Outlander author Diana Gabaldon wanted Liam Neeson or Sir Sean Connery to play Jamie Fraser

Hunky Sam Heughan wasn’t Outlander writer Diana Gabaldon’s first choice to play Jamie Fraser – she had Liam Neeson or Sir Sean Connery close to heart.

The writer, whose books spawned one of the most popular TV shows on the planet, said that in picturing Jamie on screen it was about the rugged Irish actor or the star 007 that she saw in the role.

But, speaking at the launch of the ninth book in the Outlander series, Diana, 69, admitted that Sam’s cloak and sword turned out to be the perfect choice and that she wouldn’t change it for the world. .

The writer, who has confirmed that the sixth series of the hit drama starring Heughan, 41, as Jamie and Catriona Balfe as her time-traveling lover Claire, will air on March 6 2022, said: “Liam Neeson and Sir Sean Connery were the first contenders. for Jamie.

“It was years ago when my first books were selected for a feature film. People kept asking me who I would choose and these are the first two that come to mind.

“I was just thinking in general terms of tall, Celtic-looking men who could be successful and Liam and Sean were built that way and looked great in a kilt.

“The feature didn’t happen and when the Starz series started Neeson and Connery were too old and I left it up to the casting directors to find the perfect Jamie and I wasn’t disappointed.”

Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire and Jamie Fraser

Diana, whose long-awaited book Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone is out now, exactly 30 years after the publication of her first Outlander book in 1991, added: “I couldn’t be happier with Catriona and Sam as heroes. and heroine. They are just wonderful.

“Sam is just everything. He’s a lovely guy who has become a good friend. We have a connection because he brought the character to life and I provided him with a job.

“Jamie and Claire have become more than a family, they are part of me. They have been my constant companions since I wrote my first book about them 30 years ago. Finding the perfect actors to play them and my other characters is no easy feat, but the show managed to do it and I couldn’t be happier. It’s fascinating to watch the story come to life on screen.

Diana Gabaldon with her husband Doug Watkins
Diana Gabaldon with her husband Doug Watkins

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Celebrating the release of her new 900-page blockbuster – which took seven years to write – Diana also revealed that Jamie and Claire’s epic love story is partly based on her relationship with her 45-year-old husband, Doug Watkins.

The mother of three, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and had never set foot in Scotland before writing her first novel, said: “Doug is the love of my life and there are pieces of him in Jamie. We have been together for 50 years and married for 45 years. We have an everlasting relationship like Jamie and Claire.

“Ours spans decades, when he was centuries with them. My husband is proud that I feel this for him.

“I am often asked if I could travel through the stones in what period I would like to be and my answer is always the same – I am happy to be here with Doug and I would never want to be apart from him. We are planning to come to Scotland for our anniversary and take a look at the Culloden House Hotel near Inverness which is our favorite place to stay. ”

Diana Gabaldon
Diana Gabaldon

Diana is a consultant on the hit TV series, which before the pandemic was credited with boosting Scottish tourism by 72%, as fans flocked to Scotland to visit filming locations.

She said: “In 2019 Visit Scotland presented me with an award in recognition of my service to the industry.

“Scotland is one of the most beautiful countries on the planet and is a character in my books as Jamie and Claire. I feel honored to have helped boost tourism. It is a great legacy to leave the country I love.

Diana, who came up with the idea for her books after watching an episode of Doctor Who featuring a Scotsman in a kilt, said: “I’m a huge fan of The Doctor and was inspired… after watching an episode where Patrick Troughton played the time traveler.

“There was a minor character, a young Scotsman from 1745, who appeared in his kilt and I thought, ‘Perfect, a kilted hero in 18th century Scotland and the Stranger was born. “

“I’m still a fan of the show and can’t wait to catch up on the last two sets now that the book is finished. I don’t watch television when I write because there are already a lot of marbles of ideas rolling in my head.

Since the publication of Outlander’s first book, more than 50 million copies of Gabaldon’s novels have been sold worldwide.

Diana Gabaldon's Ninth Outlander <a class=Book – Go Tell The Bees I’m Gone” content=”https://i2-prod.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/article25528904.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/0_JS251419531.jpg”/>
Diana Gabaldon’s Ninth Outlander Book – Go Tell The Bees I’m Gone

In Go Tell the Bees I Am Gone, it’s 1779 and Claire and Jamie are finally reunited with their daughter Brianna, her husband Roger and their children in Fraser’s Ridge. But what horrors occurred in the future to bring about their return?

Having the family together is a dream come true, but the Revolutionary War is drawing ever closer and there has been a hint from the future that Jamie is dying on the battlefield. Will it happen?

Even though Diana has said in the past that this is the penultimate book, fans will be delighted to know the 10th in the series, it might not be the last we hear from Jamie. and Claire.

The software expert, who has three science degrees, including a doctorate, said: “It took me seven years to write this, which is slightly misleading because during that time I wrote four more books and three scripts for TV – it wasn’t like I was sitting twiddling my thumbs.

“The next book is supposed to be the last because that’s where the story and the lives of my characters seem to go, and I’m not going to live forever. I am 70 years old in January.

“I think it’s the last one, but there might be another. There’s nothing to say, I won’t see anything in Jamie and Claire’s life that I can write about. I also have a contract for a prequel on Jamie Fraser’s parents.

She added: “One of the biggest mysteries that has confused Outlander fans is how Jamie, who can’t time travel, is seen watching Claire in the 1940s. I can tell you. promise that everything will be revealed in volume 10.

The cast of season 6 of Outlander
The cast of season 6 of Outlander

Diana, who made an appearance in the first series of Outlander as the wife of a wealthy merchant, Iona MacTavish, has agreed to make another appearance in the final series.

The author, who is a fan of Scottish writers Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Andrew Greig, said: “I have been on the set of the series three times – mainly as a consultant – but made an appearance in the first series and I was asked to do another one in the finale but who knows when that will be.

“The sixth series will air in March of next year and a seventh has been confirmed. I hope all of my books come to life on screen. The appetite for Outlander is definitely here.

● Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon is now available.

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