Category: Interviews

Caitriona Balfe on Claire’s Devastating Grief

VULTURE.COMSpoilers ahead for the most recent episode of Outlander.

Claire had so much hope heading to France. She and Jamie were going to change the world! Prevent the Jacobite rebellion! Alter the course of history! But even with her knowledge of the future, Claire couldn’t stop certain events from happening. She couldn’t thwart everyone who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. She couldn’t keep two mortal enemies from dueling each other. And she couldn’t save her unborn child. In one of the most devastating scenes this season, Claire’s daughter is stillborn, even as she herself is on the verge of dying from a postpartum infection. Actress Caitriona Balfe chatted with Vulture about Claire’s grief, and how she feels about both husbands now.

Even though she was pregnant during the first half of the season, do you think Claire had more agency?
It’s an interesting shift. Last season, I feel like Claire was very reactionary, and all of these events were sort of coming at her fast and swift. She didn’t really have time to absorb any of the events, really. She would get captured, and then they would be on their way somewhere, and then something else would happen. It was all very fight or flight. Survival.

But this season, she was experiencing a huge life change, being pregnant for the first time. And in French society, she almost had less freedom than she had in Scotland, because of the role that women are supposed to play. The first few episodes, she was relegated to drawing rooms and apartments, and you could feel her frustration building. It was quite a suffocating thing to do, even as an actress! But that was great for the internal journey of Claire, because she was dealing with a lot of things in private, and she knew she had to keep them to herself, because Jamie was still suffering so much from the events of the end of last season. And in a way, because she wasn’t quite the outsider in France the way she was in Scotland, she learned she had even more freedom and agency.

What was your reaction when you first found out what would happen to end the pregnancy?
When I first got the script Toni Graphia wrote, I was sobbing, reading it. I just felt very grateful to be given such a wonderful storyline, and wonderful material to work with. It’s a huge tragedy for Claire, and I’ve done quite a bit of reading about grief. I think there’s so many women who either have themselves or who know somebody who has been touched by the tragedy of miscarriage. It’s something that I really just wanted to hold a space for, Claire’s grief, Claire’s experience. It was pretty tough. We had about five days where the whole sequence happened, so you’re in that very emotional place for quite a long time.
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Caitriona Balfe for The Last Magazine

THE LAST MAGAZINE – For the 36-year-old, Dublin-born former model Caitriona Balfe, acting was a long time coming. “I’ve always wanted to act since I was a kid and it was something I did in local theater and school theater, all of those things,” she recalls over the phone from Los Angeles. “Then, when I left high school, I started a degree in theater studies in Dublin and it was when I was there that I got scouted and given this opportunity to go to Paris, and that opportunity at the age of eighteen seemed like a good idea.”

And who could blame her? Balfe moved to Paris and went on to model for almost a decade, walking for Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and dozens of others, and starring in campaigns for the likes of Calvin Klein, Victoria’s Secret, Dolce & Gabbana, and more.

It was when she was later living in New York, almost ten years after leaving school to first work in France, that she started to reevaluate the course of her career. “I sort of got to the point where I had been very in fashion, I had some great years, and then it sort of felt like I wasn’t excited by it anymore and I wanted to do the thing that I had always felt was the thing I was supposed to be doing,” she says. Balfe signed up for acting classes in New York and, soon after, quit modeling and moved to Los Angeles.

At first, it was a slow move to the screen. “Well, it’s crazy. I mean, I was thirty,” explains Balfe. “To walk into that industry with no credits and start at the bottom—a lot of people were like, ‘Ah, you’re crazy.’ You definitely need a little delusion [to keep on going].”

It took Balfe three and a half years of auditioning, with the occasional bit part coming eventually, before she landed her breakthrough role—the sharp, strategically driven, sexually empowered Claire, the lead character in Ronald Moore’s historical fantasy Outlander on Starz. In the series, Claire jumps from her life as a nurse in post-World War II, 1945 England to eighteenth-century, violent, and pre-parliamentary Scotland.
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Caitriona Balfe Talks “Money Monster” at the Cannes Film Festival

W MAGAZINE – Caitriona Balfe went from runway modeling to starring in Outlander to walking the Cannes red carpet alongside George Clooney and Julia Roberts for Money Monster. Here, the actress talks her starry rise.

