WHEN Sam Heughan was a young boy he could often be found outside playing, wooden stick in hand, imagining himself as iconic figures from history: Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

These days Sam gets to be a swashbuckling hero for a living. The 35-year-old Scottish actor has a leading role in hit US television series Outlander as gallant Highlander Jamie Fraser, a man whose daring adventures take place against a backdrop of the looming 1745 Jacobite rising.

Based on the bestselling books of Diana Gabaldon, Outlander follows the story of Claire Randall who, during a second honeymoon to Scotland with her husband Frank in 1945, travels back in time to 1743 through mysterious standing stones and begins a love affair with Jamie.

Sony Pictures Television films the series on location across Scotland with many of the interiors shot at Wardpark Studios in Cumbernauld, a former factory that has been converted into a production base and four state-of-the-art sound stages.

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The latest instalment of the show is adapted from Diana's second novel Dragonfly in Amber and will be available on Amazon Prime Video from Sunday.

It sees Jamie and Claire – played by Irish actor Caitriona Balfe – travel to Paris to infiltrate the brewing Jacobite rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and prevent the bloodshed of the Battle of Culloden.

Sam has clearly enjoyed tackling such a pivotal historic period.

"It is something I grew up with – the history of Scotland," he says. "I imagined myself as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

"These are all great stories that we grow up with and it has been interesting to learn more about the actual period that I maybe romanticised – or that we have romanticised in our culture."

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Born in New Galloway, Sam studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) in Glasgow.

His part in David Greig's Outlying Islands in 2002 saw him nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award as most promising new performer.

Sam played Livingston FC footballer Andrew Murray in River City and starred as Hugh Tennent in a series of tongue-in-cheek commercials for the lager brand.

He landed his big break in Outlander in 2013.

The Outlander books, together with the soaring popularity of the television series, have inspired many fans to travel to Scotland in the hope of finding their own Jamie.

"I had a friend who was up at Culloden last week and there is a Fraser gravestone there," says Sam.

"Apparently there was a couple of tourists in tears laying flowers at the Fraser headstone and I don't believe they were Frasers …"

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The latest series will see Claire and Jamie attempt to alter the course of history and stop Culloden. That's a pretty ambitious plan?

"I know – she [Claire] should have watched Back to the Future and she would have realised you just can't do that …" he quips.

Sam is currently in the midst of global promotional tour taking in London, Sydney, Tokyo, Los Angeles and finally New York, where the Outlander season two premiere will be held tonight coinciding with the city's annual Scotland Week.

He will follow in the footsteps of Sir Sean Connery, Brian Cox, Kevin McKidd and Alan Cumming as grand marshal of the Tartan Day Parade on Saturday.

"That will be quite momentous with a bit of Scotland in New York," he says.

"It is terrific. I don't know who approached who first, but they asked me to be the grand marshal and it is wonderful that Outlander is premiering that week.

"We have a lot of the costumes [on display] in Saks Fifth Avenue. It feels like Outlander is taking over New York for the week."

While filming Outlander Sam, like many of the cast, has been based in Glasgow. He has relished returning to the old stomping ground of his student days.

"My life has changed incredibly," he says. "I feel very fortunate. I'm always thinking back to where I started and walking the same streets in Glasgow where I was once dreaming of being a professional actor."

These days he is often recognised around the city. "The Subway seems to be the one where people spot me," he says, laughing.

"I don't know if people maybe don't expect to see me around, but they are always quite surprised to see me in Glasgow."

His cast-mate Caitriona has also enjoyed her time in Glasgow and established some favourite haunts.

"Argyle Street is the new little restaurant row and I always go to The Gannet," she says. "Porter & Rye and Ox and Finch are good, too. I like to go and see some music – Glasgow is great for bands."

Away from work, Sam loves the great outdoors and whenever he has a rare day off can typically be found headed for the nearest mountain.

A keen Munro-bagger, he most recently attempted Beinn Ime in the Arrochar Alps, Argyll, but was foiled by bad weather.

"I got very close to the top," he says. "I had my crampons with me, but it was getting pretty hairy."

Lately, Sam has developed something of a budding bromance with Star Trek legend William Shatner on Twitter.

"Oh, I think we might be in the troubled second part of the relationship now," he jokes. "I love him – he's brilliant and a real character. He is fun and has some good banter.

"That is the crazy social media world. I met Dave Mustaine of Megadeth through Twitter as well and we got to hang out at one of his gigs. That was really cool.

"Me and Bill [Shatner] are going to maybe hang out at some point in Los Angeles."

Outlander season two will be available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video from April 10 with new episodes airing weekly