Note: This account is taken from the author’s notes and memory. It is NOT a transcript of the event.
If you ever have a chance to participate in a United Card Event, I strongly recommend that you do. This afternoon I participated in the Zoom Virtual Experience webinar with Sam Heughan. Sam was interviewed by Ginger Zee. Ginger has interviewed Sam in the past, and they were totally at ease with one another.
Let me back up a day. All 100 participants of the virtual event received a package of goodies from United Card Events. The big box, delivered by FedEx contained an autographed (Sam Heughan) copy of Clanlands, a Sassenach Spirits whisky flask, a travel journal, a package of Walker’s shortbread cookies, a tin of Edradour whisky fudge, a bag of Gimbal’s Scottie Dogs licorice, Mackie’s of Scotland haggis and cracked black pepper flavored crisps (chips) and a picture of Sam. It was quite a wonderful box of goodies.
We also were given a link for a Photo Booth. When you clicked the link you were asked to select a frame (with standing stones, a plaid, or a map of Scotland) which came in three different sizes. Once you selected a frame your face appeared in the frame and you tapped a button to take your photo. Then you could accept the photo or try it again. Then the photo was emailed to us. I had so much fun with this. I ended up taking five photos and used all three frames. I even changed my shirt twice. Call me crazy, but it has been a long covid year, since I last saw Sam in New Orleans.
Then it was time to make sure I was in the waiting room. We were treated to music from Season one of Outlander while we waited. Promptly at 5 PM ET the program started. Surprise! Ginger Zee was the interviewer. With her background of covering Outlander, she was the perfect choice. Sam was then introduced. It looked like his hair might be a little damp from the shower. He had just arrived home after a 14 hour day of filming Outlander Season 6. It was 10 PM in Scotland, and I truly appreciated his willingness to do this special event after his long day.
Ginger kicked things off with a discussion of what she said was her favorite episode of Men In Kilts (the latest episode). Sam said the original title was Natural Beauty. He said that the episode did not really have a through line like the other episodes did. He and Graham just wanted everyone to see the natural beauty that is Scotland. I have to say that the episode really delivered on that.
Ginger mentioned that she really enjoyed the episode partly because Graham was so scared. Sam said that Graham was truly scared, and he said that he (Sam) was also pretty scared as they got into filming it. It was a cold, windy day, and once they got to the ledge they had to unhook the line that they had been holding going down. Sam said that when he got back up to the top, they said now go back down so we can get the drone shots. So Sam went down again and unhooked. He said he ended up on the ledge for quite a long time that afternoon, and it was pretty scary. He also stated that he does not like small enclosed places, and that for him that would evoke a smilier reaction to Grahams. Interestingly Sam said he doesn’t really like heights. I find that a little strange considering how much he likes to climb mountains.
Sam said that he thinks he and Graham bring out both the best and the worst of each other. Sam related that when they showed up at Doune Castle to do the first day of filming that he had been so busy with all the production details that he hadn’t really thought about what they would be saying. Suddenly he thought, “oh no, there is no script!” Needless to say that bit did not make it into the show. Sam said it was a great learning experience.
Next Ginger mentioned that Sam and Outlander have done a lot for tourism in Scotland and figures that Men in Kilts has done even more to spark interest in people traveling to Scotland. Sam’s response was that his own relationship to Scotland has grown over the years since he started filming Outlander and came back to Scotland. He said that every project that he has done such as his whisky, tartan and Men in Kilts was born out of his love for Scotland.
Ginger said that she has interviewed a lot of people, but that what makes Sam different is his heart. She mentioned My Peak Challenge and how she sees it all over social media. Sam talked about wanting to share his love of fitness and the outdoors with people. Furthermore, he wanted people to help others while helping themselves. Ginger asked him for his best MPC story. He talked about amazing changes that Peakers have made in weight loss, mobility, strength and in making friends and being a part of a community. He said there are so many wonderful stories. He mentioned the Ambassador groups located world wide, and how Peakers help each other to achieve their goals. He said that the community that has developed is very special.
Ginger asked about what Sam would like to do if there is another Men in Kilts. He said he would really like to do something on Shetland, and talked about the fact that the people who live there consider themselves more like the Norwegians than Scots. He would also like to do more on the other west coast islands.
Ginger then turned to Outlander and said she couldn’t believe she did not start with it, but that she had really loved the last Men in Kilts episode. Sam laughed and said that he had just come from set. He said as a matter of fact you can probably still see the scars that Jamie has on his hand. He held up his hand to show us. He said, “and this hand is really red because I was fighting today. I can’t tell you who it was though.”
