I have developed a fascination with the supporting actors on Outlander this season. We have seen it time and time again. The supporting cast giving performances that assist our main characters in capturing the moments we treasure and growing their characters. Adrienne-Marie Zitt, who plays Suzette, THE ladies maid, certainly has done that. From her scenes with Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh to her dedication to her mistress, Claire, Caitriona Balfe.
It was her small but poignant moments in Season 2 that made me reach out to her agent & request some time. Gratefully, she agreed to an email interview. Seeing how she is across the Atlantic, this made it super easy for us.
Here is our exchange, with of course some of my little goober moments that I so enjoy.
Me:Hello Adrienne-Marie, first I want to thank you for accepting this request to chat with fans such as myself. I very much enjoy following you on twitter, your passion for life and the heart you show is something I believe we all need to emulate. Outlander may have exposed you to us but you are keeping us there.
A-M: That’s very kind, thank you!
Me:My motto for life is SPARKLE. It means Show People Authentic Respect Kindness & Love Everyday. Naturally that SPARKLE starts with ourselves. It is a philosophy I thought you would understand& respect.
Me: What is your philosophy on life? What do you do to keep it with you?
A-M: It’s not far from yours actually. I am a big believer in authenticity wrapped in kindness and compassion. So it’s not so much about forcing oneself to be positive all the time, but more about learning to be with kindness with what is there in us, difficult feelings included. If we can be spacious and kind with ourselves in all our changing states and moods, we can more easily be that way with other people, which is the point of building a better world. It’s very Buddhist in a way. I guess I have strong Buddhist leanings 🙂 As for keeping it with me, I practice as much as I can! I find meditation very helpful as well as mindfulness practices. I keep myself inspired with retreats, workshops and books. I try to live by this as much as I can. And of course I make sure that at least some of my friends are much wiser than I am 😉
Me: Most of the North American fans are seeing you for the first time, however I know your career did not start with Outlander. Can you tell us how you started your career in acting and what it was that drew you to stepping into other worlds (such as a playwright)?
A-M: I started acting a good while back. My first professional steps were with a French company in my home town of Nantes, I was 20 then so…that’s a long time ago! I was interested in theatre and performing since childhood really- I used to write, direct and act in skits in the playground at recess, roping in a few friends (some willing, some maybe less so!). I enjoyed everything in the process: writing, rehearsing, casting and making people laugh especially. I loved singing as well. So when the theatre work started drying up in later years (as it inevitably does at times), I naturally turned my focus on one of my many other creative interests. With playwriting, I was lucky that a company I’d worked with as an actor (the excellent Vienna’s English Theatre) took a chance on me to adapt some French classics for school productions. It put me back in touch with the joy I’d felt writing plays as a child. Now I’m doing some research for an original script which will be written in English and am working on a children’s book. And I still sing 🙂
Me: As the ABOotlanders are Canadians, I was very excited when I found out you had a Canadian connection. Can you tell us what your time at the National Theatre School of Canada was like for you? What is your take on Canadians (this is your opportunity to tell us how awesome we are *wink*)?
A-M: Ah Canada… I really loved the country. It became my adoptive country, really, for 5 years. I felt at home there. I wanted to get citizenship eventually, but life and immigration laws decided otherwise (at least for now!). My experience at NTS…Hard to sum up in a few words, but I’ll try! Intense, profound, transformative, deeply challenging, inspirational. You’re working with people at the top of their game, and you’re baring your soul on a daily basis to a small group of people you get to know intimately over the course of three years. There are dark moments in that for sure- as the group dynamic fluctuates and evolves, and as you come across your own limitations, or your doubts and fears-but my memories of the whole experience and of the third year especially are precious. It’s a life experience not everyone gets to have, and it made me feel intensely alive for three years. I’d love to go back there at some point for an extended tour- to meet up with old classmates and rediscover the country. My take on Canadians? Quirky, chilled out, outdoorsy, open-hearted – so, yeah, awesome indeed! 😀
Me: You have had quite a lengthy and active career in theatre with Outlander being your first TV role. Has your heart always been with the theatre, is it the medium of your choice? Would you consider doing more television roles?
