Sam Heughan

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Sam Heughan
Heughan in 2014
Sam Roland Heughan

(1980-04-30) 30 April 1980 (age 43)
Alma materRoyal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
  • Actor
  • producer
  • author
  • entrepreneur
Years active2001–present

Sam Roland Heughan (/ˈhjən/; born 30 April 1980) is a Scottish actor, producer, author, and entrepreneur. He is best known for his starring role as Jamie Fraser in the Starz drama series Outlander (2014–present) for which he has won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor and the Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television, and received a nomination for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series.

Heughan has also starred in films such as the spy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) and the superhero action film Bloodshot (2020). He was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer for his performance in Outlying Islands performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs.[1][2]

Heughan and his Outlander co-star Graham McTavish co-wrote Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other[3] which reached number one on the New York Times' Best Seller List for hardcover nonfiction, and combined print and e-book nonfiction in November 2020.[4] The same year Heughan launched his own whisky brand, The Sassenach (named after his Outlander character's nickname for his wife, Claire[5]), winning consecutive double golds in the 2020 and 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Education and early life[edit]

Sam Roland Heughan was born on 30 April 1980 in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. His parents had been part of a hippie community in London called Gandalf's Garden which was heavily influenced by the works of J. R. R. Tolkien inspiring them to name Heughan and his older brother after characters from The Lord of the Rings.[citation needed] Sam's mother, Chrissie Heughan, an artist and artisan papermaker struggled to raise the two brothers after their father left when they were both young.[6]

Aged five, Heughan moved from Balmaclellan to nearby New Galloway where he attended Kells Primary School. During this time he lived in converted stables in the grounds of Kenmure Castle.[7] Moving to Edinburgh at age twelve he attended James Gillespie's High School for a year and then the Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School until the end of the sixth year.[8] He joined the Lyceum Youth theatre in 1998[9][10] and in 1999 was awarded a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD, now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow, graduating in 2003.[7][11]

While enrolled at RSAMD Heughan performed in numerous plays including The Twits at Citizens Theatre, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Aeschylus's Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound, and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.[12][13][14] In 2002, shortly before graduating, Heughan was one of four students chosen to represent RSAMD at the BBC Carleton Hobbs radio talent competition.[15][16] His alma mater, the RCS, awarded him an honorary doctorate at the class of 2022 graduation ceremony.[17]


While still a student at RSAMD Heughan took extended leave of his studies to focus on Outlying Islands, a play by Scottish playwright David Greig. The play premiered at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh before moving to the Royal Court Theatre in London.[1] Heughan was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer for his performance.[2]

In 2004, Heughan appeared in his first professional television role in the miniseries Island at War, a WWII drama about the German occupation of the Channel Islands.[18] The following year he appeared in several episodes of the Scottish soap opera River City and portrayed adulterous husband Pony William in David Harrower's play Knives in Hens at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.[19][20][21] Between 2006 and 2009 Heughan appeared in a number of made-for-television films and miniseries including BBC and PBS's collaborative miniseries The Wild West (2006), Channel 4's docudrama, A Very British Sex Scandal (2007), and BBC Four's Breaking the Mould (2009).[22][23][24][25][26] During that time he also made appearances in a number of television series, including an episode of ITV's Midsomer Murders, ITV's crime drama Rebus, and two episodes of BBC's political drama Party Animals.[27][28][29] Between 2007 and 2009 Heughan made appearances in several live productions, including Noël Coward's The Vortex at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Citizens Theatre, Iain F. MacLeod's The Pearlfishers at the Traverse Theatre, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Dundee Repertory Theatre, Macbeth at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, and Nicholas de Jongh's Plague Over England at the Duchess Theatre.[30][31][32][33][34]

