Sam Heughan has already donned a superhero suit. Years ago, he played the Caped Crusader in a Cirque du Soleil-like stage show “Batman Live.” However, the “Outlander” star tells me on the latest episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast, he’s a little weary of what’s become of comic book movies.
“I’m excited about the new Batman movie. I think that looks fantastic,” Heughan says. “I think the other superhero movies kind of lost their way a bit. They’ve become, I think, a little too obese in a way, but anything character-based — I mean, Batman’s a great one because he’s not a superhero. He’s just an interesting character. Something with a good backstory.”
The Scottish actor also recalls his early days in the business when he made one of his first trips to Los Angeles to audition to play the Man of Steel in 2006’s “Superman Returns.” He didn’t get the role — Brandon Routh did — but the experience changed him. “I grew up a pescatarian or sort of vegetarian-pescatarian,” Heughan says. “I didn’t start eating meat until I came to America when I was 24. It was all these delicious burgers and food…At the time I was auditioning for ‘Superman.’ I had a trainer and he was like, ‘You need to get bigger. You need to be able to fill out the cape.’ He was like, ‘Eat more protein.’ I remember the first time I had chicken or something and just suddenly, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have all this energy. And I don’t feel hungry all the time.’”
Heughan stopped by the Variety podcast studio while on a whirlwind press tour for the premiere of the sixth season of “Outlander.” He looks back to when they started eight years ago. “I actually remember the first day in the car with my driver,” he says. “We were talking, and he was like, ‘How long do you think it will last?’ I was like, ‘It wouldn’t last more than a year, maybe two seasons,’ but here we are.”
He also remembers his toughest time on set when his character Jamie was raped and assaulted. “It was pretty graphic,” he says, adding, “As an actor we love a challenge. I do. I want to go to some dark places, but it was pretty tough to shoot. It was pretty intense.”
“I think I’m pretty good at switching off,” he continues. “But actually at that time, it was just a very strange place because I had so many prosthetics and so much makeup. I was having super early calls, 4 a.m. calls, and wouldn’t be finished until 7 or 8 in the evening. I was staying in a very small hotel next to the studio. It almost became this weird little prison. I just literally was just in it the whole time. And I do remember it just being very, very intense, but it was also toward the end of the season. After that, I think I did take some time out and go get up into the Highlands of Scotland.”
There have been similar scenes shot since then, including a brutal assault of Jamie’s wife Claire (Caitriona Balfe) during the Season 5 finale. “Eight years ago when we were shooting Jamie’s trauma or Jamie’s assault, it was a very different world,” Heughan says. “We showed more of it. But now, this time, we really wanted to do something more abstract, but still get into the mindset of the victim.”
Heughan will next be seen in “Text for You,” a romantic drama about a woman (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) who grieves the death of her boyfriend by texting messages to his phone before discovers another man (Heughan) has been assigned the number. Celine Dion music plays a pivotal role in the storytelling. So much so that the music icon appears as herself in the movie. “Text for You” marks Dion’s feature film debut. “She’s just such an incredible human being — and she’s very funny!” Heughan gushes.
He teases that Dion has recorded a new song for the soundtrack. However, he won’t divulge if gets in on some of the singing. “I can’t possibly say,” he smiles.
You can listen to the full interview with Heughan above. Find out what he has to say about his travel show “Men In Kilts,” his first auditions and more. You can also find “Just for Variety” at Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.