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Performers Of The Month - April Winner: Outstanding Actor - Sam Heughan

Sam Heughan gives so much passion and heart to his role as Jamie Fraser that it is absolutely no surprise that the fans determined him to be the most outstanding actor of April. Jamie has been put through literal hell and survived thanks to the love and devotion of his wife. Jamie’s journey has been made all the more poignant by the powerful and gut-wrenching performances delivered by Heughan. His April win was primarily for the episode entitled La Dame Blanche (2x4) and for fans of the books this episode held several book specific and critical scenes chief amongst them the talk between Jamie and Claire regarding the Wentworth trauma.

As a fan of the books it is obvious to me when the show is about to tackle a pivotal plot point from the books and oddly I always become nervous when those moments approach. By definition an adaptation will never be verbatim to the original source material and not everything that can be done in books can be done in a series and vice versa so I’m always nervous to see what from the books makes the cut. Thankfully Ron Moore and his team have been gracious in their attention to detail and in ensuring the big moments from the books make it into the series as intact as possible from the original brilliant content written by Diana Gabaldon. I bring this up because the confrontation between Jamie and Claire was a big moment in the books and sets up some other dramatic events that I won’t spoil for those who have not read the books. This all matters because the power behind this confrontation was always written to show the turmoil that has been brewing within Jamie and to a lesser degree within his marriage. Heughan was once again handed a deep and emotionally raw scene that he not only delivered on but that he gave real life emotion to. The writers did justice to Gabaldon’s work to the point of actually making the scene even more powerful than the original and Heughan brought the very poignant and painful moment to life. This was a tricky scene because it required Heughan to have impeccable control over Jamie’s tough Scottish shell while allowing the traumatized man hiding behind it out for brief glimpses.

One of the core values of this scene that survived the translation from book to screen was the fact that Jamie has been struggling to find a way back to Claire after the horrific rape he suffered at the hands of Black Jack Randall at the end of Season 1. All season long Heughan has been subtly showing the effects of that trauma as he carried Jamie in a way around Claire that was different from how he had done before. This is a traumatized man dealing with PTSD during a time where no one understood what that was. Rape is horrific and it leaves a lifelong lasting impact on the victim and I always respected Gabaldon for not shying away from the impact it left on Jamie or the way it also impacted Claire as she watched her husband suffer while being unsure of what to do for him. Heughan took painful source material and delivered his performance with so much compassion and truthfulness that he deserves to be rewarded and acknowledged for it. Time and time again this show has traumatized Jamie and put him in one impossible situation after another. Every time this show puts the impossible before Heughan he charges into the scene and every single time he delivers a powerhouse performance.

The fortress speech Heughan delivered was oozing with pain and raw in its emotion. The tones Heughan used drove the scene and the way he held his body portrayed Jamie as a broken man desperately trying to maintain his exterior image of a strong in charge man. This wasn’t an era where a man could show vulnerability and Jamie needed to look stronger than ever to help try to change history and protect his young growing family. It was truly inspiring to see Heughan walk this fine line and do so in a way that honored those who have unfortunately experienced trauma like Jamie has. The writers did a great job with the dialogue and showing the horrors of rape but Heughan was tasked with bringing it all to life and that was no small ask of him. Given how many people have experienced rape and been left scarred by it this was a tricky subject for the show to tackle last season and I was genuinely surprised by how much of the horror of it was translated from the books. On that same note I’ve been surprised on how much of the long lasting effects have been carried over to the series. What happened to Jamie takes up a good deal of the second book and Heughan has many more painful scenes to navigate Jamie through and I believe everyone of those scenes will be handled just as phenomenally as the scenes in this episode were.

The fortress speech wasn’t the only powerful display of acting from Heughan in this episode. The scene where Claire seeks out Jamie was beautifully acted by Heughan as he showed Jamie’s raw and unquestionable love for his wife despite everything else. Even though Jamie has struggled with being able to be intimate with his wife his love for her has never diminished. The trouble was him being able to figure out how to explain it all to Claire. During the fortress speech Heughan expertly navigated the confusion Jamie was experiencing while trying to explain that to Claire and the stumbled over words and moments of frustration gave the whole dialogue more truth as Heughan and Jamie tried to figure out how to explain confusing and hard to convey feelings. When Jaime walked away at the end of that scene Heughan’s performance allowed the tension of the silence to swell and fill the screen. That played beautifully into the sex scene where Jamie and Claire finally unite again. Heughan has proven that he has no problem manhandling Caitriona Balfe and tossing her around during sex scenes, but in this scene his way of touching her was very exploratory and almost as if it was the first time he was touching her. Jamie was reconnecting with his wife and the way Heughan allowed his hands, and mouth, to explore Balfe was very accurate to what Jamie was experiencing with Claire as he tried to overcome a small bit of the trauma that has been consuming him.

Every extraordinary performer is allowed to deliver their performances because of equally gifted scene partners. For Heughan he has been graced with an equally outstanding scene partner in Caitriona Balfe and it is because of their unique and powerful chemistry that Heughan is allowed the ability to open himself up and deliver all of these emotionally taxing performances. No performer can do what they do without those surrounding them providing them with a safe zone to deliver explosive performances. These two were perfectly cast as Jamie and Claire and together I’m confident they will give us many more years of beautiful scenes together.

While Heughan is often tasked with emotional and action filled scenes the show does allow him some moments of levity. Most of the moments of levity come out of Jamie’s Scottish way of dealing with situations but the show still gives these lighter moments to Heughan to play with and he excels at those moments every bit as much as he does the more dramatic moments. The extraordinary thing about Heughan is he can transition through scenes of different tone with such ease that one can only sit in awe and applaud his work. There are a lot of extraordinary performers and I can’t help but praise Heughan as one of the best in the world. The stuff Heughan has been asked to do and pulled off flawlessly should leave no question as to his standing as one of the best performers alive today. I’m glad we got to reward him here for his phenomenal work but I hope mainstream awards shows will start to recognize him as well because he is more than deserving of any award he is nominated for.

April gave Heughan a ton to do as is to be expected given that he’s one of the two main leads. Jamie had to deal with everything from French court shenanigans to rowdy nights out with Charles to tender moments with Claire and Heughan never disappointed.

It was impossible to cover every outstanding moment Heughan delivered in April so please feel free to discuss everything not covered in this article down in the comments section.

Sam Heughan was your fan pick as the most Outstanding Actor Of April 2016. Hit the comments below to tell others why you think he earned this title and what you most enjoyed about his April performances.

PLEASE READ: This is an article to recognize Sam’s work and to honor his performance in April on Outlander. Shipper related bashing will not be tolerated in the comments even from Sam's fans. Honor the performer and his performance. Have fun and be kind to one another.

About the Author - Aimee Hicks
Aimee works for a newspaper in North Carolina and has a BA in Broadcasting and Cinema. She has been a TV lover since before she really understood what TV was. She has a long list of shows that she loves to watch and can be found on twitter (@ahicks83) live tweeting about each new episode whenever she can. If the show is sci-fi, fantasy, comic book based, drama, or action the odds are good she watches it or has at least watched a few episodes of it. She also has a love for comedies 2 Broke Girls and Mom. She was the original creator and co-founder of LOST Video Island ( which is still operating under the management of the very capable and skilled group she turned it over to.
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