Height: 5’ 9¾” (1,77 m)
Birthday: 4 October 1979 (36 yo)
Caitriona Balfe was born in Dublin, Ireland, and grew up in the village of Tydavnet, in County Monaghan. She started modeling after she was scouted by an agent while she was collecting money for charity at a local mall. At nineteen, after working as a model in Dublin for a few months, she caught the attention of a visiting Ford Models scout, who offered her the chance to work for them in Paris. Her career highlights include opening and closing shows for Chanel, Moschino, Givenchy, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, and Louis Vuitton; walking in multiple fashion shows for notable brands: twelve shows for Dolce & Gabbana, eight for Chanel, seven for Marc Jacobs, Narciso Rodriguez and Moschino, six for Etro, five for Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Max Mara, Ann Demeulemeester and Louis Vuitton, four for Givenchy, Oscar de la Renta, Missoni, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Alberta Ferretti, Alexander McQueen and Emanuel Ungaro, and three for Rochas, Christian Lacroix, Laura Biagiotti, Cacharel, BCBG Max Azria, Sonia Rykiel, Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Kenzo; doing advertising campaigns for: Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Max Mara, Oscar de la Renta, Bally, Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, Costume National, Escada, Bottega Veneta, Hush Puppies, Mango, Neiman Marcus, BCBG Max Azria, Blumarine, Dries Van Noten, Wella, Roberto Cavalli, Victoria’s Secret, and H&M; walking in the 2002 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show; and appearing on the cover of magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and ELLE. She walked in seventy-three fashion shows in the 2002 season, ninety-six in the 2003 season, and eighty-three in the 2004 season. Often credited professionally as Caitriona, at the height of her career she was considered to be in the Top 20 of most in-demand models in the world.
Other brands that she has walked in fashion shows for include: Anna Molinari, Anna Sui, Balenciaga, Céline, Chado Ralph Rucci, Chloé, Christian Dior, Diesel, DKNY, Dries Van Noten, Emilio Pucci, Fendi, Gianfranco Ferré, Hugo Boss, Hussein Chalayan, Iceberg, Issey Miyake, Jil Sander, Julien Macdonald, La Perla, Lacoste, Lanvin, Loewe, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Nicole Miller, Paco Rabanne, Perry Ellis, Roland Mouret, Salvatore Ferragamo, Stella McCartney, Valentino, Viktor & Rolf, and Yohji Yamamoto.
For her work in Milan in the 2002 and 2003 seasons Cait earned close to $300,000 dollars, but after her Italian agency, Paolo Tomei, filed for bankruptcy, she and the other models that were represented by it lost all the earnings they had made during that time, with the financial backers behind the agency allegedly keeping them. Due to models being considered freelancers under Italian law, her lawyer discouraged her from filing a lawsuit. Years later, in 2009, working for the company BCBG, Balfe faced a similar situation, with the company first delaying its payments and then refusing to pay the models altogether alleging financial problems, but still booking them as it privately ensured their agencies that they would be paid. Against her agency’s advice, Balfe decided to stop working for BCBG until she was returned all the money she was owed; the company eventually complied. Incidents like the aforementioned led to the creation of The Model Alliance.
Reflecting on her career, Caitriona commented: “Modeling wasn’t a passion of mine so that made it get old kind of quickly. I was getting very frustrated.” She has stated that she will not return to modeling full-time; although she continues to do occasional jobs with people she has previously worked with, such as photographer James Houston, who, in 2013, featured her in his Natural Beauty series, photographing her in the Antelope Canyon.
While living in New York, Caitriona played the minor role of an employee of the magazine Runway in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. In 2009, after a ten-year modeling career, she returned to her initial career choice, and moved from New York to Los Angeles, spending her first year and a half in the city exclusively taking acting classes, first at the Warner Loughlin Studios and then at the Sanford Meisner Center and the Judith Weston Studios. She has appeared in the films Super 8, as the protagonist’s mother, Now You See Me, as Michael Caine’s character’s wife, and Escape Plan, as the CIA lawyer that hires Sylvester Stallone’s character.
In 2012 she portrayed Alex #34 in The Beauty Inside, a social film divided into six episodes that narrates the story of a man named Alex (Topher Grace) who wakes up in a different body every day. In 2013 she starred in the music videos for “First Fires” by British musician Bonobo, and for “Chloroform” by French band Phoenix, the latter directed by Sofia Coppola.
Cait was part of the main cast of the Warner Bros. web series H+: The Digital Series during 2012 and 2013, in which she played Breanna Sheehan, one of the executives of a biotechnology company that develops an implanted computer which allows people to be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day.
In September 2013 Cait was cast as the lead character, Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser, on the Starz television series Outlander, based on the novels written by Diana Gabaldon; the series premiered in August 2014. She plays a mid-20th-century nurse who is transported back in time to the war-torn mid-18th-century Scottish Highlands. Both the series and her performance have received critical acclaim, with Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair saying “it helps immensely that Balfe is such an appealing actress, [she] makes Claire a spirited, principled, genuinely heroic heroine.” Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that she is “reason enough to watch; she’s a confident actress who brings various shades to her character.” Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly stated “Balfe delivers a star-making turn.” James Poniewozik of Time labelled Balfe’s portrayal as “wry, [and] infectiously engaging.”
In December 2014 Entertainment Weekly named Caitriona one of its 12 Breakout Stars of 2014; that month she was also voted “Woman Of The Year” at BBC America’s Anglophenia Fan Favorites tournament.
On January 29, 2015, it was announced that Cait had been added to the cast of the film Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. She will play the head of PR of a company whose stock bottoms out, causing a man to lose all of his savings and subsequently take hostages on a live TV show. In April, she received Best Actress in a Lead Role Drama and Rising Star Award nominations for the 12th Irish Film & Television Awards, and was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World”. On June 25, 2015, she won a Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television.
“Modelling wasn’t a passion of mine so that made it get old kind of quickly. I was getting very frustrated.”