Sam Heughan (‘Outlander’) on being tortured, raped and broken

When it came to enacting the role of a victim of torture and rape in the season finale of “Outlander,” Sam Heughan admits, “I was really looking forward to it. To go to these dark places at the end of the season was really kind of a gift for an actor — to see their limits and their boundaries.

“Up until the second half of the season, my character had been on the periphery,” Heughan adds in our webcam chat (watch below.) “We didn’t really know an awful lot about Jamie.”

Tobias Menzies on ‘Outlander’s’ rape and what Black Jack is doing in hell now

But TV viewers learned something devastating about Jamie when he was sodomized by “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies) in a prison cell. Momentarily at least, Jamie took pleasure in it and this self-realization is what finally broke his spirit.

“These horrific things that happen to him on the physical side — he can kind of deal with, but it’s the moment that he betrays Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in his mind,” Heughan adds. “He betrays her because he found a moment of happiness, of pleasure. That shows you how depraved Black Jack is, that he managed to find Jamie’s fortitude and strength, that nugget and to break that.”

‘Outlander’ creatoe Ron Moore tattles on its secrets

Heughan reveals interesting facts about shooting those scenes. To prepare, it took four hours every morning for the makeup artists to make his naked back appear to be covered with scars from past floggings. He endured it patiently because the time would “allow me to get into character, into Jamie’s mindset” before cameras rolled.

His favorite scene of the TV season came in episode 9 when “Jamie and Claire go at each other,” he says. “It’s very high stakes, high emotions. It was the first time that Caitriona and I got to expand ourselves and our acting skills and to really get to the roots of the problems going on in their relationship. While being melodramatic, those scenes are very rewarding to play.”

Heughan is in the running for Best Drama Actor at the Emmys. Make your predictions here.

Poll: Does Caitriona Balfe (‘Outlander’) deserve an Emmy nomination?

Photo: Starz

46 thoughts on “Sam Heughan (‘Outlander’) on being tortured, raped and broken

  1. Thank you for this great interview with Sam Heughan. I really enjoyed listening to his take on where the character is in his mind. Such acting ability truly does deserve recognition.

  2. Excellent interview! Thank you, Tom, for your interviews of the Outlander cast and show runner and your great questions. We all think they deserve all the Emmys!

  3. Great interview! Thank you for your great questions and enthusiasm for the show. We the fans of Outlander really believe, they all deserve recognition for their efforts

  4. Thanks for this great interview. As a fan, it’s great to see more and more people acknowledge the exceptional actings and marvelous works of the production team. And thank you for your enthusiasm. All of the cast interviews are fun and insightful, as well as the interview of producer Ronald D Moore. Truly enjoyed them.

  5. Thanks for such a thoughtful interview and for showing such and interest in our favourite show and books, Sam as lovely and gracious as ever 🙂

  6. Great job!!!! What a wonderful and LONG interview!!!! Thanks for doing so many Outlander related interviews. They are really terrific.

  7. Wonderful to hear a discussion of the character of Jamie and Sam’s process for thinking about Jamie. Great interview with some new and different questions. Thank you!

  8. Excellent interview; very interesting to hear about an actor’s “process.” Even more so when it’s a role as challenging as this one.

    It’s also always interesting to read and hear the reactions and perceptions of non-book readers.

  9. Great interview. Since I have read the book and I’m familiar with it (FYI you will see Bouton in season 2) I truly appreciate hearing input from the non book reader. Both reader and non reader bring a different perspective to viewing & appreciating the show. Since readers can’t go back and undo their history with the book, I really like hearing the POV of a non reader like yourself. You asked some great questions that allowed Sam to dig into his character and his acting skills. Thanks ❤️🐾

  10. Great interview! Your enthusiasm for Outlander, hopefully will catch on and sweep the show and our marvelous actors right into the winner’s circle. You asked Sam thoughtful questions, and he answered with an insight and intimate knowledge of Our Jamie. Hats off to a second fantabulous season! #EmmysforOutlander

  11. Brilliant interview! I hope we get to see you do many more with a favorite cast! Insightful, intelligent, probing questions and you let Sam have the time to really answer them. It didn’t feel rushed or plastic the way some interviews do. I agree with some of the other comments that it is really good to get the POV from a non-book reader – helps keep things in perspective. Thank you so much!

  12. Glad you realize that Outlander is an Emmy worthy show all around. From the actors to the art director to the dress designer to the music. It’s the whole enchilada!

  13. As hard to watch as it was, I think it was an IMPORTANT scene to portray…not only how being victimized messes with your mind (in Jamie’s mind, while he had his ‘moment’ he was thinking about Claire, to be fair…hopefully Jamie realizes this somewhere along the way…he was being tortured and hallucinate) but also how important it is to recognize not only what a harsh time it was but men are victims of sexual assault as well. 🙁 Sam did a phenomenal job–they all did really. I was blown away. I cried and gasped through the entire show. Tobias was simply evil as Jack Randall.
    Emmy worthy to be sure!

