Since Outlander first premiered globally in August of 2014, it has attracted a passionate group of fans from all over the world—including, at least, a celebrity who was a TV heartthrob decades before the kilted men of Outlander took over the role.
“I had dinner with William Shatner last week and I couldn’t believe it. He’s a fan of the show,” revealed star Sam Heughan at the show’s Season 2 premiere on Monday night. “He’s really funny, and I owe him dinner now. I still can’t believe I met him!”
Nearly one year after Starz’s popular time-traveling, romance series, Outlander, ended its first season, the “Droughtlander” is almost over for Shatner and millions of other fans. Breakout stars Heughan, Caitriona Balfe, and Tobias Menzies gathered Monday evening for an extravagant world-premiere event at the American Museum of Natural History, which included a party in the museum’s famous “whale room.”
“My life has changed in so many ways because of the show,” said Heughan, who plays swoon-worthy Highlander Jamie Fraser. One of the biggest changes has been seeing his face plastered on billboards. “It’s very odd. I had just come from Los Angeles, and there’s a lot of billboards around the city and on buses and it’s really strange to be driving past and see myself up there,” he said. “It’s kind of overwhelming, really.”
Despite the high level of emotions, he had to capture the milestone moment in his career with a photo. “I may have one selfie somewhere, which I sent to my mum,” he modestly said. “Ultimately, it’s those sort of things that I want my family to see and to share the special moments that I am experiencing.”
Thirty-six-year-old Irish actress Balfe has dreamed of becoming an actress since her childhood. She admits she wasn’t sure if she would ever catch a big break until she landed the lead role on Outlander.
“I struggled for years as an actress and it was challenging,” said Balfe, a former model. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but I was stubborn and never gave up. Now, I have a job that I always dreamed of. My life has really been changed both personally and professionally. I just love the range that I get to play. It feels like every day there is something new to tackle and I am constantly growing and changing as an actress and as a woman.”
ON-SCREEN ALTER EGOS
Both critics and fans of Outlander have a strong love-hate relationship with its three leading characters. Viewers are so invested that many wonder if the actors themselves mirror their fictional alter egos.
“I would like to think that I am fearless like Claire,” Balfe said about the headstrong British nurse. “I will pretty much do anything that this role calls for, but I would also like to think that I am more cautious when needed, because Claire does things before she thinks. But I love that. I love that she is passionate and takes big risks no matter what happens.”
As for Heughan, 35, playing the beloved heartthrob can be daunting. “He’s a very noble and trustworthy guy and trying to live up to him can be difficult at times,” he admits. “I’m lucky to play such a great guy who is so loved. I hope to be as great as Jamie is. I do share his sense of loyalty. I am a very loyal man and always keep my promises when I commit to something.”
Fortunately for Menzies, a veteran English actor and Games of Thrones alum, viewers don’t often confuse him with his character, the sadistic 18th-century English captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall.
“I live in London and I don’t get too much hassle or dirty looks from fans. I can still go and buy my milk from the shelf,” said Menzies. “I’m happy to tell you people just about manage to work out that I’m not him and he is not me. But it’s great to hear that I am evil enough to confuse some people. My whole approach was not to treat him as a monster and to try and see why he would be evil so that the audience couldn’t just discount him as a monster. You have to go meet the man and understand him to humanize him, to make it more uncomfortable to watch him, because it could be any of us if we went through any of those experiences.” Continue reading New Interview of Sam Heughan with Vanity Fair