Outlander's Sam Heughan Auditioned 7 Times for This Game of Thrones Role

Outlander's Sam Heughan Auditioned 7 Times for This Game of Thrones Role
Image credit: HBO, STARZ

He was always destined to swing a sword.


  • Before his breakout role on Outlander, Sam Heughan auditioned multiple times for HBO’s Game of Thrones.
  • Although outwardly different, the shows share many similarities.
  • Heughan is not the only famous face who came close to GoT fame.

These days, Sam Heughan is world famous for his role as Jamie Fraser, the dashing Highlander hero of the Starz drama Outlander. But before he was cast in the time-traveling historical drama, Heughan was just a jobbing actor booking auditions and looking for work.

One of the places he looked for work? HBO’s biggest-ever show, Game of Thrones.

Historical Fantasies

In some ways the shows couldn’t be more different. Game of Thrones belongs firmly in the realm of fantasy, while Outlander is largely grounded in real historical events. The Starz series is at its core a romance; the HBO show rewards romanticism with brutal, horrible deaths.

Still, once you get past the surface level the shows do have a lot of similarities. Both are adaptations of a beloved series of novels. In both cases, those novels have remained unfinished for decades, leading fans to worry that the author might die before penning the final installment (though rumor has it the final Outlander novel is on its way soon).

Both shows take inspiration from a period of history (GoT: the English War of the Roses. Outlander: Scotland in the 18th century). Both feature brutal violence, including frequent sexual assault. Both feature exciting battle sequences, lots of sex, and a ton of relationship drama. And in spite of their fantasy elements, both shows are more interested in relationships and politics than they are in magic.

A Gateway To Fame

Many now-famous stars got their big break on Game of Thrones, including Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal, and Jason Momoa. Even characters who only appear in a handful of episodes had the opportunity to make a big impression with audiences: Momoa only appeared in ten episodes of the show, while Pascal was only present for seven.

It’s no wonder every actor in the world was hoping to get in on the action.

So Close, And Yet So Far

Sam Heughan was still a relative unknown when he went in to read for the part of Renly Baratheon. Although he didn’t get the part, he ended up auditioning a whopping seven times for the show! This included the parts of Renly, Ser Loras Tyrell, and several members of the night watch.

Although we’re sure it was incredibly disappointing to lose out seven times, we hope that Heughan took heart from getting so many auditions. Generally, if actors get called in more than once it means that the producers must like you. Getting back in the room seven times means that the team behind Game of Thrones recognized Heughan’s star power, even if he didn’t ultimately win a place in the cast.

Of course, Heughan probably isn’t crying too hard. His role as Jamie Fraser has won him fans all over the world, millions of dollars, and a path towards owning multiple businesses, including the company behind Sassenach Whiskey.

Not the Only One

Many other now-famous faces came close to snagging a spot on television’s hottest show. Millie Bobby Brown ( Enola Holmes, Stranger Things ) auditioned for Lyanna Mormont, a role that eventually went to Bella Ramsey. Dominic West (The Wire) was offered a role in season three but turned it down – he’s a father of four who couldn’t commit to living in Iceland for six months. And Brian Cox (Succession ) turned the show down in the early days because it didn’t pay well enough – a choice he came to bitterly regret later on.

Outlander will broadcast the second half of season 7 at some point this year. It has been confirmed to be filming an eighth and final season, to premiere at some point in 2025.

Sources: Business Insider, Vulture.