‘Outlander’ Salaries: The Simple Way Caitriona Balfe Won Equal Pay to Sam Heughan

Outlander is one of Starz’s biggest hit shows. Based on the Diana Gabaldon books, Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star as Claire and Jamie Fraser. As a 20th century woman, Claire brings a lot of progressive values to 18th century Scotland, and then the American colonies. However, the show itself had a little catching up to do when it came to pay parity. 

'Outlander' stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe stand back to back
Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe | Starz

Balfe appeared on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast on Jan. 31 to discuss her role in the movie Belfast. When the subject of Outlander salaries came up, Balfe explained the simple process of achieving pay parity with her co-star. Outlander Season 6 is coming March 6.

Caitriona Balfe understands why her initial ‘Outlander’ salary was less than Sam Heughan’s

Balfe has spoken about her fight for pay parity before. When Outlander cast Balfe and Heughan in 2014, Heughan had more experience in the industry than she did.

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“I never really found out what our numbers were but at that time, there was a system,” Balfe said on Awards Chatter.” If you had tested for a show previously, that put your quote at a certain level. If you had done a pilot before, that upped your quota as well. I know Sam had tested for a few things before. He had more experience in the business than I had before so when we started, I don’t think we were a million miles off. My perception, I’m not sure 100%, I don’t think we were on parity.”

‘Outlander’ salaries were rectified quickly 

Balfe did not say how much she or Heughan currently make as their Outlander salaries. Reports say they were paid $100,000 per episode after season 1, but by the upcoming season 6 it is surely higher. Balfe did say that as soon as she brought up the difference, the powers that be listened.

“Once we brought that to the attention of people, they were great,” Balfe said. “They made sure that was rectified.”

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Balfe also believes that her initial reduced Outlander salary had nothing to do with gender. 

“Things have changed a lot,” Balfe said. “I think it was just sometimes things, it’s just done. It’s a systemic thing and people aren’t thinking. I don’t think at the time it was any real choice to degrade me or anything like that. I think just people had their systems, that’s all.”

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan got another perk in season 5

Once Balfe and Heughan attained pay parity with their Outlander salaries, they went to the next level together. In season 5, both Balfe and Heughan earned producer credits.

“We were on the floor every single day anyway,” Balfe said. “We see what goes on, we see the issues, we see where improvements can be made and I think that’s the thing. It’s always for the betterment. When you love a project so much and you’re there every day, you know how things can be improved and that’s all you want. We were very anxious to be brought on in those decision making things and I think it was also just to keep both of us interested and invested. You don’t want to get stale on anything. So that’s where that came from.”

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