- Golden Globe Awards
Nominee Profile 2022: Caitriona Balfe, “Belfast”
After being nominated previously for Best Television Actress in a Drama Series for four consecutive years, from 2016 to 2019, for her work in the time-travel historical drama adventure series Outlander, Caitriona Balfe is now a nominee on the film side as well, with a nod for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her turn opposite Jamie Dornan in Kenneth Branagh’s tender coming-of-age tale Belfast.
Born in 1979 in Dublin, Ireland, Balfe grew up in the small town of Tydavnet, in a large family with four biological siblings and two foster siblings, where her parents instilled a love of reading at an early age. While in school, she turned to modeling and worked for some months locally before being scouted by the Ford Agency, who plugged her into the whirlwind international circuit.
Balfe quickly rose up the professional ladder. She eventually averaged more than 80 runway shows per year, opening and closing high-profile fashion shows for a variety of luxury brands including Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton.
Still, she always knew the world held for her even further avenues of exploration. “If you asked any of my family, my entire childhood was annoying them, running around the house doing impressions or making up little plays. I was involved in youth theater, and throughout my whole school I was involved in school plays, and when I was finishing school, much to my parents’ dismay I decided to go study theater in college in Dublin, and I loved it,” said Balfe to the HFPA in 2018, during an interview for its “HFPA in Conversation” podcast series.
“It was always what I wanted to do, but after a year of college somebody came and made a proposal, [asking] whether I wanted to move to Paris for a year and model for a bit,” she continued. “And I think looking back, in hindsight, it was such a great thing, because I think you need so much life experience and maturity to be an actor — or at least I do.”
An uncredited bit part in The Devil Wears Prada, which was shooting in New York City, helped reawaken and reignite that dormant passion, and in 2009 Balfe decided to move to Los Angeles, where she threw herself into an intensive schedule of acting classes for 18 months.
Getting cast in J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, as the young protagonist’s deceased mother, represented validation of Balfe’s career switch and belief in herself. A number of other small movie roles would follow in the form of 2013s Escape Plan and Now You See Me.
Leading up to and during this same time, though, main roles in a pair of web series, The Beauty Inside and H+, would allow Balfe to continue to refine her craft, giving her valuable and practical professional experience that would serve her well when it came time to audition for Outlander.
Based on Diana Gabaldon’s genre-juggling series of novels and developed for TV by Battlestar Galactica producer Ronald D. Moore, Outlander debuted strongly and won over critics before nearly doubling its viewership in its sophomore season. The show’s blend of action, romance and fantasy drew praise, but a big part of the reason was the incredible chemistry between Balfe, who stars as Claire Randall, a nurse visiting Scotland who finds herself transported back in time from 1945 to 1743, and her costar Sam Heughan, who portrays Highland warrior Jamie Fraser.
In the 1960s-set Belfast, which unfolds chiefly through the eyes of nine-year-old Buddy (Jude Hill), Balfe portrays the resolute matriarch of an Irish Protestant family, struggling to maintain optimism between the crush of accumulated personal debts and religious civil unrest.
Balfe’s other notable film credits include director Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia RobertsFord v. Ferrari, in which she portrayed Mollie Miles, the strong-willed wife to Christian Bale’s professional race car driver Ken Miles.
Balfe and longtime partner Tony McGill, who married in August 2019, welcomed their first child in August of 2021. Up next for Balfe are the sixth and seventh seasons of Outlander, the former of which is scheduled to premiere in early March 2022.