CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo interviews Scottish actor Sam Heughan on his new role in the new action comedy ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me.’
At the TCA press day for the upcoming PBS series The Great American Read, Outlander author Diana Gabaldon was part of a panel (which also included Meredith Viera and Nicholas Sparks) to talk about becoming an author, seeing her work adapted for television, and some of her own favorite literature. In the eight-part PBS series, Viera will go through the America’s 100 best-loved novels (as voted on by this survey, which is currently open), and will explore what these choices might have to say about American culture. Gabaldon was of course asked about her favorite book: “Well, trying to pick one favorite book out of the universe of books is impossible,” she shared. “It’s a dead heat between Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Lonesome Dove. And having made that decision, I was thinking what do these books have in common? You know, why do I like them both so much? I finally decided that it’s because they share what my husband refers to, in reference to my work, as the ‘One damn thing after another’ school of fiction.”
Some of the most interesting parts of the panel discussion, though, were Gabaldon’s thoughts on writing, and her own process. “I don’t write in a straight line and I don’t plan stories out ahead of time. I, in fact, don’t actually know what’s going to happen in a book,” she said. “I began writing Outlander for practice. I knew I was supposed to be a novelist, but I didn’t know how; and I decided the way to learn was to actually write a novel. So, Outlander was my practice book. I was never going to show it to anyone, so it didn’t matter what I did with it. It didn’t have to have a genre, so I used anything that I like. And I’ve been reading since I was three years old. I like a lot of stuff, and I used it all.”
Gabaldon told a story about how she was first discovered: posting on a CompuServe message board focused on discussing literature. “I had always known I was supposed to be novelist, and when I was 36, I said, ‘Well, you better start writing a novel, then.’ she said. “Well, actually what I said was ‘Mozart was dead at 36. You better get started.’ So I did.” It all started there when she had an argument with a man who was trying to tell her what it feels like to be pregnant (she has three children), and she corrected him by sharing a story excerpt she had written where a woman describes it to her brother. People read it and wanted more, so she continued writing excerpts until someone on the board recommended a literary agent. “My husband says I am congenitally unable to lose an argument, and he’s right. That’s why I overcame my fear of showing what I was writing, in order to win an argument, and I did, as a matter of fact, win the argument.”
One of the most interesting questions asked of the panel was, after a work has been adapted into a movie or TV show, do the authors see the actors in their minds when they are writing, or do they see their original creations? Gabaldon answered that when it comes to the Starz series, “I know that for a number of readers, because they say so on my Facebook page and so forth, the vision of the actors does, in fact, supersede their original vision of what the characters looked like. It doesn’t for me. They still look the same way they’ve always looked.” However, when it came to casting Sam Heughan, she knew at once that he was right for the part:
“First time I saw Sam Heughan, though, they sent me his audition tape for Jamie Fraser, and I was looking up his pictures on my way to wherever I was going, and he has a very limited filmography, not many pictures, and, frankly, the ones that he had up were strange. Anyway, so, when I saw the audition, I didn’t know what to expect. He appeared, and in five seconds into it, I was saying he doesn’t look anything like his photos. He looks fine. Five seconds more, he was gone, and it was just Jamie Fraser right there. I recognized him immediately.”
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It’s one thing to attend a screening of The Spy Who Dumped Me because Outlander’s favorite redheaded Scotsman, Sam Heughan, stars in it (as a steel-jawed MI6 agent, no less). But it’s another thing for the man himself to walk in to the event—surprise!—and chat to the audience about his experience making the movie. Oh, and also, Heughan introduced a sneak peek of season 4. “It’ll self-destruct,” he joked.
Here’s what the man behind Jamie Fraser, and now English spy Sebastian, had to say about the forthcoming action comedy film, the very little he can tease about Outlander season 4, and whether Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, and Caitriona Balfe are actually the same person.
You play a badass agent in this movie. What was it like for you to take the transition from Jamie to this role?
No wig, no kilt, no horses…It was a fantastic experience. This was a great opportunity to do something completely different. And Mila and Kate really are—you’re going to see in a few minutes—so good together, and funny. Their friendship is the core of this movie and it’s genuine. That’s the whole chemistry…those two girls really hit it off. Plus, there’s some pretty badass action.
You got to film with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon all throughout Europe. What was that like—were you just laughing through every take?
They’re amazing. We did get to go all around Europe—you’ll see in the movie that it’s a bit of a road trip. They are just so funny, and it’s completely different to working in a very straight drama where you have a very tight schedule. On this [set], every take was completely different. And I don’t know if you know—you probably have seen Kate—she is the best, she’s so funny. It’s overwhelming, actually, how funny she is. Every take is completely different.
What scene was your favorite to shoot?