In 2009, Heughan landed a recurring role as Scott Nielson, Nurse Cherry Malone's boyfriend and a secret drug dealer in the BBC soap opera Doctors.[35] He was nominated for a British Soap Award, in the category Villain of the Year, for his twenty-one episode stint on the series.[36] The following year, Heughan starred as the title character in the direct-to-video feature Young Alexander the Great, which was filmed in Egypt and explored the life of the teenager who would become Alexander the Great.[37] He went on to star in BBC's television film First Light, the story of RAF pilot Geoffrey Wellum's experiences flying a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain, as documented in his WWII memoir of the same name.[38][39] From there he featured in PBS's BAFTA-winning mini-series Any Human Heart, the story of author Logan Mountstuart's life in the context of historical events surrounding him, based upon William Boyd's novel of the same name.[40][41] Heughan returned to theatre later that year in dramatist Phyllis Nagy's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley at the Royal & Derngate.[42] Throughout that same year, Heughan portrayed Hugh Tennent, founder of Tennent's Lager, in a series of comical commercials, which won a number of accolades at the Scottish Advertising Awards.[43]

Heughan at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con promoting Outlander

Hallmark Channel's original film A Princess for Christmas starred Heughan as Prince Ashton in 2011, a role which saw him appear opposite Roger Moore and secure a nomination for Most Inspiring Performance in Television at the 20th Annual Grace Awards.[44][45] That same year, he featured in Steve Waters' sold-out play Amphibians, a dual story of Olympic swimmers Max and Elsa, at the Bridewell Theatre.[46] For the next two years he starred as Batman in the touring stage show Batman Live.[44][47] During this time he made the news for his assistance in a real-life citizen's arrest.[48] In 2012, he performed the title role in Shakespeare's King John at the Òran Mór Theatre.[33]

In 2013, Heughan was cast as Jamie Fraser in the Starz time-travel drama series Outlander.[44] He was the first cast member officially announced, to great praise by the author of the series, Diana Gabaldon, who said, "That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters."[49] He's played the co-lead role for all seven seasons of the series, and will continue for the eighth and last season, scheduled to film in 2024.[50][51] He and his co-star, Caitriona Balfe, assumed the additional role of producers on the series in 2019.[52]

Turning to independent films in 2014, Heughan appeared in the psychological thriller Emulsion, the story of a man haunted by the disappearance of his wife.[53] He also starred in the comedy Heart of Lightness, in which Heughan appeared with two of his future Outlander co-stars: Laura Donnelly, who plays Jamie's sister Jenny Murray, and Rosie Day, who played Mary Hawkins in the second season.[54][55][56][57] He went on to play the lead role of Jacob in the 2016 independent film When the Starlight Ends, which premiered at the Other Venice Film Festival.[58][59]

In 2018, Heughan co-starred as MI6 agent Sebastian Henshaw in the action comedy film The Spy Who Dumped Me, opposite Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, which he filmed during an Outlander filming hiatus.[60] That same year, in his first voice-acting project, Heughan appeared in the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment video game Lego DC Super-Villains as the Mirror Master. In May of that year, Heughan was a guest on BBC Two Scotland's special The Adventure Show, alongside Cameron McNeish, in an episode titled "Take A Hike" that focused on Scotland's passion for walking.[61][62] It was also announced that Heughan would portray Corporal Jimmy Dalton in Bloodshot, an adaptation of the best-selling comic book from the Valiant universe, opposite Vin Diesel and Michael Sheen.[63] Bloodshot premiered in March 2020.[64] In November 2018, Heughan was cast as Tom Buckingham, the lead role in SAS: Red Notice, a film based on the novel of the same name by Andy McNab.[65][66][67]

In 2019, it was announced that Heughan would play Paul Newman in To Olivia, a biopic about Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl starring Keeley Hawes and Hugh Bonneville.[68][69] To Olivia premiered on February 19, 2021, in the United Kingdom, via Sky Cinema.[70] In 2020, Heughan was cast as Henry in the Regency-era romantic comedy Mr. Malcom's List, based on a book of the same name by Suzanne Allain.[71] Heughan was also cast alongside Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Celine Dion in the romantic drama Love Again, a remake of the German film SMS Fur Dich.[72]

