Sorry Sam Heughan, Outlander Author Diana Gabaldon Originally Had Other A-Listers In Mind To Play Jamie

If you’re a fan of Starz’s long-running series Outlander, you may look at Sam Heughan as the man born to play and perfectly embody the novel's Jamie Fraser. That may indeed be the truth of the matter now, but when author Diana Gabaldon was first writing the novels that the TV series is based on, she had some other famous actors in mind who could portray the leading man of the fantasy series if and when it went to live-action. Instead of keeping fans in the dark about such things, Gabaldon has now revealed some of the non-Heughan actors she had in mind. 

While Outlander has been a hit drama for Starz since 2014, the book series has been around a lot longer. The first book in the franchise, simply titled Outlander, was published in 1991 and had been shopped around as a potential film project long before a small-screen series was finally created for Starz. In an interview with Parade, Diana Gabaldon reveals that she had a young Sean Connery and Liam Neeson in mind for the role now played by Sam Heughan. Here’s how she put it:

Liam Neeson and Sir Sean Connery were the first contenders for Jamie. Now this was years ago when my early books were optioned for a feature film. People kept asking me who I would cast, and they were the first two who sprang to mind. I was just thinking in general terms of large Celtic-looking men who could pull it off, and both Liam and Sean were built that way and looked great in a kilt.

Liam Neeson is obviously too old to portray Jamie Fraser now, even though the character does age up by quite a bit in his and Claire’s time apart, and Neeson is still quite spry. He would have been pretty close in age to what Sam Heughan is now at the time. But Sean Connery, who passed away last year, probably would have still been on the older side for Jamie, even 25 years ago. 

Sean Connery was 90 years old when he died, and the actor was portraying older characters with full heads of grey hair in the ‘90s, albeit with his acting chops certainly remaining fully intact. As dreamy as Connery was, I just can’t imagine him or Liam Neeson in Sam Heughan’s place within even the cinematic world of Outlander, even if Neeson was handling some prime rom-coms around that time (and may even be returning to the genre soon)

What is interesting about Diana Gabaldon’s pick of Sir Sean Connery, though, is the perhaps obvious James Bond connection that actually has a decent chance at happening between Connery and current Outlander star Sam Heughan. Heughan is near the top of the list of potential replacements for Daniel Craig's Bond, so if he does end up nabbing the title of 007, he’ll be following in Connery’s footsteps as a Scottish James Bond. 

As great as all three of the actors look in a kilt, I’m certainly happy with the fact that an Outlander film never happened and we were graced with Sam Heughan as our Jamie Fraser, even if the actor himself may have thought twice about the role. Season 6 of Outlander will premiere on Starz in March. It will be a shortened season, but honestly I’d be happy with any bone Outlander wants to throw me.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.