I love my readers! So many of you take the time to engage in what are truly interesting conversations about the books and show. I especially like it when someone from the film industry adds their unique prospective. Recently, I got a response to my article on Hollywood and women. http://wp.me/p4mtBT-1af Jacki Lippman, one of those rare women who Is actually getting to make a film, shared her thoughts on the issue and went on to say that although she loves Claire she believed that Jamie was one of the best fictional male characters out there. In fact, she’s been studying him and the reaction book readers and now series watchers have to him. The following is an article she wrote about when the fans helped Sam Heughan (Jamie) win The Radio Times “TV Champion”. I loved her thoughts about how this character and Sam’s portrayal of him has resulted in such fan devotion. I agree. One great literary character + One great actor + One great performance = a pretty amazing fan base. The clan is busy voting again and who knows what they’ll accomplish this time. Thank you to Jacki for letting me share her great words. Congrats to Diana, Sam and the whole Outlander team! You’ve truly created something that inspires!
Just a theory about the literary component to Sam actor fan following.
Scotland Now, reporting on Sam Heughan’s Radio Times “TV Champion” victory, predict big things for Mr. Heughan, but they don’t recognize that he is unique. The literary component to the fan following phenomenon of Sam Heughan is the key, and it has never happened before. Not like this. There is no more passionate fanbase than this one. (Even William Shatner is impressed, and he knows about fanbases.)
In August, Radio Times conducted a twitter-based bracketed competition for a month to select their “TV Champion.”
512 television personalities were selected from American and British shows available in the UK. Fans voted as often as they wanted for their “champions” by clicking a VOTE button on their twitter feeds.
In the Final Round, internationally famous comedian and movie star, Ricky Gervais, with 9.2 million twitter followers lost to Sam Heughan, a relatively unknown Scottish actor with only 180k twitter followers.
Heughan won the People’s Choice Award last year for best actor in a sci drama after only eight episodes of “Outlander” had appeared on U.S. TV. He had only been on U.S. TV EIGHT TIMES. * a wee mistake here. The show won, but hey we wish it was true!
Mr. Heughan plays Jamie Fraser on the Starz’ drama, “Outlander,” based on Diana Gabaldon’s best selling book of the same name. The show finished its freshman season this past July and has only recently become available to UK audiences via Amazon Prime Video. It is now Amazon’s most downloaded program of 2015. Season 2 is being filmed now.
It’s success is due in large part to Sam Heughan, but not just because he is handsome and talented. Those are standard requirements for a leading man. This actor’s appeal is exponentially magnified by the unprecedented appeal of the character he portrays, as he exists on the pages of Ms. Gabaldon’s book.
The book itself is not unique in its eloquence. The hero is. Unique with a capital Holy Wow. (The show’s writers have labeled Jamie Fraser, “The King of Men.” He absolutely is.)
Fraser, a fictional 18th century Scottish warrior and wrongfully accused outlaw, is unique or at least unusual enough to pass for it. He is big and strong and noble and handsome – the standard package that all literary heroes leave the factory floor with, and he has the usual endearing flaws that make him accessible to us ordinary mortals.
But Jamie is also young, sexually naive, and the victim of horrible physical and emotional abuse that should have left him much more sarcastic, glib and cynical about life. We have met that romantic hero – Han Solo, James Bond, even a well known Time Lord. That hero has been damaged by life and only the love of a good woman can turn him around and make him care again. Nothing special there.
Instead, Jamie Fraser is a well educated, affable, generous, kind, vulnerable, wise and occasionally silly man. He’s the most appealing male character ever written.
In a word, he is irresistible.
A major part of the character’s incomparable appeal is that the heroine, 1940’s army combat nurse and happily married woman, Claire Beauchamp, could fall for him. She is a modern woman, even by the standards of the 1940’s. She would not be out of place in society today. She is very much the lens through which 21st century women who meet the written Jamie Fraser, form their opinion of him. Fraser steals Claire’s heart from her husband in a few short months. For us, it happens as quickly as we can turn the pages.
