Playing Jamie. Staying Sam.

Written by: Holly Richter-White

All the pretty girls like Sam.

Ohh he really doesn't share

Although it's more than he can handle.

Life is anything but fair, life is anything but fair.

-Kaleo "All the Pretty Girls"-

It’s easy to mix up Sam Heughan with Jamie Fraser.

I see it all the time. Fans take a pic of “my Jamie”, I mean Sam, I mean Sam as Sam, not Jamie.  Or tag a pic of Jamie, when it’s actually Sam, not Jamie, and not Sam being Jamie.  It’s a muddle of confusion, but that’s the point.

Afterall, Graham McTavish did exclaim to an Outlander fan audience, that "He is Jamie."

All of which means he's perfect! Right?

No. Sam will screw up. He's human, not perfect.


Late 14c., "celebrated in public report, renowned, well-known" also "notorious, infamous," from Latin famosus "much talked of, renowned," Old English namcuð,  literally "name-known."
Celebrity is a condition (symptom) of being famous.


Fan: You’ll never believe it!  

Superfan: What is it?

Fan: I actually found a picture of Sam Heughan on the subway!  

Superfan: Seriously?!

Fan: Do you want to see it?  

Superfan: OMG YASS!  I Love Sam Heughan. He is the perfect Jamie! I voted for him in the RadioTimes poll! I tweet him daily. I’ve watched the wedding episode thirty-nine plus one hundred times!

Fan: Yeah, Superfan,  you gotta see it!

Superfan: Of course.

Fan: Or do you?

Where do you draw the line on sharing?  
On his rights versus yours... 

A baby pic, his personal address, a pic of him on a date (with gasp! Not Cait! Gasp!), meeting with friends for dinner or a director for an upcoming blockbuster, leaving his mum’s house?

What is yours and what is his?

*Wee Sam Heughan, circa early 1980s... 
Or is it? Why would you need to see it?

On balance, I'd rather remove my own spleen with a butter knife than be famous. 
Fame leaves people exposed.  
So that every indiscretion, every mistake, every personal tragedy and even private joys and sorrows become subject to public scrutiny. 
Those who embrace and crave fame must be either extraordinarily naive, unbelievably driven or psychologically unbalanced.”     
- Helen Martin, ”The Price of Fame” The Scotsman, Feb. 2009-
I used the above quote as a voice-over in a penned screenplay, much like Claire’s voice-over in the first scene of Sassenach. I did extensive research on fame for this two years ago (before Sam and Outlander TV) , so that I could write about a young Scottish actor struggling with the perils of fame in Hollywood, when intrusive paparazzi and fans cause rising star Tristan, 25, to lose both the love of his life and his passion for acting.  In my original ending, it didn’t bode well.   

Lottery winners experience a similar fate as those who rise to sudden stardom. The surprising thread between the two: be careful what you wish for.

The use of social media has taken instantaneous interaction between actor and fandom to a whole new level. 

Sam uses social media to attempt to satiate fans.  But is it feeding our desire, or are we insatiable for information from him and about him?
Before this article, I would say that I knew a fair bit about Sam Heughan’s acting life, but verra little about his personal life.  And a cursory search since uncovered little detail.  He's held most of his cards private. And so far, the fans have been exemplary in keeping it that way.

But even us fans can be swayed.  Look at the recent subway picture, clearly taken without his permission.   

Or the kerfuffle over production pics. It’s the third time production pics have been posted profusely, due to public filming locations. And if many fans have no qualms about posting production pics of season two before it airs, even after a plea from the costume designer Terry Dresbach herself, why wouldn’t you rush to post a baby pic of Sam, or a pic of him locked in a parking lot kiss, if you took one or found one? 

Given the views of the subway pics, I see more than a few of us fans have no qualms.

Have we even stopped to think about what is public versus what is private when it comes to our favourite actors?

TMZ won’t stop, neither will the Daily Mail. THEY are not your friend or mine. THEY are definitely not his friend.  You ask for it, THEY will find it. THEY are a machine built entirely on a boat made of profit.  There is no morality filter in this world they create, save for your own.

