Outlander author reveals who she originally had in mind to portray Jamie Fraser

Sam Heughan stars as Jaime Fraser in Starz's Outlander
Sam Heughan stars as Jamie Fraser in Outlander. Pic credit: Starz

For many fans of Starz’s adaptation of Outlander, Sam Heughan, who portrays the main character, Jamie Fraser, is the perfect version of the book character.

However, according to Diana Gabaldon, who is the author of the book series, she originally had other actors in mind to play Jamie.

Outlander was originally shopped for movie options

Outlander was first released as the first book in the series in 1991.

Set in the dual times of the 1940s post-World War Two era and the late 1700s, the story follows Claire, who accidentally steps through the standing stones at Craig na Dun in the Scottish highlands and back in time to 1743.

Here’s she meets Jamie Fraser, who is involved in the Jacobite uprising against the British. The pair are conveniently wed in order to keep Claire safe, but they fall head over heels in love, and their love story has sustained many readers until Starz took on production of the TV adaptation in 2014 — where a truckload of new fans was found.

Because the book was a huge success and it was the 90s, there was talk of turning it into a movie. Because of this, the author was often asked about who she would like to see portray Jamie on the big screen.

Sam Heughan as Jamie and Caitriona Balfe as Claire in Starz's Outlander
Sam Heughan as Jamie and Caitriona Balfe as Claire in Outlander. Pic credit: Starz

Here’s who Diana Gabaldon had in mind to play Jamie Fraser

According to a recent interview Gabaldon did with Parade, she had a couple of contenders in mind — and they may not be at all who you might imagine.

“Liam Neeson and Sir Sean Connery were the first contenders for Jamie,” Gabaldon revealed.

While these two actors might not seem to fit the bill for the role of Jamie, remember here that it was the 90s, so both were much closer in age to play the character than they are today (RIP Sean Connery). Plus, with Sam Heughan being born in 1980, he was definitely not a contender for the role at that point in time.

“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.”

Fast-forward to when Starz was optioning the books for a TV series, Gabaldon wasn’t convinced that Sam Heughan could fill the impressive boots of her famed Scottish highlander. However, after she saw the audition tape, she fell for him hook, line, and sinker.

“[Executive producer] Maril [Davis] and I were both clutching our chests when we were watching Sam’s audition thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is actually him,” Gabaldon revealed last year to The Express.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Season 6 of Outlander will premiere on the Starz network on March 6, 2022.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments