Before Caitriona Balfe shot to fame as the leading lady of time-travel romance series Outlander, the Irish actress started out as a model.
Balfe, then 18, recalls one of her earliest experiences as model, leaving her home country for France, in an interview with Backstage. “When I first arrived in Paris, I was told to take a bus to the office. I left my suitcase – I barely spoke any French – and someone took me across the street, helped me buy a Carte Orange (a travel pass). They printed out five addresses that I had to go to that day, and then they sent me off,” she said in the interview.
Being thrown in at the deep end from the get-go, Balfe says she can identify with her character Claire’s predicament on Outlander. The series, based on a novel of the same name by Diana Gabaldon, chronicles the adventures of a 20th-century British nurse who is transported back to the 18th century in Scotland.
“Honestly, I’ve been in so many situations in my life where you just are completely displaced. You have to adapt very quickly and figure it out. I definitely think that informs Claire a lot. It helped me understand her,” she shares.
The second season sees Claire adapting to a new environment yet again, with her character travelling to France. Perhaps her time as a model in Paris could help her with her French? “Oh God, my French is so bad,” she tells Deadline. “The French that we’re speaking in the show is very classical 18th-century French, and it’s a whole other beast,” she says.
You can catch Outlander on Netflix. – Kenneth Chaw