Gra­ham McTav­ish: From dwarf to Out­lander

McTav­ish muses about dwarfs and Out­lander

Edmonton Journal - - ARTS & LIFE - Eric Volmers

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.

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