As we go forward fellow Sam Heughan fans, we should make a special effort to separate Sam from Jamie.  To love Sam for playing Jamie so perfectly. But leave Sam, the person, alone.  He has a right to privacy.  And if you can’t do it for him, then do it for yourself.

He’s an amazing actor because he has the peace of mind to be one.  Make him paranoid, become intrusive, and all that may change.

Yes, he is a grown man, who can protect his own ass (literally) but he will be powerless versus a driven paparazzi.  There are few, if any, lines THEY will not cross.
Let's abide by our own moral code- don't post photos of him at private moments or look at paparazzi photos. By doing so, we give him the space to do what we require the most: act, beautifully, exceptionally, in the role of Jamie.  

Contrary to one fan's comment, he SHOULD be able to ride the subway, enjoy a full life, and not have to live in a priest's hole- we all know what that experience did to Jamie.  

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

And be realistic - most of us know of Sam Heughan as the actor who portrays our beloved Jamie. I would not presume to invade his privacy in a misguided attempt to think I could ever really know the person.

Even the ones who have felt him up the back side : )

*Not an actual picture of Sam Heughan.


  1. How many times are we going to get the same fandom lecture? Pretty sick of these BLOGS that point out what it means to be the "gold standard" fan. I really expected more from the OutlanderCast blog. Unfollowing.

    1. So quit reading the articles and the blogs. Simple as that. I think the title was sufficiently descriptive enough to know what you were getting into with this article.

      As someone who used to work in a retail establishment that was occasionally frequented by celebrities I happen to agree with the article. The actors are just doing their jobs entertaining us. They deserve to be left alone when not 'on the job'.

    2. It probably needs to be said as often as there are fans who crave so much that they're willing to disregard the actor as a person, deserving of their own autonomy, privacy and respect.

  2. Really, WhoAmI? Is it that hard to treat human beings with respect even when they are famous actors? Good riddance.

    1. Actually- That's not what I said at all. My comment was directed at the blog post itself, not the behavior.

    2. My comment was directed at the many, many, many attempts by bloggers to lecture and fan shame. Its tiresome.

  3. "On balance, I'd rather remove my own spleen with a butter knife than be famous." That one made me spit my coffee. So true. Nice piece, Holly!

    1. I love that quote. Makes you really appreciate the other side of fame.

  4. I agree with this blog totally. Fans need to separate the private person from the character he or she portrays on screen and be respectful of that person's private life. The whole Outlander team is very gracious and generous with themselves in public, film-related settings. Let's let them be when they are themselves, out in the world- as Sam Heughan is on this subway.

    1. Thanks. I would be so sad to see the gracious nature be diminished in any way.

    2. So well written & respectful Holly,sadly people can't take critic or its taken personally at times I agree with most of it,it would be very sad to see Sam gracious,effervescent nature to disappear bc of people crossing the line!

  5. I also agree with this blog. Chasing Sam down in his private life will surely impact his professional one. That is not a line we want to cross if we love his portrayal of "the king of men".

    1. Yes. There are many famous people who "take a break from acting" and it's not because they don't want to work. That just what their PR tells us.

