Yesterday Starz tweeted that “Sam Heughan” had been offered the role of Jamie Fraser, and as you can imagine, the news spread like wildfire throughout the Outlander community—then they took down the tweet and have been mum since.
What’s up with that?
Rumor has it that someone jumped the gun, and either the role had not been offered or Sam had not accepted; it was still in the negotiation-stage. Here’s what we know about Sam so far:
He’s Scottish, 6’3″, 33 yrs old and an impressive actor. Check out this clip reel:
Diana added her two cents when the news first broke:
Well, you know…_carpe diem_. <g>
I can’t confirm that the contracts are signed and Sam Heughan is officially Jamie Fraser….but I _can_ say that he auditioned–and I saw the tapes. He was and is totally MY top choice! ~ Diana Gabaldon
Then, photos of Sam started being passed around. Here are a few from a Sam Heughan fan page on facebook:
Remember, nothing is official yet, but it seems pretty likely at this point that Sam will be Jamie. Herself had A LOT more to say about it this morning:
A few thoughts. <cough>Do you, um, _know_ what it is that an actor does?
No, really. Do you? They do what I do—they make magic happen. They do it with their faces and bodies, while I do it with words, but it’s essentially the same t…hing. They create something that wasn’t there before.
Granted, sometimes it helps if you have the rough physical outline for a particular role. MOST of a physical resemblance, though, is really not necessary, and for two reasons:1) Physical appearance is _very_ mutable. Hair and eye color are so simple to change that I’m amazed _anyone_ is carrying on about what color Mr. Heughan’s hair _is_. (For the record, he’s blond. Like any other actor, he dyes his hair as needed. It’s dark in these photos; it could be red within half an hour.)2) Much more importantly—beyond very basic things like height and general build, physical aspects are just not that important, provided that an actor can _act_.
As one of the producers said to me—anent the auditioning process—“We were hoping that somebody would just walk in and _be_ Jamie.”
OK. Now, I got the word about Sam Heughan (it’s pronounced HEW-en, btw, in case you were wondering. He’s Scottish, and it may well originally have been a Gaelic name) while I was driving to Santa Fe with my husband; they thought they’d found Jamie and were sending me the audition videos a little later. Well, naturally, I spent the next hour Googling “Sam Heughan” on my iPhone.
Now—I think this point may just possibly have escaped a few thousand of you, so let me restate it: Jamie is TWENTY-TWO in OUTLANDER, and a virgin. And as the producers do understand and respect the story very much, they wanted a guy who could believably _be_ a twenty-two-year-old virgin. (Yes, I know half of you are thinking of him as he is in the later books and thus “see” him in his 50’s. That doesn’t mean the producers should cast someone in his late 40’s and ask him to play a 22-year-old virgin. Am I right? Yes, I am. Now that _that’s_ settled…)
So I’m lookin’ at some of Sam’s photos and sayin’ to my husband, “Yeah, I buy him as a virgin…but I think Claire’s going to get done for statutory rape!” You know, a bit apprehensive. He’s quite big, but a very chiseled face that makes him look a good bit younger than he is, at least in stills.
(Husband approved of the stills from “First Light,” btw (where Sam is playing a Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britain)—“He looks good beat up,” he said. “A good thing for playing Jamie.” )
So anyway…we get to Santa Fe, let the dogs out, air the house, go have dinner… And _then_, I sit down at my computer, in a lather of trepidation and excitement, to watch the audition tapes.
First five seconds, I’m interested—he looks totally different than he did in _any_ of the stills—and five seconds later, Sam Heughan’s GONE, and so am I. It’s Jamie Fraser, right _there_ in front of me, moving, talking. One of the biggest thrills ever.
And that’s what actors do. Good ones. They can “be” someone else, totally.
Now, I saw him do two scenes: the confrontation between Jamie and Dougal, after Dougal exposes Jamie’s back in a tavern. Ferocious, explosive, a glimpse of the warrior. And he…freakin’ _exploded_.
And then…the scene in which Jamie explains to Claire exactly why he intends to punish her for disobeying his orders to stay hidden, thus nearly getting them all killed.
OK. This is arguably _the_ most controversial scene in all the books. And I’m not about to go into the scene itself—not the point here. The point is that that’s one heck of a complex scene, emotionally, and _could_ be read/performed in a lot of different ways. Now, I happen to _know_ exactly how Jamie acted and spoke during that scene…and that’s…exactly what Sam _did_. Thoughtfulness, intimacy, fair-mindedness, annoyance, firmness—and quite a lot of humor. One of Jamie’s hallmarks is the ability to be threatening and funny at the same time—and Sam pulled that off.
So, yeah. I’ve watched those videos a couple dozen times, just to be sure I wasn’t imagining things. I wasn’t. <g>
Now, fwiw—the necessary physical aspects are all there. Sam’s big—my head would hit about the middle of his chest (he’s only an inch shorter than my husband)—and _very_ well-built, in terms of what Jamie actually looks like. Tall, lean (not burly), rangy (not bulgy)*, broad-shouldered, muscular (but a _young_ muscular. Young athletes look way different from gnarly middle-aged ones). Face…chiseled, striking—but looks different in every single role.
And the bottom line is simply this: He showed up and he _was_ Jamie.
*(You know something? I don’t really _care_ if you, personally, have been imagining Chris Hemsworth as Jamie. You’re wrong; he doesn’t look like that at all. ) ~ Diana Gabaldon
Well, if Diana Gabaldon thinks he’s perfect, that’s good enough for me. Fingers crossed for you Sam!