A-M: I would love to do more TV, if only to get a sense of more familiarity with the medium. On Outlander, at least for the first few days of shooting, I was always in a mild state of terror… I didn’t know how anything worked, I really felt like the absolute newbie. I just hoped it didn’t show too much! The work involved is so different from stage work. It goes very fast, it’s very technical, and there are subtleties you need to grasp that don’t exist in theatre- for example, adapting to a wide shot or a close-up. So I would love to gain more experience in it, to start feeling freer in it. It’s difficult to say which my favourite medium is, because my experience in theatre is so much more extensive. I love the rehearsal process in theatre, taking time to “unwrap” a scene, really getting to know your cast mates, exploring the text, the language… And the live experience after weeks of hard work, which can suddenly take the play to a whole new level. But you’ll probably need to ask me that question again after I’ve done a few more series 😉
Me: Naturally, many fans have an “idea” of what they believe the cast & crew of Outlander are like in real life. I invite you to take a moment and say the first word that comes to mind when you think of the following people. Duncan Lacroix, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Ron D Moore, Terry Dresbach, Jon Gary Steele, Romann B, Robbie McIntosh & lets top it off with your character Suzette.
A-M: Duncan: hilarious. Caitriona: soul of elegance. Sam: warm-hearted. Romann: adorable. Robbie: larger than life. I did not get a chance to really spend time with Ron, Terry or Jon but my first word would be- Ron: mighty. Terry: passionate. Jon: visionary. And finally Suzette: bubbly 🙂
Me: The chemistry you had with Duncan was so fun to watch. We were at a place where we didn’t think any woman would have him but your character softened that exterior & made Murtagh even more lovable as a character. What was your favourite scene with Suzette & Murtagh?
A-M: I loved all the scenes with Duncan; he made me laugh so much. I credit him for a lot of alleviating my nerves, especially on the first day (which was also his first day back- and when we both had to undress!) But I think my favourite was the one where Suzette helps Murtagh dress in his finery. Everyone was in a good mood that morning. I had to try and keep a straight face every time Duncan said “rue St Honore”, because half of the time he would just come out with something only vaguely French sounding – and then that would set Sam off as well. Then I’d miss a button somewhere on Murtagh’s waistcoat and have to start again. It was just great fun.
Me: The scene in “Faith” when Claire returns home with the staff awaiting her was intensely sad yet heart warming. What was the mood on set during that homecoming? You certainly did reach to the depths, I sobbed right along with you. I don’t know whether to thank you for that or not *smile*.
A-M: Ha thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment! That was an incredible scene to shoot. The atmosphere was so focused. Between takes, we would just each stay in our little bubbles; there was no chatting or dispersing the emotion. And at the same time, it only took looking at Caitriona slowly stepping out of the carriage to sense into that emotion. She looked so pale, so drained, so different from the “usual” Claire. It was easy in a way, to feel into the sadness Suzette would feel for the pain of the unusual mistress she’d become very fond of. I think everyone on set knew this would be a very powerful scene. I also remember Romann looking around, saying “everyone looks so sad!” – There obviously must have been something in the air 🙂
Me: I really could ask you questions about you, your career and your experiences on Outlander all day but I won’t because I want you to enjoy this so I will close with our ABOotlander must ask (This is strictly for giggles – not serious at all) – If you were to come to Alberta Canada and someone offered you a) Moose Droppings b) Beaver Tails c) Prairie Oysters d) Taber Corn…which would you choose & why?
A-M: Beaver tails, because they sound like a witchy good luck charm 🙂
Me: Thank you so much for your time Adrienne-Marie. Know if you EVER do come to Alberta, you have a host of friends willing to show you around.
A-M: Thank you so much! 🙂
I don’t think we have frightened her away. At least I don’t think so…she has this thing called life figured out. Simply because of her outlook, I will continue to follow her career. Kindness is the way will continue to change this world.
Stay tuned for our next blogburst. We are going to be focusing on a crush of mine. His name is Jon Gary Steele and he has dimples like swimming pools!