EXCLUSIVE: As Outlander marks 10 years since filming started on the Starz series, Daily Express speaks to the show’s casting director Suzanne Smith.
Sam Heughan has become synonymous with Outlander’s dashing hero Jamie Fraser, however, the show’s makers feared casting the right actor in the role would be an arduous process.
However, their fears proved to be unfounded after Heughan, 43, was one of the first to be cast in the role as Jamie.
Instead, it would be the part of Claire Fraser which was the most challenging and eventually won by at the time little-known star Caitríona Balfe.
Even the dual role of Frank Randall and Captain Jonathan ‘Black Jack’ Randall was cast relatively quickly when Tobias Menzies was brought on board.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Express, Outlander’s casting director Suzanne Smith shared insight into how she found Heughan.
Smith explained: “Well, with actors, you follow their careers, so I knew Sam from drama school and I brought him in for quite a few roles before, so I’d followed his career so I knew him.
“So there’s not many very tall Scots that are right for Jamie Fraser, so Sam came to mind straight away.
“We did audition other actors and the casting process is not just one audition, you do a couple, so it’s a process of each role that we do on the show.”
Smith went on to say: “He just embodied the role and also being a wonderful human being, which is so important.
“So, we did one audition and then we did a recall and then we did a final recall with our producers.”
Reflecting on the qualities she was looking for, Smith said: “The thing is when you’re casting, you never know. Sometimes a role you think is the most difficult proves not to be and the role that you think is going to be the easiest is the hardest and that’s the enjoyable thing – sometimes frustrating thing – you never know.
“So I know that my producers thought that Jamie Fraser was going to be the difficult role and it proved not to be.”
She added the search for Jamie and indeed Claire was a “worldwide” one, ensuring when she was casting to “leave no stone unturned”
Addressing the casting process more generally through the years, Smith said it “really does depend” with the Covid pandemic impacting on finding the right actors for season six.
However, as Outlander is a historical drama, costuming is key as are the fittings, which means Smith and her team would often to be working towards a “timeline”.
But generally on Outlander, casting mirrors the filming process with episodes shot in blocks and so she would be looking for actors for these blocks.
Smith said: “There’s a lot of prep that goes in because we shoot on locations and the weather in Scotland, not always sunny. There’s also prep for actors because sometimes horse riding comes into it.”
The casting director will now be working on season eight following the end of the writers’ strike but before then fans have season seven, part two to look forward to with actress Balfe opening up about a tough moment on set recently