  14. I loved your interview. You asked funny, engaging, and thoughtful questions and gave your subject, Mr. Heughan, ample space to respond. The interaction between the two of you felt spontaneous and genuine and you displayed a genuine interest in the show and in Sam’s process and performance. Outlander is a high quality production in all aspects from the producers, writers, directors, costume and set design, attention to detail and authenticity, but above all in the heartfelt, complete and wholly believable performances by the cast. Both Catriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies have been excellent and are no doubt deserving of recognition by the public ad their peers. But it is Sam Heughan’s portrayal as Jamie that has been the spark and driving force of the show, particularly the second half. His well paced development of the character throughout the season has been on point. The revelation each episode by Mr. Heughan of Jamie’s character and presence has led to a richly illustrated hero, leader, and leading man. It is however his performance in the last two episodes of the season that made it clear that he is more than deserving of at the very least an Emmy nomination if not a win. The wrenching and painfully wrought embodiment of Jamie by Sam, as he undergoes this brutal experience, was reflected in the words he spoke, his physical being and the vast range of emotions that Sam is capable of showing in his face. Thank you again for your interview, and for any support you can give Sam and the entire cast of Outlander this awards season.

  15. Thank you so much for this interview with Sam!! I thought your questions were intelligent, probing and from your unique perspective. I have been a long time fan of the books, so it’s refreshing to hear from someone who hasn’t read them. The TV adaptation has become a huge favorite of those who have read the books, and those who have not. I appreciated your giving Sam an opportunity to speak about the challenges and the rewards of playing the role of JAMMF (James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser), aka “The King of Men” – no small feat, there. And, he did it brilliantly, as did everyone associated with this outstanding show. I hope you will give Sam and the other cast and crew your support – and thanks for a great interview!!

  16. Great interview and fantastic questions. Outlander is my favorite show and feel that it deserves much recognition when Emmy time rolls around.

  17. Thank you for the wonderful interview with Sam Heughan. If Sam, Caitriona, Tobias and the rest of the Outlander team do not win Emmys this year then the Emmy award itself is meaningless.

  18. Great interview, thoughtful questions and responses! I’m reading the books and have a family member who hasn’t, and we both are enjoying the show. I like the various changes, it gives me an element of surprise as well. The acting has been fantastic and several shows very emotional. When actors give so much emotion and vulnerability, it makes the ride even that much better! Outlander is one of my favorites, and this cast and crew deserve rewards/honors for their hard work. Thank you for a great season…….💖

  19. Thank you so much for a great interview. there so much I would like to say but! im going to cheat and say
    that I agree with all the comments, specially from ‘gsbhlass’.
    SAM HEUGHAN superb acting, deserves to win Best Drama Actor.

  20. I have loved one tv series in a similar way, for different reasons and that was Lost, as a reader of the Outlander series of books I find my love for the tv series as rabid( if not more) as Lost. This series and the books are such a wonderful and unique experience to read and watch. I have never wanted to see a tv show sweep the Emmys, but if Outlander does not I will be surprised. Thanks for a great interview!!!

  21. Thank you for a fantastic inteview! It’s so refreshing to see a lengthy interview that asks thought-provoking questions! I cringe every time someone asks Sam if he’s a ‘true Scotsman’ (which I think is rude and a discredit to such a fine actor) so thank you for not going there! Keep up the great work!

  22. You are a very skilled reviewer. An d I am sure that you realized that Ron had created a very exceptional series. I had not read the books. I had piked uo the DVD of the first half ot the series at the library. Fortunately in time to pick up Starz’s 2nd half. Ron new what he was doing and he must have felt he found the magic when he found Catriona and Sam. Wow! Magic can happen. They are supported by an incredible production supported by big $$ and creative staff that I haven’t seen since Pride and Prejudice on A&E. This could go on for quite a while, because the story is there. Diana has got to be shocked and thrilled at all of this. I do hope that this electricity can extend out for success to the actors and crew of this marvelous production. You did a terrifically probing interview and he is mesmerizing. Hopefully a breakout.

  23. I wish that reviewers would remember that Jamie found a moment’s pleasure not from Black Jack but from Black Jack’s mind games. Jamie believes it is Claire’s hands touching him. That Claire is there with him not Black jack. He feels he betrayed Claire when he realizes what has happened and is crushed with guilt. Emotionally broken. But it isn’t that he ever enjoys Black Jack’s rape. To me that is a huge difference.

  24. Sam has said in this interview, as Caitriona has said previously, that they found it difficult to understand how Jamie could believe Claire when she told him she had come from the future. This is the problem with the continuity of the adaptation because the book as all you book readers will remember has the “no lies” vow that the two of them agree to on their wedding night. Sam and Cait filmed this scene which was subsequently cut from the TV series adaptation but is available on you tube for those of you who wish to see it: . It is exactly as in the book where Claire and Jamie agree that there is no room for lies and that if they are going to tell each other anything, let it be the truth. It is for this reason that Jamie believes Claire because he knows that she is telling him the truth, despite the difficulty of its vast scope for him to understand.

