‘Outlander’: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Alum Katherine Heigl Almost Portrayed Claire

There are endless dramas on television today that try to deliver an epic love story. Some are just okay, while others are good. Very few, however, are unforgettable. 

Outlander is a love story that truly delivers. Fans of the series are addicted to the captivating characters, feeling their pain as they face one challenge after another. The talented actors that bring these characters to life seem to be absolutely perfect for their roles, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing them. However, the lead role nearly went to a very different actress.

‘Outlander’: A love story that spans centuries

The Starz series, Outlander, is an incredibly romantic adventure that also boasts a suspenseful plot, intriguing characters, and a touch of science-fiction. The historical drama is based on the Outlander novels and follows the life of Claire Randall, a former WWII nurse living with her husband in 1945. 

The couple is in Scotland on their second honeymoon when Claire mysteriously disappears. She travels back in time to 1743, where she finds herself in the midst of a Scottish rebellion against the British. She becomes a part of the rebel group and finds herself in danger that requires her to marry Jamie Fraser. 

Claire is prevented from returning home, and as she gets to know Jamie, she finds herself falling in love with him. The pair face difficult problems, from miscarriages to prison sentences to near executions.

In 1945, Claire and Frank have their own problems. Once Frank learns about the time traveling, he begs Claire to forget Jamie and stay in the present. The series follows Claire as she goes back and forth in time, living two completely separate lives with two very different men. 

Katherine Heigl almost played Claire

The quick-witted, stubborn Claire is portrayed by Caitriona Balfe. Balfe has done an excellent job of bringing Claire to life, capturing her immeasurable strength and intelligence. She has fantastic chemistry with Sam Heughan (Jamie), which makes their love story all the more enchanting. 

Caitriona Balfe wasn’t the first choice of actresses to play Claire, according to Mental Floss. Originally, Outlander wasn’t even supposed to be a television series — it was meant to be a feature-length film. Grey’s Anatomy alum Katherine Heigl was the top pick to portray Claire. The star was fairly convinced that she’d be playing the role, as she hinted at it in a 2010 interview with The New York Times

Claire wasn’t the only character who was almost portrayed by a different actor. Acting greats Liam Neeson and Sean Connery were both considered for the role of Jamie, if the TV show had in fact been a movie instead.

In the end, the show’s creators went in a different direction and decided that a series would better benefit the stories. Although they didn’t choose Heigl for the lead role, it took them a while to find the perfect Claire. They ended up choosing Balfe for the lead role just weeks before filming began. 

Is Season 6 coming soon?

RELATED: How 2 ‘Outlander’ Stars Turned Their Real-Life Bromance Into a Spin-Off

Outlander fans are going through a rough patch right now, waiting inevitably for Season 6 of the beloved show. Like many other television shows and films, production on the Outlander set has been postponed because of the global pandemic. The cast and crew haven’t been able to begin filming in Scotland for the next season, and it’s unclear when they’ll return to set.

Sam Heughan (who portrays Jamie Fraser) was on ITV’s This Morning in June. While on the show, the charming actor mentioned that the cast recently received scripts and had costume fittings. But since then, executive producer Maril Davis has said Outlander is one of the least COVID-friendly shows out there, because of the large number of extras the set requires. Since COVID protocols restrict the number of people on set, it’s been difficult to come up with a way to resume filming thus far. Season 6 can’t come soon enough for fans, though: The shocking finale to Season 5 has left many of us on the edge of our seats, eagerly waiting to see how the Frasers deal with their latest tragedy.