TV

Sam Heughan opens up about Outlander fame and those steamy sex scenes

“My whole life has changed!”

By Tamara Cullen

When preparing to meet one of television's biggest stars, it's hard to gauge what type of situation you'll be faced with. Some celebrities shy away from the spotlight, while others flourish in the glitz and glamour.

But in a hotel suite in London's bustling Soho district, TV WEEK is surprised to find actor Sam Heughan sitting alone on the lounge.

With the exception of two other people in the room, there's no entourage in sight. As Sam greets us with a warm smile and says hello in his charming Scottish accent, he immediately feels like an old friend.

The 38-year-old could be any regular Joe off the street. But he's not. The Outlander star is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.

But it wasn't too long ago that Sam was struggling to make his acting dreams come true. In between gigs, Sam has worked as a barman, usher and receptionist.

"You know what? Years ago, I used to work near this hotel we're in now," he says. "I used to come in here for a drink between auditions. It's remarkable how my life has changed."

Sam Heughan's life has changed since he scored the role on *Outlander.*
Sam Heughan's life has changed since he scored the role on Outlander.

Since its inception in 2014, Outlander has gained a legion of fans. The time-travelling drama, based on the popular books by Diana Gabaldon, is now in its fourth season.

Sam, who plays Scottish Highland warrior Jamie Fraser, is delighted by its success, but never expected the show to do so well.

"It's funny, because you never think it's going to go that far," the actor says. "When it first started, we [the cast] were like, 'It will probably get one season, maybe two, if we're lucky'. And here we are, four seasons later. So I guess we're doing quite well, aren't we?"

On top of picturesque locations and captivating storylines, the chemistry between Sam and his co-star Caitriona Balfe, who plays British nurse Claire, is undeniable. In season four, the couple are together again and living abroad in America.

"Jamie and Claire are based in North Carolina and trying to build a life there," Sam explains.

For Sam, the growth in the lead characters is also reflective of his close friendship with Catriona.

"It's like a marriage, almost," he says. "We know each other really well and she's always been a huge support for me."

Caitriona and Sam film *Outlander.*
Caitriona and Sam film Outlander.

He also believes navigating Outlander's famous sex scenes helped them bond.

"Yeah, I think it did, because we didn't know each other [at all] when we first met," he says.

Despite being partially naked for the much of the show, Sam isn't fazed by the attention. However, he does shift in his seat at the term "sex symbol".

"Oh, I don't know if the crew or anyone would say I'm a sex symbol," he says with a sheepish laugh. "I hope the fans enjoy the show for what it is, and for the acting involved. But I'm grateful for any sort of support."

Sam doesn't see himself as a "sex symbol."
Sam doesn't see himself as a "sex symbol."

It's clear Sam still thanks his lucky stars he was cast in Outlander.

"It's odd to be filming in the same streets of Scotland I used to walk on and daydream about being in an American TV show," he says. "So I feel very fortunate. I know things will change and people will move on. But at the moment, I'm so thankful for all of it."

Outlander airs Monday, 6:30pm on FOX Showcase.

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