‘Outlander’: Caitriona Balfe Modeling Career Ended in ‘Soul-Destroying Moment’ That Made Her Quit

Before Outlander, Caitriona Balfe’s modeling career was transitioning into her acting career. Balfe’s first screen credit would be 2011’s Super 8, but she appeared as a model in The Devil Wears Prada and started auditioning. Looking back on her modeling days, Balfe remembered the moment she decided it was time to try something else. 

'Outlander' star Caitriona Balfe looks to the left with a serious expression
Caitriona Balfe | Starz

Balfe appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on Jan. 31 to discuss her movie Belfast. When discussing her early days as a model, Balfe revealed the moment that made her finally quit modeling. Outlander Season 6 is coming March 6.

Before ‘Outlander,’ being a model was not so glamorous to Caitriona Balfe 

Balfe left school in Dublin, Ireland at 19 to try modeling. She worked for the Ford agency and did campaigns for brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. However, Balfe said modeling got old and she remembered the specific job that was her last straw.

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“I know exactly that moment,” Balfe said on Awards Chatter. “I got booked to do a catalog in Dallas, Texas. And the producer/whatever that was running it, he had a bell. Every time he felt like we had enough pictures of this particular outfit, he would ring his bell. And then we were supposed to run, get changed and get a new outfit on.”

The reason that bell destroyed Caitriona Balfe’s soul 

Balfe had traveled the world and worked runways before, so she was used to the pressure of modeling. However, the bell was just too much.

“I think that was just the most soul-destroying moment of my life,” Balfe said. “I was like, ‘What am I doing here?’ You literally feel like a clothes hanger. So that was the moment I think I was like ‘Right, time to re-evaluate all of this.’”

Catriona Balfe’s modeling job wasn’t all bad

Modeling served its purpose for Balfe. She made money and transitioned into acting, where she landed her role on Outlander in 2014. Balfe still has some fond memories of modeling, although she doesn’t miss it. 

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“There was a lot of pounding the pavement, a lot of rejection, a lot of ‘what am I doing with my life’ but then also every so often you would get these cool jobs that you would travel to Morocco,” Balfe said. “I went and did a three month stint in Japan. Cool things like that so I look back on that time and I have to be very grateful for the life experience I got. It was kind of amazing, for 19, to be able to travel the world that way.”

In addition to the travel, Balfe made a lot of friends modeling. 

“Working with creative people was really amazing and also I made friendships among the girls,” Balfe said. “I think people don’t understand the camaraderie that’s in that business as well. People think it’s bitchy young girls pitted against each other and that’s not my experience. I have lifelong friends that I met back in those days. Those are the things I cherish. I loved the theatrical nature of doing runway. Doing the big McQueen shows or the Chanel shows, they were always these spectacular events and really cool.”

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