MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
This article started as an exploration of the new actress playing Jenny, and as often happens, it blossomed into much more – I hope you enjoy it.
Starz recently gave us a major download on new actors cast and those returning for Season 7 of Outlander. One of my fervent hopes was that Laura Donnelly, who truly was Jenny incarnate, for me, in Seasons 1 through 3, would return in the role of Jenny Fraser Murray Grey. (Ha! Just making sure you’re awake! 😁).
As much as I loved Laura in the role of Jenny, (and I’m sure they tried to get her back), she has gone on to other things, not the least of which was her incredible play The Ferryman, written by her partner, Jez Butterworth, directed by Sam Mendes, starring herself and an overall stellar cast. I saw that play 3 times, once in London and twice in NYC – it was phenomenal. (Here’s a little something I wrote about it – Recent Interview with Laura Donnelly).
Starz has indeed confirmed that the role of Jenny has been recast, with Kristin Atherton playing Jenny in Season 7 and here on out. Laura Donnelly’s are big shoes to fill, I won’t lie… but life goes on, and change is the only constant, so, goodbye Laura, you were absolutely fabulous…
Photo: Starz, Outlander S1
and hello and welcome Kristin!
Kristin wrote on Twitter that she “Couldn’t be more over-the-moon excited and HONOURED to say I’ll be playing JennyMurray in Outlander Season 7. I couldn’t imagine a more welcoming and wonderful TV family than the Murray/Frasers, the behind camera team and the Outlander fanbase! Thanks so much to you all”
Couldn't be more over-the-moon excited and HONOURED to say I'll be playing #JennyMurray in #Outlander Season 7. I couldn't imagine a more welcoming and wonderful TV family than the Murray/Frasers, the behind camera team and the Outlander fanbase! Thanks so much to you all ❤ https://t.co/1lG8clg7Cq
— Kristin Atherton (@KristinAtherton) October 14, 2022
I do have complete faith in Suzanne Smith and her casting team to get it right, so this Kristin Atherton might well make me forget about Laura (boo hoo). I did some poking around and here’s what I found about Kristin…
Kristin was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1986, so she’s in her mid 30’s, which is good, since she’ll be playing 20-year-old Jenny and 59-year-old Jenny all in one season! Kristin’s credits include a number of Shakespearian productions, the BBC drama Waterloo Road, and BBC One’s Doctors, which has been a training ground for many British actors, including one Sam Heughan, and many others (!) from Outlander.
Sam played the role of “Scott Neilson” in 2009.
Photo: Sam as Scott Neilson on Doctors, with his costar Sophie Abelsohn
I like to see videos of new cast members so I can get an idea of what they’re like in living color – here is Kristin, about a year ago, doing a plug for a book she narrated – man, I’m sold! On this book, and on her! Can’t wait to see what she brings to the role of Jenny… Kristin actually won the “Earphones Award for Excellence” from Audiofile Magazine for her narration of the book she recommends in this video, ‘The Silence of the Girls.”
In Seasons 1 through 3, I loved any storyline and/or scene with Jenny Murray in it; she is one of my favorite characters, and I love how Laura Donnelly adapted her – I will just plan for that to continue with Kristin’s portrayal.
A lot of people were concerned about now 61-year-old Graham McTavish pulling off playing Dougal’s son Buck MacKenzie for Season 7,
Photo: Graham’s Instagram, Oct, 2022
even though Graham appeared as Buck in two episodes of Season 5. Graham would’ve been cast as Buck for Season 5 in late 2018, or early 2019, and it’s likely that the production didn’t even know if there would be a Season 7 at that time. So, it appears that they have chosen to recast the role of Buck. (I spoke with Graham in 2020 about playing Dougal and coming back as Buck).
Photo: Starz, Roger & Buck, Season 5
Graham will indeed be back in Season 7, as Dougal MacKenzie, but the role of Buck is now being played by Irish actor, Diarmaid Murtagh. Diarmaid is 40 years old, and comes from Kingscourt, County Cavan in Ireland. Many of you may know him from his portrayal of “Leif” from Vikings and “Dimitri” from Dracula Untold. He is actually an inch taller than Sam, at 6 feet, 4 inches.
In these BTS shots, Diarmaid and Richard relax between takes in Culross, during Season 7 filming.
