Sam Heughan doesn’t see himself as a heartthrob (Picture: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images)
Playing Jamie Fraser in the historical drama, the Scottish actor found a legion of fans, who often enjoyed the raunchier scenes between the dashing Highland rebel, and his wife Claire (played by Caitríona Balfe), who is a time traveller from the 20th century.
Now he’s starring in Channel 4’s The Couple Next Door – the dark physiological thriller, which Sam has described as ‘sexy.’
He plays traffic cop Danny, who has an open relationship with his wife Becka (Jessica De Gouw). Things get complicated when Evie (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Pete (Alfred Enoch) move into their suburban neighbour and their lives become intertwined.
Despite his back catalogue of work Sam toldMetro.co.uk: ‘I don’t consider myself a heartthrob.
‘I know that there’s an aspect of that to the shows that I’ve been in but I don’t really think about it.’
Sam has been the leading man in Outlander since it began in 2014 (Picture: James Minchin)
A lot of Sam’s fans would strongly disagree, with a few commenting on his recent (topless) holiday photos that he’d managed to ‘break the internet.’
Luckily, his WiFi had recovered from the snaps, and he could join us on a Zoom call, where he said: ‘I guess when you post photos of yourself on the beach, essentially, now it’s called a thirst trap.
‘I shall continue to thirst trap until Gen Z thinks it’s uncool,’ he joked.
Sam doesn’t mind sharing the occasional thirst trap (Picture: Instagram/Sam Heughan)
The 43-year-old certainly doesn’t shy away from work that require him to partake in sex scenes, and he’s excited to show a different kind of relationship on-screen in his latest TV project.
‘It’s very important that we do show open relationships in our modern age as people are now more open to different lifestyles,’ he stated.
‘We were very careful and discussed what the parameters were of this fictional relationship so it felt authentic. These are some complex relationships that human beings have, so it’s not black and white. It’s certainly great to have a show that discusses it.’
Sam thinks it’s important we show different relationships on-screen (Picture: Channel 4)
Sam felt comfortable filming the sex scenes thanks to the help of intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey.
‘When I started out, the industry was very different. I brought in an intimacy coordinator to Outlander in the last couple of years and actually brought her to this show too.
‘The cast adored working with her. She gives you more tools to work with but also just makes it very clear for everyone and makes everyone feel safe.
‘It was a challenge for me and Eleanor because we have both done those kinds of scenes in our prospective shows.’
The actor believes what the audience doesn’t see is just as important as what they do see.
‘The imagination of the audience is much more interesting than showing everything,’ he remarked.
‘No one really wants to see anything gratuitous these days, but attraction is also a huge part of his relationships. We were very careful about what we did and didn’t show. It really ups the pressure and excitement. Certainly, it’s very tantalising for characters and hopefully, the audience will enjoy it.’
Sam felt inspired working with Eleanor (Picture: Channel 4)
Sam is currently going through a ‘transition’ as he prepares to film the final season of Outlander, which he also serves as an executive producer on.
‘It’s been a decade of my life, probably longer, and it’s been incredible. It’s changed my life. It’s given me opportunities like this,’ he gratefully declared.
Rather than fearing the change, Sam is ‘excited’ to pursue other opportunities.
‘It will be bittersweet,’ he quickly added.
The pair have become friends after working on The Couple Next Door (Picture: Instagram/Sam Heughan)
‘It’s cool to play new characters but it’ll be sad to leave the show.’
His co-star Eleanor went through a similar experience when she finished Poldark in 2019 after four years, and they’ve had plenty of conversations about how to deal with the shift.
‘Eleanor and I talked about it a lot as we both had a similar trajectory.
Sam is open to playing James Bond (Picture: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for STARZ)
‘It’s just nice to see that she’s having such a successful career and that she’s really branched out into doing other projects, but also she’s not feeling the pressure of having to secure other work or to to live up to expectations.
‘She’s really challenging herself. That’s something that I kind of take on board. I’m going to take my time choosing the next project and hopefully, it’ll be something completely different.’
Perhaps taking over from Daniel Craig as James Bond could be an option?
‘It’s a great character, and I’d certainly love to see another Scottish Bond,’ he diplomatically responded.
‘I auditioned for it many years ago. I’d love to have another opportunity. I’m not sure I fit in the suit right now. I would probably have to slim down a bit but yeah, I mean, who knows? It’s a great franchise for sure. I love it.’
Of course, that would mean an extra level of fame, and Sam can’t imagine having to deal with that.
Sam can’t imagine what it’s like to be ‘very famous’ (Picture: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ)
‘Being famous is like being spied on. I can’t imagine what it’s like for actually very famous people.
‘I do sometimes feel the boundary is not crossed, but it’s blurred. I didn’t get into the job to put my private life in public but I guess it’s part of the business.’
Another downside of fame is being expected to comment on world situations. He recently ‘inadvertently signed’ a letter condemning Israel for its attacks on Palestine, which accused the British Government of ‘not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them.’
He later clarified it was a mistake and it does not reflect his beliefs.
‘I inadvertently signed something that does not reflect my beliefs. I believed it was a simple call for peace. It wasn’t,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas. It’s haunting to the core, my heart goes out to all affected.
‘I don’t know nearly enough and [I am] trying to educate myself on the conflicts in the Middle East. I feel helpless and wish I could help in some way. I pray for compassion, for all the innocent people affected. Peace and love to you all.’
When asked if he feels pressure to comment on politics, Sam answered: ‘It’s hard, isn’t it? It’s certainly hard with politics as you are always going upset someone. Actors have an opinion as we are human beings as well but I think in this day and age, it’s difficult to to please everyone. Maybe actors should stay out of politics.’
The Couple Next Door is a six-part series that starts on Channel 4 on November 27 at 9pm. You can stream all episodes from that date.
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Sam is starring in a new Channel 4 series.