TVLine's Performer of the Week: Outlander's Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan Outlander

THE PERFORMER | Sam Heughan

THE SHOW | Outlander

THE EPISODE |To Ransom a Man’s Soul” (May 30)

THE PERFORMANCE | You can just imagine the thoughts that must’ve crossed the mind of Outlander‘s Sam Heughan upon hearing his character’s trajectory at the end of the season: “I’m going to do what? And they’re going to show every minute of it?” Indeed, Jamie’s rape by Black Jack Randall in the finale was a nasty, graphic, terrifying violation rendered heartbreakingly honest by Heughan’s performance. The fearless actor shifted Jamie from defiant to resigned to seemingly removed from the proceedings, until Randall — not satisfied with merely ravaging the Highlander’s body — decided to sully his soul, as well. As a disoriented and gravely injured Jamie realized that he’d inadvertenly experienced a moment of pleasure at his rapist’s hand, Heughan infused one facial expression with enough regret and sorrow to last several lifetimes.

After his rescue from the prison, the actor played Jamie’s torment and shame unflinchingly, relating his attack to Caitriona Balfe’s Claire in detached manner far removed from Jamie’s normal vibrance. And though the episode ended on a positive note — Heughan’s smile as Jamie learned he will be a father was like seeing your porch light suddenly come into view after a long time away from home — here’s hoping that Outlander allots the space and time in Season 2 to properly process what’s happened to its hero. Heughan is more than capable of handling it.

Rose McIver iZombie Performer of the WeekHONORABLE MENTION | Over iZombie‘s freshman season, star Rose McIver has proven herself to be extremely versatile as Liv took on the characteristics of an overly passionate Lothario painter and a PTSD-suffering sniper, to name a few. But in Tuesday’s episode, McIver truly impressed us with her range. First, she made us laugh repeatedly after consuming the brains of two distinctly different high schoolers, a Christian cheerleader and a stoner. Then she gut-punched us during an emotional moment with her friend Peyton, in which she came clean about her true zombie nature. As unprepared as Peyton was for that shocking revelation, we were even more unprepared for the wonderful revelation that is McIver.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION | The women on Everlasting — the Bachelor-esque reality show within Lifetime’s UnREAL — are full of big personalities, all with varying degrees of emotional stability and straight-up cattiness. And yet, it was Constance Zimmer‘s executive producer Quinn King who stole the show in Monday’s series premiere. Even at Quinn’s most sensitive moments — particularly her mid-episode heart-to-heart with Shiri Appleby’s disgraced Rachel — Zimmer’s every movement and line-reading was tinged with I-know-better-than-you attitude. All the more impressive was Zimmer’s ability to get us on Quinn’s side, despite her penchant for humiliating the Everlasting girls on camera. We expect to see even more of Quinn’s colors throughout UnREAL‘s freshman season, and we can’t wait to watch Zimmer explore every one of them.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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66 Comments
    • kirads09 says:

      I agree – honorable mention for Gillian. The way she plays Bedelia is so creepily controlled (is she trying to maintain control of herself I wonder after seeing that episode) and understated but in that is her brilliance. She seems both repulsed yet fascinated with Hannibal – possibly even loves him somewhat??? That S3 opener is hers to own.

  1. Lauren.m says:

    Agree with all of these! I actually finished watching Outlander about an hour ago so the episode is fresh in my mind. Sam Heughan was freaking fantastic and heartbreaking and gut wrenching and many more descriptors that don’t fully do him justice. Well deserved!

  2. Laurie says:

    100% agree about Sam’s performance. Eyes really are windows to a man’s soul. If he doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for his performance on Outlander then there is something seriously wrong with the system.

    • Alichat says:

      God…his eyes. I rewatched the episode a few times just marveling at his eyes……how full of rage they were at one point, hollow and almost black at another, blank and empty at other times…….it’s was startling and impressive.

      • Kelly says:

        Totally agree. The scene where Jamie demands that Willy kill him, his beautiful blue eyes were completely black. No idea how he does it!

    • The Bluelady says:

      Sam Heughan’s performance in Outlanders was heart-breakenly fantastic . I couldn’t stop crying. He has to win an Emmy. An once-in-a-lifetime performance that will be remembered for a long time!