Photos: Diarmaid Murtagh as Buck MacKenzie with Richard Rankin on location, Outlander Season 7 filming. Source below. (Kind of funny, the name of the cafe!)
The fact that Graham will be back as Dougal in Season 7 is one of the clues that the storyline of Roger and Buck going back to 1739 will indeed be in Season 7. Buck does appear in the 1980’s in the end of ABOSA, but the particular storyline of Roger and Buck going back to 1739 in search of Jemmy doesn’t take place until Book 8 – Written In My Own Heart’s Blood. As we know, the production sometimes decide to move whole storylines forward or back (like the Stephen Bonnet storyline, for example), in order to make the show work better; it appears that The Adventures of Buck and Roger may be one such storyline.
Dougal was born in 1694, so in Season 7 (1739), Graham will be playing Dougal as a 45-year-old, vs the almost 50-year-old we met in Season 1. It makes sense that they recast the character of Buck (to me); it might be tricky for Graham to play Younger Dougal and Dougal’s son all in one go!
(Last time we saw Dougal, he wasn’t doing so well, here after his lethal stabbing in Episode 213, Dragonfly In Amber).
Photo, Starz, Dougal, Ep 213
A further clue about the Buck and Roger going back to 1739 is the announcement of the return of Andrew Whipp as Jamie’s father Brian Fraser. Will Andrew play Brian Fraser in the Prequel? That’s TBD. Andrew is now 53 years old, so maybe a stretch for playing Young Brian. Here is a photo of Andrew from last year:
Photo: My London, August 2021
In 1739, Brian is already a widower, and Jamie is 18, away in Paris when Roger comes to Lallybroch and meets Brian and Jenny. Kristin Atherton will play Jenny as a 20-year-old in these 1739 scenes.
We last saw Brian in Episode 112, Lallybroch, after his flogging induced apoplexy. Puir Bugger.
This BTS filming shot shows Richard with one of the twin boys (Matthew or Andrew), who play Jemmy, so it looks like we will get the same Jemmy(s) back for Season 7, and I’m assuming we’ll see lots more of them – in scenes with Rob Cameron, with Bree and Roger, in the tunnel, 😱, etc.
Photo: Source below.
I received another filming location photo from a trustee source (thank you @MfaeAuldReekie!)
Photo: Duncarron medieval village, Season 7 filming location, Source below.
What do you suppose they’re filming here? Could this possibly be the village where Roger meets his dad? And, for the record, I had not read “A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” before! I didn’t realize that Roger’s dad worked for Frank Randall??! Did Frank not realize who little Roger was then when he met the Reverend? 🤔
Speaking of Frank, Roger also encounters Black Friggin’ Jack Randall(!!!) in the 1739 storyline. No doubt we’ll see our old buddy Tobias Menzies (now 48) back in the role of a slightly younger BJR. I can’t say I’m looking forward to that, but how fun for Richard to play against so many rich characters! Ohhh, would that we could also get Mrs. Fitz back!! I would be so thrilled.
Photo: Stylist, Jan, 2022; Photo: Starz, Mrs. Fitz!
Here’s our last view of BJR in Episode 301, The Battle Joined. (Good riddance!)
And then, there’s Geillis Duncan… Starz announced that Lotte Verbeek will be back to play this more than slightly twisted sister. Lotte just turned 40 in June and could probably look 16 pretty convincingly if necessary, with her porcelain skin and youthful tone. I asked Lotte one time at a convention (very cheeky) if she would rather do a love scene with Dougal or with Arthur 😁 – we never did see any love scenes between Dougal and Geillis (or Geillis and Arthur, for that matter!). I wonder will there be one between Geillis and her son, Buck!?? 😬 It’ll be interesting to see if the production decide to “go there.”
Photo: Lotte’s Instagram, September, 2022
Last time we saw Geillis, she kind of lost her head 😁, which was gross, (and kind of fake looking, they got much more realistic by Malva) , so here’s what she looked like sometime before trying to sacrifice Young Ian to the Standing Pool gods.
