Turn back time
A PLACE TO CALL HOME STAR David Berry REVEALS ALL ABOUT HIS ROLE IN HIT INTERNATIONAL DRAMA OUTLANDER
He’s become well-known to Australian TV viewers for his stirring portrayal of James Bligh, a man who has struggled to be his true self in the conservative 1950s. Now the NIDAtrained actor is going further back in history to play Lord John Grey, an equally conflicted character in time travel drama Outlander.
The series follows the love affair between Claire (Caitriona Balfe), a former World War Two nurse now doctor, and Jamie (Sam Heughan), an 18th century Scottish outlaw. Berry talks to Soap World about the pressure of playing a character popular with fans of Diana Gabaldon’s books, on which the series is based.
When you got the part of Lord John Grey did you start reading the
I felt like I had an obligation to, for sure. There’s a number of books that are lengthy reads in and of themselves as well as a spin-off series with my character. But there’s just way too much to get up to speed on in the short amount of time that I had between getting the role and being on set so I didn’t have a lot of time to get into all that material.
Did you feel any pressure living up to fans’ expectations of this character?
Absolutely — I think he’s a very beloved character for the fans of the book series so it was a huge pressure of expectation and it was challenging being met by that but I just really had to back myself and go with what I was feeling towards the scripts.
What was it like living in Scotland while filming?
Really busy (laughs). The filming schedule’s kind of organised so that all my filming is done within the one block. I’ve had to go back and forth. Scotland itself is a really interesting and beautiful country and I really enjoyed my time there.
Did you get much time to see the sights outside of work?
Not as a tourist. Definitely got carted around to I think some of the best locations in Scotland, some castles and the Highland areas and all around Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The relationship between John and Jamie is quite complicated. How would you describe the evolution of that in the first half of the series?
It’s hard to describe without going into spoilers but they start off as bitter enemies — or rivals at least. John is the head of Ardsmuir prison and he’s put in charge of Jamie as a prisoner but as the time goes by they develop a friendship.
What makes John change his opinion of Jamie?
I think John comes to realise that Jamie is really an intelligent, honourable man who like John has also lost a great love in his life and they share a kindred spirit in that sense.
What can you say about James’s journey in A Place to Call Home this season?
At the end of season four we see James with Henry (Tim Draxl) and they’ve committed themselves to each other but James has since had to depart for England with Olivia (Arianwen ParkesLockwood) to finalise their divorce and get the blessing of Olivia’s father so they can go ahead.
Berry as James, with Arienwen ParkesLockwood as Olivia, in A Place to Call Home. OUTLANDER MONDAYS AT 7.30PM ON FOXTEL’S SHOWCASE
David Berry (right) as Lord John Grey and Sam Heughan as Jamie.