In 2018 the hit Starz show Outlander, adapted from the best selling historical time travel book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, added a new cast member in the form of wolf cross dog Rollo.
The forth season is based off Drums of Autumn and sees the cast in the American colony of North Carolina, Rollo first comes into contact with young Ian Murray (played in series by John Bell) during the start of the series. Says Gabaldon, “Rollo and Young Ian met on the docks in North Carolina, when Young Ian won the dog in a card game, and a life-long bond was formed between them, meaning that Rollo became a member of the ever-growing Fraser family’. The part of Rollo is being played by Northern Inuit Dui from the Snowy Peaks litter of pups (The dam was Chandrika Mountain Milly and the sire was Mahlek Star Attraction at Alska). Dui will be playing a dog that has a “penchant for getting into trouble, often sticking his large, wet nose into places it doesn’t belong,” says a Starz spokesman. “The dog will play a key part in the adventure that lies ahead.”
“They look cute, but tough. They should be just right to play Rollo when the time comes,” says Diana Gabaldon. “They’d need to growl and look menacing on command, I think, and carry back prey of one kind or another to their master. I assume they wouldn’t let them catch things on camera … especially fish, of course.”
David Stewart (the dog trainer for Rollo) originally took two pups from the Snowy Peaks litter but only one had the right look for the production team. Whisky still happily lives with his litter brother and David.
“His name is Dui, and he’s a really lovely, sweet dog. I’m probably the one person who gets frustrated working with him, because there’s a lot of squeaky toys involved, a lot of high-pitched calling. I don’t know if he’s the best trained, I’m just gonna say it!”
Described in the books as a cross between an Irish Wolfhound and a wolf, Rollo has shape-shifted a little in the adaptation process. “I think they originally wanted something quite ferocious, but he’s the sweetest thing. He wouldn’t hurt a fly—he doesn’t even bark.”
Executive producer Matthew B. Roberts explained in an interview that Rollo’s breed was changed for precisely that reason. “Northern Inuits are very low-key, very mellow. They like people… the dog we cast is very lovely and liked everybody and licked everybody all the time.” One member of the cast has a particularly close bond with Dui, his on screen owner John. The actor met Dui when he was just a pup, John wanted the two to have a closeness that was clear to see on and off screen so went with Dui to his puppy training classes. They even climbed mountains together in Scotland where the show is filmed.
A video of Ian and Dui on set was shared by Starz and has been an instant hit, click here to view it.