Why Outlander's Sam Heughan Would Have 'Thought Twice' About Playing Jamie Fraser

outlander season 5 sam heughan jamie fraser hat starz
(Image credit: Starz)
(Image credit: Starz)

Outlander has become a smash hit time travel romance series for Starz, but the success of the show may have more to do with the chemistry between leads Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan than the plot itself. After all, even adaptations of incredibly successful books can flop on the screen, and it's all but impossible to imagine Claire and Jamie played by anybody other than Balfe and Heughan. And yet according to Heughan, he would have thought twice about playing the role if he'd known what he was getting into due to one factor.

Sam Heughan was a guest on the Just The Facts with Alex Zane podcast, and he weighed in on the popularity of Outlander, saying:

It's remarkable and it has this great fan base and I was totally unaware of it when I first got the job. If I had known about the fan base I think I probably would've thought twice because it just would've been so overwhelming.

According to Sam Heughan, the fan base of Outlander was one he wasn't familiar with when he landed the role of Jamie Fraser, and it's no secret that he has felt pressure due to all the attention he has received in his personal life due to Outlander. That said, he also described the fan base as "great," and he has expressed his excitement about the series time and time again over the years. Plus, the show was a big break for him after a number of failed auditions.

After a comparison to Robert Pattinson's experiences as the Edward Cullen portrayer with the Twilight fandom, the Outlander actor elaborated on some of the complications of playing a character like Jamie Fraser who already had a devoted fan base before he landed the role at all, saying:

I think playing an iconic character, and I think Jamie Fraser’s definitely one, people are. They’re obsessed with these characters because they’re so invested in them and they want them to be real and they want to get as close to them as possible. So I think sometimes it is hard for people to separate the actor from the character.

As much as the time travel romance of Outlander is very clearly fiction, the characters themselves can feel real both on the page and screen thanks to the writing and portrayals (so much so that I'm continually disappointed at the lack of major awards recognition), as Sam Heughan has personally experienced. Nevertheless, Heughan went on to make it clear that he feels grateful to fans for a number of reasons:

So loyal. We’re so thankful for them. They’ve followed us through this journey. They also not only support Outlander but any project that we do, any charity work that we do, myself, my co-stars, they support wholeheartedly. And honestly, we can’t thank them enough. And it’s a shame right now with the pandemic, not being able to sort of do these fan events because they’re always really nice. Especially comic cons, where you get to sort of get to see people’s excitement about the thing you’ve been working on for so long, because you sometimes forget when you’re day in, day out on set. You kind of forget that people are anticipating seeing the next one.

Sam Heughan has expressed over the past year how much he wanted to get back to work on Outlander and pick up where Season 5 left off on some emotional cliffhangers, and fans can certainly agree that the latest Droughtlander has been far too long due to the pandemic production complications. Season 6 has also been cut short from its original episode order, but the upside is that the sixth season has finished filming and is slated to premiere in early 2022.

Sure, early 2022 isn't exactly in a week or so, but having a confirmed release window certainly beats wondering and hoping. For some viewing options during the wait for the sixth season of Outlander, be sure to check out our 2021 fall TV premiere schedule. While there is a shortage of epic time travel romance series on the way before 2022 as the weather starts to cool, there are still plenty of series to fill primetime!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).