When you think of Ron Moore, you probably remember his reboot of the classic scifi series, "Battlestar Galactica," for which the word "gritty" was invented. The series, which ran for four seasons from 2004-2009, was very much a reflection of the Bush years and used its robot invasion as a way to look at the ways people struggle to survive and rebuild their lives in the wake of immense tragedy.
A time traveling romance might not seem like the most obvious project for Moore to take on, but he says he was drawn to the new TV adaptation of "Outlander," Diana Gabaldon's popular series, because of the main character of Claire Randall, a World War II-era nurse transported against her will to the 18th century in Scotland, where she finds herself torn between a man she's forced to marry for convenience there and the husband she left behind in the '40s. But Moore says reading the book convinced him that Claire could be a very compelling lead for a TV show.
"When I read the first book, I was just very taken the central character, Claire. I really liked her on the page," Moore says. The first book of the series, which will provide plot for the first season of the show. "It’s pretty much her voice talking throughout the entire book and I really liked it and she was intelligent and capable and interesting and funny. I could see that that was a great lead character."
For anyone who might think that jumping to the past is a pretty big genre shift from science fiction, Moore says there are more parallels than you might think. "The truth is, the science fiction that I’ve been doing is period, it’s just future period. It’s all about creating worlds that don’t exist for the audience. The production challenges are actually quite similar. You can’t just go out onto the street and use pickup shots. It takes all this thought and time and effort to create the costumes, create the look, create a world that does not exist."
Since so much of the show occurs in Claire's perspective, Moore knew he needed an actress who could carry the show. Luckily, lead Caitriona Balfe has been up for the task. Says Moore, "Her face is so expressive and you can read the character so quickly that you can literally just cut to her for a reaction shot and the scene kind of lifts."
He also praised her for showcasing Claire's innate intelligence, which he says is one of the most important aspects of the character. Claire is "a 1940s woman, but always seemed like a very modern character to me, and that’s kind of the way I write her. She has a specific point of view, she’s not afraid of herself or her sexuality or her take on the world. She’s adaptable," he says.
Check out "Outlander" on Starz at 10 p.m. starting Aug. 9.