There’s one scene, actually, that made me laugh aloud many times when I read the script. I’m not in it, of course—it’s with Kate and Mila. There’s a car…they don’t know how to drive stick shift, and it’s just such a funny moment. And I think that all comes down to Susanna [Fogel] who wrote the script. It’s a really great script.
Everyone here is an Outlander fan. Season 4 is coming in November—what can you tease?
We’re going to be in America. It’s the new world, we’re establishing a home—you get to see Jamie and Claire really be together and enjoy being a family. Which Jamie’s always wanted, of course. He’s always wanted to have a large family and settle. So in America, this is sort of the first opportunity—for, like, a day. And then it’s Outlander, so it all goes tits up.
The show transforms the Scottish countryside into North Carolina. What types of magical tricks did the Outlander team pull off this year?
We put a McDonald’s on every corner—fast food joints all over the place. [Laughs] No. I went to North Carolina, as [Outlander author] Diana Gabaldon kindly instructed me to visit some places. And it’s remarkable how similar Scotland actually does look to places in North Carolina. Filming in Scotland, you’re really transported somewhere. It’s something to do with the woods and the vast landscape—obviously, we’re not as big as America, but there is something in that heritage. Just learning about America…it’s a land of immigrants and different cultures, it’s a melting pot. It’s a dangerous place and an exciting place of opportunity. So you have a really great country here, and we’re going to try to show you a little bit of its infancy.
Did you have to learn any new skills or tricks for Jamie in season 4? How’s your bear tracking?
It’s a dangerous place. I think season 4 is really setting the scene for 5 and 6, too, which we recently got commissioned for. It is a big arc—a big, long story. So it really sets the picture for the next of the rest few seasons.
Book fans will know that [a key location for the season] is Fraser’s Ridge. What should fans know about it?
It’s so cold there. I know you guys deal in Fahrenheit—that’s something we should have changed when we came to America. We should have kept Celsius, because it’s much easier. [Crowd sighs] Booo [laughs], and it was very, very cold there. We’re shooting through a pretty tough winter in Scotland this year, so it’s so cold. And we had thunder snow, which we’ve never had before, where it’s thunder and lightning all the time—oh yeah, you guys have that here. That’s how much we went into making this authentic. It’s just like America.
As we get into the fourth season of Outlander, I’m curious to know—when you look back to how your life has changed since the pilot, what stands out to you the most?
I have my own mic, that’s what’s changed! What has changed…just everything. The opportunities. I’m in a movie! This has given me so much opportunity—not only with charity work and My Peak Challenge, but other things. I’m off to do another movie in two weeks in South Africa, to shoot with Vin Diesel, which will be fun—it’s a comic book movie [Bloodshot]. There’s a lot of opportunity, and that’s down to the popularity of Outlander, and you guys, so thank you.
What do you want fans to know about The Spy Who Dumped Me before they tune in?
Just enjoy it. It’s so fun, you’ll see. The core of it is this great friendship between two women who have each other’s backs. And enjoy the action. See if you can see where I break my ankle like Tom Cruise…no, I didn’t!
Do your co-stars Kate McKinnon, Mila Kunis, and [Outlander’s] Caitriona Balfe have any similarities besides being so incredibly talented and beautiful?
I think they’re probably the same person, actually. I feel like they just change wigs [laughs]. No, they’re all extremely hardworking. Caitriona is amazing and diligently works hard, day in and day out. It’s the same with [Mila and Kate]. It’s not just that they’re funny comedians. It’s not about being a funny person—it’s about hard work. Kate had a little notepad she’d bring out every take to write down new ideas, new lines. She learned Hungarian while we were there. She’s so hardworking. And the same with Mila—she’s been in the industry for years. It takes a lot of work to become at the top of your game, and those three girls really are.
Sam Heughan tells us all about “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” new projects, and more with New York Live.
Sam was interviewed on Despierta America this morning promoting The Spy Who Dumped Me. Watch the full interview below:
Sam visited Sirius XM radio today. I’ve added a few photos to the gallery. Enjoy!
Sam has been all over the place this past week and it’s so great to see! Check him out on The Today Show, today! Enjoy.
Check out the new Outlander season 4 teaser trailer released last night. I posted it on twitter last night so be sure to follow us on Twitter to receive faster and more updates and news on your twitter feed about Outlander and Sam.
Sam was at AOL Build today promoting The Spy Who Dumped Me. Check out clips from his interview (I will add the full interview soon) as well as photos from the event and recent photo session additions. Enjoy!
July 30 – Arriving/Leaving AOL Build
2018: Photo Session #05
2018: Photo Session #04
2018: Photo Session #03
I’ve added a few photos of Sam from The Spy Who Dumped Me NY Premiere and from MTV Studios this morning. I have more photos from the premiere to add so stay tuned. I am sorting for both him and Mila so it’s taking me a little longer. Enjoy!