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What The Cast Of Outlander Looks Like In Real Life

Outlander has a little bit of something for everyone: time travel, romance, historical fiction — the whole shebang. The Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon remains ongoing; each season roughly corresponds to one novel, and as of 2020, she was working on the ninth in the series. That means there's still plenty of material that could be adapted if Starz wants to continue renewing the show.

The cast is a large part of why Outlander has been so successful — they've done a great job of bringing Gabaldon's stories to life and making viewers care about every character, no matter how small a role they play. With source material like Outlander, it might not surprise you that some of the actors have to undergo some serious transformations to look like they belong in whichever time period is being showcased.

We've put together this side-by-side look at the actors of Outlander and their characters, so you can see just how much work goes into making them look the part they play. Here's what the cast of Outlander looks like in real life.

Caitriona Balfe (Claire)

It shouldn't surprise you that Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Randall, has appeared in nearly every episode of Outlander. Claire is our anchor through this historical romance, so it makes sense that we remain tied to her through nearly every episode.

Claire is an elegant and intelligent character, so Caitriona Balfe is a great actress to take on the role. She's a former fashion model, so she has the commanding presence that a character transported 200 years in the past would seem to have. Interestingly, Balfe lacks Claire's central physical characteristic in the novels: the character should have wild, incredibly curly hair. Balfe's hair is the right color, but it is generally very straight and pulled back. Luckily, hair is one of the easier things to manipulate for a television series — no doubt Balfe spends a lot of time getting her hair styled just right before she starts shooting.

Other than that, Balfe is pretty spot on for the role. Her striking features and quick wit help her to perfectly become Claire.

Sam Heughan (Jamie)

Other than Claire, Jamie Fraser is the most prolific character on Outlander. He's been in nearly every episode, and actor Sam Heughan does an admirable job of making him into the swoon-worthy Scot he's supposed to be.

Heughan himself is Scottish-born, and his hair is the same dark red that is often described of Jamie in the Outlander novels. He looks a lot like what the character should look like — he's tall, lean and strong; physically imposing without looking like a bodybuilder. He's got the slender nose, high cheekbones and strong jawline as well. Essentially, we're saying that Heughan the actor essentially stepped off the page of the Outlander novels. It seems the role he was born to play.

One other aspect of the character that they capture quite well in the makeup chair is his horrible scarring. Jamie has been through a lot, from countless battles to the ruthless flogging he received while prisoner of Jonathan Randall. He doesn't quite have the variety of scars on the show as he collects throughout the novels, but he's still got several of them.

Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh)

They changed Murtagh's appearance quite a bit from the source material to the show — fitting, considering they cast Duncan Lacroix in the role. Murtagh is supposed to be a short, ugly man in gross, ill-fitting clothes. He is often described as rat-like with simian appendages; essentially, Murtagh is supposed to be mismatched and unattractive.

Duncan Lacroix is not those things. He's 6'2", and has a well-kept beard and head of hair on the show. His appearance isn't the only thing that changed from the Outlander books to the television series, either. The showrunners changed quite a bit of his story as well, giving him a much-expanded role and allowing him to survive past the point where the character dies in the books.

Not too many actors are rat-faced, and Lacroix definitely is not. He often appears on the show in clothing that is not as nice as some of the main characters, but that's about all you can say as having the television character match the physical appearance of his novel counterpart.

Sophie Skelton (Brianna)

The Outlander series does a solid job of making actress Sophie Skelton resemble her onscreen father, actor Sam Heughan. The two are supposed to be dead ringers for one another, with high cheekbones, pointed chins and dark red hair. Much of that comes from the casting, as Skelton shares a lot of Brianna's physical attributes in the books.

Skelton even has the right hair color, though it appears they lighten it a bit for her role. She's a British actor from the Manchester area, unlike Sam Heughan, who is of Scottish heritage. Skelton's physical appearance is different in several ways from the way Brianna is described in the Outlander novels; Brianna should have a very wide mouth, and her hair should fall to her waist. It's a bit hard to tell exactly how long her hair is, as it's curly and frequently done up, but Brianna on the series doesn't seem to have hair quite as long as her book counterpart.

Richard Rankin (Roger)

Richard Rankin has the brooding screen presence required to bring a lot of life to Roger Wakefield/MacKenzie, and much of his physical appearance matches that of his book counterpart. Roger is often described as a tall, long-haired man with a strong nose and slanted jaw. Rankin himself has the tall and long-haired part down already, though he tends to wear a beard when not playing Roger. There are a few book attributes that Rankin doesn't quite possess, however.

One of Roger's main physical characteristics is his dark, almost olive-toned skin. He has black hair and thick, dark eyebrows and lashes. Richard Rankin has a much more traditional Scottish look, with his light brown/red hair and generally light skin.

Fun fact about Richard Rankin — his birth name is actually Richard Harris, but he had to change it so as not to be confused with the already well-known Irish actor of the same name.

Tobias Menzies (Jack & Frank Randall)

It's fitting that the Outlander series used the same actor to play both 20th century Frank and 18th century Jack Randall. Claire actually mistakes Jack for her husband Frank when she first travels back to the past. They may look alike physically, but the two men could hardly be more different when you start comparing their personalities.

Veteran actor Tobias Menzies has the perfect aura around him to play characters like the Randalls — he just seems to radiate that traditional British air of aristocracy. Just like the character he plays, he is tall and lean with sharp facial features. His restrained personality is just right to play both Jack and Frank, as he can transition from gentle and quiet to irate and fearsome in a snap. Menzies has brought a similar attitude to basically every series that casts British actors — Game of Thrones, The Terror, The Crown, and Catastrophe are all on his reel.