When unknown actor, Sam Heughan was cast, enormous success was his to lose. Millions of faithful female readers were going to transfer their love of Jamie Fraser to him as long as he was an even halfway decent three dimensional incarnation of this extraordinary fictional man. If he could act at all, he was likely assured at least a couple of seasons on a very good cable tv show.
However, Sam Heughan turned out to be far more than just a talented actor, and both the show runner, Ronald D. Moore, and Diana Galbadon have stated that they knew they had something special the moment they saw him as Jamie. Castmate, Graham McTavish notably stated, “Sam IS Jamie. “
Because in addition to being Jamie physically, Heughan appears to share Jamie’s modest, brave, affable, caring, and emotionally intelligent personality. His fans don’t want to date Heughan, they want him to be happy, preferably with “Claire” portrayer, the extremely talented Caitriona Balfe. Mr. Heughan does appear to be very fond of Ms. Balfe. His fans are thrilled.
In Jamie-like fashion, Mr. Heughan loves whisky, can withstand extreme physical challenges and is proud of his Scottish roots. He puts in the time for his worthy charity, and gets high marks from his fans for being silly and gracious with them. He has no romantic past on record. He has no DUI’s, no embarrassing interviews, no awkward or damaging photos on the internet that would serve to differentiate him from his fictional counterpart. Sam Heughan couldn’t do a better job of BEING Jamie Fraser had he a birth certificate showing his DOB as sometime in the early 1720’s.
Sam Heughan’s fans spent the month of August ensuring he would win the “TV Champion” campaign, voting for him around the clock ’til their fingers ached because, having subconsciously conflated Mr. Heughan with Jamie Fraser, his fans have created a living, breathing King of Men. He won with more than 16 million votes. 180,000 followers. Do the math and you’ll see the alchemy.
Had this singular role not come along, this UK-based “jobbing” actor might easily have continued in relative anonymity. His prior performances were all very good, but he was not on course for super stardom. All bets are off now. Jamie Fraser is unstoppable. Sam Heughan is uniquely positioned to become the same
Jacki Lippman has worked on projects for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Muhammad Yunus for more than twenty-five years, focusing on public awareness and introducing him to Hugh Jackman, Brad Pitt, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher and Oprah Winfrey.
Jacki has spent the past 4 years developing a feature film about Dr. Yunus and his global success empowering women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty through access to credit.
31 thoughts on “Jamie and Sam the literary connection”
Nice article. Sam very much embodies the noble, charming and very human Jamie. Superb casting for all the roles in Outlander.
Yes, Yes and YES! Thank you for posting this – – nice to see that “someones” in the industry recognize what we all know and love about our favorite King. I don’t think we can ever give enough Kudos to Ron Moore for his casting genius – – not to mention, bowing to Herself Diana Gabaldon’s absolute brilliance.
Thank you for posting this, what a great tribute to Sam and Outlander! We are so blessed to have such an amazing cast and production company bringing the novels to life!
Love this Beth, thank you for posting. And thank you Ms. Lippman. Nary a kilt question nor innuendo in sight and you still managed to convey the essence of Jamie and the actor who plays him.
Any man who’s surprised to be asked if he’s really going commando under a kilt should consider what his reaction would be to learning that a whole subsection of women were walking around in knee length pleated skirts and no panties. Plus it’s the fact that a man’s naughty bits DANGLE, that makes the choice to “go true Scotsman” even more of a head scratcher.
All the cosmic tumblers definitely fell into place on this one. I’m glad others in the industry are noticing too.
Beth, your writings are spot on, well thought out and a joy to read. With all due respect and reverence to Herself for creating in Jamie Frazer, the most wonderful man, I believe Jacki Lippman has captured and explained precisely why both Jamie, and his perfect portrayal by Sam, are so loved and adored. You are a generous author to share Jackie’s writing. Thanks!
