Claire is the hardest of the Outlander characters to cast. In fact, finding an actress to play Claire is quite possibly the most daunting part of character casting. The success of the entire movie depends upon finding the right Claire since she has the pivotal role of the narrator. In the book, Claire is described as a fine-featured English Rose, but what sets Claire apart as an unforgettable heroine is her fiery personality and biting wit. Oh, I’m aware that other “romance novels” claim to carry headstrong heroines, but more often than not these spitfires usually end up as whiny damsels in distress. Claire is genuinely an interesting and evolved character. She killed a wolf with her bare hands, grew her own penicillin, and at age fifty, survived a gang rape and then broke and reset her own nose without so much as a whimper…need I say more? (Is it me or does the plot sound quite over-the-top now? No matter, it’s still enjoyable).
So the actress chosen to play Claire has large shoes to fill. Not only must she be beautiful, but she has to smolder. We, the audience, must root for her in the same way that audiences of Gone with the Wind rooted for Scarlet O’Hara.
Rachel Weiss and Kate Beckinsale are the most popular choices on YouTube so far. Rachel Weiss was chosen because she has that timeless English Rose beauty. And if I were to take a wild guess, the vast amount of Kate Beckinsale 1940’s screen captures on the internet makes it easy to cast her as Claire.
If I had it my way, the role of Claire would go to a relatively unknown actress. I’m too distracted by big names; A-list movie stars take away from the picture. How many times have I sat through a Tom Cruise movie and been unable to visualize him as his character because I can’t see pass his celebrity. Maybe I’m being unrealistic, but I really want to watch Outlander (will that day never come?) and actually believe the actress on screen is Claire and not Kate Beckinsale reprising her Pearl Harbor role of the WWII nurse with the heart of gold.
For the moment, I think British actress Ruth Wilson would be perfect for Claire. Since she played the coveted role of Jane Eyre in the 2006 BBC adaptation, she’s proved that she certainly has the screen presence to carry a movie. What I like most about Ruth Wilson, other than her relative degree of anonymity, is her face. The animation of her features is such that it makes her face almost translucent. In Jane Eyre, there is a close-up of Ruth Wilson’s face right at the moment when her character Jane finds out that Mr. Rochester is still a married man that reveals, in one look, everything about her. With one look, you see every evidence of her hurt, betrayal, and desolation; with one look, you know her life story. And if you recall from Outlander, this is how Diana Gabaldon described Claire Fraser’s face: translucent as cellophane.