Outlander Jamie Fraser actor Sam Heughan recalls what moving to Edinburgh as teenager was like

It was a big change, but also hugely exciting says the world-famous Scottish actor
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Outlander actor Sam Heughan has opened up about his family’s move to Edinburgh when he was a teenager – saying it was like a “like a whole new world for him”.

The Scottish actor, who plays Jamie Fraser in the hit time-travelling drama series, moved from his native Dumfries and Galloway to the Scottish capital at the age of 12.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In his new memoir Waypoints, which currently tops the New York Times bestseller list, he talks about what it was like to be uprooted from a quiet community to a bustling city.

Outlander actor Sam Heughan has opened up about his family’s move to Edinburgh when he was a teenagerOutlander actor Sam Heughan has opened up about his family’s move to Edinburgh when he was a teenager
Outlander actor Sam Heughan has opened up about his family’s move to Edinburgh when he was a teenager

In a chapter titled ‘The Wake-Up Call’, Heughan reveals that his family moved to Edinburgh so his mother could enrol at Edinburgh College of Art.

He writes: “After years of living in a quiet community, my mother, my brother and I packed our belongings for what felt like a whole new world.

“Swapping the stable and the castle ruins for a suburban street in Edinburgh, we set about settling in for this new chapter in our lives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was a big change, but also hugely exciting for two young lads like Cirdan and me. I had just finished at my little primary school, so I started high school at the same time as all my new classmates.

“It was a little overwhelming to begin with, but since I could now see without the dreaded glasses, I soon started to make friends and feel comfortable in a crowd.”

The 12-year-old Heughan attended James Gillespie's High School, which he recalls as having “very strong on rules and discipline”.

He also remembers a run-in with the school’s head teacher, after an incident involving a carton of milk.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Heughan writes: “On one occasion, I came very close to getting into trouble from the top.

“At the time, I had just been made a school prefect... The incident began with a milk carton. I had been tasked with helping to dish them out at break time to pupils who were part of a milk-in-schools scheme.

“On finding one left over, I decided to join the scheme for one break only... A moment later, like a gunslinger in some two-bit town, the headmistress stepped out.

“My eyes went wide with horror... I seized an escape route in the form of the door to the toilet block... I took one look at the open window and lobbed it out.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Musing that it was the perhaps first time he ever got into character, Heughan goes on to describe raiding a bin once his headmistress questioned him about the missing milk carton – and how he bluffed her after luckily finding one at the bottom.

He writes: “The headmistress considered the carton in my hand... Once again she seemed to be searching my expression for cracks. The face-off only lasted for a couple of seconds, but it felt like a lifetime.

“It was perhaps the first occasion that I'd got into character, and it wouldn't be the last. Ultimately it showed me what was possible if I delivered it with conviction.”

It’s not the first time the acclaimed actor has spoken fondly about his time living in Edinburgh.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In an interview last year with Square Mile, a men’s luxury lifestyle magazine for London, the Balmaclellan-born star was asked if he could think of a moment or experience that influenced who he is as a person today.

“I was living in the countryside as a young child, there were four people in my class at school. And then I moved to Edinburgh, which to me felt like a metropolis. I started going to the theatre.

“Just being in the city was really inspiring. It opened up the world to me, as a teenager. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.