Premiering tonight at the Grand Palais in Cannes, Money Monster follows Lee Gates, a wealthy financial talk show host (George Clooney), who is held hostage on his live TV show by a man (Jack O’Connell) who lost his entire life’s savings after falling victim to a corporate financial scheme that Clooney promoted on his show. 36 year-old Caitriona Balfe plays Diane, the financial company’s communications director who has a moral awakening halfway through the film, when she realizes the extent of her boss’s deceit and her role as a cog in the American money wheel. Here, the leggy starlet talks about being dressed by Louis Vuitton, and what it’s like to work with the stars in the Jodie Foster-directed film.

What was your “I made it!” moment?
Last year when the show [Outlander] came out and one of those buses drove by, it was such a Carrie [Bradshaw] moment. I was like, “holy shit I’m on the side of a bus.”

Before your acting career took off, you were a successful model in your own right, walking at international fashion weeks…
Yes, I walked for Chanel, Michael Kors, Dior, Balenciaga, everyone. But my girlfriends and I would always laugh because we were the blue collar models. We did a lot of shows and we did well, but I was never known, which helped when I made the switch to acting because I think being a model comes with such a stigma.

What prompted the transition from modeling to acting?
My modeling career was trickling down…I hit that point where I was like “ok, I’m not happy, this was never my passion.” I was taking acting classes in New York, and I wanted to make sure I had the passion and talent for it. So I moved to L.A. to try it seriously. I had read an article where Amy Adams talked about her acting coach. So I enrolled in that teacher’s class and started from scratch. I was 29 about to turn 30. People say I shouldn’t talk about my age, but if you focus on the work, it shouldn’t matter what age you are.

And how did you get cast in Outlander?
I was living in L.A., working on bits and pieces of films. My manager sent me to the audition. I didn’t hear anything for three weeks, then I got a call that they wanted to see me again. It was a whirlwind. They casted me on Tuesday, and asked me to be there on Wednesday. I had a cat, an apartment, I had to figure out all this shit. Five days later I was on location in Glasgow shooting. I don’t think any of us expected the show to get the response that it did. Then during my hiatus between seasons one and two I shot Money Monster.
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Caitriona Interview with Otago Daily Times

OTAGO DAILY TIMES – Matt Suddain sits down with Caitriona Balfe, star of epic swords and man-skirts drama Outlander.

This show has a simple concept, really: a married former World War 2 battlefield nurse, Claire Randall, discovers an ancient stone circle and accidentally travels through time, where she becomes embroiled in the Jacobean wars and meets her love-match: a kilted young warrior called Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

OK, so the concept doesn’t sound that simple. But the idea is simple.

To transport the audience – mostly women – out of their everyday lives and into an alternate world of fantasy, adventure and generous amounts of sex.

When I met Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire, in a posh hotel in central London, I asked her if she had any idea why these fantasies about escaping to another time are so popular, and why time travel is such a go-to idea for film and TV.

‘‘Well, I suppose because we have so little control over events in our life. I think people love to fantasise about the ability to go back and do things differently. I’m more of the theory that no matter what has happened, everything brings you to the place you are right now, and so you’ve learned something, or you’ve grown from it.

I can’t help pointing out that every time travel show or movie has things turning out incredibly badly.

‘‘Exactly! Because things turn out the way they’re supposed to.
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‘Outlander’ Stars on Black Jack Randall’s Fate, Claire and Jamie’s Emotional Distance

VARIETY – This post contains spoilers for “Outlander” Season 2, Episode 2, titled “Not in Scotland Anymore.” To refresh your memory on the Season 2 premiere and Claire and Jamie’s run-in with Le Comte St. Germain, check out last week’s recap.

After Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie’s (Sam Heughan) eventful arrival in France last week, episode 202 throws the Frasers headfirst into the political machinations of the royal court, bringing a number of memorable new characters into their orbit, while further exploring the emotional and physical distance that has grown between the couple since the events of the Season 1 finale.

The episode opens with Jamie and Claire in a moment of intimacy, but quickly takes a darker turn when Claire morphs into Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) in the middle of the act, prompting Jamie to viciously stab him until both are covered in blood. Since this is a nightmare, Jack’s eyes snap chillingly back open, and Jamie awakes in a cold sweat, leaving a concerned Claire in bed while he decides to try and get some work done, in what has obviously become a nighttime ritual for them.

