Sam Roland Heughan (/ˈhjuːən/; born 30 April 1980) is a Scottish actor, best known for his acclaimed role as Jamie Fraser in the Starz series Outlander, for which he has received a People's Choice Award for Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor. A Saturn Award for Best Actor on Television out of five nominations, and a nomination for the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series. He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer in 2003, for his performance in the play Outlying Islands, performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. Heughan received an honorary doctorate "in recognition for his outstanding contribution to acting and charitable endeavors" from the University of Stirling in June 2019. His second honorary doctorate in recognition of his artistic success and his charitable work was bestowed by the University of Glasgow in July 2019.
Education and early life
Heughan was born on 30 April 1980 in Balmaclellan, in the historical county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. At the age of five, he moved to nearby New Galloway where he attended Kells Primary School. During this time, he lived in converted stables in the grounds of Kenmure Castle. Moving to Edinburgh at the age of twelve, he attended James Gillespie's High School for a year and then moved to the Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School until the end of the sixth year. He subsequently spent two years working and travelling, before enrolling at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow, graduating in 2003. During his schooling, he performed in numerous plays, including The Twits at Citizens Theatre, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime & Punishment, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Aeschylus' Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound, and Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. Prior to his graduation, in 2002, Heughan was one of four students chosen to represent RSAMD at the BBC Carlton Hobbs radio talent competition.
While he was still a student, Heughan appeared in Outlying Islands, a play by Scottish playwright David Grieg. The play premiered in Edinburgh, Scotland, at the Traverse Theatre before moving to the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, in London. Heughan was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer for his performance.
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. 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, Scotland. 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). 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. 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 Citizen's 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.
Heughan landed a recurring role as Scott Nielson in 2009 as Nurse Cherry Malone's boyfriend and a secret drug dealer in the BBC soap opera Doctors. He was nominated for a British Soap Award, in the category Villain of the Year, for his twenty-one episode stint on the series. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. 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. For the next two years he starred as Batman in the touring stage show Batman Live. During this time he made the news for his assistance in a real-life citizen's arrest. In 2012, he performed the title role in Shakepeare's King John at the Òran Mór Theatre.
2013 saw Heughan was cast as Jamie Fraser in the Starz time-travel drama series Outlander. 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." The role is recurring, with Heughan reprising the character of Jamie Fraser in seasons one (which premiered in 2014) through four and the upcoming seasons five and six. He and co-star Caitriona Balfe assumed the additional role of producers on the series in 2019.
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. 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. He went on to portray Jacob in the 2016 independent film When the Starlight Ends, which premiered at the Other Venice Film Festival.
In 2018, Heughan co-starred as MI-6 agent Sebastian in Lionsgate's comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me, opposite Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, which he filmed during an Outlander hiatus. 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 Mceish, in an episode entitled "Take A Hike" that focused on Scotland's passion for walking. 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. 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.
In additional to acting, English clothing label Barbour named Heughan their first Global Brand Ambassador in 2016. He has released several collections since his initial autumn/winter line in 2017, all of which he co-designed.
Charity and politics
Heughan was a vocal supporter of Scottish independence from Great Britain 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".
Heughan attributed 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". He supports the charitable organisation's mission, 'to transform lives through youth theatre by providing inspiring participatory opportunities for young people in Scotland.'
In 2015, Heughan started the charitable foundation My Peak Challenge, a training, nutrition, and support program which provides participants with a sense of community as they work toward personal goals, while concurrently raising money for charity. The foundation has partnered with Leukemia Lymphoma Research, Bear Strength Clothing, and Fight Camp Glasgow to raise funds for cancer research. In 2019, Heughan teamed up with Omaze, raffling off a date to the 2019 MPC Gala, which raised $2,892,080 for Bloodwise UK.
In September 2016, Heughan took part in the Great North Run to raise funds for Bloodwise, which he has supported since 2011, and became president of Scotland Bloodwise.
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. He raised £38,224 for the charity.
Awards and nominations
|2003||Outlying Islands||Laurence Olivier Awards||Laurence Olivier Award for Most Promising Performer||Nominated|
|2010||Doctors||The British Soap Awards||Villain of the Year||Nominated|
|2011||A Princess For Christmas||Grace Awards||Most Inspiring Performance in Television||Nominated|
|2014||Outlander||TV Guide Awards||Favourite Duo (shared with Caitriona Balfe)||Won|
|2015||The Anglophile Channel Awards||Favorite British Artist of the Year||Won|
|Best Actor in a Television Series||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Supporting Actor on Television||Nominated|
|EWwy Awards||Best Actor in a Drama Series||Won|
|Gold Derby TV Awards||Drama Lead Actor||Won|
|2016||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor||Nominated|
|The Anglophile Channel Awards||Favorite British Artist of the Year||Won|
|Best Actor in a Television Series||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actor on Television||Nominated|
|BAFTA Scotland||Best Actor Television||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Best Actor in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Ensemble (Television)||Nominated|
|2017||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actor on a Television Series||Nominated|
|2018||Saturn Awards||Best Actor on a Television Series||Nominated|
|2019||Saturn Awards||Best Actor on a Television Series||Won|