Game Of Thrones actor Tobias Menzies has signed on for Starz’s new drama, Outlander, and it looks like the actor may need to brush up on his (lack of) archery skills for the new gig. The British actor has joined the new drama to play not one, but two roles, starring in the drama as both Frank Randall and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall.
If you haven’t read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels, you might think that since Menzies' two characters share a last name, they might play twins. However, the plot in Outlander is quite a bit more complicated. The series focuses on a woman named Claire who is married and living in 1945, but who is eventually sent back in time to 1743, where she is asked to marry a young Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser. While the time hopping component of the series is intriguing on its own, it will be especially important for Menzies, who will play Claire’s husband in the present and a dark, angry Scottish warrior in the 18th century.
According to THR, Frank Randall is a historian living in the 20th Century who has a particular knack for genealogy. No one’s expressly saying the man is timid, but he definitely seems to be more of an intellectual person and less of a warring man than his 18th century counterpart. Black Jack is described as a captain in the English army who has a violent streak.
Menzies joins Sam Heugan in the drama, which was put together by Battlestar Galactica producer Ronald D. Moore back in July of last year. With Boss cancelled and Starz’s other prominent drama, Spartacus, ending its run, the subscription cable network has been busy looking for new original content. With the popularity of both Moore’s TV work and Gabaldon’s novels (which have sold over 18 million copies), it’s not shocking that the project moved forward to series. Starz finalized the news this June and is even giving Outlander a 16-episode run for its first season. Sixteen episodes is a huge deal for cable, but especially subscription cable. To put this in perspective, another of Starz's recent dramas, Magic City, only earned an 8-episode run for its first season.
It’s looking like Starz is willing to gamble a little bit on the Outlander series, kind of in the same manner that HBO did with Game of Thrones when the network needed to produce at least two seasons in order for the show's budget to make sense. With plotlines revolving around, sex, intrigue, and even warfare, Outlander should be a series that works for both genders. Even with the warfare components in the series, I love that this one revolves around a female character, first.
Outlander is expected to hit the schedule in 2014. That may seem like a pretty vague premiere date so far, and it is, but at least Starz is doing better than Syfy, which is filming Moore’s Helix right now with no idea when the show will hit the schedule. We’ll keep you posted when both of the networks get their shit together and announce premiere dates.