Skelton opens up about playing Brianna, navigating the show’s dedicated fan base, and why accurately portraying her character’s PTSD is so important.
On the day of Sophie Skelton’s final Outlander audition, nothing went as planned. “You know how people say bad things come in threes?” the actress remembers. She had caught a cold on the flight from the UK to L.A. that left a ringing in her ears; her Uber got into an accident; and on top of everything else, it was pouring down rain.
“Everyone kept saying, ‘It never rains in L.A.’ But that seems to be my thing now. Anytime I go to Los Angeles it rains. I always bring that with me,” she says.
Skelton doesn’t recall much about the meeting, just that it was a chemistry test with actress Caitriona Balfe, who was already starring in the show as Claire Randall Fraser, a WWII-era nurse who had traveled back in time to 18th-century Scotland. Skelton was up for the role of her daughter Brianna, and the audition felt natural, “which is funny because in audition rooms, things never feel natural,” she says.
“Often when you do a take and you can’t remember it, when it’s a blur, that’s when it’s the best performance because you’re just in it. I can’t really remember too much about that day, only that my trip to L.A. had been a bit of a mess.”
But she kept telling herself, “Everything that goes wrong, something right has to come out of it.” And by the time Skelton returned to the UK just a few days later, she had the part.
The news was especially sweet for Skelton, who had first auditioned for the show years before, but didn’t hear back.
“I think the first time I auditioned for Brianna was about 2014, and then I didn’t hear anything for a year. There aren’t many times where you really feel protective over the role. For some reason, I really did for Brianna. You go on so many auditions and often you don’t hear anything, and that’s fine, but this one actually really hurt,” she says.
Turns out, producers weren’t ignoring her—they had just decided not to bring Brianna into the story until a later season. It was a huge relief for Skelton to learn that. “I was like, ‘Oh. Sometimes it can be as simple as that.’ You have to have such a thick skin because there are so many cogs turning that you don’t know about.”
These pictures and those outfits are to die for.