“He’s still troubled by what happened to him and like every guy is not really dealing with the issue,” Heughan tells Variety. “He puts it to one side and throws himself into this mission to change history. It puts a strain on their relationship because they’re not really connecting, not really dealing with [what happened to him].”

This week, Jamie has his first meeting with Bonny Prince Charlie (in a brothel, no less), in order to try and forestall the Jacobite uprising that Claire knows will lead Charles’ followers to a crushing defeat at the Battle of Culloden. Arrogant and entitled despite his exile, Charles Stuart is used to getting his way. (Take a shot of whisky every time he says “mark me” this season, if your liver is strong enough.)

“You now realize why this true historical figure was so inspiring to men but also so dangerous and such a fool,” Heughan notes. “He’s this young man who’s been brought up in exile abroad and been fed all this propaganda by his father and the people around him. He believes when he arrives in Scotland, he’ll be greeted by crowds of adoring people and he probably arrived on a cold bleak day in Scotland and there were only a few thousand people there. So he’s a great character, and it’s interesting to see Jamie — who is not a Jacobite supporter and is in fact the opposite — have to play along with that.”

Despite the fact that “Jamie’s forced into this friendship because he’s trying to manipulate” Charles, Heughan says that the two men “do form this bond, and at some point, Jamie becomes his only ally … That’s what this season’s about — friends are also enemies, it’s really uneven ground. In a weird way, I think Jamie actually feels sorry for him; he’s also an outsider, he shouldn’t be in control of men and he shouldn’t be in the position he’s in.”

Claire, meanwhile, has become acquainted with the demure Mary Hawkins and Parisian socialite Louise de Rohan — who facilitates her entree into the court of Louis XV at Versailles (and the joys of bikini waxing) — but our heroine is finding herself suffocated by the expectations placed on women of the period.

“It’s a whole new set of constraints, in a way,” Caitriona Balfe points out. “Weirdly, Claire as an outsider in Scotland had almost more freedom, because she was different and because she was regarded as a crazy Sassenach and they would roll their eyes at her, but now in Paris … especially because they’re doing something dubious and underhanded, they feel they have to keep up appearances and conform. Her frustration is epic, and I could feel it building in her because she wasn’t given anything to do. Jamie is sent out and she gives him this mission to keep his mind active and away from thinking about the events of last season, but she’s not a woman who’s content sitting at home and going to visit ladies and drinking tea and gossiping.”
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‘Outlander’ Stars Discuss Black Jack Revelation, Jamie and Claire’s Growing “Rift”

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD – [Warning: This story contains spoilers from Saturday’s episode of Outlander, “Not in Scotland Anymore.”]

Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan and Tobias Menzies also break down Bonnie Prince Charlie’s introduction and Frank’s return.

It takes a lot more than a cattle stampede to take Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies) down on Outlander.

Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie (Sam Heughan) initially believed that their escape from Wentworth Prison resulted in Black Jack’s death back in the season one finale. But Claire learned from his brother, Alexander Randall (Laurence Dobiesz), that he was only injured in the stampede, and was still very much alive. Claire received the shocking news with a horrified look on her face, faced with the knowledge that she would have to be the one to break the news to Jamie that his tormenter still walked the earth … or did she have to tell him at all?

Unbeknownst to the news that just rocked Claire’s world, Jamie pushed forward in his mission to finally meet Bonnie Prince Charles (Andrew Gower) to sabotage the Jacobite rebellion from the inside. When Jamie came face-to-face with the iconic figure, he finally realized why the rebellion would fail: Charlie was not the man everyone he thought he was.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Balfe, Menzies and Heughan about Black Jack’s fate, the eye-opening introduction of Bonnie Prince Charles and more.

Now that Claire knows Black Jack is still alive, how does that knowledge affect her going forward?

Caitriona Balfe: There’s a great fear that this is going to be something that breaks Jamie. She felt that they were finally getting to a place where they could put that to rest. Even though she still sees Jamie struggling with the torment of all that happened last season, she felt like they were perhaps on the road to recovery. Now with the knowledge that he’s actually not dead and his brother is now in Paris, she’s so scared that it’s going to break Jamie.
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