The downside of adapting books for the screen is that some key moments inevitably get left out because of time (rather, the lack of it) or to suit the creative flow. For Caitriona Balfe, who plays time-traveling leading lady Claire in “Outlander,” the omitted moments aren’t any less significant than what we see on the screen in finding her character.
Taking a break from filming the fourth season of the epic drama, Balfe stopped by The Times’ video studio recently to reflect on the course-shifting third season that saw the show’s star-crossed couple coping with a life apart (for 20 years!) before eventually reuniting.
The first five episodes of the third season work to establish how Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) settled into a life unhappily ever after. Jamie, back in 18th century Scotland; Claire in 20th century America, raising their daughter with Frank (Tobias Menzies) while taking up medicine. The third novel from the Diana Gabaldon book series, “Voyager,” did a lot to set up the journey Claire experiences in those years. Balfe said she infused the detail from the book that the script left out into her performance.
“There’s some scenes I’m devastated we didn’t get to shoot,” she said. “There’s the scene where she’s working all day and Brianna gets hurt and she has to run home and she has all of that guilt. It’s so interesting to see a working mom in that late ’50s, early ’60s time — I was like, ‘What do you mean we’re not filming that? That’s so important to this character!’ We don’t have time to shoot everything. But I have that [knowledge] and you bring that into your performance throughout the rest of the scenes … having all of that stuff — especially when we got to Episode 3, 4 and 5 — you want to show the characters wearing all those experiences.”
For Claire, a great deal of her experience involved pushing against the gender norms of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s — an undertaking that prompted reflection about how it compares with today.
“We’re in such a time right now where we’re still battling for equality and we’re still battling for respect as women,” Balfe said. But, looking back at that time, and you see how people would just shut any woman down with an opinion … I look at my mother, my grandmother, you start thinking about all of the things that they’ve gone through in their lives and it makes you understand more how they’ve become the women that they are.”
During this Droughtlander, the Outlander fans have become an army of very thirsty detectives!
Some keen-eyed viewers have spotted a tiny “J” carved onto Claire’s palm and a little “C” etched onto Jamie’s hand in the deleted scenes from Outlander’s third season, but there was never an explanation for the appearance of these mysterious initials on the hit Starz drama.
In our quest to cut to the truth, ET caught up with Outlander executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis at a special Television Academy panel in Los Angeles on Sunday, and we asked the creative duo to explain the behind-the-scenes secrets of Jamie and Claire’s carvings.
“Yes, our sharp-eyed viewers are at it again!” Moore said proudly to ET’s cameras on the red carpet. “Essentially, there’s a scene in [Diana Gabaldon’s] book — and actually in a different book — where Claire and Jamie carve their initials into each other’s hands. I think it was in the second book, [Dragonfly in Amber,] if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yeah,” Davis agreed. “Right before she goes back through the stones.”
Moore continued, “We did not do that [scene] in season two, but it was one of those little details that we kept thinking, ‘At some point we’re going to do this.’ So we shot a version of that scene in season three, but we weren’t really that satisfied with it and it didn’t really work, so we cut the scene — but we wanted to still sort of preserve the idea of doing that at some later date.”
“So we didn’t include that scene in the deleted scenes for the DVD, however, sharp-eyed fans found the initials in a separate deleted scene that we had not gone in and digitally erased so it’s like, ‘Curses! They found us!'” Moore added with a laugh.
Despite the fact that fans have foiled the executive producers’ plan to keep the initials scene a secret, Davis revealed that it’s “actually kind of fun” that the Outlander audience is so invested in each and every onscreen detail.
“I hope [the fans] know it’s something that we really want to do,” Davis explained. “And while you hope that you don’t have those little things happen, on the other hand, it’s kind of a fun, little tidbit for people to see and to recognize that people are actually watching.”
As for the actors who lived through the cut scene, (pun totally intended!) stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe expressed their reactions to learning that the highly anticipated scene had been edited out of season three.
“You know that happens a lot. We shoot a lot of stuff that doesn’t make it into the final edit,” Balfe dished to ET. “It’s sort of in a really organic place in the book and it sort of fits where it was supposed to be. I think it’s difficult sometimes when you’re trying to shoehorn something into another moment, but you know, it’s also a fan favorite. So we do try to do these things for the fans and so you always have to try and find something that works and it has to work for the story.”
Heughan echoed his co-star’s sentiments and said, “I think I was quite excited for the fans to see that because they wanted it from before, but you know, it may make an appearance somewhere else. But you know, that happens all the time. There’s so much that we shoot that doesn’t make it into the show and we can’t include everything.”
“And to be honest, “Heughan continued, “I don’t think the scene quite worked in the story and where it was, so yeah, they made a great decision.”
Dinna fash, Outlander fans! It sounds like this special moment between Jamie and Claire could be reworked into another season.
“I didn’t know that they were going to put it somewhere else, but I guess they will,” Balfe exclaimed with a smile. “So we’ll see it then, we’ll do that scene again!”
Heughan concluded, “Who knows, maybe you’ll see it somewhere else. Maybe Jamie gets a “C” carved on his toes next season.”
For more behind-the-scenes bonus material like this one, pick up your copy of Outlander: Season Three, which will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital as well as on a Limited Collector’s Edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on April 10.
Golden Globe nominated actress, Caitriona Balfe joins Ryan to talk about how she went from growing up in Monaghan to finding international fame with hit series Outlander.
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) February 16, 2018
Caitriona is in attendance today at the 2018 Irish Film and Television Awards. I’ve begun to add photos to the gallery. She looks lovely. What do you think of her short hair? I will add more as they surface. Enjoy!
