Caitriona Balfe Article In Vanity Fair Italy
Article Translated – see original article below. Credit to Vanity Fair Italy
Anyone who’s seen Outlander, the TV show about the travel through time of nurse Claire Beauchamp, thrown in 1700’s Scotland, must have noticed a hole in the plot. Or at least that’s what a friend of mine says in a Whatsapp group. What requires a momentary suspension of disbelief, she claims, is the fact that in the past Claire has fallen in love with Jamie (Sam Heughan) – a handsome, sweet, noble etc. Highlander warrior – and marries him, but at the same time she tries to go back to her husband Frank (in the ‘40s of the 20th century). The only one who can give us an answer to this Hamlet-like doubt is Caitriona Balfe, an Irish actress who’s been playing Claire for the past three years. I meet her in a hotel in Milan, where she waits to attend the Salvatore Ferragamo fashion show: another jump in the past for her, a former model. Ethereal and graceful, she enters the room with the elegant posture only a former model can have. And elegant is the laugh she has while answering my question. “Are we women really so superficial?”
Of course not. But you will admit that the question is legitimate
Claire is not in love with Jamie’s muscles or the fact that he is hot. She loves him because he has emotional intelligence, sense of honor and passion, all rare qualities in a man of his time. They are soul-mates. Women say “He is so handsome”. True, but you get used to beauty. And after a while it vanishes.
Are you tired of hearing that you and Sam Heughan have an incredible chemistry?
It’s a compliment, we work hard to achieve that chemistry. We are good friends and we have a similar view on life. He is definitely more in shape of me: if I had one gram of the will he has to go to the gym, I’d be the happiest woman on earth. What really bothers me is when people claim we are together. It’s not true.
In the tv show there is a strong connection between love and duty.
I don’t think Claire feels a sense of duty toward Frank. It’s her first love, a good husband. She didn’t choose to leave him, it happened. Emotions are never white or black, you can be deeply in love with someone and have complicated feelings for somebody else. Life always burst into.
Your show is considered a feminist Game of Thrones.
We are very different, but if it hadn’t been for the success of Game of Thrones, we wouldn’t have aired, so we really have to thank it. The books where we start from have been written by a very tough woman: Diana Gabaldon had three degrees, two masters and three children, and at 33 years of age she decided to write a fantasy. To me that’s what makes her a feminist: she does what she wants, managing very well, and has created a character cut from the same cloth. We have two female directors, one of the executive producers is a woman, and half of our writing staff is female. It’s not like we want necessarily to be a feminist show, but we are interested that women are represented in the right way. As it should be.
Apart from Diana Gabaldon, who are the women who inspire you?
My friends, my two sisters, my mother. I think it’s a fabulous historical moment now. Think of Lena Dunham. I always ask myself: how could she be so successful and productive aged 20? At her age I was probably getting drunk too often, and only now I say: ok, concentrate!
Did you always want to be an actress?
Since I can remember. I used to dress up, make up plays, do imitations.
Margaret Thatcher. I was 4 years old and she was often on tv. I grew up in a village in Ireland and I was so angry that I couldn’t be a child-actress. I used to watch them on tv and thinking “Why can’t it be me?” In high school I studied theatre.
During that time an agent discovered you and you became a model. Did you like it?
They were good years, but it wasn’t my passion. If you don’t chase your dream, it can become frustrating. Being a model is wonderful as long as you work at the top. After a few years I was mainly doing photo shoots for catalogues. It was nice, it helped me pay the rent and gave me the chance of living in Los Angeles. Let’s say that I appreciated a few aspects more than others.
This year you had a role in Jodie Foster’s thriller Money Monster.
Something contemporary: nice. I love the world of business, and I had fun making researches. But the idea of working in an office is unthinkable, it never happened to me. I called my sister and asked her: ok, what do you do all day long?
You protect your privacy very well. How do you do it?
I post nothing about myself.
It’s not really true. I’ve seen on Instagram pictures of your cat, for example.
You either are comfortable in sharing everything, or you’re not. I’m part of the second group, sometimes it’s important to keep something for yourself. Everyone has an opinion on everything, no? Maybe my skin is not thick enough to stay and listen. It’s nice to share interests but I don’t think people are interested in what I ate. I don’t even think about making a selfie: there are already enough pictures about me outside.