‘Outlander’: Caitriona Balfe Only Had 2 Lines Describing Claire for Her Audition, and Almost Blew It

Six seasons into Outlander, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser. However, when the show began in 2014, she had to audition for the role. Balfe was a model turned actor with only a few movie credits to her resume. At first, she didn’t have enough information to impress the Outlander casting directors, but fortunately, it all worked out. 

On 'Outlander,' Caitriona Balfe wears Claire's WWII nurse uniform
Caitriona Balfe | Starz

Balfe was a guest on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on Jan. 31 to discuss her movie Belfast and Outlander Season 6. She explained how she almost blew the Outlander audition because she didn’t have enough information. Outlander Season 6 premieres on March 6 on Starz.

Caitriona Balfe was desperate for an audition when ‘Outlander’ was casting

Balfe auditioned for Outlander four months after completing her role in the movie Escape Plan. Balfe said she only had two lines to go on.

“My manager had sent me this two or three-line logline and was like, ‘Here, take this audition,’” Balfe said on Awards Chatter. “It was such a thinly drawn description of the role, of the character. So I sent in a tape and didn’t hear anything.”

The 2 lines ‘Outlander’ told Caitriona Balfe about Claire 

Balfe said that she was not aware of Diana Gabaldon’s books. She didn’t even know what Outlander was about when she made her first tape. 

“None of that information was on it,” Balfe said. “It was basically a nurse. There was no personality description. I think it was a nurse, 1940s. It didn’t even mention, I think, the time travel. It was literally two lines.”

Now an industry veteran, Balfe reiterated that this lack of information was standard for relative newbies auditioning for a major role. 

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“I think this is what people also don’t understand is that when you are as low down on the rung as I was at that point, every bit of access is minimized,” Balfe said. “So if I had had an agent and an agency and all those things, I probably would have gotten half a page of a logline. I would have gotten who the creators are, what the network is, what the order is. Is it just a pilot? Is it a full season order? But you don’t. You just get these two little lines, and it’s like make something up out of that.”

An agent got her a second chance 

After submitting her Outlander audition tape, Balfe went to Europe to film The Price of Desire. While there, her manager put her in touch with an agent who suggested Outlander to her.

“He was like, ‘I think you’d be really good for this role,’” Balfe said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve already auditioned for that. They didn’t want me.’ He said, ‘Well, can I see your tape?’ I sent it to him, and he was like, ‘You know, I don’t think that that’s what they’re looking for. Here’s a better description of the character. Here’s a little bit more in depth. Will you retape?’ I said, ‘Of course, I’m literally doing nothing else.’ ‘So I retaped, and it went in.”

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