After having a breakthrough with a more royal character on The Crown, Tobias Menzies always recalls his experience portraying the double role of Frank and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall on the STARZ time-travel drama, Outlander, with great affection and gratitude.
In an interview with Herald Scotland Magazine, British actor Tobias Menzies, who carved out a career in acting that has seen him take part in three hugely ambitious and hugely successful TV series, Outlander, Game of Thrones and now The Crown, admit to being prone to some “classic midlife thoughts and feelings” now that he’s 46 years old. It hasn’t quite got to the buying-a-motorbike-and-travelling-the-world stage yet.
“I’m starting to hit an age where you are really very conscious that, at best, you have the same again. Maybe less,” he tells in the middle of Lockdown No 2 in London. “So, I think it does make you very aware of what you’ve done with your life. I’ve a naturally kind of contemplative, nay neurotic, mindset,” he adds. “So, yeah, that stuff can be hard to deal with. But maybe there are upsides to it. I guess as you get older you get more willing to accept yourself as you are and just go from there. So, maybe there are fewer expectations on you.”
The upward arc of his career took a huge forward leap when he got the role in Outlander, playing Frank and Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall alongside Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan back in 2014. Made by the cable and satellite TV network Starz and filmed in Scotland, it’s an experience Menzies remembers with huge fondness.
“It was an important stepping stone in my acting career. We all arrived there in Cumbernauld. Sam and Cait were relatively unknown. I was still finding my way too. And Starz was a relatively new company as well. A lot of money had been invested, but no one was waiting for this show to come out”Tobias Menzies
The actor tells all about the whole creating process when the show started production back in 2013. They headed off to Scotland and according to the actor, what was exciting was to be at the ground level of a show like that.
“There is a real artistic conversation between the showrunners, the writers and the core cast as we tried to work out what the show is. So, it was a really creative and engaged period. We were all setting off together. I made some really lifelong friends, made some really good work, I think, had a blast doing it. I loved spending the time in Scotland. Glasgow is a really warm, vibrant city. I loved spending time there, so I only have good things to say about it.”
In regards of his time off while filming Outlander, Tobias Menzies says he was a bit more drinking wine in restaurants with Cait, since he could never get up early enough to go bagging Munros with Sam but he wish he had.
Outlander has a huge and vocal fanbase. It’s a welcome thing, he reckons. The visibility side is not something he finds entirely comfortable, but the fanbase that the STARZ series has is inherently a positive thing.
“They have great love for the show and great support for us. Any charities we become engaged in they raise extraordinary amounts of money for. So, there’s a lot of positive aspects, and by and large they’re very respectable and understanding that we have different levels of our ability to engage in it. But when I do, I really enjoy it.” points out Menzies.
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