Few women on television have been through more than Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser. A nurse who was in the thick of it during World War 2, Claire was re-connecting with her husband, Frank, in post-war Scotland when she was transported back to the 18th century via a circle of mystical stones.
The ever-practical Claire made herself useful among the clans of Scotland and connected deeply with Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), whom she eventually married. The war between Scotland and England drove the couple to France, and in the second season of the Starz drama, Claire and Jamie mixed with the high society of Paris while enduring a bruising series of personal and political setbacks. The end of the second season saw them back in Scotland as a defining battle loomed, and then separated when Claire returned to her own time — without her beloved Jamie.
Caitriona Balfe’s unerring ability to communicate Claire’s complex inner life while the character went through all those changes is one reason the lush drama has been such a hit. Balfe talked to Variety about what it was like to take on such a complicated and challenging role as a newcomer to television, what stuck with her most about Season Two, and what’s to come for Claire and the people she loves.
With this role, at times it almost seems like you’re not really just playing one part or appearing in one show — it’s almost like you’re doing multiple shows, because there are so many timelines and the settings can be so different. Does it ever feel that way for you?
I mean, definitely, some days it can be a little confusing. I think when we came back to Season Two and we were in Paris, and we had all of the Parisian sets and it was a whole new set of characters, it was quite jarring in the beginning. Essentially your character remains the same, even though they go through such different situations, and you have Claire with Frank in the ’40s and then she’s with Jamie and then she goes back, so it can be quite confusing in some ways. But I’ve always thought that Claire retains her center, no matter where she is, and that’s one of the things I love about the character.