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Metro Canada: Sam Heughan from Batman to 18th-century Scottish warrior

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 5.01.57 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Sam Heughan has become something of a heartthrob playing a fiery 18th-century Scottish warrior married to a Second World War combat nurse who mysteriously transported back in time in the sci fi romance Outlander.

The show, which returns to Showcase for its midseason premiere on Sunday, April 5, has developed a rabid fan base with as many as five million Americans tuning in to catch Heughan and his kilt each week. The British Film Institute even reports that the show’s popularity has inspired a tourism boom in Scotland.

On Heughan’s recent trip to Toronto fans lined up in the cold to catch a glimpse of the handsome 6′ 2½” actor. “They were there,” he says, “waving flags and supporting us. It is fantastic.”

He says “that sort of thing is very new to me,” although a recent trip to Comic Con was met with much excitement and on a stop over in Los Angeles he was recognized for his work on the show.

“On the whole it is very genuine,” he says, “very friendly. They just sort of sidle up next to you and whisper, ‘I really enjoy the show. I’m a big fan,’ and they’ll leave you to do your thing.”

Ironically the one place he isn’t as well known is his home country, which also happens to be where they shoot the series.

“We’ve been filming in Scotland, so we’re kind of in our own bubble. The show has only just aired in the UK so there is no recognition there, which is fantastic because we can concentrate on the job.”

Heughan trained at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama but says before signing on to do Outlander he was a “jobbing actor. I had done a lot of theatre and period drama in the UK.” He cites one strange acting gig in particular, playing the lead role in a touring production of Batman Live, as a real confidence builder.

“A terrific job,” he says. “So different than anything I had done before—doing acrobatics, flying across stadiums over thousands of people. It did give me a lot of confidence to stand in front of twenty or thirty thousand people and have to fight thirty henchmen every night.”

“I’ll always remember the first entrance as Batman, flying two hundred feet across the auditorium with people below and you’re looking down at them thinking, ‘This is something else.’ They don’t teach that in acting school.”

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