Starz in association with Sony Pictures Television has announced today that Caitriona Balfe will play the role of Claire Randall in the original series Outlander adapted from Diana Gabaldon's international best-selling books, which will premiere on Starz in 2014. The quick-witted, stubborn but lovely, English "sassenach" Claire Randall, has been adored worldwide by fans since the first of the seven-book series appeared in 1991. The series has since sold more than 25 million copies and graced the New York Times best-seller list six times. In the two months since casting the first lead character of Jamie Fraser, thousands of Outlander fans have started online campaigns, "Claire Watch 2013" and "Free Claire" in anticipation of today's announcement.
Author Diana Gabaldon had this to say in a statement about finding the right actress for this beloved character.
"Hard to believe lightning can strike twice, but it surely did. 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."
Series creator and executive producer Ronald D. Moore also released the following statement.
"The casting of Claire Randall was a long and difficult one because the role is so crucial to the success of our show. Outlander is told from Claire's point of view and we experience the entire story through her eyes, so it was vital that we find exactly the right actor to play her. 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."
The Outlander series spans the genres of romance, science fiction, history and adventure in one epic tale. It follows the story of Claire Randall, a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Caitriona Balfe can next be seen in Escape Plan for Summit/Lionsgate, starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Her other credits include J.J. Abrams' Paramount feature Super 8 as well as Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor's digital series H+. Balfe is repped by Kim Callahan at Industry Entertainment, Emptage Hallett in the UK and attorney Darren Trattner.
Balfe joins previously announced cast members Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser), Tobias Menzies (Frank Randall/Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall), Graham McTavish (Dougal MacKenzie), Gary Lewis (Colum MacKenzie), Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser), Annette Badland (Mrs. Fitzgibbons) and Stephen Walters (Angus Mhor).
The first two episodes of the series will be written by executive producer, Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation) and directed by John Dahl (Dexter, Breaking Bad, Justified). Ronald D. Moore and Jim Kohlberg are executive producers of Outlander, which is produced by Tall Ship Productions, Story Mining & Supply Company and Left Bank Pictures in association with Sony Pictures Television.
The series will begin filming in Scotland in September 2013.