    • oceanpebble says:

      Not only the eye’s expression or lack of it, but also complete absense of breathing !!! Watched the last episode twice and as Jamie is lying there, there’s no motion of a body breathing, his back is totally stiff !!! Now, if that’s not a detailed pergormance, I don’t know what is …. At least 3 Emmys worth I’d say !!!!

    • Tar Herron says:

      I agree! His eyes portrayed every emotion that words would simply not have expressed!

  3. anon123 says:

    Tatiana Maslany should be in this every week.

    • FatherOctavian says:

      I agree, but this was one of the few weeks where she didn’t deserve to win it. Sam Heughan’s performance in the “Outlander” finale was extraordinary.

    • lauren says:

      IMHO comments like this actually serve to dilute her reputation as an actress. As a fan of hers, I wish people would be a bit more discriminating in hailing her performances because it probably sounds like white noise to the press by now.

    • Wouter says:

      Honestly i think it;s too late for Tatiana. She should’ve won already by now and plotwise Orphan Black is not as good as it used to be.

  4. JenE says:

    Sam Heughan is just so damn good! Where has this guy been? He was the absolute perfect choice to play Jamie Fraser. Look forward to what he does next season. (Having read the book & knowing what’s coming, I believe he is up to the task, especially the ending which maybe broke my heart more than book one since book one ends on a more hopeful note). Definitely a worthy choice you made.

  5. Piper says:

    Both “Wentworth” and “To Ransom A Man’s Soul” were two of the best hours of television I’ve even seen in my life. Every emotional played, every sinew of my body tense, tears…..I see them over and over in my brain. All three actors, Tobias Menzies, Catriona Balfe and Sam were perfect, nuanced and moving, but I agree with the above, Sam Heughan’s performance as Jamie Fraser’s physical, emotional and psychological rape and torture at the hands of Black Jack was the most amazing performance I have ever seen from an actor not just on television, but ANYWHERE. Just hand him the Emmy already.

    • fran says:

      Agreed!!!

    • Marilyn J. Shearer says:

      I’m 82 years old and in all my life I’ve never seen such a one as Sam, or as I’d rather think of him as Jamie,and I pray that I’ll be around long enough to see the whole series. I’ve read all the books twice,and as far as I’m concerned he is the perfect MAN111

      • Tina Toscani says:

        Sam Heughan in the last 2 episodes of Outlander were the best acting I have ever seen. He should be proud of his efforts they were truly outstanding. Emmy worthy.

  6. Terri says:

    After watching the last 2 episodes of “Outlander”, I’m still absolutely blown away by Sam Heughan’s performances. He can express so much without saying a word. The facial expressions he used made you feel what Jamie was feeling. Sam Heughan is, by far, one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. He is just absolutely amazing. Can we just hand him the Emmy now?

  7. Cindy C. says:

    The performance Sam Heughan gave in the final 2 episodes of Outlander was nothing short of magnificent. As a book fan, his complete embodiment of Jamie Fraser all season has been a gift, but what he brought to the screen during Jamie’s darkest hours was so visceral and raw. A week later and I am still feeling it. It was extraordinary.

    • Patt says:

      I completely agree. Now it’s 2 weeks later and I’m still “feeling” what he went through. Hard to imagine going through that…even as an actor! What was especially poignant was finally seeing him smile, again, at hearing about the pregnancy – A light at the end of the horror. Riveting, powerful, amazing performance. Award worthy!

  8. Rachel says:

    Wow I actually watched all 3 shows and I agree with the choices.

  9. Dude says:

    Ugh, everything about UnReal. What an awesome show.

  10. D J Williams says:

    Sam has one of the most expressive faces on television. He showed so many emotions during this episode – vulnerability, shock, resignation, anger, desperation and shame. He gave an incredibly brave and heartbreaking performance. He showed us Jamie’s shattering devastation when he physically responded to Randall’s deceptive moves during their last counter, and he showed us hope when he smiled on the ship and told Claire that yes he was happy about the thought of becoming a father. Sam Heughan more than deserves all of the accolades coming his way. I’m so glad that you acknowledged his stand out work on Outlander.

  11. ninergrl6 says:

    Usually you pick actors from shows I don’t watch for these accolades, but strangely (and awesomely) this week I saw all 3 performances you singled out and I couldn’t agree more, particularly about Sam. His face says so much without uttering a single word, and he absolutely broke my heart in that finale.

  12. Maria Grazia says:

    Definitely Sam Heughan in Outlander finale. Those scenes were tough , but so remarkably well acted. Outstanding.