  6. While I agree with The writer that people need to be respectful of personal boundaries, I do not feel that it is anyone's right (aside from the actor) to dictate where those boundaries lie or how. It certainly isn't anyone's right to tell other people how to "properly" support the show. The writer (can I call you Holly?) makes an assumption that is not supported by any evidence.
    "...clearly taken without his permission."
    Is it? How do you know? Is it because they appear to be candid shots? How do you know that the person taking the picture didn't hold up their phone and look for permission first. Or even get a nod a smile after from Sam? You don't. Are they candids? Maybe. The point is that you made an assumption and subsequently a judgement based on your own biases.You may even find the taking and sharing of these pictures distasteful, and yet, you shared them on the blog of a very popular podcast. You have perpetuated their travel through the internet.
    Also, as far as the taking and sharing of production pics . . .I respect Terry's work as an artist and I feel for her disappointment in having some of her work revealed out of context. BUT (and I know this has been pointed out so many times), they are filming in a public place. Terry can hope that the costumes don't get out, but she cannot control or expect that certain sections of the fandom police the rest. Ron and Maril have both said that they do not mind that these BTS pictures get out. It is a fact of production.
    Let's also discuss the "Sam is not Jamie" part of Holly's article. Again, an assumption is made (or perpetuated) that "these fans" (which Holly seems to consider herself above by the language she chooses to use) cannot tell the difference between a man and the character he plays. I have not seen that to be true. What I have seen is fans that support the man in ALL roles that he takes on and in ALL the projects he is passionate about. Graham McTavish may have said "Sam IS Jamie", but I have not run across anyone that took that literally. Grham does go on to say that he (Sam) is a "thoroughly kind and decent man" and THAT is how he is like Jamie.
    Are the actors (and all the people associated with the show) allowed to keeps parts of their lives private? Absolutely! I don't disagree with that at all. What I am saying is that they are all grown ups and are perfectly capable of setting the limits and holding fans/paparazzi accountable ON THEIR OWN. The only people who should have input or judgement in whether someone posts a picture (let's say of Sam on the subway or a childhood) online is the person who took the picture, Sam, the person with Sam, and Sam's mom. If you are none of those people, then move along.
    One of the best things about social media is the ability to tailor your timeline or feed to see the things you want to see. No one is forcing you to interact with things you find bothersome. I am a big proponent of open discussion, with no judgement, and I always look forward to opposing viewpoints. But, I do not think flat out judgement (which is what I am getting from this article . . . please correct me if I am mistaken) is a way to encourage that.

    1. Agree 1000% Sherri. This fandom seems to have quite a high proportion of fandom police. I say let Sam speak for himself. And he does. Last week with butt gate he told us he can take care of himself (but he still got a wee jab in by captioning his photo on Facebook as "stay classy Prague" I think to let us know that he may have forgiven but he didn't forget.)

      So I'll follow Sam's lead. He's the one whose opinions matters.

    2. I agree too. I don't do any of the things I keep getting scolded about.

    3. Bravo! Well said. :-) Couldn't agree more.

    4. The thing I love about the fandom is the diversity of opinion and we're all entitled to it.

      Really just asking people to think, in advance, of where they draw their own boundary when it comes to other people's privacy.

      It doesn't include only taking the photo themselves but more about sharing or re-tweeting others photos. The subway photo and all of the details the fan of Sam's, who had some idea it was him, shared about who he was with, where he went, what he was doing tomorrow, well that might be a line to think about not crossing.

      And as for paparazzi, which will come soon enough, so many celebrities have talked about having to live in a bubble. In the research for my screenplay I watched footage of the dangerous lengths paparazzi and some fans would go to, just to get THAT shot. I've read interviews with celebrity after celebrity in anguish as they spoke of their new "all consuming public life" and how they did not want to alienate fans by calling them out as the cause of their newfound misery.

      It's a catch 22 - appeasing fans, getting more work, trying to have a personal and private life.

  7. I do agree that people need to be bit more respectful of Sam (and other celebrities) personal lives, but they are public figures and unfortunately it is something that comes with the territory. However, I don't appreciate your need to lecture Sam's fans on how they should be acting. It's amazing how much policing of fans happens in this fandom. Myself, I wouldn't approach an actor in public for a photo regardless of who they are and how big I fan I am, but that's just me.

    I don't think it's right when people harass Sam (or any actor's) friends and relatives to get personal information. I do know what's public and what's private with a celebrity (as do most people). Sam is very protective of his personal life. However, that does not me that you or anyone else should tell another what to do or not do when Sam is in public.

    The subway photo - did you bother to even find the source (it's easy to do - the person's twitter has been used as a source all over the place). The person who took the photo, didn't think it was Sam - just someone who looked like him. And the guy was so excited when he found out it was actually him. Should he have asked permission to take the photo, that would have been nice, but Sam was in public. If you're in public, things like this will happen. And if they guy did ask Sam if it was actually him and if he could take a photo, most likely, much more attention would have been drawn to Sam.

