Caitriona Balfe is best known for playing gutsy time traveller Claire Fraser in Outlander. The historical series is set to return with its fifth season next year, which fans are impatiently counting down the days to. But, in the meantime, Balfe has been busy taking on a new role – and it’s a far cry from the billow and breeze, island and seas of Outlander.
Le Mans ’66 is the new car racing movie that tells the story of racing driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and car designer Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon). It’s a triumphant yet bittersweet real-life tale of how the friends overcame personal demons to become icons in the racing world. It’s also a very male dominated film, with only one listed female actor role.
alfe plays Mollie Miles, who is married to Ken. Although her role is supportive, she is very much an equal partner in the relationship, with some strong scenes showing her defiance against the 60s housewife stereotype (one of which involves Molly terrifying Ken by driving his car at high speed).
But it definitely wasn’t a shared passion for motors that drew Balfe to the role…
The real reason Caitriona Balfe took on the role of Mollie Miles
“I actually didn’t start driving myself until I was 30!” the actor tells Stylist ahead of the film’s release. “And I can’t say I actually know very much about cars. But I love sports films and I always have, and I think that they can tell you something about the human spirit and human endeavour.”
She’s right: the film did have me (a cyclist who doesn’t possess a driving licence) internally whooping and cheering for Ken during his Le Mans race towards the end of the film. And, as the matriarch figure in the story, Balfe’s character is key in emphasising how much that race affected Ken’s family.
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