  13. specialka says:

    sam heughan was incredible!

  14. joanapolis says:

    Agree wholeheartedly! Endless kudos to @samheughan. By the way, you are a hell of a writer. Excellent encapsulation above of the episode.

  15. Nicole says:

    Agree 100% with your choice – Sam heughan does this kind of acting every episode! So, my thought is that Tobias Menzies / bjr deserves a nod as well – he makes us hate him so much!

  16. Jeri says:

    Big fan of Rose McIver & iZombie. Wish we had another 10 episodes his season. Still not sure about Unreal.

  17. B says:

    Thank you for recognizing Sam Heughan’s amazing and heartbreaking performance. It was indeed worthy of the attention.

  18. linda says:

    Outlander!! There aren’t enough superlatives you can give this cast! Sam Heughan esp in To Ransom a Mans Soul, is a performance for the ages, along with Tobias Menzies as the sadistic Jack Randall. The eyes (and ayes) have it for the series. Fantastic acting that doesn’t seem like acting at all!!

  19. Meryland says:

    Excellent choice in Sam Heughan. Brave, groundbreaking performance. Emmy-worthy!

  20. marcella says:

    Love the show outlander and Sam he ugh an is an amazing actor.

  21. Alex says:

    I’d add Gillian Anderson to the list. She was outstanding!

  22. Liz says:

    Give that man an Emmy.
    Heck, give Cait, Tobias, Ron, Terry, the whole show an Emmy!!

  23. Cyndi J says:

    100% perfect #1choice in Sam Heughan! That face…..those eyes….his voice and body language that took us to his pain is unforgettable. In my 62 years, and in my love of cinema, I have never seen and experienced an actor with his qualities. The show is magnificent, kudos to everybody involved. But Sam just anchored this series and all its endless possibilities! Thank you!

  24. Pat Lamb Hart says:

    Sam Heughan gets my vote. I am totally in awe of his talent. I’ve never seen some one with such an expressive face.

    Good luck Sam, you really do deserve it!

  25. cegluna says:

    Sam Heughan was beyond brilliant in the Outlander finale. It will be a travesty if his performance is not awarded an Emmy.

  26. joanne says:

    Sam Heughan totally deserves the Emmy, his performance specially episode 15 and 16
    were absolutely brilliant, this man is one superb actor he has so much depth in his work and
    can always deliver.

  27. Mauigirl says:

    Could not agree more about Sam Heughan! Sam, Cait and Tobias have been outstanding in the entire first season. These 3 and the show itself all deserve Emmys!

  28. Maple Leaf Momma says:

    As I started watching Outlander, I also began reading the books, becoming totally captivated by the story of Jamie, Claire and Frank/Jack. As weeks passed, my admiration of the talents of the three pivotal characters deepened…eventually encompassing the full cast and what an amazing,
    talented cast it is. A list of superlatives precede this missive with my total agreeance.
    The last two episodes were well acted, as usual by all involved but the performances of Sam
    Heughan and Tobias Menzies, alone in the darkened, rat infested cell, were staggering. Witnessing Black Jack gradually dismantle the proud man that was Jamie…physically, emotionally and mentally, moving from utter brutality to a twisted, almost gentle act of love was gut wrenching and difficult to watch. But watch I did, swallowed up in the experience of two men whose acting bordered on brilliance. I believe I stopped breathing at one point.
    I read that the two principles worked hard in preparation and with all involved on the closed set, barely speaking when a scene had been filmed…No small talk between takes. How could there be!
    Filming was a totally draining experience, with Sam going hill climbing afterwards to clear his mind…then getting drunk.
    I expect a fistful of Emmy’s to be awarded, including an Ensemble.

    • Debbie love says:

      Outlander is the best show I’ve seen on cable in so very very long.love,romance,heartbreak.incredible acting to Sam and Tobias and catrina.fantastic

  29. Diane says:

    it was most definitely Sam Heughan’s Jamie. It was very heartbreaking to watch, His performance was so real you could almost feel his pain, It had me crying for almost the whole show. He deserves an emmy nomination for his performance.

  30. Grayce says:

    Sam Heughan is the best

  31. Susan Treglia says:

    Sam Heughan by a longshot. Stunning performance!!!!!

