him.  He would steal the movie and have audience members wondering why he was not cast as Jamie.)   But Mr. Butler probably would not be available, even if the part were offered.  He’s most likely too expensive for the movie and busy elsewhere.  If we’re lucky, we may get to see him as Marc Antony in the adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s wonderful new biography of Cleopatra.  There’s a strong possibility that it will be adapted for the screen.  Mr. Butler’s name is being prominently mentioned along with that of James Purefoy, Clive Owen, Russell Crowe, and a few others for the role of the Roman general.  Angelina Jolie has expressed a strong interest in playing the Egyptian queen.

Meggie on May 15, 2011

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