Caitriona Balfe dishes on Outlander

The star of the hit show tells all about her character, Claire Randall
Caitriona Balfe, Outlander

She got her first taste of the limelight walking the runway for labels like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton, but it’s actress Caitriona Balfe’s latest role in cult hit Outlander that has seen her skyrocket to stardom. With the highly anticipated second series of the show starting this week on Lightbox, we sit down with the charming and chatty Caitriona to talk about her character Claire Randall, the show’s success and, of course, fashion.

What is it about Claire you immediately connected with?

I came to the role with not a huge amount of experience, but from day one, it felt like it fitted very well. I instantly loved this woman. Characters find you as much as you find them. It felt like everything aligned at the right time.

What similarities are there between you and Claire?

When I got this job, my sister started reading the books that the series is based on. Very soon afterwards, she texted me, saying, “Oh, my God, you’re so Claire!” I’ve heard I can be quite opinionated! I certainly like to speak my mind and Claire does too. I’d also like to think that I have the same lust for life and empathy for others that she has.

Claire got her start as a model before transitioning into stardom with Outlander.

How has Claire changed since the first series?

In season one, she was just living from moment to moment and reacting to circumstances. But season two is very different. Claire is now in a settled relationship – in fact, she and Jamie are the most settled they’ve ever been. But at the same time, they are still reeling from the events at the end of season one.

Why do you think Outlander has proved such a global hit?

What’s struck a chord worldwide is the fact that the drama tackles large-scale themes everyone can relate to – the search for home, for love and for a happy marriage. Claire and Jamie begin their marriage, then immediately they’re displaced. [Author] Diana Gabaldon says a lot of her readers are in the army and have had to experience a partner going off. That sense of displacement applies to a lot of people in the modern world. The economy is so global now that people don’t stay in one place any more. But we all still have a yearning for the place we feel connected to and rooted in.

Why are fans so passionate about the relationship between Claire and Jamie?

A lot of it stems from the books. Many, many people have been fans of the books for two decades. There’s something about the equality of power in the relationship between Claire and Jamie that people adore. They challenge each other, but at the same time, they allow each other to grow. It’s not a perfect relationship, but because of that imperfection, it’s something people can aspire to.

Much of the show’s second season is set in France.

A lot of this season is set in France. Have you enjoyed being on beautiful sets rather than filming outside?

Yes, although funnily enough, we are almost missing being out in the cold Scottish weather. At the beginning of this season, we were very excited to be on these lovely sets. But after a while, we started to miss being outside. It feels like our home base is out in the rain and the mud, so we’re really looking forward to going back out there!

How have you found the elegant French fashions this season?

The costumes are beautiful, if a bit restrictive. It’s fun wearing these clothes, but it can be trying. Let’s just say, it takes a while to go to the bathroom!

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