Monday 20 November 2017

She's in fashion - former model Caitríona lands lead on US TV drama

Monaghan native Balfe has landed the leading role in a big-budget US drama. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM
Monaghan native Balfe has landed the leading role in a big-budget US drama. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM
Monaghan native Balfe has landed the leading role in a big-budget US drama. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM Pictures: VIPIRELAND.COM
Monaghan native Balfe has landed the leading role in a big-budget US drama. Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM Pictures: Cathal Burke / VIPIRELAND.COM

Ex-catwalk queen Caitriona Balfe is one in demand beauty.

She's already worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, from Arnie and Sly Stallone to Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

And now the Monaghan native has landed the leading role in a big-budget US drama.

The 16-part series Outlander is based on Diana Gabaldon's time travel books, which have sold more than 25m copies.

Caitriona (33) will play the part of Claire Randall, a married World War Two nurse who suddenly finds herself transported 202 years into the past -- the way you do.

There she meets a strangely attractive Scottish warrior called Jamie Fraser.

The series will initially be helmed by Breaking Bad director John Dahl, and filming is set to commence in Scotland later this year.

The bosses of the show said that they had spent months trawling through audition tapes looking for their perfect leading lady.

"The casting of Claire Randall was a long and difficult one because the role is so crucial to the success of our show," producer Ronald D. Moore said.

"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 and she wasn't on any list. But when we saw her audition tape, we immediately knew that she was someone special."

Author Gabaldon was equally blown away by Caitriona and her co-star Sam Heughan's audition tapes.

"Hard to believe lightning can strike twice, but it surely did," she said.

"The moment that 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."

Caitriona started her career sashaying down the catwalk at fashion shows in London, New York and Paris. She also appeared on RTE's 2010 series Model Scouts as a runway mentor.

But she gave up the world of posing and pouting to become an actress and has slowly been building up her profile in Tinseltown.

She landed a role in action flick Super 8 two years ago. After that, she appeared in the star-studded Now You See Me, which featured Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo and Isla Fisher and was released this summer. Next she will star alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the upcoming Escape Plan.

"I think every credit you get and every film you have your name attached to makes things a little bit easier," Caitriona told the Herald this year.

"It definitely opens doors up, but it's still a grind. You just have to take a chance see what happens."

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