Photo: Starz, Season 3
According to Starz, Steven Cree will also be back, as Ian Murray (Sr.), which surely means we’ll see Jamie, Young Ian and Claire head back to Scotland, and Kristin will portray Jenny in 1778, as a 59-year-old woman saying goodbye to the love of her life. With the acting chops involved in this sequence, it’s sure to be extremely moving, not to mention the goodbyes between Young Ian and Claire and Ian Sr.; if the show sticks to the book, this episode has the potential to be a real tear jerker!
In any case, it will be absolutely awesome to see all these old characters again, how exciting!
Photo: Starz gif
These BTS nautical shots from Season 7 filming would certainly suggest that such a voyage will take place.
Sam as Jamie, S7 filming in Fife, Source below.
Sam as Jamie, S7 filming in Fife. Source below.
Sam, Cait and crew, S7 filming in Fife. Source below.
As for new characters, we got the casting announcement back in May, for Charles Vandervaart, who is playing William Ransom, and he seems like a fabulous choice based on my research. Check out my post about Charles here.
Photo: Season 7 filming, on location, Starz
I’ll be honest and say that I’m hoping for an abbreviated trip through The Great Dismal 😬, (ie, not a whole episode please!), but otherwise I’m very much looking forward to Show William and his storylines.
This adorable young girl, Amelia Bae Smith, (who happens to be the current voice of none other than Peppa Pig!), auditioned for the part of Frances (Fanny) Pocock. I did see video of the audition, but it has been taken down. She is quite good; I don’t know if she got the part, but I hope so!
Here’s an endorsement of Amelia’s talent by a fan on Twitter, about another part she recently played in a horror film…
Anyone else think Amelia Bae Smith as Flora gave one of the best performances by a child in tv history? Heartbreakingly nuanced, and perfectly splendid, especially the 2nd time around #TheHauntingOfBlyManor
— George Miller (@justG_Miller) October 25, 2020
Auditioning for the role of Fanny of course means that Fanny’s sister Jane has or will be cast, and that we’ll get that tragic storyline.
Omitted from the Starz announcement about actors returning, is one Sam Hoare, who played Hal in Season 3. I hope they’ll keep Sam in this role – I thought he was great, and he’s a lovely guy. (Catch my interview with Sam here).
Since we know there will be a Mercy Woodcock, played by Gloria Obianyo,
who was in Dune (2021), High Life (2018) and National Theatre Live: Paradise (2021), surely there’s a Walter Woodcock (her husband), and also a Henry Grey? (Hal’s youngest son with whom Mercy falls in love and vice versa). As we know, the Greys, including Hal, take on a bigger role in the books from here on out. I say, bring on the Greys!
(Hal was last seen in Episode 304, Of Lost Things).
Photo: Starz, Sam Hoare as Hal, S3
We know we’re getting Rachel and Denzel Hunter – their casting was announced back in June.
Photo: EW, Joey Phillips and Izzy Meikle-Small are joining the ‘Outlander’ season 7 family. CREDIT: COURTESY STARZ
Denzel is being played by Joey Phillips, who has played several roles on Doctors, beginning in 2009, and returning this year to that show. He seems to have taken a 10 year hiatus from acting, during which he attended drama school at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he graduated in 2014. In 2011, Joey won the Best Newcomer Award for “My Angel” at the Monaco International Film Festival.
Isobel (Izzy) Meikle-Small is playing Rachel; Izzy is 26, and comes from Hove, East Sussex, England, where she apparently started her acting career at age 11, and has acted consistently since then, including producing a few short films. She is best known for her role as the young Kathy H. in Never Let Me Go (2010) , in which she played the younger version of the actress Carey Mulligan. Izzy also auditioned for the role of “Sansa” in Game of Thrones.
Go here: Rachel and Denzel Hunter to see a video of Joey and Izzy in costume and talking a bit about their characters.
Also omitted from the new cast lineup was a Dorothea (Dottie) Grey. If we are getting the Hunters, and Mercy Woodcock, which means Henry Grey, then we surely are getting Dottie too? But, then wouldn’t we get Hal? There again, the production may have opted to push Hal’s storylines forward into the eternally hoped for Season 8? We’ll see.
We do have confirmation that lovely Nell Hudson is returning as the dreaded Laoghaire for Season 7, as well as Layla Burns who plays her daughter, Joan MacKimmie. If you’re a book reader, you’ll know this means we’re likely to get the Jamie, Claire, Laoghaire, her dim witted lover, Joey, Joan, Marsali and Henry Christian storyline, which will be fantastic, in my opinion, if they don’t give into the temptation to go overboard on the drama.
