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When Outlander returns for its fifth season next month, the feeling will be a bit different–at least initially–than previous seasons because Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) have been able to spend quiet time at Fraser’s Ridge building their future.

It is as if Jamie has been able to fulfill his destiny. While not the Laird of Lallybroch he was set to be once his older brother died, he can be considered to be the Laird of Fraser’s Ridge, and while Claire is not considered a medical doctor in the 1770s, she has built quite the surgery in their new home and is tending to patients as best she can.

So, the day-to-day part of their life is moving along nicely, but what does it mean for their passionate love story, which is what drew in readers and TV viewers alike? Are they too settled now as a couple, or is the flame still ignited?

“The circumstances of this season have really allowed us to invest in those relationship moments,” Balfe tells Parade.com “We see a lot more of the intimacy and the passion of Claire and Jamie, because we have that luxury of them being in one place a lot of the time, and it’s so nice. Sam and I have been talking a lot about this today, that we get to see how they work together as a couple, the strains and the pressures of these outside things, but they’re able to come together and touch base with each other and support each other. It’s really lovely to see them just converse as a couple in this supportive and emotionally supportive way.”

But the idyll is broken when Jamie gets called up by Governor Tryon (Tim Downie) in season five to hunt down the Regulators, so they also spend some time apart from each other, even as it is their time together that matters most.

“Claire has her surgery and the dealings going on there, and Jamie has this political side,” Heughan says. “He’s working with the British. But they touch base, and they always need and yearn for each other, and they reconnect. It’s those moments we see that are quite domestic. It’s their home life and it’s actually really touching. And those are the really fun scenes to play, to see them need each other and reconnect.”

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Sassenachs, we’re just days away from getting Outlander season five. The “droughtlander” is very nearly over. So what can we expect from this season?

Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Fraser, recently told us that one of the biggest challenges for Clare and Jamie Fraser is becoming grandparents. “This is something we hadn’t seen before, and that kind of thing of you’re not looking after each other, you’re looking after your extended family and what that means,” Balfe explained.

We’ll also properly meet Brianna and Roger MacKenzie’s baby Jemmy, and see how the new parents adjust to their roles. Of course, this won’t be easy with the impending American Revolutionary war, which will play a massive part in the story of this season.

When Stylist caught up with Balfe while she was just finishing the last bit of filming last year, the actor shared her favourite book and podcast recommendations, discussed the emotions involved with filming such a long series, and revealed who’s the funniest person on set.

What books do you read in between filming?

I could just lock myself away and just read for a month, which would be so lovely. I have a high stack of so many good books at the moment that I’m waiting to get into. Right now, I’m reading Three Women by Lisa Taddeo which is just magnificent. The fact that she’s been able to take these three women’s lives and weave it into what seems like a novel even though it’s based on reality is incredible and it teaches you so much about women and their sexuality and all of that, and I think it’s really beautiful. The next book that I want to read is The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s a novel about a tree – I think maybe a couple of trees? – and their lives, and it just sounds amazing.

What about podcasts?

I do like Talk Art with Russell Tovey. I listen to that quite a bit because it’s good, short interviews with artists. I haven’t quite got on the whole serialised podcast thing that everyone seems to be on. If they’re too in-depth and if they go on for too long, I end up daydreaming and I’ll find myself 10 minutes into a podcast and I’ll realise I’ve missed half of it. That’s why I can’t do audiobooks at all. It kind of exists over here in my brain and I’m like on the opposite side in some other world.

Sam Heughan’s Clan Lands is coming out soon. The fact that he and Graham McTravish have travelled around Scotland together, and they’re both the most ridiculous human beings – it’s going to be prime fodder for me. I’m looking forward to that.

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From director James Mangold, the high-octane drama Ford v Ferrari is inspired by the true-life story of American car designer and automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and his British driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale), who overcame their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford that could challenge Ferrari at the most difficult race in all of motorsports, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Their partnership is a testament to how unconventional thinking, inventiveness, determination and will can overcome the odds to achieve something extraordinary.

