#Outlander Season 4 Interview: Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan on the Frasers’ American Optimism | decider.com

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As a period piece/sci-fi epic based on a series of books written more than 20 years ago, Outlander should probably get a free pass when it comes to current political commentary. But with the arrival of the Starz series’ fourth season, now set in colonial North Carolina, it is almost impossible to not draw connections between today’s headlines and the (mis)adventures of time-traveling doctor Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and her 18th-century Scottish husband, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Balfe and Heughan, who spoke with Decider recently about the new season, agreed that as actors, they can’t help but be influenced by what’s happening in the real world. “You take all of that knowledge with you, and this is the story of an immigrant family, landing in America,” says Balfe.

By turning Claire and Jamie into a pair of immigrants this season, the correlation to modern-day stories about racism and immigration becomes stark. “It has so many parallels,” says Balfe. But at the same time, viewers can take away a feeling of optimism when it comes to how Outlander portrays the long game of America’s history: “If anything, it’s an entertainment show,” continues Balfe, “but, you can spark a conversation and maybe show people, ‘Look, this is where your origins came from, this is how your family got to be American and hopefully it makes people a little more compassionate.’”

Claire, especially, has always had a deep connection to America. Raised by her archaeologist uncle, she led a nomadic existence throughout the 20th century before she ever fell through the stones at Craigh na dun and landed in 1743 Scotland. When she returned to 1948 to give birth to the daughter she conceived with Jamie, Claire, an Englishwoman, settled in the United States and lived there for two decades, voicing a desire to acquire citizenship and turning American society’s ingrained sexism on its ear by becoming a doctor in 1950s Boston.

She, like Jamie, has also seen enough horrors in 18th-century Scotland to last a lifetime, so understandably, for her, America represents a land of hope when Outlander‘s fourth season begins. “She already has America in her blood,” says Balfe of Claire’s mindset when she and Jamie arrive in 1767 North Carolina. “She raised her daughter in America, she fulfilled a lifelong passion by becoming a doctor in America. She’s already an American in many ways. So when this idea to stay [presents itself], it’s a really strong pull for her.”

For Jamie, like so many immigrants to this country, becoming an American is the chance for a clean slate, something that he never would’ve had in Scotland as a former Highlander laird/outlaw: “I think for him, America is an opportunity, and they quickly realize that they could create a life here; going back to Scotland isn’t really a viable option,” says Heughan. “He’s always wanted to create a home and have a family – and he knows that by molding America into this new world is a way that he can have some sort of influence on [his daughter] Brianna in the future.”

 

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