Speaking on the set of Outlander near Glasgow in March 2018, Heughan told press: “When you get given a contract, they say it’s an an American TV [series] and you say: ‘How many, seven seasons? Yeah of course. It’s never going to happen.'”
“We’re fortunate that they keep giving us more,” Heughan added. At this point the show could actually go to seven seasons and beyond, given the huge fandom and the number of novels in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.
“I mean – this is why they probably get you to sign when you’re a jobbing actor dying for some work!” Balfe joked.
“You sign on for six, seven years, and what does that mean? It’s just a concept, right, because how often does a show go past one season? Or sometimes it doesn’t even get to finish a season, you know.
“Obviously Outlander was different in the way that the first season we had a year’s order, so I remember my lawyer when they were doing the deal, he was like, ‘You do know that it shoots in Scotland and you’ll be there for a year?’ And I was like, I think I could do a year in Scotland! Four and a half years later, obviously…”
She added: “You’ve no concept about what that could mean, but it’s been only positive, and for Sam and I it’s opened so many doors and it’s given us so much.”
Before signing up for Outlander, Balfe was a professional model and made a handful of appearances as an actress. But, she said, “my previous career was always a couple of days here, a couple of days there, so my longest job prior to this show was probably five weeks.
“So the stability that the show has brought, the responsibility that it has brought – I feel like I’ve grown up a lot, I’ve matured a lot, I’ve learnt a lot.”
Still – committing to the part of Claire Fraser in Outlander has already meant she’s had to turn down other opportunities.
“Oh for sure, I’ve had to let go of a few things,” she told us. “But they wouldn’t have come to me had I not had this show, so I think that’s part and parcel of it.
“I do think that as an actor you want to be able to do multiple things, but I think there’s a highway littered with actors who were on something popular and then decided that they could do so much better than the show, and then they left and never did anything again!”
For now, the actress is taking things one season at a time.
“I think with anything in life, everything has to come to an end at some point, [but] who knows when this show will come to an end? There are quite a few books,” she said.
“But I think that it’s been such a great experience that you can only take all the good things away with you. Hopefully we’ll have a season five, and we’ll see if that happens, and if that happens then hopefully we’ll have a season six and we’ll just go on like that.”
Outlander season four airs on Amazon in the UK and Starz in the US
This article was originally published on 7 November 2018