Caitriona Balfe

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Caitriona Balfe
Outlander premiere episode screening at 92nd Street Y in New York OLNY 106 (14645538597) (cropped).png
Balfe at the Outlander premiere in New York
Born (1979-10-04) 4 October 1979 (age 39)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 2006–present

Caitriona Balfe (/kəˈtrnə ˈbælf/; born 4 October 1979) is an Irish actress and model. She is best known for her performance as Claire Beauchamp in the Starz series Outlander, for which she received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series - Drama.

In 1999, while studying Theatre at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Balfe was offered work as a fashion model in Paris. She was featured both in advertising campaigns and on runways for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Roberto Cavalli, Max Mara, Bottega Veneta, H&M and Oscar de la Renta over the course of the following ten years, before she returned her focus towards acting. Balfe has also appeared in films such as Super 8, Now You See Me, Escape Plan and Money Monster, and has had leading roles in The Beauty Inside, Crush, and H+: The Digital Series.



File:Caitriona Balfe, runway.png
Balfe on the runway for Michael Kors in 2003

Balfe started modeling after she was scouted by an agent while she was collecting money for charity at a local mall.[1][2] At nineteen, after working as a model in Dublin for a few months, she caught the attention of a visiting Ford Models scout, who offered her the chance to work for them in Paris.[1] Her career highlights include opening and closing shows for Chanel, Moschino, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, and Louis Vuitton;[3][4][5][6][7] walking in multiple fashion shows for notable brands:[8] twelve shows for Dolce & Gabbana, eight for Chanel, seven for Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and Moschino, six for Etro, five for Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Max Mara, Ann Demeulemeester and Louis Vuitton, four for Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Missoni, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen and Emanuel Ungaro, and three for Rochas, Christian Lacroix, Laura Biagiotti, Cacharel, BCBG Max Azria, Sonia Rykiel, Alessandro Dell'Acqua and Kenzo; doing advertising campaigns for:[8] Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Max Mara, Oscar de la Renta, Bally, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Costume National, Escada, Bottega Veneta, Hush Puppies, Mango, Neiman Marcus, BCBG Max Azria, Blumarine, Dries Van Noten, Wella, Roberto Cavalli, Victoria’s Secret, and H&M; walking in the 2002 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show; and appearing on the cover of magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and ELLE.[2][8][9] She walked in seventy-three fashion shows in the 2002 season, ninety-six in the 2003 season, and eighty-three in the 2004 season.[8] Often credited professionally as simply Caitriona, at the height of her career she was considered to be in the Top 20 of most in-demand models in the world.[10][11]

Other brands that she has walked in fashion shows for include:[8] Anna Molinari, Anna Sui, Balenciaga, Céline, Chado Ralph Rucci, Chloé, Christian Dior, Diesel, DKNY, Dries Van Noten, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Gianfranco Ferré, Hugo Boss, Hussein Chalayan, Iceberg, Issey Miyake, Jil Sander, Julien Macdonald, La Perla, Lacoste, Lanvin, Loewe, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Nicole Miller, Paco Rabanne, Perry Ellis, Roland Mouret, Salvatore Ferragamo, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf, and Yohji Yamamoto.

For her work in Milan in the 2002 and 2003 seasons Balfe earned close to $300,000 dollars, but after her Italian agency, Paolo Tomei, filed for bankruptcy, she and the other models that were represented by it lost all the earnings they had made during that time, with the financial backers behind the agency allegedly keeping them. Due to models being considered freelancers under Italian law, her lawyer discouraged her from filing a lawsuit. Years later, in 2009, working for the company BCBG, Balfe faced a similar situation, with the company first delaying its payments and then refusing to pay the models altogether alleging financial problems, but still booking them as it privately ensured their agencies that they would be paid. Against her agency’s advice, Balfe decided to stop working for BCBG until she was returned all the money she was owed; the company eventually complied.[12][13] Incidents like the aforementioned led to the creation of The Model Alliance.[13]

Reflecting on her career, Balfe commented: "Modelling wasn't a passion of mine so that made it get old kind of quickly. I was getting very frustrated."[1] She has stated that she will not return to modeling full time;[14] although she continues to do occasional jobs with people she has previously worked with,[1] such as photographer James Houston, who, in 2013, featured Balfe in his Natural Beauty series, photographing her in the Antelope Canyon.[15]