Very fine article and on the mark…Sam is Jamie!!! I have been reading and re-reading these books for over 20 years and I had very definite ideas in my head as to what each character looked like and sounded like. Now, after watching season 1 of Outlander I am re-reading them again for the umpteenth time and I find myself seeing and hearing the actors from the show as I am reading. That is a mark of great casting in my mind!! Thank you Diana Gabaldon and Ron Moore and Starz for a great show and thank you to all the actors for the fine jobs portraying these wonderful characters, especially Sam and Caitriona!!
Other than the error about him winning a People’s Choice Award last year (the show won not Sam or Cait) this article is fantastic. Yes Sam seems very much like Jamie. Couldn’t have picked a better person to portray him.
It said that? I thought it was the Radio Times
Thank you for the correction
Yes the show not the actors won, but still absolutely astonishing for a show that had aired only eight times.
WOW! I was smiling while I was reading because it’s all so true. And yes, we just want him to be happy!!!
Well, she just said everything that we had been thinking either subconsciously or otherwise, and I couldn’t agree more. Sam is Jamie. I am 57, and like many hage beem reading ally lifr. But the character of Jamie Fraser is absolutely unique. Have never felt this way about a book series in my life, not it’s hero. Wonderful “theory “.
Ah, yes! I do agree! But it is STILL through the lens of Clair that lets us see the amazing Jamie. Without her, would he still be the same? Throught the eyes of Laoghaire (I spelled it wrong, I’m sure) there would be a whole different Jamie, although still very dashing and handsome. And, of course through L’s eyes Clair would come off rather horrid.
Still we just want Jamie to be happy and that means Clair. Which is all wonderful for US!
Thank you for the correction. Yes the a show won, not the actors. Still astonishing for a show that only aired eight times.
Sorry don’t kniw why the below reply posted twice. I absolutely agree that experiencing Jamie through Claire’s eyes is crucial to his unique appeal. Unlike Laoghaire, who would certainly see him through the pink gauzy lens of a besotted, Zain Malik loving teenager.
Your short article is a delight to read. Yes Outlander won the PCA last year. Mr Heughan & Miss Balfe came to retrieve the Award on behalf of the STARZ Network for Sony as well as all Cast, Crew, Producers & all others that work on this beautifully made series.
Sam is an extraordinary thespian however, behind every great man it is said there is a great or maybe even a greater woman. Miss Caitriona Balfe certainly has been the foundation of this show. Her talent has surpassed anything one could have hoped for with her portrayal of Claire Randall. Both Caitriona & Sam together have brought to the screen the electrifying spark seen in Hollywood performances back in the big screen era. From the well know stars of the 30’s through the 70’s. I wish them both much success throughout their professional careers. That they truly receive all the happiness & blessings life can bring to such hard working lovely people that they are, both privately & professionally. Bravo to both of you & the entire Outlander Team!
This is the epic journey of Claire and Jamie during a troubled time in Scotland’s history. It can’t be classified as belonging to any one genre, which means that more people can find something to love about the series.
All the awards on the planet won’t help if more of the viewing public won’t give Diana’s series a chance. I became hooked after watching the first episode.
Jamie is an adorable character, but it is his interactions with Claire and hers with him that make me watch the episodes over and over again. I consider myself in on the “ground floor” with regards to Outlander and I hope that more viewers will be pulled in during season two.
Thank you for sharing your insight on Jamie Fraser. There are so many good qualities that make him the right man for Claire. We are extremely fortunate that Sam Heughan came aboard to bring him to life on screen.
With all the Sam fan bashing going on its so great to read an article from a person outside of the fandom who recognizes the impact he has on fans of Outlander. Sam, like Jamie, is uncommon. He is a fantasy man playing a fantasy man. Where he’s been hiding I don’t know but I’m sure those producers who said no to him are kicking themselves now. It is such joy to watch him act and his and Cait’s chemistry is palpable. I can’t wait to see more from Sam. I know there are several unreleased indie movies that he did that I’m hoping will find a release. Thanks for the author’s insight into the reasons why Sam fans do what we do, because we love him, all of him.
What a GREAT article!! Thanks so much for sharing w/us! I agree w/Graham, Sam IS Jamie!