SAS: Red Notice, a British action thriller based on the novel of the same name by Andy McNab, was released in 2021. The film premiered in United Kingdom on March 12, 2021, via Sky Cinema. Rotten Tomatoes described the film as a "thoroughly mediocre action thriller."[73]

Heughen wrapped up filming of the romantic drama Love Again, in early 2021, in which he stars alongside Priyanka Chopra and Celine Dion. The film is an English-language remake of the 2016 German film SMS für Dich, itself based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Sofie Cramer. It was released theatrically on May 12, 2023, by Sony Pictures Releasing.[74]

Other work[edit]

In addition to acting, Heughan served as the first Global Brand Ambassador for the English clothing label Barbour beginning in 2016.[75] He released several collections since his initial autumn/winter line in 2017, all of which he co-designed.[76][77][78]

In November 2020, Heughan published a travelogue titled Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other[3] with Outlander co-star Graham McTavish. The book became a bestseller, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times' Best Seller Lists for hardcover nonfiction and for combined print and e-book nonfiction and #1 on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List for hardcover nonfiction, among other lists.[79][4] Clanlands serves as a companion to Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip With Sam and Graham, an eight-part television series conceived by and starring Heughan and McTavish that premiered on the Starz channel in February 2021.[80][81]

Also in 2020, Heughan launched his own whisky brand, The Sassenach, through the Great Glen Company, which he founded. The Sassenach is available in the UK and select US states and earned a double gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.[5]

Political views and philanthropy[edit]

Heughan is fairly open about his political views. In response to a fan suggesting actors should stay out of politics in 2017, he replied "Sorry I disagree. EVERYONE is entitled to an opinion. That's what makes it a democracy."[82]

Heughan was a vocal supporter of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom during the 2014 independence referendum, going on record as saying, "I was a no and thought independence wasn't a good idea initially, but then I did a 180 and towards the end became quite vocal in the Yes campaign. I thought that ultimately it was a move towards more democracy for the people of Scotland."[83][84][85] In 2021, he insisted his support for independence was not "anti-British" but rather out of a love for and belief in Scotland; he called it a "great opportunity".[86]

Heughan credits much of his early success to his participation in youth theatre and, in August 2014, became a patron for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. Of his position as patron, he has said, "I think that what I'd like to instill is that if you join the youth theatre, it's a gateway into greater career prospects."[87] He supports the charitable organisation's mission 'to transform lives through youth theatre by providing inspiring participatory opportunities for young people in Scotland.'[88]

In 2015, Heughan started the organisation My Peak Challenge, a training, nutrition, and support programme that provides participants with a sense of community as they work towards personal goals, while concurrently raising money for charity.[89] The foundation has partnered with Leukemia Lymphoma Research, Bear Strength Clothing and Fight Camp Glasgow to raise funds for cancer research.[90] In 2019, Heughan teamed up with Omaze, raffling off a date to the 2019 MPC Gala, which raised $2,892,080 for Bloodwise UK.[91][92][93]

In September 2016, Heughan partook in the Great North Run to raise funds for Bloodwise, which he has supported since 2011, and became president of Scotland Bloodwise.[94][95][96][97]

In 2018, he ran both the Stirling and EMF Edinburgh Marathons in the space of a month to raise money for Cahonas Scotland and their Testicular Cancer Education and Awareness Programme.[98] He raised £38,224 for the charity.[99]

In light of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Heughan was one of over two thousand to sign an Artists for Palestine letter calling for a ceasefire and accusing western governments of "not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them"[100] but then quickly disavowed it, condemning Hamas.[101]

Personal life[edit]

Heughan lives in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland.[102]



