Caitríona Balfe discusses new season of ‘Outlander’

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By María Estevez, MWN 

‘Outlander’ is an epic drama between fantasy and science fiction dedicated to the Fraser family with Claire (Caitríona Balfe) as the main character of the story. In season 6, she has to overcome the trauma of rape she suffered in the last episode. The possibility of time traveling in the story allows the producers to change the scene year after year, and thus reinvent a narrative based on the homonymous literary saga written by Diana Gabaldon.

‘Outlander’ transforms itself into a hybrid series straddling science fiction and romance that has become a true hit with millions of fans turning to social media after each episode to discuss Claire’s ups and downs.

Metro recently talked with Balfe to learn more.

Thanks to ‘Belfast’ and ‘Outlander’ you became the star of 2022.

I am very grateful for the reception that the followers of the book have given me and also to ‘Belfast.’ I was not aware of the magnitude of ‘Outlander’ until they offered me the role. Every season I face the challenge of meeting the expectations that have been created for me to bring the character to life.

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The narrative has grown and evolved as its protagonists left Scotland behind to settle in the United States. Tell us about this experience.

In the early years of the show, you’re creating memories for the character out of your imagination. You have to build a database before starting the character’s life. Now, six years later, every scene you do is a memory of that person’s life. In a certain way, you already know everything that happens, you have already experienced it.

It seems that your character has evolved with what is happening with women in society.

At the time we started, they were a few women-driven shows, but that has changed now. I can certainly see that we are giving female audiences a real place. Society changed thanks to movements such as Times Up or Me Too, that have changed the narrative around females and power imbalances. Everything has changed, even inclusion, and we have to think of the source material that the show is based on because it is 30 years old. So, if something’s out of date, we have to be able to incorporate it in a contemporary way and honor the book that people love so much without forgetting that the audience’s perception has changed. The writers have done an incredible job but are constantly shifting. We open the world so much. I remember the first seasons when the show was told from Claire’s point of view singularly, but now we open the point of view and the show flourished because we get to explore different stories and give voice to different characters, which only makes the show richer.

How was shooting the new season during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This season was very challenging for many reasons: we were in the height of the pandemic, we were shooting during the lockdown, in the height of Scotland winter. Sam and I had to be producers because we didn’t have any showrunner there, any scriptwriter, as all of them were in America. We had to shoot in a different way. We had one of our writer-producers, and we were helping her. It was tough. We were shooting in a very precarious way. And we had a lot of protocols with testings every day and still, people were getting uncertain if we were able to finish without anyone of the shooting crew getting COVID-19, which was like a miracle.

Why do you think this show is so successful? 

Our series has evolved a lot since the first season. It’s surprising because due to the pandemic and lockdowns, many more people have discovered our series and have started to watch it from another point of view because ‘Outlander’ offers beautiful escapism. It is a world of fairies that, when you discover it, makes you forget about your daily life. In the series, there are many genres. Fantasy and science fiction, romance, political drama, action… and that allows you to fly and enjoy the landscape, the costumes, the staging, and forget about the world for a few hours. Now Claire and Jamie return to face new challenges, adversaries and adventures in season six as we delve into American history and continue the story of the Frasers as they settle in the New World.

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How is Claire feeling after the dramatic events of the last episode in season 5? 

We pick season 6 a few months after the events of the last episodes and she is still not able to get over what happened to her. She is putting on a brave face, but she is in a lot of pain because she is not dealing with it. She is having PTSD. All of them feel guilty and we can see the repercussions of what happened in all the family and it will take a lot of time to overcome all that.

How was it for you to shoot those dark moments? Have you shot any episodes after having your first son?

I don’t know how it is yet to play her as a mother because we have not started season 7 and I just had my baby. I was pregnant last season but I didn’t have my son yet. I can say it was challenging to shoot while I was pregnant.

Do you think Claire is a feminist character?

I think there is a new awakening in feminism right now. It’s wonderful that our show is part of that conversation. But when I decided to star in it, I never thought I was playing a feminist character. As an actress, I was interested in the role because she is an intelligent woman with many facets. She is a woman without age, and even when she represents her time in the 20th century she is shown to be more mentally, sexually and emotionally advanced than her contemporaries. I think I am very much like her because I have grown up surrounded by women.

‘Outlander’ is now streaming on Starz.

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