Outlander: Caitriona Balfe Previews Season Two’s Challenges


Based of the novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander burst onto our TV screens last year and quickly amassed a huge fan following–garnering critical acclaim and award nominations aplenty in its wake. The series is based around an English woman, Claire Randall Fraser (Caitriona Balfe), from the 1940s who accidentally falls back in time to 1700s Scotland. Once in Scotland, Claire is rescued by a group of Highlanders and eventually marries one, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), in order to stay safe. In between brilliantly acted and beautifully filmed scenes, we watched Claire and Jamie fall in love and face numerous challenges at the hand of Black Jack Randall (Tobias Menzies). After escaping Black Jack’s capture Claire and Jaime headed to France with hopes of preventing the Battle of Cullodin, the war that killed thousands of Highlanders and essential ended their way of life.

This season picks up as Claire and Jaime arrive in France and the show takes on a whole new French feel. The TV Junkies spoke with Caitriona Balfe this week to get a hint of what’s to come in Season two. Read on as she discusses Claire and Jaimie’s relationship challenges, the new french characters, that amazing red dress and this season’s new villain.

The TV Junkies: How is Claire and Jamie being in France going to make this season different?

Caitriona Balfe: Just visually first of all, the season looks so different. Last season we were at the Scottish Wilds, it was muted tones. This season it’s lavish, it’s extravagant, there’s sumptuous colors and fabrics, there’s silks and satins. I also feel that last season it was on a very micro level, where we watched a couple fall in love and this season there’s a macro story at stake. They’re trying to change history, they’re trying to preserve a way of life and a group of people, and it requires a lot more manipulation and devious tactics from the couple.

TTVJ: Jamie went through a lot at the end of last season and has a lot of psychological healing to do. Is that something that Claire is going to be able to help him get through? Is their marriage going to be able to survive this? What about their sex life?

CB: The genius of the brutality of Black Jack is that he was able to poison the one pure place in Jamie, which is his love for Claire and of course that’s going to affect their marriage, and of course that’s going to affect their intimacy. It will take time for him to heal emotionally and also physically, his hand is so wounded. This trauma is still very much present in their relationship. But Claire, as his wife, is obviously trying to do everything that she can to help him. She doesn’t have to benefit of modern day psychology or psychiatry, and she thinks that if she keeps him busy and gives him a mission and encourages him to forge forward with that, maybe it will take his mind off things. But as we know, lack of communication and not dealing with something further drives a wedge between them, and it almost brings their relationship to a breaking point.

Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

TTVJ: Your wardrobe changes quite a bit this season being in France. Was that a bit of an adjustment for you? What are some of your favorite outfits you’ve warn over this season and the last? 

CB: It was really lovely in the beginning to explore this other side of Claire’s femininity, and to allow her as a character to sort of enjoy the dress up and the play of it all. But she’s a very practical woman and I think very quickly that grows tiresome for her. I think she’s happiest when she has her sleeves rolled up and she’s helping people, or just getting stuck into something active. So this idea of being an object or being ornamental and sitting in drawing rooms and gossiping with women, which is sort of what women at that time were expected to do–it definitely causes her a lot of frustration, and that’s impacted in her relationships with the costumes as well. But each and every one them are stunning works of individual couture.

TTVJ: Do you have a favourite outfit from this season or last?

CB: Well this season what I loved about Terry’s [Dresbach] process, and when we talked about what she was building for Claire in terms of the wardrobe, she wanted to incorporate this idea that Claire has taken her 1940s eye and brought it to a couturier in Paris, so when she is getting her clothes made she has brought this notion of 1940s clothes. The key look for Terry was what we call this Dior outfit, which was a very strong ode to Dior’s 1940s new look, and it’s just so beautiful. It’s one of my favourites. It’s this oyster coloured silk riding jacket and dark smokey grey full skirt, and it’s just the most beautiful outfit. So if I had a ball to go to I would wear that.

TTVJ: I have to ask about that amazing red dress. First of all, how did it stay on and how did you not fall out of it? 

CB: Uh, yeah it’s quite exposed, or I was quite exposed. To be honest it wasn’t until I saw these first few episodes that I was fully aware of what everyone else was seeing. And I was like ‘Oh my god, I was walking around for three or four days amongst hundreds of people just hanging out,’–literally and figuratively. Also that dress is four foot by two wide, I was walking sideways everywhere, it was very difficult to sit or move. But you know it’s constructed beautifully, and it’s such an iconic moment in the book, so I think it was a real nod to the fans, and Terry wanted to make a statement and I think she really did.

TTVJ: Did you run into any doorways wearing it?

CB: I couldn’t even go through doorways, I was going through sideways. If you watch the episodes again you can see me sort of glide through sideways and then straighten up.

Sony Pictures
Sony Pictures

TTVJ: What can you tell us about the new characters joining this season and who will play the biggest roles this season?

CB: There’s such an array of fantastic new characters this season. Some of my favourites are Bonny Prince Charlie played by Andrew Gower, who’s amazing. Dominic Pinon comes on to play Master Raymond, who’s such a character and such a vivid character, it’s so amazing. Frances De La Tour plays Mother Hildegard which is a big role. Rosie Day comes on to play Mary Hawkins which is another big role. It’s really fun, it’s very different. The french actors and the french characters, they brought such a new energy and a new life to the show. It’s really exciting. In the second half of the season we do go back to Scotland, so we get to revisit some of our favourite characters from last season as well.

TTVJ: Pretty much as soon as they get to France, Claire and Jamie make a new enemy. Why does this keep happening to them?

CB: Well you know, Claire’s big mouth can sometimes get them in trouble. But again, Claire sees injustice and she will always want to right it, and that has dire consequences sometimes. The Comte St. Germain who’s played brilliantly by Stanley Weber becomes the kind of foe of this season, and he does a fantastic job and it’s a character that we’ll see throughout the french storyline. He doesn’t make life easy for the couple.

TTVJ: How much influence does Frank have on Claire when she’s in the 1700s? She wants to change the future but what if that means preventing Frank from ever being born? Will she go that far?

CB: Well this is one of the big questions about time travel. When you play around with time what is the ripple effect? I think that Claire doesn’t really know what the rules or the laws are of this phenomenon. She feels a lot of responsibility for Frank, she has a lot of love for Frank, even though now it’s a different kind of love than she has for Jamie obviously. I think she feels protective of him so I think that’s going to be a struggle that she has to contend with. What happens if I change these things? Does that mean that other things will change too? She’ll have to deal with that.

Are you looking forward the the new season of Outlander? Curious to see what life in France will bring for Claire and Jamie? Worried that their marriage may not survive the challenges ahead of them? Share you thoughts in our comments section below.

Outlander airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz in the US and on Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showcase in Canada.

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