Year Title Role Notes
2001 Small Moments[103] Boyfriend Short film
2010 Young Alexander the Great Alexander
2011 A Princess for Christmas Ashton Prince of Castlebury
2014 Heart of Lightness Lyngstrand
Emulsion Ronny Maze
2016 When the Starlight Ends Jacob
2018 The Spy Who Dumped Me Sebastian Henshaw
2020 Bloodshot Jimmy Dalton
2021 To Olivia Paul Newman
SAS: Red Notice Tom Buckingham
2023 Love Again Rob Burns


Year Title Character Network Notes
2004 Island at War Philip Dorr ITV 5 episodes
2005 River City Andrew Murray BBC One 4 episodes
2006 The Wild West John Tunstall BBC/PBS Episode: "Billy the Kid"
2007 Midsomer Murders Ian King ITV Episode: "King's Crystal"
Party Animals Adrian Chapple BBC 2 episodes
A Very British Sex Scandal Edward McNally Channel 4 Television film
Rebus Peter Carr ITV Episode: "Knots and Crosses"
2009 Breaking the Mould: The Story of Penicillin Dr. Charles Fletcher BBC Four Television film
Doctors Scott Nielson BBC One 21 episodes
2010 First Light Geoffrey 'Boy' Wellum BBC Two Television film
Any Human Heart Lieutenant McStay Channel 4 Episode: "#1.2"
2011 A Princess for Christmas Prince Ashton of Castlebury Hallmark Channel Television film
2014–present Outlander James "Jamie" Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser Starz Main role; 67 episodes
Also producer; 12 episodes[104]
2018 The Adventure Show Himself BBC Two Scotland Episode: "Take A Hike"[105]
2021–present Men in Kilts: A Roadtrip with Sam and Graham Himself[106] Starz Also producer
2022 Suspect Ryan Channel 4
2023 The Couple Next Door Danny Channel 4 and Starz Lead role


Year Title Role Theatre
2001 The Twits[12][13] Bird Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
2002 Outlying Islands John Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London
2005 Knives in Hens[35][107] Pony William TAG Theatre Company, Glasgow
2007 The Vortex[108] Tom Veryan Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
Hamlet[108] Guildenstern / Fortinbras Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
The Pearlfisher[108] Roderick / Eddie the Gaffer Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
2008 Romeo and Juliet[108] Paris Dundee Repertory Theatre
Macbeth[108] Malcolm / Murderer Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
2009 Plague Over England[108] Gregory Duchess Theatre, West End
2010 The Talented Mr. Ripley[42] Richard Greenleaf Royal & Derngate, Northampton
2011 Amphibians[46] Max Bridewell Theatre, London
2011–12 Batman Live[108] Batman Touring show
2012 King John[33] King John Òran Mór Theatre, Glasgow

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2018 Lego DC Super-Villains Mirror Master (voice)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2003 Outlying Islands Laurence Olivier Awards Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer[2] Nominated
2010 Doctors The British Soap Awards Villain of the Year[36] Nominated
2011 A Princess For Christmas Grace Awards Most Inspiring Performance in Television[45] Nominated
2014 Outlander TV Guide Awards Favourite Duo (shared with Caitriona Balfe)[109] Won
2015 The Anglophile Channel Awards Favorite British Artist of the Year[110] Won
Best Actor in a Television Series[110] Won
Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor on Television[111] Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series[112] Won
Gold Derby TV Awards Drama Lead Actor[113] Won
2016 People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor[114] Nominated
The Anglophile Channel Awards Favorite British Artist of the Year[115] Won
Best Actor in a Television Series[115] Won
Saturn Awards Best Actor on Television[116] Nominated
BAFTA Scotland Best Actor Television[117] Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series[118] Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Ensemble (Television)[119] Nominated
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor[120] Won
Saturn Awards Best Actor on a Television Series[121] Nominated
2018 Saturn Awards Best Actor on a Television Series[122][123] Nominated
2019 Saturn Awards Best Actor on a Television Series[124] Won
2021 Critics' Choice Super Awards Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series[125] Nominated
Saturn Awards Best Actor on a Television Series[126][127] Nominated
2022 Saturn Awards Best Actor in a Network or Cable Television Series[128] Nominated



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