Graham McTavish (Dougal)

Some of the actors on this list seem like they essentially walked off the page from Diana Gabaldon's writing and onto the Outlander series. Graham McTavish, who plays Dougal MacKenzie, is one such actor. The powerful warrior is often described as having much more going on in his head than you might guess, and McTavish brings the requisite acting nuance to the role.

Dougal is a burly, broad-chested man with deep eyes and thick eyebrows. McTavish is... a burly, broad-chested man with deep eyes and thick eyebrows. Part of it is the magic of makeup, for sure, but McTavish is one of those "born to play the role" actors when he hits the screen as Dougal. One of the only real differences you can spot is that series Dougal comes off as a bit older than his book counterpart, mainly because his beard is mostly grey as opposed to the reddish brown described in Gabaldon's novels.

César Domboy (Fergus)

You've got to hand it to actor César Domboy — he brings a good bit of charm to a character that could be quite a grind. Fergus is not the most likable of characters in the Outlander pantheon, but French actor Domboy helps give some depth to the character as he matures throughout the series. He also looks quite the part — though he isn't a perfect replication of the way Fergus is described in the books, it wouldn't be too hard to pick out Domboy's role if you didn't know that's who he was playing beforehand.

Fergus is described as having long black hair and sharp facial features, including a beaked nose, and an aristocratic look about him. Domboy has all those features, especially when his character starts wearing nicer clothes — Domboy does an excellent job of giving off an air of aristocracy. In both the novels and the series, Fergus grows into a lot of his more awkward physical traits, like his large teeth. Actor Roman Berrux played the child Fergus — he looks quite a bit like Domboy, who we see as Fergus much more often.

Grant O'Rourke (Rupert)

Actor Grant O'Rourke is a better looking man than Rupert MacKenzie deserves. That's the magic of television for you. Rupert is generally described as a fairly physically repellent person. He's a big, fat man with greasy hair and a gross beard. He's more what you would expect a warrior from the 1700s to look like than what you usually get on television. Grant O'Rourke isn't a tall, lean specimen like many of the actors on Outlander, but he is certainly better-looking than the way Rupert is described.

Interestingly, the series added a bit of a flourish to Rupert's story that was not in the Outlander novels. In the series, the episode where Rupert loses his eye is actually the scene in the novels where he dies. Rupert got to stick around a little longer in the series because of this slight change from his original story.

Lauren Lyle (Marsali)

Marsali, who was introduced in the third Outlander novel and third season of the series, is quite the fun character. She is smart, driven and full of spirit, and Lauren Lyle captures that perfectly. Like the character she plays, Lyle is a tall, pretty blonde, and it's obvious she has a ball playing Fergus' wife.

Lyle was relatively unknown before appearing on Outlander. She had made appearances in a few short films and had smaller roles in lesser known film and television projects, but had yet to make much of a name for herself, especially outside of England. However, considering Marsali's role in the Outlander novels, Lyle should continue to get plenty of screen time and will most likely earn an even better reputation as an actress. She should continue to appear for as long as the show keeps airing.

John Bell (Young Ian)

Despite his youthful age, John Bell had done some impressive work as an actor before being cast in Outlander as Young Ian. He showed up in Doctor Who, The Hobbit, Into the Badlands, and Wrath of the Titans, and was cast in all of them before he was even 20 years old. His character got a few physical tweaks from his book description, but much of his look is forced upon him by his circumstances.

Young Ian is not a looker — he is described as "homely," with his eyes being his one conventionally attractive feature. Bell, like most professional actors, is certainly not an ugly person but, again, that's television for you. Much of Young Ian's look comes from his time with the Mohawks — that's where he gets his facial tattoos and his shocking hairstyle. Eventually, Young Ian returns a bit more to the way he looked originally, but some of those characteristics remain.

Stephen Walters (Angus Mhor)

The character of Angus changed quite a bit in the transition from the Outlander novels to the show. Actor Stephen Walters does a great job with the mostly comedic character, but fans of the novels would certainly be shocked by how different the character is in the television series.

"Mhor" should mean exactly what it sounds like: Angus is supposed to be gigantic. In the books, he is described as towering over everyone in the MacKenzie clan, where he serves as a physical laborer and bodyguard. Walters, who plays Angus on the series, is a much more average 5'8".

Instead of a massive physical presence, Walters brings a huge personality to Angus — he is one of the most welcoming characters throughout Outlander's first two seasons. Characters like Angus are needed to break up some of the tension and seriousness that can drag down shows like Outlander, so his presence is a welcome one in the series.

Caitlin O'Ryan (Lizzie Wemyss)

Caitlin O'Ryan is one of the least experienced actors on Outlander. As of this writing, she only has one credit to her name, and it's the role of Lizzie. Despite being a professional newcomer, O'Ryan does a great job of bringing depth to Lizzie's character, who has a pretty difficult time of things in both the novels and the series.

Lizzie is a quiet, shy character who has gotten kicked around a bit by life, and O'Ryan does a great job of acting with her eyes to help portray her depth. Despite her timid nature, she is attractive, which O'Ryan's acting and the characterization of Lizzie on the series also does a good job of bringing to life. Considering how Lizzie's character evolves in the Outlander books, it will be interesting to see where she goes as a character on the show — and to see what (or if) O'Ryan does next in the acting world.