The third installment of Outlander is finally here, and with it a brand new crop of supporting characters to help the show's lovers along their separate journeys. This means viewers are going to meet a lot of new faces, such as a fellow doctor that Claire befriends in 20th century Boston, named Joe. But who plays Joe Abernathy on Outlander? The actor's name is Wil Johnson. And while you may not recognize his face unless you're a big fan of obscure British television series, he has been on screen for a long time.
Because Claire and Jamie must endure their separation for a long time, the creators of Outlander have decided that fans must endure it as well. But while the main characters are clearly miserable without each other, their separate lives are not without interesting friendships, like Joe Abernathy for example. Claire meets Joe while they are both in medical school in the 1950s. In a profession overwhelmingly dominated by white men, the two form a natural bond as fellow outsiders who have to work three times as hard to earn half the respect of their colleagues. Joe becomes Claire's closest friend in Boston, and her only confidant. In the books, the wry, intelligent, and warm-hearted man becomes like a part of the Randall family. He's who Brianna goes home to in Boston once Claire has gone back to the 18th century.
Obviously, this role requires a great deal of depth. Based solely on his acting credentials, I have every confidence that Johnson will fit the bill precisely. He gets extra points for actually being the age he's supposed to be in the books, while Claire appears to not age at all between the ages of 30 and 50. Joe is an American that Claire meets in Boston. However the actor, Johnson, is English. He was born in 1965 in London according to his IMDB profile. Similarly, Sophie Skelton who plays Claire's American daughter Brianna, is also English.
Johnson has been acting since the early '80s, with roles both in theater and on screen. His first professional role came in 1985 with the opportunity to act in the play Four Seasons at the Ediburgh Festival Fringe. From there, Johnson had several small roles on television shows, including Casualty and London's Burning. It wasn't until the '90s that he got his first really big role and started to become a recognizable face.
Johnson won the role of D.C. Skelton in the show Cracker, which ran from 1994 to 1995. After that, he got a major part in the BBC series Waking the Dead — not to be confused with The Walking Dead — a show about detectives who solve cold cases. Johnson was one of the leads, playing the role of DI Spencer Jordan. This show was on the air for 11 years between 2000 and 2011, and is the role that Johnson is best known for (up until now, of course). His most impressive theater credit is playing the title character in Othello with the Royal Lyceum Theater. The show was in 2004, so there's no hope of seeing him in the role now, unfortunately.
In the books, Joe Abernathy is mostly a background character, seen either through Claire's memories or brief moments with Brianna. The show is determined to show what Claire and Jamie's lives were like when separated, so the good news is that we'll likely get a much more fleshed out and nuanced version of Joe on-screen. And I'm actually excited to see how Claire and Joe interact face-to-face. The only question is whether it will be enough to tide me over until she gets back to Jamie.
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