Caitriona Balfe: Ireland’s secret A-lister

From her childhood in rural Monaghan, the star of the time-travel drama Outlander has quietly forged a career as a supermodel and now as a TV A-lister, with four Golden Globe nominations

There’s something I learned many years ago and it sounds very silly, but it’s always stood to me.

Caitriona Balfe is recalling a life lesson over mint tea and a pain au chocolat at a bistro in Los Feliz, near Hollywood in Los Angeles. This thing she learned came from an unlikely source: a $5 acting class she signed up to years ago. (“These are the weird things I did when I was wanting to be an actor in LA when I first got here.”) She remembers the guy who was leading the class “talking about releasing and destroying the need of whatever ‘it’ is. Whether you’re going to go in and audition, and you’re so nervous because you want people to like what you’re about to do: release and destroy the need to be liked.”

Balfe learned to give herself permission to let go of those things that tie us all in knots, to move on from feelings. “It’s something so simple and so silly, but it works for a myriad of reasons. Whatever it is … just to walk away, to let go of that.” She pauses. “So much of what makes you crazy is just your own thoughts, right? So if you can stop that spiral at a point … ” Then the pause turns into a halt, and Balfe undercuts herself. “That sounds so pathetic and LA.”

Balfe is a star. Playing the lead role on Outlander has given her a level of fame and success that Ireland hasn’t cottoned on to as much as the United States has, given that the series hasn’t been on at prime time here.

Balfe has been nominated for a remarkable four Golden Globe awards in a row – she lost out only to Taraji P Henson, Claire Foy, Elisabeth Moss and Sandra Oh – cementing her status as one of the leading actresses in American television.

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2 thoughts on “Caitriona Balfe: Ireland’s secret A-lister

  1. Read this yesterday, and I think it’s wonderful news that she and Sam will be producers of OUTLANDER from S5 on. Wasn’t surprised one bit. I would imagine this is something both actors have been looking forward to for some time. I congratulate them, and by osmosis US! This is very good news for Outlander going forward, and for those who may pooh-pooh their “say” as “mere” producers, as opposed to that of the EP’s, I would say that is greatly underestimating Sam and Caitriona’s contributions already, and I think their opinions already mattered greatly, and long before becoming producers. It will absolutely not be to the detriment of the show, right?!


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