— Entertainment on RTÉ (@RTE_Ents) February 15, 2018
Watch highlights of the IFTA Film and Drama Awards 2018 tonight at 10.45pm! pic.twitter.com/T5NyzcSln2
— RTE One (@RTEOne) February 17, 2018
We have a very special Valentine’s Day surprise for you, Sassenachs…
Everyone knows that Outlander’s Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe have an undeniably electric on-screen connection, and since fans are feeling particularly thirsty during this Droughtlander, ET is gifting you with the exclusive first look at the actors’ original chemistry test!
Before you scream, “Je suis prest!” and press play on the video above, we must warn you that the never-before-seen footage you’re about to watch is mind-blowingly adorable. Side-effects may include excessive giggling, extreme swooning and the firm realization that no on-screen couple will ever compare to this one.
At this point in Outlander’s script-to-screen timeline, Heughan had already been cast to play Jamie Fraser and the production team was looking for the perfect actress to fill Claire Randall’s one-of-a-kind shoes.
“We were looking for chemistry between the two characters,” Outlander executive producer Ronald D. Moore said while prefacing the flashback moment. “We really felt that Cat was probably going to be the one, but this was the final moment. This was literally when she sealed the deal and got the show.”
“And as you see, they’ve already got the shorthand of their characters and there is definitely on-camera chemistry between the two. After the scene was over, we just kind of kept the tape running a little bit.” Moore continued, “We just wanted to see them a little bit more relaxed and sort of interacting. You can see that they’re sort of awkwardly aware that the camera is still running, but nonetheless, there is enough spontaneity and genuine affection and good humor between the two of them that it spoke volumes about their potential relationship.”
For more behind-the-scenes bonus material like this one, pick up your copy of Outlander: Season Threewhich will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital as well as on a Limited Collector’s Edition from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on April 10th.
Caitriona Balfe Is Engaged! Outlander Actress Shows Off Her Ring at 2018 Golden Globes
Caitriona Balfe is engaged, PEOPLE can exclusively confirm.
Balfe showed off her new sparkler at the Golden Globes on Sunday night (get a close-up view here).
“It happened over the break. I’m very happy,” she told PEOPLE.
The Outlander actress, 38, has been dating Tony McGill for nearly two years. Though they have kept their relationship out of the public eye, the two were photographed together at the 2017 Oscar Wilde Awards in February. He also accompanied her at the 2016 ceremony for Jodie Foster’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
They were first seen together in 2015 when a friend shared an Instagram video of Balfe sitting on McGill’s lap.
Along with her engagement, Balfe is also celebrating her Golden Globe nomination for best performance by an actress in a television series, drama, for her starring role in the Starz romantic drama.
The nominations for the 75th Golden Globe Awards were announced Monday and Caitriona has been nominated!
Best performance by Actress in a TV series – Drama
Caitriona Balfe, “Outlander”
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Deuce”
Katherine Langford, “13 Reasons Why”
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Nominations for the 2018 Critics’ Choice Awards were announced Wednesday.
The CW will broadcast the 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards live on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, from 8-10 p.m. PT. The show will again take place at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.
“We are delighted to welcome the Critics’ Choice Awards back to The CW, and showcase the best of both film and television during this live event in January,” Gaye Hirsch, The CW’s head of development, previously told E! News. “As award season kicks into high gear, we’re thrilled we can bring viewers an exciting night filled with the biggest and brightest stars in Hollywood.”
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) received nominating ballots on Dec. 1, and final ballots are due Jan. 9, 2018.
Best Actress in a Drama Series
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander (Starz)
Christine Baranski, The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Claire Foy, The Crown (Netflix)
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)
Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)
Outlander: Inside Jamie and Claire’s ‘rough’ adventure, plus season 4 intel
Put away those steel drums and forget about the Planter’s Punch: Though Jamie and Claire are about to set sail for Jamaica in Sunday’s episode of Outlander, it will be anything but a Caribbean vacation for the not-so-euphorically happy couple.
“There are no umbrella drinks going on,” teases executive producer Matthew B. Roberts. “It is rough going for both of them.”
In breathless anticipation of the drama’s final five episodes, EW returned to Scotland to chat with Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall Fraser) and Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) about the passionate reunion of their characters in episode 5 and how love doesn’t necessarily conquer all when so much time has passed.
“The hard work in any relationship is getting beyond the fantasy,” Balfe tells EW. “That’s when all the truth comes out and Claire learns everything. You want it all to go smooth sailing. But reality is never like that. It’s not the Disney dream.”
But something magical will happen in the coming episodes. For this week’s cover, EW is offering fans an exclusive first look of the fancy togs Claire and Jamie don to attend a lavish ball in Jamaica. If you think the costumes look familiar, then you would be right; the couple wore them at the Palace of Versailles during season two.
“It’s an Easter egg,” says costume designer Terry Dresbach of Jamie’s smart suit and Claire’s sumptuous saffron gown. It’s also historically accurate to re-purpose the outfits. “In the 18th century, people would have an item of clothing for their entire lifetime,” she adds. “So things got remade, repaired, and reconfigured. We will see that a lot in Outlander coming up.”
For the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, we’ll give some hints about what Claire and Jamie will encounter in the Caribbean while on the hunt for Young Ian (John Bell). We’ll also share some secrets about season 4, like how a green pasture in Scotland will double as a North Carolina plantation owned by Aunt Jocasta, a key character in the new year that will be played by Maria Doyle Kennedy.
And good news, Sassenachs! We’ve created another trio of Outlander covers to go with the last set. The first two below, featuring Heughan and Balfe individually, will be available to subscribers and on newsstands Friday. The third, showing the two actors together, will be available exclusively at Barnes & Noble stores beginning Tuesday, Aug. 29.