Sam Heughan (Jamie), Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sophie Skelton (Brianna), Richard Rankin (Roger), executive producer Maril Davis, executive producer/writer Toni Graphia and production designer Jon Gary Steele recently flew to Los Angeles to attend Starz’s FYC event in Century City, Calif., to promote season four of Outlander for the current awards season.
Parade.com was on hand – see the previous exclusive interview with Heughan – for the panel and in this feature, we cover the topics discussed by Balfe.
Richard Rankin, Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Sophie Skelton (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ Entertainment LLC)
Claire is a modern woman from the 1940s and she goes back to a time where women have no agency; they are basically chattel of their husband. What is it like to play?
That has been the great thing of playing this character. We’ve taken her as a young woman – she was definitely in her late 20s – and her husband was the person she deferred to in so many ways. Claire has grown so much through this.
Claire is now in her mid-50s. It has been incredible to walk that life with this character and watch her grow. Claire was a very hot-headed and quick-tempered person. Her need for justice and her need to be able to say something in the moment hasn’t changed but what has been interesting is to watch her become wiser and not as tempestuous and to learn a little calm.
That’s the beauty of being able to do a show. We’ve been at it 6-1/2 years. You get to let these characters evolve in a very organic way. I think Sam and I have loved being given that opportunity to take these characters on such a journey.
Kudos to Claire for speaking up about slavery being wrong.
Huge kudos to our writers at trying to depict the reality of Colonial America and what the [expectation] of this country was and [demonstrating] the backs of the people who created this democracy that we have now. I think it is very important to show where everybody came from. We took that as a big responsibility to show that in a good way this season.
One of the things people always say is that is the way that people were back then, but there were always people, no matter what era, that knew right from wrong.
That is one thing we always talk about. You can never play a time period. People are people. People may not have been able to say how they felt, but people have had the same feelings since time began. I don’t think any woman back in that time was sitting there going, “Yes, I completely agree I should be a second-class citizen,” or, “This is great slavery for me.” This is not how people were, so the feelings are still there. It is just what you were allowed to do with those feelings. And it is interesting in these period dramas to be able to explore how do you still feel like a human being and emote within the constraints of that time period.
What does home mean to Claire?
I think, definitely, for Claire, home is her life with Jamie. Whereas Jamie was always connected to Scotland and that was his home, Claire has always been trying to find out what home means to her. She has always felt untethered. It is only when she meets Jamie that she really has that anchor. Then Brianna is the product of that and, therefore, these people are her home.
What do you hope people take away from this show ultimately?
One thing I love about it is it shows love is worth fighting for. I think that is something we explore continuously in the show.
What is it about Outlander that it has such global appeal and it resonated so quickly with the fans?
I think it is the incredible talent we have. Our show is also so visually beautiful. The talent of Gary, the costume department. They surpass themselves every year. I think when you talk to anybody about this show, it is also about how visually beautiful it is.
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