Meet your new Scottish delight (sorry, Walkers Shortbread): 34-year-old Sam Heughan stars as hunky warrior Jamie Fraser in the upcoming Starz drama Outlander, debuting Aug. EW spoke with Heughan—just days before his first Comic-Con—about the pressures of portraying such a beloved character, Outlander boot camp, and whether he wears his kilt the “traditional” Scottish way.
EW: Were you familiar with the Outlander series before you auditioned for the role of Jamie? Obviously you and Jamie are both Scottish, but I don’t know where the similarities begin and end. You’re no stranger to the physical stuff, then, but I imagine you had to do at least a bit of training to get into the physicality and headspace of Jamie. First of all, they got me a trainer, and he came down to London and we were training two or three times a day for six weeks. And then we came up to Scotland, and we had a two week Outlander boot camp where we did a lot of horse riding. Obviously an important aspect of all of this for fans is your character’s relationship with Claire. There’d been a big search for her, and they tested quite a few girls, and there were obviously some wonderful actresses there, but they didn’t really feel like they’d found her yet.
I guess if you approach any character, like a comic book hero or anyone in a novel or anything, [fans] always have their own ideas of what a character will be. Pretty early on, actually, myself and Diana were sort of talking via Twitter and via email, and she sent me a lot of material to look at. Without giving away too much, basically, if it’s in the book, it’s probably going to be in the show.
You might have been fired up already of the exciting stuff coming from Outlander TV series camp these days. Actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, who plays Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser, holds out the airing date of the premiere episode. And check out this very symbolic poster of Starz Channel's Outlander, adapted from the novel of the same title by Diana Gabaldon. Starz and Sony Pictures Television are partnering to create Outlander, an original series adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s bestselling books.
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Just trying to pack on a bit of weight and a bit of muscle because we decided that he needed to look like he could look after himself. Tell me about your first meeting with Caitriona Balfe and how you guys worked on your chemistry. When Caitriona came in, it was pretty much, “That was it.” We just knew straightaway that she was the right one. A lot of the companion books and some short stories as well that were related to Outlander and also other stuff. Without getting spoilery for those who haven’t read the series, how much of that do we see? You do have to learn how to wear a kilt, and it’s certainly very liberating and very freeing, but surprisingly very comfortable to wear, to ride a horse in a kilt. Anticipating for the premiere episode of the show is a little more exciting, knowing the fact the eighth book of the original series it was based upon is coming out as well. Just a few months after the release of Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon, the episode will surely be met by rampage from fans. Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. Based on the bestselling book series by Diana Gabaldon, the adaptation follows English former army nurse Claire Randall as she mysteriously travels back in time from 1945 to 18th-century Scotland.
We just started chatting in the test before we started the audition, and we just seemed to get on.
But ultimately, I think we’re all fans of the [Outlander] books, and we’re as close to them as we possibly can be, while still telling a great story.
The show is very dark, and I think that’s the absolute joy of it, and that’s why I love Ron Moore’s work. Well, to be honest, there are so many great moments in the books and in the show, but I think it’s generally the ones when everyone is involved. The show stars Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, Gary Lewis, Graham McTavish, Duncan Lacroix, and Lotte Verbeek. When she is forced to marry Jamie, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire’s heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. Her only real ally in this unfamiliar land is the strapping young Jamie, who goes to great pains (literally!) to keep her safe…and satisfied. I’d been over there for pilot season, and this was an opportunity to go back to my home country and to be where I went to drama school in Glasgow.


And that’s kind of, I think, where you start to get an understanding of the character is when you start to see the costumes and work out how he’s going to hold himself, the way he walks, and then also where he fits in the clan with the other clan members. One of the first things was … in one of the first episodes, and it’s the great hall and Column calls the Gathering, and every character is there and you just get a feeling of what a sort of a huge show this is. Without giving away too much, Jamie does wear trousers at some point in the show, or at a couple points. Outlander spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history, and adventure into one epic tale.
So it was just about getting more physical because we knew this would be a very physical part. So it was a really important couple of weeks where we got to meet the rest of the cast and just sort of see where your character fits in with them. She watches the dailies as well, which is a bit terrifying, and she let’s me know what she thinks of them.
And obviously when I got recalled and went in for screen tests, I managed to actually read the book.
He’s got great credentials from doing Star Trek and Battlestar. And his wife is the costume designer, who’s also a huge fan of the books. I’m so excited for people to actually see that, and also for us to get to the end of the story because it’s been a wonderful journey.
There’s some pretty gruesome stuff that happens, and I think that’s what’s going to be really interesting for people to see and for the Jamie character: how he deals with that, how he addresses that, and what that does to his relationship with Claire. There’s pipe music playing and people dancing, and it just really throws you into 18th century Scotland, and I think viewers are just going to get sucked in by this world. I used to live in a sort of converted stables on the grounds of a castle, and I spent a lot of my childhood running around with a pretend sword pretending to Robert the Bruce.
He’s been in France, he’s learned Greek, he’s learned German, he’s learned all these different languages, so he’s quite cultured. There was also pyrotechnics, and I did a lot of flying and fighting, and it really was like a great comic book on stage.



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