When a fan event was cancelled because of the escalating coronavirus pandemic, the actor staged a Q&A a on Twitter instead.
Outlander fans are usually good at reaching consensus decisions.
Most romantic episode of the series? Season one, episode seven: The Wedding. Sassenach? A pet name we’d all like to answer to. Costumes? Gorgeous. Jamie? Very sexy. Roger? Problematic. (And if you don’t agree with that last one, take it up with my Stylist colleague and fellow Outlander correspondent Hollie, who has been writing about how annoying she finds Roger for months now.)
So, given our hive mentality, if you ask an Outlander fan which episode broke their heart into pieces and scattered them into the winds, their answer will probably be the finale of season two. This is the episode when Jamie (Sam Heughan) tells Claire (Caitriona Balfe) to go back to her present day, leaving him behind on the eve of the Battle of Culloden. Jamie, knowing that Claire is pregnant with their child, is making the ultimate sacrifice so that he can protect the woman that he loves.
“This child will be all that’s left of me, ever,” he tells her.
Claire, distraught, begs him to come with her. But Jamie refuses. “Even if I could go back through the stones, it’s not my place. My destiny lies on Culloden Moor. I’ll find you. I promise.”
For Outlander fans, Jamie and Claire’s farewell is one of the most emotional scenes in the series, equalled only by their eventual reunion, after half a long and weary season, at the print shop in season three.
Now, in a Q&A staged on Twitter after a fan event was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Balfe has said that filming the farewell scene was the most emotional moment for her in all her years making Outlander, too.
“Saying goodbye to Jamie end of season two,” was Balfe’s response, when asked which scene in the series was “particularly sad and heartbreaking to shoot”. She also name checked Faith, season two’s seventh episode, for being emotionally draining.
While doing the online Q&A, Balfe revealed a few other behind the scenes tidbits.
The actor told a fan that she had read Outlander before she auditioned for the role of Claire, and she “thought it was so fantastic and so fun and so moving that I couldn’t even imagine I’d be lucky enough to play her”.
She admitted that season one and three are her favourites from the series so far, and that she struggled with the first half of season four. Her favourite episodes are both the sixth and final episodes of season one. (“Pretty amazing for an actor,” she said, of episode six.) And that she and Brianna actor Sophie Skelton do “a lot of yoga together” as a bonding exercise.
Balfe also took the time to praise the healthcare workers who have been fighting the coronavirus pandemic across the world. When asked what her character Claire – a physician who is currently, in season five, casually inventing penicillin – would be doing if she was alive right now, Balfe said that “she would be on the [coronavirus] frontlines kicking its ass for sure!!!”
The Q&A showcased how close Balfe feels to Heughan, her scene partner for much of Outlander, and to her character of Claire. The actor said that her and Heughan “have each other’s backs from day one and still do”.
Of the best lesson she has learnt from playing Claire over five seasons of Outlander, Balfe said it was thus: “She has shown me how to believe myself like she does.”
Outlander airs on Starz on Sundays in the US and Amazon Prime on Mondays in the UK. If you haven’t watched the series yet, now might be the opportune moment. You can access most of the back catalogue on Netflix.