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Outlander star Sam Heughan reflects on the 'Waypoints' of his life in new memoir

Actor Sam Heughan appears at the 92 Street Y to discuss his book "Waypoints: My Scottish Journey." (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Actor Sam Heughan appears at the 92 Street Y to discuss his book "Waypoints: My Scottish Journey." (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

Editor’s note: This segment briefly mentions eating disorders. If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, contact theNational Eating Disorder Association Helpline by calling or texting 1-800-931-2237.

Sam Heughan’s character on “Outlander,” Jamie Fraiser, is known for the strife he’s endured on screen. Though he suffers through floggings and shipwrecks, Jamie Fraiser is propelled by a passionate love affair with another character, Claire Randall.

Heughan details the epic tale of his life off-screen in a newly released memoir titled “Waypoints: My Scottish Journey.” In the book, Heughan reflects on his journey to becoming a successful actor while hiking Scotland’s West Highland Way.

“This is not Jamie Fraser, the king of men. This is an actor who thinks he’s playing the role of a hillwalker,” he says. “But I struggled. I almost gave up. I found myself lost on the side of Loch Lomond in the dark. And it wasn’t until I really sort of slowed down and enjoyed the journey that I began to appreciate the trail itself.”

Heughan’s journey led him to found a non-profit organization called My Peak Challenge to inspire others to live a healthy, active life. The more than $6 million raised so far has benefitted a number of causes from hunger relief to cancer research.

“Waypoints: My Scottish Journey” cover. (Courtesy of Voracious)

Interview Highlights

On embarking on his hiking journey

“I got out and was ready to set off into the wilds. Some woman came up to me and she recognized me from the TV show, and it was actually a really nice exchange. It’s interesting because I set off on this solitary journey. I wanted to take time to reflect and actually the moments where I met people made the journey way more rewarding.”

On reciting ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to himself on the trek

“It’s interesting because, I think, I hadn’t ever really recalled it. And somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, it came out along with everything else that was probably secreted in there. I found myself descending into insanity: talking to myself, talking to the local fauna, the mushrooms.”

On beginning his acting journey in Los Angeles

“Looking back at the years I spent going to America auditioning for things and I had, in a way, been left at the door. I had a lot of money to get around. I was traveling around Los Angeles by bus. It was difficult. But, look, I guess we all have our own struggles.”

On struggling with an eating disorder

“In reflection, I think there was a mild case there. I think way back when I was starting out, there were a lot of pressures to look a certain way. And they were less talked about for men. And certainly, as a young actor — impressionable — I was trying to fit in to what was required.

“It’s sent me on this great journey now that I’ve learned about health, wellness, fitness and educated myself in it. And that’s why I created my own charity fitness platform, My Peak Challenge, which educates others in how to create a healthy lifestyle.”

On growing up without knowing his father

“It’s been a really interesting journey and I guess what is the most interesting part was to know that he’s had an influence in my life without even being there. I am the man today because of his absence, I guess. But also, there are other characteristics I think I’ve got that definitely he had as well.

“Having said that, you know, I had an amazing upbringing and obviously a wonderful, very caring mother. So I feel very fortunate.”

On what’s to come on ‘Outlander’

“It’s been an incredible journey. We’re eight years into telling the story of Jamie and Claire, and I certainly want to finish the story. However long that goes for, I want to know what happens at the end.

“We’re currently shooting season seven. It’s a big season. We’re doing 16 episodes, so we’ll see where we get to. But I’m excited for the fans. There’s a lot in there.”

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Grace Griffin adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.