During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Caitriona Balfe — who plays Ken Miles’ wife, Mollie — talked about what it was like meeting Mangold for the first time, what struck her most about both Bale and Damon, and what surprised her about making a movie on this scale. She also talked about hitting the Season 5 milestone on her Starz series Outlander, what she’s most excited about with the upcoming season (premiering in February 2020), and balancing what fans of the book want to see with new surprises.

Collider: Congratulations on this film! It’s just so good and, as a cast, you’re all terrific in it.

CAITRIONA BALFE: Oh, good. I’m glad that you liked it.

Did you have a feeling, when you were making this film, that it would turn out to be one of the best films of 2019? Can you tell, when you’re on set, how something will turn out, or is it only when it’s done and you get to see the finished product that you feel like you really know?

BALFE: Yeah, I don’t know that you ever really know how something’s gonna turn out because there are so many things that need to come together and need to work. But what I do know is that the feeling on set was really good. Jim [Mangold] creates this wonderful atmosphere. He’s like this fantastic conductor. There was so many moving parts and so many things for him to keep track of, with all of the racing stuff and everything. In the beginning, we shot a lot of our family stuff isolated in this house in Highland Park. Later on in the shoot, they had built some of those interiors in one of the airport hangars while he was concurrently filming a lot of the racing stuff. So, you could feel that he was really in a great groove, and that he was excited by what he was doing, and that just created this wonderful atmosphere where everyone just felt they were in really safe hands. When you have that, you hope that’s gonna translate to the screen, and luckily it feels like it has. That’s really exciting ‘cause it was really so much fun to film it.

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Fans first fell in love with Outlander for three reasons: Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), Claire Randall/Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and, of course, Scotland.

In season one, we were enticed by the billow and green of the highlands, the land’s peculiar and fascinating traditions and, let’s be honest, that accent. The whole story is based on the idea of a sassenach: the Gaelic term for an “outlander”.

And yet, over the course of four seasons, we’ve ended up in North Carolina (via Paris and the Caribbean).

Yes, we’re happy to see Jamie and Claire building a beautiful home together at Fraser Ridge with their daughter Brianna (Sophie Skelton). But, as we get closer to the arrival of Outlander season five, it’s time to admit that we miss bonnie Scotland.

Even Balfe has admitted to us that nothing will ever beat that first season in the highlands.

Speaking to Stylist while promoting her new film, Le Mans ‘66, the actor revealed: “It’s difficult to choose (which season is my favourite), but it’s hard to beat season one, just because it was so new and exciting and everything.

“But, I also loved the first half of season three – being in the 60s with Frank [Randall], being separated from Jamie, then coming back together. It just gave me so many beautiful things to play. As an acting challenge that was my favourite stuff, but you can’t beat season one.”

She also gave us a big hint about where the Frasers will end up.

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Outlander star Caitriona Balfe, 40, time travels to the 1960s for her role as Mollie Miles, wife of Motorsports Hall of Famer Ken Miles (Christian Bale) in Ford v Ferrari (in theaters November 15). The movie tells the story of how designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Miles built a revolutionary car for Ford to race against the legendary team Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966.

This is more than a racing movie.

It’s a film about friendships, teamwork and that passion that makes you who you are. It’s all about the people who help facilitate that.

Mollie and Ken have a special bond.

Ken is the man who’s out there doing the racing, but he wouldn’t be able to achieve that unless he had somebody who was helping him, supporting him. The teamwork that Mollie and Ken had is the type that it takes to achieve something great.

What keeps the racing scenes interesting is they are intercut with scenes of Ken at home with Mollie and Peter, which adds an intimacy.

During some of the research that I was doing, I watched this incredible documentary. It was actually about Ferrari and the decade leading up to this time. It was about how many young Ferrari drivers had died in the late or mid-’50s to mid-’60s, during the time that Ferrari was striving for this excellence. One of the great things about this documentary was it interviewed so many wives and girlfriends that had lived through that time and had, unfortunately, lost their husbands or partners.

When you think of any endeavor that human beings take on that has an element of danger, we forget about the wider repercussions of their goals or these great things that they try to achieve. They leave behind families. Every day, when they go out and they’re racing or mountain climbing or any of these things that have such a high element of danger, the family or the people around them carry the weight of that. I think it’s important not to forget the role that they play as well.

