Caitriona Balfe is heading into some uncharted territory in Season 4 of Starz’s romantic drama “Outlander.” The upcoming season on Starz will deal with Balfe’s character Claire and Jamie (Sam Heughan) forging their own path in America and creating Fraser’s Ridge.
Fresh off her third consecutive Golden Globe nomination, Balfe recently spoke with Gold Derby’s resident “Outlander” experts Rob Licuria and Amanda Spears in a video chat about what happened on Season 3, an awkward fan interaction and what fans can expect from Season 4. Watch the exclusive video above and read the entire interview transcript below.
Gold Derby (Rob Licuria): Caitriona Balfe, looking back over Season 3 of “Outlander,” it was a really good season. Fans loved it, the critics loved it. Can you recall your highlight moment or scene in terms of what you were most proud of?
Caitriona Balfe: Ooh. There’s a couple of things. We had Episode 3, it had this real “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” vibe, these two people just stewing in their misery. There was something really satisfying about that. That was kind of fun to do. Actually, you know what, one of the fun things even though I absolutely dreaded it was turtle soup, just ‘cause it’s kind of ridiculous and fun to do something drunk. Sam was telling me that it was a little too close to home. He’s seen me after a few drinks. Not the rest of the stuff, just the drunk Caitriona (laughs). But yeah, I don’t know, a lot of the different stuff. It was also cool to ramble around a pretend jungle for three days and do all that stuff. That was kind of fun.
Gold Derby (Amanda Spears): Well speaking of that in “Uncharted,” it seems like Claire’s doing her version of “Cast Away.” Was that as emotionally and physically draining as it looked onscreen?
CB: It was funny because you have to plot these three days and what happens. Dehydration I guess was the biggest thing and a lot of the research, I read accounts of people who, their car breaks down in the desert and they go walking and you’re like, “Why would you ever do that?“ But it’s interesting how quickly your body starts to break down if you don’t have water. You can survive for so long without food but it’s that kind of water issue is the real problem. But it was probably arduous in the way that it was very hot. We were in South Africa and when you’re on your own and it’s just you and the crew, you don’t really have anything to say so you’re not really emoting, it’s quite a mental challenge. It was great, though. We did it over about five days, maybe six days. You do kind of get into this zone a little bit, but luckily I had bottles of water at hand so it wasn’t that bad.
GD (Rob): Thank god for that. I think that would’ve just been a bit too method.
CB: (Laughs.) They didn’t try and kill me for it, which was quite nice.
GD (Rob): We’ve had the pleasure of speaking with you, Caitriona, over the last few seasons and I’ve asked questions about how the show’s affected your career and what it’s meant to you but we’d really love to know, actually, how for three and a half seasons so far, how has this show actually affected and most impacted you on a personal level?
CB: I think the show, on a personal level it’s affected in the way that I have a really steady job (laughs). I spent most of my adult life before I got this just traveling around and never really had stability. I also think that there’s something in the doing of something as big as this, just that day to day being on-set, just finishing a day, it gives you a real confidence in your ability to achieve something that I guess I didn’t have with my previous career. There’s a real family atmosphere with this show. I think anyone who’s on a show this long gets that. There’s something really grounding about being amongst 200 extended family members every day and getting to know them and them getting to know you on a real intimate personal level, and having that community, I think it’s a really beneficial thing on a personal growth level, if that makes sense.
GD (Amanda): So you received your third consecutive Golden Globe nomination. Congratulations. They usually don’t nominate people that many times. How did you find out and what was the evening like?
CB: I believe I was at work. We were on-set and I really was not expecting it at all. You kind of like to not think about those things because inevitably it’s such an exciting thing if it happens, but obviously it doesn’t happen very often so there’s gonna be a time when you’re not gonna be, and you just sort of want to not think about the day or that kind of thing. I was just working and somebody called me. I think my agent called me. It was just very, very exciting.
GD (Rob): It is exciting. You’re an old hat at this now, third nomination, you’re like, “Yeah, whatevs.” You went and had a drink, you went to the party. It was all good.
CB: I didn’t, I was so sick! I spent the previous two days in bed. I’d flown from Australia actually to L.A. and got this horrible flu. I’d managed to go out the first night to an event and then spent the next two days in bed with drips and juices and all kinds of things so it was actually quite a quiet night. I went to bed pretty early.
GD (Rob): Bloody Australia, thanks a lot.
CB: The Australian flu.
GD (Rob): The Australian flu. Let’s actually start to delve a little into Season 4. So you’re shooting Season 4 now in Scotland, is that right?
CB: Yeah, we’re almost finished. We have three weeks left, actually.
GD (Rob): How exciting. How’s it going? How have you found the shoot, getting back together with the cast and crew for Season 4?
