7th July 2023
There are merely a few shows that are successful in capturing its true essence throughout its multiple seasons. "Outlander" is evidently one of those shows and its success can be witnessed through the flaring popularity the project has been receiving all these years.
From romance to science-fiction, action, drama, suspense, thriller, time-travel and much more, the project has been a beautifully crafted amalgamation of distinct genres that has caught the eyes of millions of people from around the world.
Currently premiering its seventh installment, "Outlander" recently announced the arrival of two prominent characters within its plotline. Izzy Meikle-Small and Joey Phillips' announcement of being the ones to bring "the Hunters" to life right from the pages of the beloved books made the headlines.
Many people might be familiar with Meikle-Small's gracious screen presence watching her play the young version of Carey Mulligan’s character ‘Kathy’ in Mark Romanek's feature film "NEVER LET ME GO" previously, a project based on the critically acclaimed book by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Izzy was also seen portraying 'Estella' in the BBC’s adaptation of "GREAT EXPECTATIONS" opposite the sensational Gillian Anderson. Her other credits include "SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN", "PRIVATE PEACEFUL", "PUDSEY THE DOG: THE MOVIE", and in conjunction with working on television and the big screen, Izzy also starred in the stage production of "THE AUDIENCE" at the Apollo Theatre in 2015.
Currently under the massive spotlight for being one of the novel members joining the highly anticipated seventh season of "Outlander", Izzy embodied the role of "Rachel Hunter", a Quaker surgeon and can be presently seen starring alongside Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan.
We recently had a chat with our latest cover star- the wonderful Izzy Meikle-Small on joining the OUTLANDER family, working with the cast and crew of the show, her off-set relationship like with her on-screen brother 'Joey Phillips', some memorable behind-the-scenes, the pressures of joining such an already established show and some more significant insights into her professional journey.
Hi there Izzy. Thank you for joining us on ReVamp! How has the start of the year been for you?
Hi! Thanks for having me! The start of the year has been great - I wrapped filming on season 7 of Outlander and then around 3 months later we premiered it in New York, at Tribeca, which was a pretty speedy turnaround and a really fun experience.
I'd obviously love to begin this interview by mentioning your surreal performance as Rachel in the highly successful series "Outlander". First of all huge congratulations on the project!
What was it really that lured you towards this role? Were you a fan of the show/books prior to auditioning for the role?
Ah, that’s very kind, thank you! I’d obviously heard of the series, but I’d never actually read the books or watched the series before auditioning. But once I got the part I got to delve into both! What I really love about my character Rachel is that she goes on a big journey throughout the season. We see her become a woman! She leaves home for the first time, goes off to war with her brother and has a multitude of new experiences. She has a great romantic storyline too which I always love to play. But what I found most interesting about Rachel is that she is full of conflict. She is a very devout Quaker, so being surrounded by so much violence (as a pacifist) is incredibly difficult, and she has to learn to interpret her faith in new ways as she is constantly challenged by violent events and new characters who enter her life.
Kindly walk us through the entire audition process for your character. Do you remember your initial reaction when you found out you had successfully gotten the role?
So to start I did a self-tape. It’s one of the scenes from my first episode and it’s a really fun and playful scene. After sending off the self-tape I had to come in to do a chemistry test with John Bell and Suzanne Smith (the casting director). John and I immediately got on really well, and I remember leaving and thinking, well even if I didn’t get it, that was a lot of fun. Due to Covid, I hadn’t had an in-person audition for a while, so I really just wanted to enjoy it and have fun playing in a scene with another actor. But luckily, I ended up getting the part!
Was there ever any ritual or element that you immersed yourself into in terms of getting into the mindset of the character before finally going in front of the cameras? Did you ever face any kind of challenge while trying to portray Rachel?
When you film a period drama, the act of getting into hair & makeup/ costume feels like a ritual in itself. The corset and the bonnet in particular really helped me get into character as they help indicate your body language and posture. The main challenge I had with Rachel was wanting to make her feel modern, and someone contemporary audiences could relate to, whilst also making sure she still made sense in her era. The Quaker language could be a little tricky to get your mouth around - for example, Quaker’s wouldn’t say you or your, they would say thee or thine, so that took some getting used to. But I think the more you get into a character’s head, the more those things feel less like barriers and more like clues or context for who your character is and how they think.
Outlander is one of the biggest fantasy shows out there. Considering the immensely huge fan-base out there for the show and the characters, did you ever feel any sort of pressure taking on the role knowing so many people from around the world will be watching your performance?
Oh, for sure. But I think pressure in a good way, it makes you over-prepare! The fans are so loyal and passionate that you want to make sure you’re doing justice to the original characters from the books. I think in terms of preempting people’s reaction, you have to trust that your spin on the character adds to characterisation from the books, and know that you can’t always please everyone!
When you first read about Rachel in the books and the script, what were your personal first impressions of her? Do you think the character we read on the pages is in any way slightly distinct from the one we will be seeing on the screen?
It was interesting to read the books already knowing I had the part, as I read her in my voice from the beginning. I think that made a difference as I always saw her as me? To that end, I think I have tried to put a little of myself into Rachel too - I like to think that I’ve amped up her cheeky side and really tried to highlight the lighter side of her nature. Very devout characters can often feel serious, but I wanted to keep reminding audiences that Rachel is feisty and strong too.
What was it like finally getting to see your own performance and witnessing your personal portrayal of bringing the character of Rachel to life? Have you been enjoying the reception you have received from the fans on this season so far?
Currently I’ve only seen my first episode, and little bits and pieces that I’ve seen when doing ADR, but it’s been fun! I hadn’t really seen any stills/footage when filming so it was all totally new to me. The main thing I found fun was seeing what my bonnets looked like from different angles haha. It’s also been great to see all the sets brought to life, as sometimes it looks totally different on screen to what you remember because of lighting, angles, lenses etc. Fans seem really excited for ‘The Hunters’ to enter the season, so hopefully Joey and I don’t disappoint!
I recently had a wonderful conversation with Joey Phillips who plays your brother "Denzell Hunter" on the show who had a lot of good things to say about you and everyone involved within the project.
I wonder what was your offset relationship like with Joey and the rest of your cast-mates? Any memorable behind the scenes you'd like to tell us about?
Joey is the best. We met before our first day of filming together at the hotel bar and had a few drinks, and instantly bonded. It was weird, because it immediately felt like I’d known him for years. I think that was really helpful for informing our on-screen brother/sister bond, as it was essentially exactly the same as our off-screen relationship!
Joey, John, Charles & I are all close and hung out a lot whilst filming. John’s obviously the series veteran, and from Glasgow, so he was great at taking us under his wing and showing us the sights. We had a lot of laughs on and off set, it’s hard to pick just one story! We did all go ice skating at Christmas which was very wholesome, and Charles (being Canadian so I should have guessed) was like something out of Blade of Glory.
(Thank you for your time, Izzy! Wishing you lots of luck on the project!)
Lastly, what's next for you, Izzy? Any message you'd like to convey to your fans currently reading this interview?
Thanks so much for having me. Next up we have part two of season 7 coming out in 2024, and we are returning to do season 8 very soon! So lot’s more Outlander on the horizon!
To the Outlander fans, I’d love to say; I can’t wait for you to meet my Rachel and hear all of your thoughts. I hope I do you proud! I’ve only met a few of you so far, but I hope to meet more of you soon.
Outlander is now streaming on Starz