Two Big Reasons To Watch Outlander: Tobias Menzies As Frank And Black Jack Randall

Two Big Reasons To Watch Outlander: Tobias Menzies As Frank And Black Jack Randall

If you need a reason to start watching the American-British television drama series ‘Outlander’ on Starz, let me give you two. One is the character Frank Randall and the other, is the character Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall. It’s the captivating theatrical work going on behind these men, that will have you coming back week after week; English actor Tobias Menzies, who plays them both.

It’s hard to talk about Outlander, without giving away too much information and ruining the story’s wonderful surprises for those who have yet to see it. Discussing the acting abilities of just one of the cast, is also a challenge. The hit series which began on Starz in August of 2014, is filled with actors of immense talent. We’re sure to cover several of those at one point or another.

The one star of Outlander that always leaves us in awe, is the 42 year old London born actor, Tobias Menzies. He plays two roles in the series; Frank Randall who lives in the 20th century, and his distant ancestor, Redcoat Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall – in the mid 1700’s.

The challenge whenever an actor takes up the task of playing two different roles in the same series, is being able to seperate them enough that you cause the viewer to respond to each character differently as well. In the Outlander story (which is based on the series of novels by Diana Gabaldon), there is the need to not only portray men from different eras, but somehow link them together due to the fact that they are related.

There’s Frank Randall, the 20th century intellectual and respected acedemic, and on the other side, a ruthless English Redcoat Captain who seems void of any conscience at all. Here Menzies moves between the two with such dedication to each, you would think it was a real life twin playing the other part. There has not been an episode to date, where we’ve found ourselves having to put blinders on or force ourselves to believe in the seperation.



The television series has more of Frank in it at its start, which deviates from the book. This was necessary to help viewers get a better grasp of Claire’s previous relationship, making it more meaningful for viewers once she leaves him. The skill of both the writers and Menzies during the laying of this groundwork, is that you tend to find yourself looking for traces of Frank in his dark ancestor when he is absent, and vice versa when the story returns to him from time to time.

The journey through season one alone (the series in currently in its second), is an emotional roller coaster for viewers when it comes to its main characters, Claire Beauchamp and Jamie Fraser. The beauty of the series and storyline, is that your focus will move between the cast as things play along. Expect to have more than one favorite.

Although the main character (Claire), played by Irish actress Caitriona Balfe is the one actually going from one time period to another, her role is still embodied in the same person. Menzies characters stay put in time, it’s just the actor who is moving from one era, one personality to another. Which does demand a bit more to pull off effectively.

And pull off he does. Tobias has already recieved one Golden Globe nomination for his role in season one, and we suspect it will not be his last. He should win. He deserves it.

As a viewer of the show, I hate Black Jack Randall; I’m supposed too. I feel for Frank and believe in his inward struggles. The wonder, is that Tobias is lost inside each – which is why we applaud his skill and use him as just one (well, two) of the reasons you should by watching, Outlander.

If you’re thinking about getting on board and watching Outlander, you won’t be disappointed. Check out the official trailer preview for Season 1 below.

You can get caught up with the series via a Starz subscription with your local cable provider, Directv or Amazon Prime. Then look for new episodes on Saturday’s at 9pm during the current season’s run.

Visit Starz – Outlander Official

If you like Outlander, we recommend: The White Queen or Poldark or The Musketeers


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Wayne Andres

Creator, Editor In Chief at - "I went on a Twitter rant once; no one cared - Celebrities have all the fun".

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