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It is still four months until Outlander returns to STARZ for its fifth season, which will play out over 12 episodes and is based on Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross, but on Saturday, Oct. 5, members of the cast of Outlander gathered for a panel, moderated by Ginger Zee, at New York Comic Con. Attending were Caitriona Balfe (Claire), Sam Heughan (Jamie), Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh), Maria Doyle Kennedy (Jocasta) and David Berry (Lord John Grey), as well as executive producers Ronald D. Moore and Maril Davis and author Gabaldon.

According to STARZ: Season 5 finds the Frasers fighting for their family and the home they have forged on Fraser’s Ridge. Jamie must find a way to defend all that he has created in America, and to protect those who look to him for leadership and protection – while hiding his personal relationship with Murtagh Fitzgibbons , the man whom Governor William Tryon (Tim Downie) has ordered him to hunt down and kill.

With her family together at last, Claire Fraser must use her modern medical knowledge and foresight to prevent them from being ripped apart once again. However, while focusing on protecting others, she risks losing sight of what it means to protect herself.

Meanwhile, Brianna Fraser (Sophie Skelton) and Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) have been reunited, but the spectre of Stephen Bonnet (Edward Speleers) still haunts them. Roger strives to find his place – as well as Jamie’s respect – in this new and dangerous time. The Frasers must come together, navigating the many perils that they foresee – and those they can’t.

Following is a bit of what Heughan and Balfe had to say:

Caitriona and Sam, you are producers this season how will we see that impact season 5?

Caitriona: If it is good, we will take full credit. If there are any complaints, don’t call us. (joke) It has really been interesting to be able to see the behind the scenes and the work that goes on. A lot of this has been us observing and learning and I think that was very important to us to see what great work that they do behind the scenes on Outlander, just watching the work of each different department and the work that they do. We have the most incredible crew back in Scotland and being able to sit in on production meetings, and hearing what each one of them contributes has been eye opening. As actors, you show up on the day and say, “Look at everything,” but to see that process has been really interesting.

This is driven by Jamie and Claire’s love story. What can we expect in season 5?

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Even by the highly stressful standards of Outlander, the season 4 finale really put fans through the wringer. Jamie decides to trade himself to the Mohawk people to save Roger—and just as you’re beginning to process that, Young Ian jumps in and takes his place instead! Poor Brianna went into labor and gave birth before either of her parents could make it home. Oh, and Jamie has been tasked with assassinating Murtagh next season. Cool, cool, cool.

Below, Catriona Balfe breaks down the key moments from “Man of Worth,” hints at what’s to come in season 5, and explains whether Jamie and Claire have been having less sex of late.

Where does the season leave Claire emotionally?

I think her primary focus throughout the season is so much about her being a mother to Brianna in a very different way, because of what Brianna has gone though and also being a grandmother now. I think it’s definitely been a transition, this season, going from the search for Jamie and “Will this relationship work?” to them finding each other.

Now it’s like okay, we built this life, and what does it look like? With Brianna coming in, it becomes very different, because now Claire’s become the matriarch of this extended family unit. When she says to Brianna, “I want to take you away from here,” I think she needs to have her family around her, in a place where they create the society that they want. She can see how heartbroken Brianna is, and everything about River Run for Claire is just so tainted and it’s hard for her to relax there at all. I think she just wants to protect her daughter, get her home, and create a safe space for her.

When Jamie is going to trade himself for Roger, Claire accepts it fairly quickly. Why?

I think it’s telling that one of the next lines is when after Ian offers himself up, Jamie says “Escape at your first chance.” Given that we had so little time to use in that moment, where I had to go with it was, this is a temporary thing. He’s going to get out of here as quickly as he can. I think she felt that this is Jamie’s politically savvy decision to get Roger for this instant, but he’s not going to stay.

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Outlander

Role: Claire Randall
Release Date: 2019
An English combat nurse from 1945 is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743.
Ford v Ferrari

Role: Mollie Miles
Release Date: 2019
American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.
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