Turn back time


Soap World - - INTERVIEW - SW

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

Out­lander books?

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.

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