Scottish lads in the 18th century were, by necessity, strong and fit. But they didn’t look like modern-day bodybuilders. Sam Heughan does, and “Outlander” fans don’t seem to mind. The star spends plenty of screen time shirtless as the Highlands warrior Jamie Fraser on the Starz show, which starts its second season tonight. He bulked up for the role with what he called “functional weightlifting and CrossFit type stuff.” But he still makes time for his first fitness passion: running.
How did you get into running?
It just started with strapping on a pair of trainers and going outside. I was traveling a lot as a young actor, and while in a new city I’d want to see the place, so I would just put on my trainers and go for a jog. And the more I did that, the more I found I was traveling longer and longer distances. I just fell into it.
What are some of your fondest memories from your travel runs?
There are so many. I was doing a tour of the Batman live stage production and I challenged the cast to join me to run. One time we were running in Switzerland just before Christmas and it was heavy snow. Another time we were running down the Seine in Paris on Christmas Day and we all had Santa hats on. And I remember training for the Paris marathon I had to get up really early and do a 20-mile training run. I was in Cincinnati and running all alone along the river and saw so much wildlife.
What was it that attracted you to marathon running?
“I think if me and Caitriona were together we wouldn’t say. Why would you? In this industry we give away so much of ourselves anyway”
To the casual observer, the striking tall man in the blue shirt sipping a simple black coffee by the fire in the conservatory of a central London hotel could be any other 35-year-old.
But this is Sam Heughan, a Scottish boy from Dumfries done good with a fanbase of millions online, whom he can rally to any cause in less than 140 characters.
“They love a vote, don’t they?”, chuckles Heughan when we talk about Clan Outlander, the self-titled ‘Heughligans’ who voted the actor to victory in a mammoth Radio Times TV Champion poll just last summer.
And it was all testament to the power of Facebook and Twitter.
“In the early days of social media, you’d have a programme like Firefly, and when it was going to get cancelled, there was this great uproar by the fans”, Heughan muses.
“Fans are getting more power now aren’t they? To sway how a programme goes. They certainly seem to take on board what fans say and feel about the show.”
120 million votes – and one very nearly broken website – later we found ourselves in Glasgow, on the Cumbernauld set of the fantasy drama series, presenting Heughan with a silver TV Champion cup.
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