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We've seen quite a few men added to the cast of Ronald D. Moore's anticipated TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's best-selling Outlander books, including the male lead for the series, but the question of who would play the lead role of Claire Randall remained unanswered until today. Starz has announced that Irish actor Caitriona Balfe has been cast to star in the novel, playing the "quick-witted, stubborn but lovely, English 'sassenach' Claire Randall," who finds herself sent back in time during a vacation with her husband. Balfe joins previously cast Sam Heughan, who will play Claire's love interest Jamie Fraser.
Gabaldon's novel begins in 1945 and introduces us to former combat nurse Claire Randall, who's on her second honeymoon with her husband when she touches a boulder and is promptly and mysteriously thrown back in time and dropped in war torn Scotland in 1743. She ends up being forced to marry Jamie Fraser, "a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior." Of course, Claire's a married woman in her past (or rather, future) life, which complicates matters, as her relationship with Jamie evolves into a passionate affair. The story merges genres with elements that are historical, romantic and a bit sci-fi.
While we've known for a couple of months that Heughan will play Jamie, we've been waiting to hear word about the female lead, and today comes confirmation that Balfe will play the part. Her credits include Super 8, Now You See Me and the upcoming Schwarzenegger/Stallone flick Escape Plan. If Outlander takes off for Starz, this role could really put her on the map. And from what Moore says, it sounds like she's perfect for the part:
“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."
Given that the series is set to start filming this month, it sounds like they found their Claire in the nick of time. In addition to Heughan, Balfe joins previously cast (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). Ronald D. Moore's penning the first two episodes of the series, with John Dahl on board to direct.