  25. You asked Sam if it was in the book that Jamie became aroused during the rape by Black jack and it definitely was. It would have been hard for Sam to describe because it was pages of dialog as Jamie tells Claire how he would torture him (cuts, whippings, which were not shown in the series), and then be gentle with him, making love to him and how he would try not to think of Claire when that happened but that Black Jack would talk about her, keep putting her face in his minds eye. He tells Claire, “..it’s all liknked for me now. I canna think of you, Claire, even of kissing you or touching your hand, without feeling the fear and the pain and the sickness come back….I feel as though I will vomit with shame and loathing of myself.” They got the essence of those pages right in the series. “I will love you as long as I live, but I cannot be your husband any longer, and I will not be less to you.” “I want you so badly that my bones shake in my body, but God help me, I am afraid to touch you!” I hope you will read the books some day. As wonderful as the series is, and it is. The way Diana Gabaldon writes is amazing. I was crying buckets reading her words describing this war Jamie was fighting within himself. Sam Heughan captured it so beautifully.

  26. Well done. Probing questions – excellent, insightful answers. Best show on TV in my opinion. I fully expect Outlander to sweep the Emmy Awards and will be highly disappointed if it does not.

  27. This has to be one of the best interviews yet with Sam. It was given a lot of time and the questions were great… and the time was given for Sam to think through his answers in the best honest way. Thank you for doing this wonderful long interview with Sam Heughan, who should be nominated for an Emmy for his brave outstanding performance !

  28. Thank you both, super great interview & great questions Tom. Found out Sam’s views on great subjects, thoroughly enjoyed watching intelligent questions for a change, plus Sam would look great just reading out from a phone book.Thanks to you both again xx

  29. Thank you for your indepth and thoughtful interview with Sam Heughan! Your questions were thoughtful and poignant and Sam was sincere and forthright with his answers. Without a doubt, Sam’s performance in Episodes 115 and 116 were the best I have ever viewed on TV. It was powerful, gut wrenching and evoked the physical and emotional pain associated with being a victim of rape and torture. BRAVO Sam! He deserves every award possible, especially an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. He is fabulous as Jamie Fraser in Outlander!

  30. I really enjoy your interviews. You don’t ask the typical easy questions that most interviewers do. I feel you understand and enjoy the business. Thank you.

  31. I,ve seen many of Sam’s interviews but this was refreshing and insightful and fun. Sam ‘s intuitive portrayal of this iconic character has been amazingly accurate and believable throughout the series. He truly made the viewer come to love this young man and with Sams talent we saw Jamie grow from boy to man before our eyes. It is a credit to Sam that he so obviously puts great store into researching his role and all the nuances it has demanded of him with utter conviction and still leaves something for all of us fans, who devour news of his everyday moments whenever possible, as well as following his career moves.
    He is a remarkable actor and a truly lovely human being.
    For the amazing episodes 15 & 16 alone he deserves every award going. It was ground breaking and being a rape victim myself at age fifteen I know without doubt that, such an experience stays with you for life. The aftermath as Sam showed us can be extremely difficult to deal with. Jamie also had the physical and mental torture which he portrayed to great effect. I cannot praise Sam or this series enough.
    We have been privileged to have to have had this wonderful teamof actors, directors and writers bring this wonderful tale to life on our screens.
    I look forward to more and more of your interviews.

  32. Thank you for your inciteful questions that provided Sam with a platform to show himself as truly a master of his craft. Sam has personified Jamie Fraser throughout the season. But, his performances in Episodes 115 & 116 were absolutely brilliant. Sam certainly deserves an Emmy for taking acting to such a fearless level.

  33. Caitriona? absolutely. I think she still can explore her character,and her talents were brought to life by the fabulous script. No contest for Sam though Tobias was a marvelous Jekkyll and Hyde!

  34. Fantastic interview…thanks so much for the lengthy conversation and the opportunity to see Sam discuss the acting process and challenges he and Tobias faced. Episodes 115 and 116 were devastatingly brilliant. I hope Emmys voters move beyond the longtime Emmys candidates and look at Outlander. How about giving a new show and new actors a shot?

  35. His was a ground-breaking performance. Exceptional, gut -wrenching and believable. A disgrace if it is ignored. He deserves to win.

  36. He is perfect for this part. Just watched an old midsummer murder with him in it. This was just the right part at the right time. He has become Jamie and is such a delightful actor. I hope he does well and stays as fresh and nice as he is now! Wonderful!

  37. Sam, You are so very hot!!! 😉 ……Great work in the prior & whats to come!! The very best SCOTTISH portrayal I have ever seen in my life, Aye?!!!!! I ken what I’m talking abought 😀

  38. What an amazing journey you guided the fans through in “To Ransom a Man’s Soul”. The emotions your face captured in every single scene allowed me, for one, to experience everything you were going through on screen. Your eyes were a window into Jamie’s hell. This level of acting deserves all the accolades you are receiving, Sam. The Emmy belongs to you for your tour-de-force performance!

  39. The writer of this column tried to make this a homosexual thing rather than watch the show learn about the characters and completely missed the elephant in the room. This is about sadism and rape and a sicko’s goal of breaking a person emotionally and forcing that person into surrender. You should listen to Sam’s interview, he is describe the scenes and the real issues rape victims face and continue to face when they have not found a way to stop wearing the scars or even recognize they are still there because they wrongly blame themselves, just like you did.

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