‘Outlander’: Sam Heughan’s Jamie Was Almost Played By Liam Neeson and Sean Connery

A historical series that blends elements of romance, drama, and time-travel, Outlander has become one of television’s breakout success stories. The show premiered in 2014 and has remained popular ever since, with new fans discovering the show year after year.

Fans love Outlander for the atmosphere, the intriguing storyline, and, of course, the stars — including the handsome and talented Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie. Still, there was a time when showrunners considered some very different actors to portray the Highland warrior.

What is ‘Outlander’ about?

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Outlander has been compared to time-travel shows such as Dr. Who, but it stands in a category all of its own. The show is based in 1945 and centers around a nurse in World War II named Claire Randall, who is magically transported to Scotland in 1743.

While there, she encounters the Highland warrior Jamie, and the two embark on an epic across-the-centuries romance. Their love story is complicated by the fact that Claire is married to another man in her “real” life, and that Claire and Jamie are continuously separated by time and circumstance.

After premiering in 2014, Outlander became wildly popular with fans all over the world. The atmospheric drama seemed to hit all the right notes, and a massive fan community quickly sprang up around the show. The fifth season of Outlander premiered in early 2020 and the show is set to return to for the sixth season, although an exact release date has not been set, and could be delayed due to the effects of COVID-19. 

Who is Sam Heughan?

Sam Heughan
Sam Heughan | Mike Pont/WireImage

Outlander is full of talented, accomplished stars, including Caitriona Balfe, Tobias Menzies, and Gary Lewis. However, the shining star to emerge from Outlander has been Sam Heughan, cast in the role of Jamie.

Born in 1980, Sam Heughan was born and raised in Scotland. He became interested in acting at an early age and appeared in a wide variety of stage productions during his high school and college years.

By the early 2000s, Heughan had started to receive attention from television producers, and he started getting access to TV roles. A few of his early roles include parts in Island at War, River City, Party Animals, and Doctors.

From soap operas to political dramas, Heughan quickly proved that he could do it all. All while his television career was taking off, Heughan continued to act on stage, touring with various productions and receiving critical acclaim. In 2013, he was announced as the series lead for Outlander, which kicked off a whole new phase of his life — and offered him the gateway to stardom. 

Who was almost cast in the role of Jamie?

Although many fans could not possibly imagine Outlander without the presence of Sam Heughan, he very nearly missed out on the role of a lifetime. Showrunners have revealed that in the past when Outlander was being considered for development as a feature film rather than as a television series, actors such as Liam Neeson and Sean Connery were considered for the role of Jamie. 

Certainly, both Neeson and Connery would have been able to bring gravitas and experience to the role of Jamie, and there’s no doubt that their attachment to the project would have made the movie a big-budget epic. However, for many fans, the fact that a relatively unknown actor soared to fame after portraying such a dynamic character has only made the show that much better. Hopefully, Sam Heughan will be attached to the role for many years to come.