Outlander’s Roger MacKenzie star lands role outside of Starz drama

Outlander: Lionsgate+ shares opening titles for season 7

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Scottish actor Richard Rankin is best known for portraying Roger Mackenzie, the son-in-law of Highland warrior Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan) and his time-travelling wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe). Soon to return in the seventh and penultimate season of Outlander, he’ll now be taking on one of his first leading roles in a new detective drama away from the Starz network.

Rankin has been cast as Inspector John Rebus in streaming service Viaplay’s upcoming adaptation of the works of Ian Rankin.

Rebus is set to be a major reimagining of the bestselling crime novels, and will be produced by Eleventh Hour Films and written by Gregory Burke.

Wallander director Niall MacCormick will helm the six-part series, which will start filming in Scotland next month for a 2024 release.

An official synopsis reads: “The compelling new story follows 40-year-old police detective John Rebus (Richard Rankin), who finds himself at a psychological crossroads following an altercation with an infamous Edinburgh gangster.”

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“At odds with a job increasingly driven by corporate technocrats, involved in a toxic affair he knows he needs to end, and all but supplanted in his daughter’s life by his ex-wife’s wealthy new husband, Rebus begins to wonder if he still has a role to play – either as a family man or a police officer.

“In a world of divisive politics and national discord, does the law still have meaning, or is everyone reverting to an older set of rules? And if so, why shouldn’t Rebus do so too?”

Author Rankin’s iconic detective has featured in over 20 books across five decades, so Rebus could become a major starring role for the Outlander star over the coming years.

In a statement, the actor said: “I’m thrilled to be taking on the role of Rebus. I’m a big fan of the series and Sir Ian Rankin.”

“I feel very lucky to be given the honour of bringing such an iconic Scottish character back to TV screens and will give all I have to do it justice.”

And the author said: “Rebus has been a big part of my life for a long time now and to work with Gregory Burke to create a new story that sees him navigate life as a younger man in a contemporary (and ever-changing) Scotland has been a truly fascinating process.

“I’m very much looking forward to watching Richard bring the character to life – he’s the perfect fit for the role, and not just because we coincidentally share the same surname!”

Viaplay Group CCO Filippa Wallestam said: “To have such a famous character spearheading Viaplay’s original storytelling in the UK is a privilege.”

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“We’re delighted to have the brilliant Richard Rankin onboard to portray Rebus and all his complexities. I have no doubt that viewers are in for a treat.”

Eleventh Hour CEO Jill Green added: “Eleventh Hour Films were thrilled when Richard agreed to do this fresh version of Rebus, realised in a compelling and authentic way by Gregory Burke.

“We’re really pleased to be working with Viaplay, bringing this contemporary version of Sir Ian’s brilliant character to diehard fans as well as new audiences.”

Viaplay has also confirmed Rebus is intended as a returning series, so Rankin could be solving mysteries around Scotland for years to come.

Further casting details are set to be announced as production gets underway later this year.

In the meantime, fans are anxiously awaiting his return alongside Heughan, Balfe and Sophie Skelton as Roger’s wife Brianna in the seventh season of Outlander.

The penultimate season of Starz’s hit historical drama returns this summer, and will be followed by an eighth and final outing as well as a new prequel, Blood of My Blood.

Outlander season 7 premieres summer 2023 on Starz in the USA and Lionsgate+ via Prime Video in the UK.

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