Sam Heughan Talks Kilt-Wearing Etiquette, How Skinny-Dipping in Men in Kilts Helped Cure a Hangover
In Sam Heughan's new travel series Men in Kilts, the actor, along with his Outlander costar Graham McTavish, are showing audiences the best of what their native Scotland has to offer visitors and locals alike.
Each episode revolves around a theme, showcasing the country's food, history and adventure — which included skinny-dipping in a recent episode — along with Heughan and McTavish's playful banter. And as the series' title suggests, it also involves the wearing of kilts.
PEOPLE recently caught up with Heughan in the latest issue to ask a few burning questions about the series, the first being: what is the proper etiquette or guidelines for wearing kilts?
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"I would say you can wear a kilt whenever the fancy takes you," Heughan, 40, says with a smile. "In Scotland, we have very traditional formal dress, [wearing kilts] for a wedding or a funeral or any of those sort of formal events, but there are people in Scotland that wear kilts daily, every day. Our kilt tailor [on Men in Kilts] he wears them all the time. I'll wear them sometimes if I'm going to a rugby match or a football match, or if I just feel like it."
"There isn't any really formality to it," he continues. "Back in the day people wore kilts all the time. They were very adaptable and were really useful actually. They had so many layers and so much material that you could fold it in certain ways, make pockets out of it, you could carry a baby, you could carry your shopping, keep you warm in the winter. They really are incredible. And in fact, riding a horse in a kilt is terrific, they give you a lot of padding, so I would recommend the kilt."
As for the skinny-dipping "scene," in which Heughan was filmed stripping down and running into a very cold ocean due to losing a friendly bet with McTavish, the actor reveals that the experience had some unexpected benefits followed by insect bites.
"We were on the Isle of Lewis, which is one of the most northwest islands in Scotland. It's very remote, so there wasn't anyone around, fortunately," Heughan says of not worrying about being seen/filmed by passerby. "I don't know if I want people to hear this, but it actually wasn't that cold. We have the Gulf Stream, which comes across the west of Scotland and means we have actually palm trees in Scotland. It's obviously not warm like Los Angeles or Hawaii or something, it is still really cold. But not as cold as you would imagine."
Heughan says he happened to have a hangover that day and the cold water helped cure it.
"I did actually have a hangover that day and I have to admit as soon as I jumped in the water, I felt so much better," he says. "So there's something to be said for it. However, as soon as I got out of the water, I got eaten alive by midges, which are a Scottish kind of mosquitoes. So there was really no joy."
Insect bites aside, Heughan says he and McTavish had a blast filming the show and he hopes audiences are able to experience the joy of Scotland like they did and do.
"There's just so much to visit and so much to see," he says. "When you go to the Battlefield of Culloden and you feel the history that's happened there, or you go to the Standing Stones, you feel the history which is so present in Scotland and I think that's what's so great about it."
Heughan adds: "There's so much material that we shot in so many places we went and people that we met, places that we saw, that we had to cut out because we just didn't have enough time," he says. "The sports episode was a big, fun episode for me and I was really looking forward to it. Going to Murrayfield, which is the home of Scottish rugby and meeting some of my heroes, to do something like that, I kind of forgot that I was an actor or doing a TV show and I was just in awe of these great athletes. So that was a great day, but the whole thing really was such a pleasure to do."
Men in Kilts airs Sundays on Starz.
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