Why Outlander's Sam Heughan Says Season 1 Full-Frontal Nudity Betrayed His Trust In The Show's Creative Team

Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in Outlander Season 6
(Image credit: Starz)

Outlander is not a show to shy away from nudity and violence. However, Sam Heughan explained there was one scene where he felt like the nudity in it was “unnecessary” and that the decision to leave it in the show betrayed his trust. 

The scene Heughan is talking about comes at the end of Season 1, when his character Jamie is sexually assaulted by Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). In the episode, there is a full-frontal shot of Heughan’s penis, and he said that it was “unnecessary.” He explained this further in his memoir Waypoints: My Scottish Journey (via Insider): 

Times have changed. The cock shot was unnecessary and did betray my trust in the creative team a bit. We don't need to see the horror to imagine what the characters go through. Imagination is way more powerful.

Heughan did note that he is contractually obligated to film nude scenes, he also noted that the show does not shy away from tough topics like sexual violence. However, in this scene, he said he didn’t feel like his character needed to be nude. It was an incredibly brutal and difficult-to-watch moment in the series. He wrote: 

This wasn't a moment where I felt that being naked would add to the horror of what Jamie undergoes in that castle dungeon as a form of punishment, subjugation, and humiliation.

He later explained that his pushback on the scene caused a debate on set. Eventually, it was agreed that the explicit shots would end up “on the cutting room floor.” Heughan also wrote about how something like this would not happen today. 

The evolution of how sex is filmed and depicted on TV shows has been rapid over the last few years, and Outlander has been on the air through it all. The show has been on Starz since 2014, and has recently brought an intimacy coordinator onto the set to help make the filming of intimate scenes more comfortable and safer. 

Intimacy coordinators have started to be used more frequently, especially on shows where there are a lot of sex scenes. Bridgerton is a show that has famously started using an intimacy coordinator, and the show’s coordinator has explained what she does on set. She said her main role is to make sure everyone is comfortable, especially the actors. Along with Bridgerton, hit shows like House of the Dragon use intimacy coordinators as well and have spoken up about the importance of the job. This all comes back to Outlander because Heughan brought an intimacy coordinator onto the set in Season 6. 

The actor has been very open about what it was like working on the earlier scenes of Outlander, saying it was a “different time.” However, now with an intimacy coordinator, they are able to ensure everyone on set feels safe, and when there are sex scenes they are helping move the story forward. 

It’s good to know that show has evolved in a way to make the more intimate scenes safer and more comfortable, especially after hearing what Heughan went through in Season 1. 

We know that Season 7 of Outlander is on the way, which is exciting after that cliffhanger. However, it will be a while before Jamie, Claire, and co. make their way back to our screens. While you wait for the latest season of the hit show, you can stream Outlander on Starz, and you can watch Seasons 1 through 5 with a Netflix subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.