The Starz hit “Outlander,” based on the books by Diana Gabaldon and adapted for television by Ronald D. Moore, has had a bodice-ripping first season. Caitriona Balfe plays Claire Fraser, a bold British World War II nurse who is thrown back in time, in Scotland, from her 1945 existence to a rough land about 200 years earlier. To complicate matters, she has ended up with a husband in both epochs: Jamie (Sam Heughan) in the 18th century, Frank in the 20th (Tobias Menzies). It’s just your typical time-traveling-historical-romance-fantasy-drama-adventure.
Meeting at the London West Hollywood hotel not long before returning to Scotland to shoot Season 2, Balfe (whose first name is pronounced Katrina and last name rhymes with Ralph) chats easily about her character’s trials, triumphs and corsetry.
Even in the 20th century, Claire seems ahead of her time.
She doesn’t feel like she really belongs in the 1940s or the 1700s, and that’s due to Diana, who’s an incredible force of nature. Claire was raised by an uncle who was an atheist and an anthropologist, and she traveled the world, and she’s always been a timeless or placeless character.
Caitriona sat down with Elle to talk about Outlander and her character, Claire Fraser.
Caitriona Balfe Knows Why That ‘Outlander’ Sex Scene Slayed You
It’s no secret that Starz’ breakout hit about a time-traveling nurse has a secret ingredient: Her name is Caitriona Balfe. And she’s here to get dirty and have a drink (and maybe some sex).
In Outlander, Starz’s breakout period drama about a time-traveling nurse caught in a centuries-spanning, life-threatening love triangle (returning for the second half of season one on April 4), Caitriona Balfe, who plays lead Claire Randall, finds herself at the center of an on-screen sexual revolution. The game changer: After six episodes of sexual tension, forced-together newlyweds Claire and virginal Jamie (Sam Heughan) finally disrobe, but instead of porny showmanship we’re presented with egalitarian nudity and vulnerability. Here, as promised in the April issue of ELLE, an extended Q&A with Balfe plus an exclusive sneak peek at the hotly-anticipated new episodes:
What initially drew you to the role of Claire?
She felt like a very modern woman. She’s very intelligent, very strong, and has found herself in a place where she constantly has to fight to be who she is. It’s such a crazy concept for her not to stand up and fight for what she believes is right and just. She never sees herself as a victim and uses whatever she has at her disposal to get through adverse times.