In 2013, Caitríona Balfe was an unknown actress cast as the anchor of Outlander, a show based on a famous book series. Today, as the show approaches the airing of its seventh season, after filming its sixth season in the height of a global pandemic, Balfe is not only still the beloved anchor, but is one half of one of television’s greatest love stories, and plays one of the strongest women in television history. Balfe and co-star Sam Heughan have taken Claire and Jamie Fraser from pages in a book to two people you would watch do absolutely anything. The magic of Outlander is Balfe and Heughan. Period. But Balfe did spend most of the first three seasons running amok in the woods of Scotland in a corset and little nightgown (or as they call it a “shift”) and Heughan got to run like the free man he is in a kilt. So Balfe wins in most physical effort, or most uncomfortably clad in a series ever. Thank you.
It’s hard to fathom that Outlander was Balfe’s first TV show. First! As Claire Fraser, she moves effortlessly and easily from the 1940s to the 1740s and 1960s, and looks good in every decade. (Super annoying, stop making it look so easy.) She also has impeccable hair in every century. Honestly, it’s rude. Balfe’s ability to command the screen in every time period is unmatched. One minute she’s galloping on a horse in a corset, the next she’s rocking a whisky and a cigarette, after just having performed surgery and fighting with future Frank. Frank. That guy. And the next she’ll gut you emotionally and literally. Yes, Claire can actually gut you, btw. I’ve seen her shank people in at least 3 episodes. She calls it “surgery.”
Diana Gabaldon wrote the road map for Claire Fraser, but Balfe has taken her to places we didn’t even know were on the map. Here are just a few of Balfe’s best scenes in Outlander.
This article was originally published September 11, 2021.