CB: It’s been a really great season. It’s very different. I think that’s the one great thing about the show is every season is very different. This year we’re in America, even though we’re in Scotland. But it has a different feel to it. It’s looking at a family, an immigrant family, creating a home and finding their way through a new country and a new land and all the things that that brings. Obviously for Claire, there’s a very different take on it because she essentially had lived in America for 20 years in the future, so to come back to the inception of the American democracy as we know it now, it’s quite interesting to see her knowing what was going on in that time, but coming face to face with it in a very real way. So that’s really cool stuff, and then you get to see them create Fraser’s Ridge and this community that they build there. Obviously it’s a lot about family, a lot about home and the interaction with their neighbors as well, which is quite a cool thing.
GD (Amanda): So we know we’re probably gonna see Sophie Skelton again as Brianna but I’m also wondering are we gonna see Duncan Lacroix or maybe Tobias Menzies?
CB: I don’t know, I think [Ronald D. Moore] has already let that cat out of the bag so if Ron has said it, then probably (laughs). I cannot say anything but yeah, Ron’s been loose-lipped about that, I think.
GD (Rob): He definitely has. He’s just kind of letting it all out. We also know that we’re gonna see a lot of new characters obviously for Season 4. You’re in a completely new location. So Ed Speleers is coming in as the villainous smuggler Stephen Bonnet, which is so exciting, and for me especially, I love Maria Doyle Kennedy. Such an amazing actress. She’s playing Jocasta. Talk us about those two and how they’ve impacted the cast and working with them.
CB: Maria is just the most darling woman and it’s so nice to have another Irish woman on set, but she’s wonderful. Jocasta is such a great character. Maria’s so fantastic as her. Claire and Jocasta do have their issues. It’s not quite the bosom buddies. No, she’s brilliant and she brings a fantastic feeling to set. We’ve loved having her. Ed is fantastic, but the character is not the nicest. He’s been great, though. It’s always good when you have new people come in and inject this new energy into the show.
GD (Amanda): Well, “Outlander” of course has a very dedicated fanbase. Do you have a favorite fan interaction?
CB: I think the best one yet that I’ve had, and I may have mentioned this before, I was in Iceland last year and I went to the Blue Lagoon and I was in the changing rooms getting dressed, not quite dressed and these two lovely old ladies from Queens, I think it was Queens or Brooklyn, came over to me and just started telling me about how much they loved Claire as I was pretty much buck naked. I think stuff like that is always very funny because you’re just like, “Is this a good time? Do you think this is a good time to have this conversation?” But they were so lovely, so it was fun.
GD (Rob): Wow, I think that’s taking it too far but okay, that’s a whole other thing. You’re a good sport about it! We all love “Outlander” for different reasons. For me, I love the historical aspects of how this show touches on various parts of history, as a history nerd. I love it how Claire knows what’s going to happen and has to kind of tow the line between whether she does things to affect history or not and I’m just wondering, over the last four seasons, you’ve had to go through so many different time periods and different massive historical events. Have you done a lot of research and reading to contextualize what Claire knows and what she’s doing in these particular time periods?
CB: Yeah, definitely some. It depends. There’s certain things that, especially in the beginning, lots about the ‘40s and lots about where she would’ve been in that time coming into it. Some of the stuff, reading about Scottish history and stuff like that wasn’t really relevant or wasn’t really helpful because Claire was discovering it as she went along, but definitely this year quite a bit about the time that she finds herself in with the regulators and the build up to the American Civil War, that has been really interesting to research. But you always wanna allow moments of discovery as well for the character so I enjoy doing the research. I enjoy reading up on these different times but you don’t wanna get too bogged down in accuracy because I think you wanna retain that ability of letting people be organic and playing the person rather than playing the time, if that makes sense.
GD (Amanda): Definitely. Is Claire gonna be more settled this year? She seems to have been in such upheaval the last few seasons.
CB: Yeah, this is a very different side of Claire this season. That was quite an adjustment for me. I think the beauty about being on a long-running show is that you get to be surprised by your character still and this is a much more settled version of Claire, I think. You see a much more nurturing side of her. Before it was a lot of the drama of discovering love and all of that or being a professional and being very much the surgeon and that being her focus, but this year it is much more about home and creating that and the value of also having that side of your life. I think we can make people one-dimensional by saying, “Oh, she’s a strong woman and she does this and she’s all about her career and everything like that,” but Claire is multifaceted and it’s been nice to explore the more quiet and nurturing side of her.
GD (Rob): Yeah, absolutely. That’s actually what we’re probably most excited about seeing. Now, you knew this was coming. We always ask about the three words to describe this season and we have to do it again ‘cause it was really, really good last time. We loved what you gave us last time. So Caitriona, three words to describe what we can look forward to most for Season 4 without giving too much away.
CB: Family, home and other cultures.
GD (Rob): Oof. That’s good.
CB: (Laughs.) I don’t know.
GD: I like it. That’s really good. Caitriona, once again, we really appreciate your time. We love your work on “Outlander” and congrats on Season 3, good luck for Season 4, we hope to see you on the red carpet next few months and thank god the Scottish Wi-Fi actually held out this time.
CB: Oh I’m so sorry but thank you, yes. We got there in the end (laughs). Thanks, guys.
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