It’s hard to imagine Outlander without Sam Heughan playing the lead role of Jamie Fraser, dashing Highlander and American transplant. It’s as if it was always this way, but of course, it took time and patience to find the perfect person to play this character.
In an interview with Daily Express, Outlander casting director Suzanne Smith revealed what it took to find Heughan, and how she knew he was the perfect person to play Jamie.
Outlander’s casting director reveals how she found Sam Heughan
According to Smith, while everyone was nervous about the prospect of casting Jamie, once they found Heughan, everything worked out pretty quickly. “Well, with actors, you follow their careers, so I knew Sam from drama school and I brought him in for quite a few roles before, so I’d followed his career so I knew him,” Smith said. “So there’s not many very tall Scots that are right for Jamie Fraser, so Sam came to mind straight away.”
We did audition other actors and the casting process is not just one audition, you do a couple, so it’s a process of each role that we do on the show. He just embodied the role and also being a wonderful human being, which is so important.
For Heughan, all it took was an audition, a recall and then a final recall with producers. When you know, you know! I think I speak for Outlander fans all around the world when I say that we are very thankful that Smith remembered Heughan from drama school and thought to bring him in on this. He truly does encapsulate all the things that make Jamie Fraser the character that he is. In the books, Jamie is just as Heughan portrays him on screen: loving, understanding, complicated, and wise. I don’t know who else might have auditioned for this role, but it always belonged to Heughan!
As it ends up, the role of Claire Fraser was much more difficult to cast. While Caitriona Balfe is incredibly famous now, at the time of casting, she wasn’t well-known. But obviously they also found the right person for that role.