Ginger said that she had seen that there were three new characters. Sam said yes the Christies. Thomas Christie was in Ardsmuir prison where he met Jamie. They have a history.
Ginger then asked if there was something that Sam could share from set that maybe has not been shared before. He said well the young ones (he and Cait are the old ones now) are in control of the music. He said that he and Cait have always shared a make up trailer, and that they always practice their lines while they are getting their makeup done. But he said they have lost control of the music to the young ones. He said that Sophie plays Taylor Swift and that he likes it. He said he had also watched the Taylor Swift documentary and enjoyed that.
He said that they are really close to the crew. After all this time they know their families, and have seen them have children. (It was a really sweet sentiment).
Ginger asked Sam if he would ever consider going on a tornado chase with her. Sam got really excited and said “Oh yes!!! Wow I would love that.” He said he had not understood until recently how violent tornadoes are. He said the United States has some very significant weather like the hurricanes and tornadoes. He said they have a whole section where tornadoes come every year. (I had to laugh since I live in tornado alley).
Sam said he is planning a Route 66 Motorcycle trip. He said that he thought it would be a great way to see America and that it seems old school and a lot of fun. He also mentioned that he would like to go to Montana and play at being a cowboy. Ginger noted that she had spent a lot of time in Montana and has family there.
Ginger then asked him if he had any other projects that he could announce. Sam said he would love to be able to announce another project, but that he is working so much on Outlander that he does not have time. However, he said he did a romantic comedy movie with Priyanka Chopra before Christmas. He said that is was a very different role for him, and when he showed up he wondered what he had gotten himself into. He said that he plays a basketball player. He said that he did not know anything about playing basketball, but that there was a small court near where he lives, and he practiced there before shooting the movie. He laughed and said he got started listening to Kanye West while he was playing basketball. He further stated that he loved working with Priyanka – that she is very hard working and driven and really great to work with. He enjoyed hanging out with she and her husband Nick Jonas. He said they drank lots of tequila. He said he had a great time working on the movie.
Ginger said that Sam has been using swords for the last several years. How did he enjoy working with guns in SAS: Red Notice? Sam said he wanted to use all the weapons, the hand guns and the long guns. They worked in plenty of hand gun work because he thinks that is sort of iconic to Bond and to Great Britain.
Ginger asked if Sam and Graham were to make a Hallmark movie what would the title be? Sam said probably the Grinch Comes for Christmas. The grinch would obviously be Graham, and he would be the five year old causing trouble.
Ginger asked if he was working on anything else. Sam said that he and Graham were working on a new project and that they are doing Zoom calls. He also said that there were lots of Men in Kilts possibilities. Ginger would like to see Men in Kilts come to North Carolina.
At this point we transitioned to audience questions. Not everyone got to ask a question but several did.
Question: Do you ever get nervous in an audition?
Sam: I used to be terrible. I spent 10 years being horribly nervous. I’d see other actors go in and say Hi! Great to see you. I wished that I could be like that. I even started buying a coffee before I went in. It was like a prop. Then I realized that I just needed to concentrate on the character. I also realized that the people casting want you to walk in and be the character. They want you to be successful.
Question: How do you get into character when you are auditioning?
Sam: Well it depends on the character. For instance, for the Paul Newman role I tried to get to the essence of Paul Newman. For Bloodshot I tried to understand why Jimmy was so angry. Jamie is exciting because he is constantly growing and learning more.
Question: How do you turn off the dark stuff that you have to play.
Sam: Season one had some really dark places, and season 3 was difficult in many ways in that Jamie was almost catatonic in the first episode. He did not want to be alive. But I have really never found it too hard to turn it off. With Outlander by the time the day ends, you go to costume, and get out of all of that, them it’s to make up and you have to remove all the make up, and then there is the drive home. We have a lot of humor on set. Our cast and crew are very supportive. We laugh a lot.
Question: Would you ever do a role on Broadway?
Sam: I would love to. Theatre is a shared experience. Watching TV or a movie is also a shared experience, but the theatre is the most primal, the foundational shared experience. I think it plays an important role in our lives.
Question: What are the West Coast of Scotland must sees?
Sam: The islands. Mull is one of my favorites. It has a Munro, and it is not crowded. I camped out there in the summer. It has a really pretty harbour. There are several other islands like Eigg and Muck.
Question: You said that most people do not like your favorite music, but what is your favorite music?
