Outlander star Sam Heughan was born and raised in Scotland. But it wasn’t until he landed the starring role of Jamie Fraser in the time-traveling TV drama — based on Diana Gabaldon’s book series — that he started to appreciate his home country. Now, the 41-year-old has backed Scottish independence.
The ‘Outlander’ star says Scotland felt ‘twee’ growing up
Heughan was born in Balmaclellan, in the historic county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway. The actor says that growing up he felt Scotland was “twee” – meaning dainty or quaint – and “stuck in a shortbread tin kind of world.”
Later, he would work for years in London and America, and during this time he considered himself to be British. Now, however, Heughan sees Scotland as “resource rich” with its own culture, language, and history.
“Certainly going to London and America . . . I never felt Scottish till I went to other places and people start seeing you as Scottish,” Heughan told The Cultural Coven podcast.
“But I tried to do what I think all actors try to do and immerse myself in another country and try to fit in. But then coming back to work on Outlander I just realized what an incredible country it is and how much I love it.”
Sam Heughan fully supports Scottish independence
Heughan is currently in Scotland filming season 6 of Outlander. Last year, he spent weeks on a road trip throughout the country with his co-star Graham McTavish (Dougal McKenzie) to film their docuseries Men in Kilts.
The 41-year-old says he’s proud to be Scottish, and he supports a potential referendum on Scottish independence. However, he made it clear that this support doesn’t mean he’s anti-British.
“On the whole thing about independence and stuff, it’s not about being anti-British at all,” he said. “I’m very proud to be British, but I’m also extremely proud to be Scottish. It’s such a great wee country and has a great opportunity.”
The ‘Outlander’ star says he wants ‘a neighbor, not a ruler’
Heughan went on to clarify that his desire for Scottish independence is not “anti-anything.” He says he would “love to see it work and to remain in Europe” because that’s “how we’re all going to survive.”
“This world is going to survive if we work together,” Heughan said. “My desire for independence is not anti-anything. I feel we’re a resource-rich country. It’s about having a bit of belief in ourselves again. I want a neighbor, not a ruler.”
Sam Heughan is asking fans to respect the country’s history
Since Outlander premiered on Starz back in 2014, the show has given Scotland a tourism boost. Before the pandemic, the ‘Outlander effect’ had fans flocking to the show’s filming locations, which was great for local business.
“There’s so much to explore and it’s just on our doorstep,” Heughan says. “I think it’s a great wee country and so interesting.”
But as travel starts to open up again around the UK, Heughan is urging fans to be respectful when visiting the Scottish historic sites that are featured on Outlander. The message comes after Heughan was informed that stones and other items had been taken from the Culloden battlefield.
‘Outlander’ author Diana Gabaldon says filming at these locations is a privilege
The incident with Outlander fans at Culloden has both Heughan and McTavish requesting that they show respect in the future. They are hoping that Outlander will help them understand why this is important.
“Hopefully, reading our book or other books, people will understand the history of what happened and treat historic sites with the respect they are due,” Heughan told The Times.
McTavish agreed, saying he doesn’t like “people taking souvenirs.” Gabaldon has also spoken out about the subject. She told BBC Scotland that it’s a privilege to film at these historic sites.
“We are very privileged to be able to use a lot of Scottish locations for the filming. They are not film sets. They should be respected,” Gabaldon said.
Seasons 1 through 5 of Outlander are available on the Starz app.