Really enjoyed the article Beth and Jacki. Sam, Caitriona, the story – it all did come together. I haven’t been part of any other fandom before so I don’t know, but it seems this story, these actors – they generate such strong emotion. I am very glad to see the story finally come to life. Thanks to all of those who have helped to make it so and to all those fans out there enjoying it one way or another!
You have captured the magic and mystery of OL. It is the phenomenal combo of people and writer, drawn together by the forces of Nature. We are truly stunned by Sam, Diana, Cait, Ron cast and all. I always say that it us a gift if God to me, in my senior years! Thanks!
Hi Beth hope you are well. I don’t think there could be another actor who could be Jamie and was amazed when I read that after his audition he was chosen immediately . One thing about the series I wonder why they changed the ring it’s going to be difficult to put iron in your mouth.We don’t have Thanksgiving here in Europe but I wish you and your family a Happy and peaceful Thanksgiving
Thanks to both Beth and Jackie for writing and posting this article. I agree. IMHO, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser is _the_ best male fictional character ever written. (Thank you, Diana!) He has all the qualities a traditional hero should have, and so much more, and Sam’s amazing talent has allowed ‘our’ Jamie to leap from the page, and truly come alive for all of us fans. I don’t know how I missed them for all these years, but I only learned of these books last year from my hairdresser, and upon her recommendation, picked up a copy of Outlander. I was hooked immediately, and read all 8 books in just over 2 months late last fall. After watching some video clips of the TV show on YouTube, I subscribed to Starz, my first and only premium channel ever, I have not been this obsessed since junior high school 50+ years ago. In addition to all his other heroic qualities, Jamie has one thing that sets him apart from all the other garden variety heroes. He has a way of expressing himself so beautifully…with such openness, tenderness, humor, intelligence, honesty, strength, humility, holding nothing back, especially to his beloved Claire. What person would be able to resist that? Some of these moments are so touching, they can bring a person to tears. A fan group of Diana’s books, the Ladies of Lallybroch, has compiled many of these lines and brief conversations from all 8 books online. You can find them by googling ‘Jamieisms’. While (sadly) not all these bits of dialogue have made it into the scripts in the adaptation process, Sam has thrown himself so completely into his role, that he has been able to take whatever he is given and enable Jamie’s emotions and vulnerability to shine through, sometimes with no words at all. I think that in addition to his obvious attractiveness and talent, this is one of the reasons so many Outlander fans have been so quick to show their undying devotion and passion for Sam after such a short time.
Loved this and I think you may inspired my next blog!
Thanks, Beth. Then it’s mutual. Your blog always inspires me.
Bravo to article, and also to Claire’s comment. Right on the MARK!
Jamie became my fave from the books from his own words & actions, not from another character’s perspective. This was hammered home to me in the short story Virgins & Lord John book The Scottish Prisoner (IMO Diana’s finest novel so far) must-reads if you love Jamie!
As for Sam, he is a wonderful portrayer of Ron Moore’s screen Jamie, and a very lovely person who deserves every success he’s earned.
Thanks both for your thoughts!
The only other actor I think comes close to the Sam/Jamie synchronicity is the Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy pairing in 1995. If there had been social media back then the World Wide Web would have lit up just as violently for Colin’s Mr. Darcy. Never before, until Sam’s Jamie, had a book hero so wonderfully come to life by an actor and a tv series. All these years later I am still a huge Colin Firth fan and was always a huge Pride and Prejudice fan. Colin brought Darcy to life in the same way Sam has Jamie.
Very interesting. I think the difference is that Colin Firth already had a public persona while Sam Heughan didn’t.
Jacki, Beth…thank you both. Seeing the production before reading the books was my introduction to Outlander. Handsome as he is, Sam Heughan brought Jamie to life. For me, Jamie’s image is forever Sam. Words that are flat on a book are brought to life as he portrays Jamie with his movement of HANDS and grammatical inflections. An adaption of the book is missing dialogue many would love to hear but I put those words in my mind and hear them anyway! When did Sam become Jamie…”I suppose that means yer coming with me.” …Play it again Sam…again…and again…