Here’s how Laoghaire looked the last couple of times we saw her… in Episode 308, First Wife,
and Episode 407, Down the Rabbit Hole.
Layla Burns was just 13 when Season 4’s Down the Rabbit Hole was filmed back in late 2017 or early 2018.
Layla is 17 now, and a student at the Junior Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She has grown from a beautiful and talented child into a beautiful and talented young woman. It will be fun to see her return.
Photo: Layla’s Twitter
This brings us to Chris Fulton, Scottish actor from Castle Douglas, who will be playing Rob Cameron.
While Chris also got his start in Doctors, back in 2015, he played “Euan Bruce” in Outlaw King, (with Steven Cree), and he played “Rience” in The Witcher (perhaps he knows Graham?). If you don’t recognize him from those roles, I’d be willing to bet that lots of you know him as the actor who played Sir Phillip, in Bridgerton…
I had a different vision of Rob Cameron in my mind – basically a smarmy asshole. This storyline was not the most compelling for me in the books, but I have a feeling this actor may bring something extra to the role, we’ll see.
And last, but not least, Rod Hallett, as Mr. Benedict Arnold.
Rod is British, and you may know him as “Constantin” from The Last Kingdom. Potential cross overs with other Outlander cast members include his work in Doctors in 2002, as “D.C. Patrick Ayres,” he played “Ollie” in EastEnders in 2004 (Annette Badland is also an EastEnders alum), and he played the role of “Dexter Lockwood” in Midsomer Murders in 2005; Two years later, in 2007, Mr. Sam played “Ian King” in Midsomer Murders, whose family enterprise is shattered when its accountant winds up stabbed!
Rod was also in many episodes of The Tudors as “Richard Rich,” which of course starred Maria Doyle Kennedy as “Catherine of Aragon,” and also Ned Dennehy as “Augustin!” Small world is UK acting! Rod has done a lot of TV over the years, more recently playing “Quite Simon” in Red Rose.
I’ll be honest and say that the least interesting part of the books for me, is probably the military intrigue, so I’m not as excited about Benedict Arnold or Percy Wainwright, for that matter. No offense to the actors who will no doubt do an excellent job portraying these characters.
Speaking of military intrigue, here is a BTS shot of Captain MacKenzie, taking a break between scenes.
And finally, here is a little clip of Sam talking about the throwback characters we’ll see in S7…
— The Edit (@bbctheedit) November 5, 2022
As to when this season will be finished filming, and when it will air, I think with 16 episodes, it’s safe to say not til next year sometime. Maybe they will finish filming in April or even May? And then they will need a fair amount of time for post production. I still hold out hope for a split season – We could enjoy the first 8 episodes in say January? February? It could happen!vWink wink nod nod if you’re reading this, anyone from the production!
This just in – thanks again @MfaeAuldReekie – It seems that Outlander is filming in Liverpool right now. John Bell posted pics today, and Echo ran a story about it last month, saying…
“A city centre street will be transformed back to the 1770s ahead of the filming of the hit TV show Outlander. Canning Street in the Georgian Quarter area of Liverpool will be transformed into 1770s Philadelphia for the filming of the seventh season of Outlander. Left Bank Pictures Ltd (LBP) wrote to residents earlier this month laying out plans to dress the road to appropriately transform it back to the eighteenth century.” Link to full story below.
A ha, so, perhaps this will be the site of Lord John Grey’s home? If so, well, this will be where some pretty HUGE revelations take place in the story!! (I’m still perplexed by no Hal!)
John Bell Instagram pics: Young Ian is in Liverpool (Philadelphia)
And so are Rachel and William!
It just so happens that I am finishing and publishing this on election day, here in the US.
As I posted on Twitter recently: My 97-year-old aunt leads a weekly intention group – we “meet” every Monday from 9:30PM to 9:40PM Eastern time to collectively help a loved one, or the world. This week’s intention, written by her, is for our world:
“In the interest of achieving movement in the direction of the greatest good for our world, any & all individuals who find themselves positioned strategically to make a positive difference, are inspired to take immediate & decisive action.”
May we move always toward greater awareness, compassion, peace and harmony. xo
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