Sam Roland Heughan was born 30 April 1980 and is a Scottish actor and producer.
He was born in Balmaclellan, in the historic county of Kirkcudbrightshire in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. His parents had been part of a hippie community in London called Gandalf’s Garden which was heavily influenced by the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and this inspired them to name Heughan and his older brother Cirdan after characters from The Lord of the Rings.
His mother, Chrissie Heughan, an artist and artisan papermaker, struggled to raise the two brothers after their father left when they were both young. At the age of five, Heughan moved to nearby New Galloway where he attended Kells Primary School. During this time, he lived in converted stables in the grounds of Kenmure Castle. Moving to Edinburgh at the age of twelve, he attended James Gillespie’s High School for a year and then moved to the Edinburgh Rudolf Steiner School until the end of the sixth year. He subsequently spent two years working and travelling, before enrolling at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow, graduating in 2003. During his schooling, he performed in numerous plays, including The Twits at Citizens Theatre, an adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Aeschylus’s Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound, and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Prior to his graduation, in 2002 Heughan was one of four students chosen to represent RSAMD at the BBC Carlton Hobbs radio talent competition.
In 2004, Heughan appeared in his first professional television role in the miniseries Island at War, a WWII drama about the German occupation of the Channel Islands. The following year, he appeared in several episodes of the Scottish soap opera River City and portrayed adulterous husband Pony William in David Harrower’s play Knives in Hens at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland. Between 2006 and 2009, Heughan appeared in a number of made-for-television films and miniseries, including BBC and PBS’s collaborative miniseries The Wild West (2006), Channel 4’s docudrama A Very British Sex Scandal (2007), and BBC Four’s Breaking the Mould (2009). During that time he also made appearances in a number of television series, including an episode of ITV’s Midsomer Murders, ITV’s crime drama Rebus, and two episodes of BBC’s political drama Party Animals. Between 2007 and 2009, Heughan made appearances in several live productions, including Noël Coward’s The Vortex at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Citizen’s Theatre, Iain F. MacLeod’s The Pearlfishers at the Traverse Theatre, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Dundee Repertory Theatre, Macbeth at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, and Nicholas de Jongh’s Plague Over England at the Duchess Theatre.
Heughan landed a recurring role as Scott Nielson in 2009 as Nurse Cherry Malone’s boyfriend and a secret drug dealer in the BBC soap opera Doctors. The following year, Heughan starred as the title character in the direct to video feature Young Alexander The Great, which was filmed in Egypt and explored the life of the teenager who would become Alexander the Great. He went on to star in BBC’s television film First Light, the story of RAF pilot Geoffrey Wellum’s experiences flying a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain, as documented in his WWII memoir of the same name. From there he featured in PBS’s BAFTA winning mini-series Any Human Heart, the story of author Logan Mountstuart’s life in the context of historical events surrounding him, based upon William Boyd’s novel of the same name. Heughan returned to theatre later that year in dramatist Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley at the Royal & Derngate. Throughout that same year, Heughan portrayed Hugh Tennent, founder of Tennent’s Lager, in a series of comical commercials.
He is best known for his starring role as Jamie Fraser in the Starz historical drama series Outlander (2014–present), he also starred in films, such as the spy comedy The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) and the superhero action film Bloodshot (2020).
Heughan received an honorary doctorate “in recognition for his outstanding contribution to acting and charitable endeavours” from the University of Stirling in June 2019. His second honorary doctorate in recognition of his artistic success and his charitable work was bestowed by the University of Glasgow in July 2019.
Heughan attributed much of his early success to his participation in youth theatre and, in August 2014, became a patron for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland. He supports the charitable organization’s mission ‘to transform lives through youth theatre by providing inspiring participatory opportunities for young people in Scotland.
In 2015, Heughan started the charitable foundation My Peak Challenge, a training, nutrition and support program that provides participants with a sense of community as they work toward personal goals, while concurrently raising money for charity. The foundation has partnered with Leukemia Lymphoma Research, Bear Strength Clothing and Fight Camp Glasgow to raise funds for cancer research. In 2019, Heughan teamed up with Omaze, raffling off a date to the 2019 MPC Gala, which raised $2,892,080 for Bloodwise UK.
In September 2016, Heughan took part in the Great North Run to raise funds for Bloodwise, which he has supported since 2011, and became president of Scotland Bloodwise.
In 2018, he ran both the Stirling and EMF Edinburgh Marathons in the space of a month to raise money for Cahonas Scotland and their Testicular Cancer Education and Awareness Programme. He raised £38,224 for the charity.