‘Outlander’ Author Diana Gabaldon Approved of Sam Huegan’s Additions to Jamie Fraser’s Character

Diana Gabaldon is not too precious about her words. She supports the television adaptation of her Outlander books, and in fact she’s a consultant on the show. So, when star Sam Heughan added some lines of his own, it didn’t bother her. 

Sam Heughan in Outlander
Sam Heughan | Starz

Gabaldon and Heughan were on a Television Critics Association panel in 2016 to preview the second season of Outlander. Gabaldon discussed a situation in which Heughan improved upon her words. Five seasons of Outlander are streaming on Starz.

Diana Gabaldon didn’t expect to have a say in ‘Outlander’ on TV

Gabaldon may have expected to take a hands off approach when Ronald D. Moore adapted the Outlander books. However, she was pleased Moore and showrunner Maril Davis asked her to remain involved. 

“It’s been great from my point of view,” Gabaldon said.  “They’ve included me to an amazing extent. When we first drew up the contract, my agent said to me, ‘Well, they’re making you a consultant. This is basically a way of making them pay you more money. They may use you, they may not. They may be paying you to stay away, essentially, which is what usually happens. If they do want to use you, they’ll let you know.’”

Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe
L-R: Diana Gabaldon, Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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Moore and Davis did rely on Gabaldon to answer their Outlander questions.

“I was very flattered and very pleased that they did want to talk to me about things,” Gabaldon said. “It’s been a really interesting process.”

Diana Gabaldon compared screenwriting to novel writing

In the second season of Outlander, Gabaldon wrote episode 11, “Vengeance Is Mine.” She learned the difference between screenwriting and writing her novels.

“I, in fact, actually wrote one of the scripts for Season 2, which was a definite experience,” Gabaldon said. “It’s way different than writing a novel, for sure. But, it was deeply enlightening and very, very entertaining to be on set while that was being filmed. I knew how much things flexed because I saw all the shooting and the scripts.”

Sam Heughan added a line to a season 2 episode of ‘Outlander’

Gabaldon was following the differences between the screenplay adaptations and her texts. Furthermore, she followed the changes that occurred from script to screen. Heughan gave her a master class on it when he filmed her script. 

“To see where they flex and so forth, you have an actor who pulls out their sides and says, ‘I can’t say that,’” Gabaldon said. “Or, their speech is too long, slash it on the side, or once in a while, that’s happened in this bit, Sam just stuck in an extra line, which was just fabulous.”

Outlander: Sam Heughan
Sam Heughan | Starz

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Gabaldon approved Heughan’s contribution, but still made her own adjustment. 

“I turned to my co-writer and said, ‘We have to have that, but they can move it to the end.’ There you go. So [it’s a] very, very collaborative process, not just with Ron and Maril, but with all of the actors, and to some extent, with the crew, as well. So it’s been great.”