  32. Marilyn Wade says:

    Its not pleasure….erection or orgasm in rape( especially anal rape) does not equal pleasure…Jamie did not experience pleasure…he experienced a stimulation ..by means of a spot an inch or 2 inside the rectum…his shame is because he does not understand it. He thinks all his free will is gone but its not. He still did not give BJR what he asked for…the words..”say you love me Alex”. What Ron and TM did was turn BJR from sadist to gay man. Jamie knows another man named Alex killed himself to avoid BJR …

    • Dave Allen says:

      Oh? You think you know more about the subject than the author (Dr. Gabaldon), the EP/writers (Ron Moore, Ira Behr), the medical advisor (Dr. McGroarty) or the historical advisor (Dr. Pollard)?

      Dr. G has said that TM portrayed [the 18th C. bisexual sadist] “Black Jack” Randall perfectly, just as she wrote him 25 years ago.

      [BTW, wrong “Alex” – the correct Alex HOPEFULLY will be revealed when the show returns in 2016, so I won’t say anything else.]

    • Jan Cameron says:

      Black Jack has a younger brother named Alex as well as Jamie’s second name being Alexander, plus the young man who killed himself being named Alex. Just wait for the next season.

  33. Jodie says:

    Sam Heughan is the best of the best,definitely a major award winner. Outlander is the best show ever,will be missing it til the next season!!!! Love,love,love,love,love,SAM❤️❤️❤️

  34. Megan says:

    Sam Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie was just insane. As much as I couldn’t stand watching it (the sheer torture of it) it was done so incredibly well – I could feel what was happening to him. Great, superb acting on is part!

  35. Aleta Pahl says:

    Outlander is the best series I have ever seen and this team of actors, Sam Heughan, Tobias Menzies, and Caitriona Balfe are so professional and so immersed in these roles, you do not see them acting, you live the time and place with them and you feel their romance and their tragic events. I just hope Sam Heughan is seriously given that nomination as well as Caitriona Balfe and Tobias Menzies for one of a kind performances. We are so very lucky to follow Outlander as it moves on to the next book and hopefully the whole series of books. What an adventure this is going to be for all of us. Congratulations to Sam Heughan for that brave performance.

  36. Tina Toscani says:

    Outlanders star Sam Heughan with his outstanding performance in the season finale. A true testament to his acting skills. Bravo even though it was hard to watch! It was an Emmy winning. Best of luck in Season 2

  37. Liz Roach says:

    Sam Heughan’s performance was the performance of the week and probably the year! His expressions said more than any words uttered. Sam’s exquisite performance took us to a place we never hope to be without being gratuitous. I’ve never been more moved with a performance. THANK YOU! Sam!

  38. Superb performance given by Sam Heughan!!

  39. Tar Herron says:

    I agree that Sam Heughan definately deserves an Emmy for his performance in Outlander Ep 116. He nailed it 100%! His performance was heartbreaking, just heartbreaking! His eyes and expresson said what words wouldn’t have conveyed! Gosh, all the actors, writers, directors, producers, set designers, costume designers, crew and Ron D Moore all deserve an Emmy! No show in it’s debut has ever been this successful, in my humble opionion! They all deserve Emmy’s!

  40. Susan Cox says:

    Sam as Jamie brings new meaning to a complex character…showing deep the meaning of honor!

  41. <<>> amen! ron, hope you’re paying attention! folks who are familiar with ptsd [post traumatic stress disorder] know that it takes more than a single dramatic scene to move past such experiences.

    • sorry, the quote was left out. this is what i hope ron will pay attention to: “here’s hoping that Outlander allots the space and time in Season 2 to properly process what’s happened to its hero. Heughan is more than capable of handling it.” [wrong formatting, i guess!]

  42. Libby says:

    The author of Outlander realistically portrayed the character of Jamie Fraser experiencing and dealing with the consequences of the sexual and spiritual assault and torture for many years and through many books…
    I’m also hoping the show gives Sam Heughan the opportunity to bring to life the realistic aftermath as BRILLIANTLY as he did the torture itself… It’s not something I’ll ever forget.

  43. Alena says:

    Sam Heughan gets my vote. I am totally in awe of his talent. I’ve never seen some one with such an expressive face.
    Good luck Sam, you really do deserve it!

  44. Joyce Norman Arnold says:

    Sam Heugan’s performance as Jamie Fraser being ravished both physically and emotionally left me feeling his utter anguish and helplessness and drained of a desire to live with the memory of it all. My heart ached on and on.