    May I point out that by posting the photos of Sam on the subway you are now not only invading Sam privacy by your definition, but you are also spreading the image on the internet. And do you have the right to post the photo or are you infringing on the copyright by posting it without permission of the photographer?

    What about the photo of the model with Sam sitting at a table in the background which was made into a fake magazine cover? Should the photographer and model gone elsewhere so as not to disturb Sam, or was it okay to continue with what they were doing as most likely was the plan for the photo shoot? Sam knew they were there and didn't move. And if he didn't realize what was going on (a photo shoot), then his powers of observation are pretty bad.

    No Sam is not perfect (and neither is Jamie), but fans shouldn't police other fans on what they should and shouldn't do. Yes some people go overboard, but being lectured as to the proper way to be a fan is ridiculous.

    BTW, if the production wanted to keep costumes and sets secret, they would have closed the set.

    1. Thank you Julie. The original post by Holly was ill conceived and poorly written.

    2. Really couldn't disagree more. Privacy and delayed gratification are principles I hold near and dear. We will agree to disagree then : )

      BTW, some locations do not permit "closing" and are therefore technically public- like many parks, streets, etc... The decisions to use these locations are made far in advance- perhaps the locations manager didn't realize that the fandom would explode to this extent. Certainly the show runner's wife was also caught off-guard as to the extent of "sharing of photos".

    3. I actually agree with you on most everything, and I too value the principles of privacy and delayed gratification. But, I don't agree with telling fans what they should and shouldn't do if it's something I don't agree with. I don't like it when photos are taken without permission. It's rude and invasive. I wouldn't want to it done to me, so I wouldn't do it them.

      I do know that when on location, they usually can't close the set, but there are things that can be done to keep some things secret. They definitely were caught off guard in Prague because there should have been much more security to at least protect the actors and to keep a little more control.

  8. Great job and I totally agree! I take photos of my son's football games and when the other team's fans step over the line and behave rudely, I take photos of them. I can see that they are surprised and annoyed. They don't know it, but I always delete the pictures. I would never post them on social media. I don't believe in sharing photos of strangers without their permission, and I wouldn't do that to a celebrity.

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  10. It's very simple fact that those individuals that are in the public eye must take the outcome of being a public figure. Most if not all actors, politicians, high profile business persons & government officials etc. realize this fact. Yes some cannot take the life style of being a high profile person. They can or have
    fallen away from being pursued because of their career choice.

    What's then the main issue to this problem of being a famous individual being exploited? Their own choice of the professional or career path one takes. It becomes part of the persons issues in both ones professional & private life. It is totally up to the person on how their public & personal affairs are managed. Not anyone else's responsibility. Yes we can & should show our support to these people that choose to be in the public arena. How? By curtailing our behaviors & maintaining good public etiquette & respect of their wishes or requests if known. However, regardless of how each of us feels regarding these issues, it is the celebrity who calls the shots or their PR representatives. But not ourselves within the celebrities fandom.

    Most of us live in countries that allows us to speak our mind. I accept Holly's post but do NOT agree with her opinions. People have freedom to be, do & say within the limits of each our country's laws. So if ones behavior is within the law no foul.

  11. I agree totally with this blog. I don't need to know Sam's every move. As an older fan, Sam could be my son. Of course I think he is one of the most handsome men I've every seen. I am also blown away by his gift as an actor and so impressed to see how honorably he treats the people around him. It makes me happiest to hear people who have met him say that Sam is the real deal. If I never get to meet him in person, I will still admire him for the good he does for those around him.

  12. I agree totally with this blog. I don't need to know Sam's every move. As an older fan, Sam could be my son. Of course I think he is one of the most handsome men I've every seen. I am also blown away by his gift as an actor and so impressed to see how honorably he treats the people around him. It makes me happiest to hear people who have met him say that Sam is the real deal. If I never get to meet him in person, I will still admire him for the good he does for those around him.

