“He’s quite a modern man, for his time, but he still has this moral code that is of the period,” reveals Sam Heughan about his character Jamie Fraser, the leading man in Starz’s fantasy/romance hit “Outlander.” As he explains during our recent webcam chat (watch below), “When we first meet Jamie, he is this young man who has no responsibilities; he has been running away from a lot of his past relationships and things that have happened in his life and he has returned to Scotland. And this amazing figure, [in the form] of Claire, almost virtually falls into his lap, or into his life and she changes everything.”
Claire (Caitriona Balfe) is a married nurse in 1945 who finds herself mysteriously transported back in time to the rugged highlands of 1743 Scotland where she encounters Jamie and falls in love with him. Based on the celebrated series of fantasy books by Diana Gabaldon and brought to the small screen by Emmy-nominated writer/producer Ronald D. Moore (“Battlestar Galactica”), “Outlander” has become a sensation this year, garnering the kind of devoted fan base of which most shows can only dream.
For Heughan, watching Jamie grow and evolve from when we first encounter him back in pilot episode has been a real highlight. “What I love about our show is that it changes a lot. You may think it is one thing and then a couple of episodes in, it changes. It’s so hard to categorize. And that comes down to Diana Gabaldon’s books. You can’t say that they’re an historical romance drama, because there’s so much more in them.”
Although the show is at its core about Claire, the strong female protagonist at the center of the story, what has become so interesting about ‘Outlander’ is the duality that we discover about Jamie, who is not just another stock-standard love interest.
On the outside, he appears to be that typically tough, bare-chested manly Highland warrior, but on the inside, he is a real softie. And it is those different sides to Jamie that Heughan appears to relish most of all. “He is this quite physical, able man, but he has a side that I wanted to bring to him which is this emotional intelligence. He’s well educated, he’s lived in other countries, he’s travelled a lot, he speaks several languages, so he’s well rounded. And yet he’s quite naïve and quite young and even innocent.”
The actor also teases what fans can expect for season two, which is expected to premiere on Starz early next year. “Jamie and Claire have gone to France on this mission, which is basically to change history, to stop the Jacobite Rebellion, which then led to this famous battle in Scotland, called Culloden, which the Scots lost. It marks the end of Highland culture” Heughan explains. “They’re on this mission, but they still have a lot to deal with. Jamie has the trauma he is still dealing with, and Claire is now pregnant. It’s a really tough time for them because they have a lot personally to deal with.”
In our interview below, watch as Heughan addresses the show’s dedicated fan base and talks more about some of the highlights of season one, particularly the shocking and brutal scenes in which Jamie was brutally beaten and raped by his nemesis “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies). And then be sure to make your Golden Globe predictions as to whether he will be nominated for Best TV Drama Actor.
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Photo: Sam Heughan in "Outlander"; Credit: Starz