Where Is ‘Outlander’ Star Caitriona Balfe From?

Outlander star Catriona Balfe has been part of an epic on-screen romance with her co-star Sam Heughan for five seasons. The time-traveling love story is all about the relationship between Claire, a British World War II nurse, and Jamie, an 18th-century Highland warrior.

Outlander Caitriona Balfe Sam Heughan
‘Outlander’ stars Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan | Randy Brooke/FilmMagic

Fans know that Heughan is a proud Scotsman who just released a book about his country’s history titled Clanlands. But, what about Balfe? Where is she from?

Caitriona Balfe’s ‘Outlander’ character is defined by her nationality

When the story began, Balfe’s character Claire was on a second honeymoon with her husband, history professor Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies), in Inverness, Scotland. This is where she first went through the stones. Ever since her first time jump, the English character’s nationality has very much defined her.

As Express notes, Claire’s English identity is important to the Outlander story. When she shows up in 1743, it’s a turbulent time in Scottish history when there were calls for independence from Britain.

Claire is the “Outlander” or outsider of the story. She’s even referred to as ‘Sassanach,” which is a bit of a derogatory term for a Brit. Her role as the British outsider is an integral part of the story because of the historical context.

She lands in the middle of a Scotland that is preparing to rise for the Stuarts, which didn’t go well in real life. Claire gets caught up in an effort to prevent the disasters that befell Scotland while juggling her personal relationships in two different centuries.

But the question remains – is Claire’s British accent the same as Balfe’s real life speaking voice? The character speaks in clipped English tones, but there is no regional accent. Well as it turns out, it’s not Balfe’s real accent at all.

The ‘Outlander’ star is actually from Ireland

Balfe hails from Dublin, the capital of Ireland, and she has a soft Irish accent in real life. For her performance as Claire, she keeps a stiff upper lip to speak like a Brit. In her audition tape, fans can see that Balfe already had the English accent down before she landed the part.

Recalling her audition and on-screen chemistry test with Heughan, Balfe says that she immediately knew he was “kind of this really sweet, slightly goofy, non-ego actor.”

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For his part, Heughan does put on a stronger accent for his role of Jamie. He is from Balmaclellan in Scotland, but his real accent is actually more British with a hint of Scottish. The same goes for Graham McTavish and the accent he uses for Dougal MacKenzie.

Sophie Skelton (Brianna Fraser) also uses an American accent for her character. She is from Manchester, England, but her character is from Boston.

Caitriona Balfe speaks three languages

Not only can Balfe switch up her accent when necessary, she can also speak different languages. According to TV Over Mind, Balfe speaks two other languages in addition to her native English. Because she comes from Ireland, Balfe can fluently speak Gaelic. She’s also able to speak conversational French.

Balfe started her career as a model after a scout discovered her while she was volunteering for a nonprofit at a shopping center. She went on to become one of the top models in the world and walked in over 200 runway shows in just three years.

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She made the transition to acting after working for a decade as a model. She moved to Los Angeles, took some acting lessons, and started landing movie roles. This paved the way for her to land her career-making role in Outlander.

Seasons 1 through 5 of Outlander are available on Amazon Prime Video. Season 6 is expected to begin shooting in January 2021.