Graham McTavish: From dwarf to Outlander
McTavish muses about dwarfs and Outlander
It was not the sort of outburst Dwalin would approve of.
Scottish-born actor Graham McTavish spent two and a half years in New Zealand playing the brave, staunchly loyal and elaborately bearded dwarf warrior in three Hobbit films.
On the last day of production, McTavish was shooting a fight scene that went late into the afternoon.
When he heard “cut,” he quickly broke from character.
“I instantly burst into tears,” says McTavish. “I knew I’d be upset. But I didn’t realize it would be so instant.”
This spectacle has reportedly been captured in the behind-the-scenes segments on the extended DVD version of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
If playing the feisty Dwalin was McTavish’s only role, he still would earn a place of esteem in geek-fan culture. But his resume reads like a dream for fan-convention attendees.
He has lent his voice to animated super villains (Loki in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Sebastian Shaw on Wolverine and the X-Men) and dozens of high-profile video games (Assassins Creed III, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Star Wars: the Old Republic.)
He played a foul-tempered mercenary in 2008’s Rambo and a conspiratorial Russian in the TV series 24.
Last year, he upped his status considerably in the land of obsessive fandom by when he was chosen to play war chieftain Dougal MacKenzie in the televised version of Outlander, Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling historical time-travel fantasy series.
All of which will give him plenty to talk about at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Convention, which he will attend from Friday to Sunday.
He took some time to chat with the Calgary Herald. Q: Have you done a lot of fan conventions in the past? A: Since I did the Hobbit, I’ve probably done 10 to 12 in total in the last three years. Not as many as some people but it’s an extraordinary world and something I knew nothing about until I did those films.
Q: The Outlander has some very obsessive fans. Has the interest shifted from The Hobbit to that series at these conventions?
A: They are becoming more interested in Outlander. I did a convention earlier this year and I would say it’s kind of half and half. A lot of people are coming to them now for the Outlander connection. It’s very gratifying.
Q: Both Dwalin and Dougal are characters from beloved books. Is it daunting to know you will be portraying characters that have lived in so many people’s imaginations for years?
A: (laughs) Yes, a little bit. In the case of Dwalin in The Hobbit, it’s a responsibility. Because it’s not just the character, it’s the whole legacy of Tolkien. It looms so large in the popular imagination and not just because of the books but because of Lord of the Rings (movies.)
With Dougal in Outlander, I didn’t know the books before I started. I read the first one before I started the first season. But, again, the fans of Outlander ... I thought the Hobbit fans were pretty hardcore, but the fans of Outlander give them a run for their money. They take it very seriously.
Q: What makes Dougal MacKenzie tick?
A: He’s a man ruled by his heart more than his head. And at times that gets him into trouble. (This season), Gary Lewis, who plays Colum, my brother, says to me “One day you will talk your head off onto a spike.” It’s true. He’s one of those people who doesn’t think before he acts, especially when it comes to things he holds dear like the restoration of the Stuart monarchy. That is his main goal. While he has his fingers in many pies — manipulating people, playing them off against each other, leaving you with a sense of not quite knowing what he’s going to do next — over and above all that is that singular goal and it makes for a very interesting character to play.
Graham McTavish — who spent 2-1/2 years playing the dwarf Dwalin in the Hobbit films — stars as Dougal MacKenzie on the hit TV series Outlander.