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.