Sam: I like lots of different kinds. I was listening to heavy metal today as I was getting ready for the fight. I love the overture to The Magic Flute. And like I said, I have been listening to Kanye West. And I’ve mentioned before that I love Scottish music. If you know some good music, tweet me or put it on Instagram.
Question: You mentioned in another interview that you want to have more balance in your life. How are you achieving that.
Sam: Well that is kind of hard right now because we are working long days. But I am planning a little trip at the end of the year. Actually it will be quite a big adventure, If I get to do it. But I am trying to be more self aware.
Question: What do you most admire about Jamie’s character and what do you think about how horribly women were treated in the 18th century.
Sam: That is an interesting situation – historical accuracy. Women were treated horribly, and we still have a long, long way to go. We have lots of discussion on Outlander, and sometimes I’ve said, no Jamie would not do that. Then I am reminded that it is the 18th century, and things were very different, but seen though our lens today – no.
What do I most admire about Jamie? Well it has to be his love for Claire. It is never-ending and he would do anything for her, to protect her. They are still in love with each other even though they are older. I think that is what makes people love this story so much.
(Then my name got called!!! Squee!!)
Me: Sam, thank you and Ginger for doing this event. I live in Oklahoma, and Route 66 runs right through our state. It is a great historical route. There is even a big round barn that you pass. Ginger says – and also the Wichita Mountains are great.
Question: How many episodes have you filmed so far in Season 6?
Sam: You’re a cheeky one. (Laugh). I don’t think we have completed any so far. We have filmed many, many scenes from multiple episodes. I’ll let you do the math. It is taking us 24-25 days to do a block. Each block has 2 episodes. We started at the end of January, soooooo.
Question: What part of Scotland do you still want to see on your Harley that you haven’t yet.
Sam: I want to do the North Coast 500. That would be really fun. I’m going out this weekend with a few people. One of our security guys has a Harley, and Wendy’s husband has a motorcycle. So it should be fun. We have some days off around Easter.
Question: With all the things you are doing will you ever do fan events in the future?
Sam: I love fan events. The last fan event I did was last January in New Orleans and it was so much fun. I love New Orleans. The food, the music, the people. I would love to do another fan event in New Orleans. So yes whenever we can again.
Question: Can you tell us anything about the Covid protocols that you have in place on Outlander?
Sam: Yes. Men in Kilts was one fo the first to shoot with the protocols. Sony used us as sort of a guinea pig. Of course we had a small crew and only two cast members.
Outlander has two machines, and we are tested every day. Everyone has a bubble – multiple bubbles depending on what you do etc. We wear masks and even eye protectors in certain situations. So far it has gone very well. It’s hard and very different.
Question: Do you have any regrets from earlier seasons or jobs? Things that you would like to be able to do differently.
Sam: I haven’t watched all of Outlander. I have watched Seasons 1-3, but not Seasons 4-5. I’m still too close to those. But looking at Season 1, I think we were so new and just getting started. But I think it has a fresh and real feeling. Or at least that is what I see. And I just think how lucky I have been to have done Outlander. It changed my life. (When Sam said this, he just glowed – his sincerity was so obvious).
Ginger: Well it is wonderful! Absolutely top rate.
Question: Which of the two national parks in Scotland do you prefer?
Sam: Loch Lomond is very easy to get to with it being so close to Glasgow. The Cairngorms are wilder. They are sort of the gateway to the Highlands. But both are wonderful. There are so many places in Scotland that are just wonderful.
At this point the audience questions ended. The moderator from Chase, Sheryl Webster, came on and asked Ginger and Sam several travel questions.
Question: Aisle seat or window?
Ginger: It used to be window, but now aisle.
Sam: I’d say the same. I like the aisle now so I can get up. But if I want to sleep the window is better.
Question: Where are you looking forward to traveling to next?
Sam: America. I really miss going to America. I will be glad when we can go back and do press and premieres.
Question: If you are on a long haul flight who would you like to be able to sit by, if you could choose anyone at all?
Ginger: My Mom (I’ve missed her in Covid). Or James Cameron. He is the most fascinating interview I’ve ever done. I’d love to ask him all about his movies.
Sam: Jamie Fraser. He would be very interesting to talk to. He would be totally excited to be on an airplane. But also the first person to climb Mt. Everest. But most of all my Granddad. Yes, I’d like to sit by my Granddad.
That was the end of the program. Cheryl thanked everyone and reminded Sam that he needed to do his pictures for us. Yeah!!!