Balfe with Outlander co-stars Tobias Menzies and Sam Heughan

While living in New York, Balfe played the minor role of an employee of the magazine Runway in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada.[10] In 2009, after a decade-long modeling career, Balfe returned to her initial career choice, and moved from New York to Los Angeles,[1] spending her first year and a half in the city exclusively taking acting classes, first at the Warner Loughlin Studios and then at the Sanford Meisner Center and the Judith Weston Studios.[16][17] Balfe has appeared in the films Super 8, as the protagonist's mother, Now You See Me, as Michael Caine's character's wife, and Escape Plan, as the CIA lawyer that hires Sylvester Stallone's character.[1][18]

File:Poster of H+ The Digital Series.jpg
Promotional poster for H+: The Digital Series

In 2012 she portrayed Alex #34 in The Beauty Inside, a social film divided into six episodes that narrates the story of a man named Alex (Topher Grace) who wakes up in a different body every day.[19] In 2013 she starred in the music videos for "First Fires" by British musician Bonobo,[20] and for "Chloroform" by French band Phoenix, the latter directed by Sofia Coppola.[21]

Balfe was part of the main cast of the Warner Bros. web series H+: The Digital Series during 2012 and 2013, in which she played Breanna Sheehan, one of the executives of a biotechnology company that develops an implanted computer which allows people to be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.[22]

In September 2013 Balfe was cast as the lead character, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, on the Starz television series Outlander, based on the novels written by Diana Gabaldon; the series premiered in August 2014. She plays a mid-20th-century nurse who is transported back in time to the war-torn mid-18th-century Scottish Highlands.[23] Both the series and her performance have received critical acclaim,[24] with Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair saying "it helps immensely that Balfe is such an appealing actress, [she] makes Claire a spirited, principled, genuinely heroic heroine."[25] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Balfe is "reason enough to watch; she's a confident actress who brings various shades to her character."[26] James Poniewozik of Time labelled Balfe's portrayal as "wry, [and] infectiously engaging."[27] Angelica Jade Bastién of The New York Times stated that "the success of Outlander rests on Caitriona Balfe’s performance. [Her] devastation is seen in everything from the slack expression that crosses her face to the listless way she carries her body."[28]

In December 2014 Entertainment Weekly named Balfe one of its 12 Breakout Stars of 2014;[29] that month she was also voted "Woman Of The Year" at BBC America's Anglophenia Fan Favorites tournament.

In April 2015, Balfe received Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama and Rising Star Award nominations for the 12th Irish Film & Television Awards,[30][31] and was named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World". On June 25, 2015, she won a Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television.[32] She also received a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her role in Outlander.

Balfe co-starred in the film Money Monster (2016), directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. She played the head of PR of a company whose stock bottoms out, causing a man to lose all of his savings and subsequently take hostages on a live TV show.[33]

Personal life

Balfe was born in Dublin, Ireland,[34] and grew up in the village of Tydavnet, near Monaghan, in a family of seven; her father is a retired Garda Sergeant.[1] She is currently based in Glasgow,[35] having previously lived in Los Angeles when she started acting professionally, and in New York, Paris, London, Milan, Hamburg, and Tokyo while she worked as a model.[16][36][37] In addition to English, she speaks fluent Irish Gaelic and is conversational in French.[38]


File:Claire Fraser (Outlander TV).jpg
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp in Outlander


Year Title Role Notes
2006 The Devil Wears Prada Clacker Uncredited[10]
2009 Picture Me Herself Documentary; also producer
2009 A Herculean Effort Emily Short film
2011 Super 8 Elizabeth Lamb
2011 Lust Life Aubrie Short film
2012 The Wolf Sally Short film
2012 Lost Angeles Veronique
2013 Crush Andie Direct-to-video
2013 Now You See Me Jasmine Tressler
2013 Escape Plan Jessica Miller
2015 The Price of Desire Gabrielle Bloch
2016 Money Monster Diane Lester
2016 Trust No One Amber Short film; pre-production


Year Title Role Notes
2010 The Model Scouts Herself Runway mentor;[10] Cycle 2, Episode 2
2014–present Outlander Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser Main role (22 episodes)


Year Title Role Notes
2012 The Beauty Inside Alex #34
2012–2013 H+: The Digital Series Breanna Sheehan 7 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
2015 Outlander BBC America Anglophenia Fan Favorite Awards Woman Of The Year Won
The Anglophile Channel Awards Best Actress in a Television Series Won
Saturn Awards Best Actress on Television Won
Irish Film & Television Awards Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama Nominated
Rising Star Award Nominated
EWwy Awards Best Actress in a Drama Series Won
2016 People's Choice Awards Favorite Cable Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress Won
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Won
Saturn Awards Best Actress on Television Pending
Irish Film & Television Awards Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama Nominated
The Anglophile Channel Awards Best Actress in a Television Series Won


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