OutlanderBTS #TBT: Caitriona’s Casting Story

Cover photo: Cait and Sam, SDCC, 2014

It seems like an age ago that Caitriona and Sam started this journey of Jamie and Claire. Now with Covid-19 and all the world is going through, it feels like so much has changed since these early days. Here is a look back at Caitriona’s casting story, announcements and early days… 

Little did Cait know, back in August of 2013, that her life was about to change, big time. 


Casting Director, Suzanne Smith on finding Caitriona…

“I never met Cait, she self taped… I had it on my desk, and I didn’t post it, because it wasn’t quite right…
and then her agent rang me and said, ‘what did you think?’
And I said, ‘actually I’ve got it on my desktop,’ so my instinct told me….
He said ‘can you send it to me?’ (he hadn’t seen it), And I sent it to him.
And I said ‘there’s a problem,’ and he agreed when he looked at it.
And so he said ‘Give me all the notes.’
I gave him all the notes, and she re-taped… I put her picture up on the website.
One of my producers said, ‘Who is that beautiful actress?’
I said ‘I’m waiting for the tape to come….’ (This was really toward the end of the casting).
As soon as I got it, I sent it out to everybody, and they went with testing her.” 
Source: Outcasts Podcast


Diana knew right away…

”Hard to believe lightning can strike twice, but it surely did,” Gabaldon said. “The moment Caitriona Balfe came on screen, I sat up straight and said, ‘There she is!’  She and Sam Heughan absolutely lit up the screen with fireworks.”

Ron thought she was special…

“Caitriona wasn’t on anyone’s radar, she wasn’t on any list, but when we saw her audition tape, we immediately knew she was someone special.  Then, after we had her read with Sam, we knew we’d found our Claire.  At its heart, Outlander is the story of two people — Claire and Jamie — their loves and losses, their adventures and tragedies, and now we finally have them both.”

Source: Deadline 9/11/2013

Caitriona tells her casting story in this delightful interview (that I’d never seen before) of Diana, Ron, Tobias, Cait, Sam, Graham and Lotte, during the San Diego Comic Con press rounds in July of 2014, just before the series premiere on August 9, 2014. 

And here they were, on location, just days after the casting announcement, as Caitriona said…

The journey began…

Cait riding horses to prepare for her part…

I certainly am grateful that Suzanne Smith kept that tape on her desk, and that Caitriona became Outlander’s Claire. I truly cannot imagine anyone else, or anyone better, in the role of Claire. 

Catch up on my latest Season 6 update: OutlanderBTS What’s New: Signs of Season 6, and all my Season 6 posts in the new Featured Favorites Section, along with some lighthearted, fun, and funny posts. For more #TBT posts, go to OutlanderBTS: #TBT.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look back. Have a wonderful day. xo

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9 comments on “OutlanderBTS #TBT: Caitriona’s Casting Story

  1. I think Suzanne Smith has done an excellent job casting all of the parts for the show. She has read the books and understands the story. Apparently she already knew Sam Heughan before and when she had to find an actor to play Jamie she thought of him right away! Kudos to her for helping to bring the Outlander characters to life!

    • Indeed she did (also from Tim and David’s interview, as you well know). I loved hearing her stories about them. x

  2. Thank you Courtney. I never tire of seeing that screen test between the two of them. As I watch it, I think of how this moment is going to forever change their lives, but they haven’t really realized it yet. What a find and what a story! Outlander producers really got lucky twice finding two basically unknowns and putting them together to make such a dynamic duo who went on to change all of our lives. I am missing all four of you gals. I look forward to the day when you will be critiquing a new episode from S6!

    • I think I miss our 4 BTS ladies almost as much as Outlander itself. Watching them is like sitting with my best friends discussing our favorite show except they can’t hear me when I comment – LOL!

  3. Great to reminisce. Cait is a beautiful actress and lovely person. She and Sam compliment each other…the artistic relationship continues, but with maturity. As it should be.

  4. As you probably know Diana Gabaldon has likened Sam and Cait’s initial foray into the world of Outlander as frogs slowly brought to boil without conscientious of what they are getting into. Regardless of which, they very quickly created a bond to protect and “have each other’s back”. Many have been dismayed that they are not a romantic couple but for most we understand that there is a unique and special relationship between them that insures their fidelity to Outlander and to us

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