FIRST came the Diana Gabaldon books, starting with Cross Stitch, and then season one of Outlander, the time-travel drama that has swept Australia up in its path.
Season two begins airing on Foxtel’s Soho channel and Outlander star, Sam Heughan, flew Down Under recently to promote the series and meet with fans and media – and caught some sport while he was here.
His flying visit to Australia in March began with a rugby match between The Waratahs and the Highlanders.
“Alliance Stadium had a great atmosphere and it was very family-oriented,” Heughan said.
“I’m a huge rugby fan and support the Scotland team, but it was great to be able to see some local rugby.
“Southern Hemisphere rugby is very much attacking rugby.”
The actor also visited Bondi Beach and Manly to soak up the sun, and climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
“The visit was short but fun,” he said.
Heughan said he would love to return to experience more of Australia and he had enjoyed Sydney.
“I missed the Grand Prix in Melbourne,” he said.
“I really like the lifestyle here and am really enjoying the food down here, too.
“I’d also love to get to New Zealand.
“(Co-star) Graham McTavish lives there and has invited me over – maybe he hasn’t, but I’ve just invited myself.
“I’ve been very surprised by Australia.”
Outlander has resonated with fans across the world and Australians can’t get enough of the show, the storyline or its actors.
“I think the show has done really well internationally,” he said.
“It is surprising to see how much it is resonating with people and what a passionate fan base we have across the world, no matter where we are.”
For those women wanting to get their men into watching the show, Heughan said males could quite easily embrace it.
“The show is from the peer view of a woman, but there really is something there for everyone,” he said.
“It’s historical drama, so there’s action, adventure and there is romance, and there is a hell of a lot of politics and back-stabbing.
“The show can appeal to men as well, because there are a lot of battle scenes.”
Heughan said becoming Jamie was a long process, “from reading the book to going over the scripts,” he said.
“I’ve been in the job for three years and he’s changed a lot.
“He’s growing older and being affected by all of his experiences – season two really explores that.”
The actor said he didn’t love all of his character’s traits, however.
“He can be pretty rash at times, and he doesn’t always think and sometimes just reacts,” Heughan said.
“As he learns more in season two, he begins to think a lot more and his actions become more planned and calculated.
“In this season, he learns to deceive people and play people, but that doesn’t sit well with him because he’s such an honourable character.”
The most confronting moments in season one came at the hands of Black Jack Randall, when he repeatedly raped Jamie at Wentworth Prison, but season two is not without its controversies.
“Being in Paris at that time, it’s quite a poisonous place,” Heughan said.
“Jamie is dealing with the personal trauma he’s experienced, and him and Clare are going to be parents, and then there is the public side where they are trying to infiltrate the Jacobites, so there is a lot that pulls them apart.
“That drives a wedge between Jamie and Clare and they lose track of each other.”
Heughan said he had enjoyed filming season two because Paris looked amazing, with fantastic sets, but it’s the build-up to one of the biggest moments in Scottish history that is a highlight.
“For me, we’re building up to Culloden and the big battle, and these were momentous parts of Scottish history,” he said.
The actor said Outlander had taken over his life.
“My life is Outlander and it doesn’t leave much room for anything else,” he said.
“Having said that, it is also very rewarding – I get to work in a show year-in, year-out and we have a very close cast and crew, so I’m lucky with that. It has also given me a lot of opportunity to travel the world.”
When he’s not filming Outlander, though, Heughan is pushing himself in the My Peak Challenge, preparing to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and raise money for blood cancer charity Bloodwise.
“It’s terrific,” he said.
“We built this workout series app and online workout that you can sign up to and the profits go to charity.
“There is a community there, which is really important because people support each other – it’s inspiring.”
He said while he hadn’t personally been affected by blood cancer specifically, cancer in general affected so many people.
“I’ve managed to meet people through My Peak Challenge, such as Amy Carmichael, and she’s so inspiring,” he said.
“Her story is one of great courage, and watching that makes you think, ‘I can do more and push myself further’.”
Heughan said the cast and crew were “hopeful” that a season three would be made.
“It would be great to continue this story and see where it goes,” he said.
“If season two goes well and people want us to come back, then we would love to.”
There shouldn’t be too many worries with it returning, if the success of the first season and the anticipation of the second season is anything to go by.