  13. I agree with most of this blog,except we're lucky to be living in a country with the freedom of speech,so its not for us tell others how to behave,so long as we as good fans of OL are respectful,gracious of Sam&Cait PL's & don't behave in a awful,vulgar manner (Butt grabbing) etc,its just in us to crave every news of our beloved actors,who not only beautiful to look at,but so lovely,gracious,humble to their fans,I hope to meet them 1 day,if not I realise they are not Jamie&Claire,but Sam&Cait,they are entitled to their PL no matter how big they'll become in their careers,do think they'll will being really talented actors,do admire both of them!

  14. This policing is so tiresome. The subway pic was taken in a public train full of people. Sam's privacy wasn't invaded, there were no telescopic lens to get an intrusive "money shot". This isn't a stolen baby photo, he was just standing there. Pretty much any actor who lives in NY has a bunch of these shots. It's not awesome, and some actors mind more than others but you're not gonna convince me that something this minor and common would put Sam over the edge. Butt grabbing, I could see. A picture of him standing in a public place? Doubt it. As for production pictures, pretty much any time a popular show or movie is filmed in a public place, pictures will happen. See also, GoT, Poldark, Avengers. It's not Terry's first project. It comes with the territory, and just be grateful that enough people like and care enough about the show that these pics are happening. Bodes well for future seasons. If you don't like them, don't click and don't share, but enough with the lecturing. It's insulting to hear you accuse fans of not being able to separate Sam from Jamie because they may have different opinions on subway or production pics. It's judgey and rude. I listen to your podcast for the episode reviews and interviews. If you start doing this kind of the fandom lecturing on the podcast, I'm out. I'm sick of this.

    1. Yes. Thank you. Well said.

    2. Of all the comment I've read on this post this is the one I agree with the most. I'm fairly sure that Sam knows the extent of his celebrity by now. He has over 100K followers on IG and Twitter and millions of fans of the show around the world. If he takes the subway I'm sure he thinks there is a possibility he could be recognized. And if the fan did ask him for a pic I'm sure he would have obliged. Also, I don't think he tweets just to "satiate" fans hunger for him. I believe he does it to feel closer to us and to show his appreciation and get fans involved in the show, his causes and activities and just to plain 'ole have some fun because that's the kind of guy is seems to be. Bottom line is that Sam is a professional actor and while he is enjoying increased fame and celebrity, I'm sure he knows how to deal with it.

  15. I'm sure poor Sam (and Cait, etc.) had NO IDEA his fame would spread so quickly and enthusiastically! Adoring fans are hard enough to manage, but the relentless pursuit of the media is beyond offensive. Sadly, it's the cost of his popularity; to give up any semblance of a private life.

    1. I think it's sad that this has to be the result don't you think?

    2. "Relentless pursuit of the media?" Is that true? And what media are you referring to? Social Media is a great place for people to project their own triggered reactions and then generalize to an entire fan base. I have yet to see Sam or Cait running for their lives being followed by a pack of relentless media. I think for a lot of hardworking actors, the kind of attention that Sam is getting (so far) is not too unusual and may, to a certain extent, be welcomed. (Well, not the butt grabbing -- that was OTT but again, rare it seems.)

    3. I am these actors now have some requirement to do social media as promotion for the show. I think Mr Heughan was a bit startled about how aggressive his American fans were. In Glasgow, he just another "Scottish brute," which is probably what helps him continue as an actor.

  16. And then there's this piece to also put things into perspective:

  17. Sam is doing such a great job with the Jamie role. He is a great actor with lots of talent to offer the industry. Looking forward to seeing him in many other roles...he is Amazing...

  18. You can lecture fans relentlessly about how to act, but the fans that really need to hear and get it, never will. You're just wasting your breath, b/c a fan that thinks it's ok to inappropriately touch Sam, then a lecture about will never help.

  19. At the beginning seemed a wise article, but in the middle you planted the private photos of mr. Heugham. It's a paradox, having regard to what you have been writing!!!! YOU CANNOT WRITE IT SERIOUS.


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