Outlanders Brianna star speaks on being ‘triggered’ by brutal scenes

Outlander: Sam Heughan teases season seven

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As fans await for the return of Starz’s hit drama Outlander, actress Sophie Skelton provided an insight into playing her character, Brianna Fraser. She opened up about the difficulties of filming the sexual assault scene from season four. 

Outlander followed the life of Claire Fraser (played by Caitriona Balfe) as she mysteriously time travelled from 1945 to 1743. 

Although she had been on honeymoon when she travelled through time, Claire ended up falling in love with Scottish highlander, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). 

Her husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) was driven mad with worry but was relieved when she returned, even though Claire came back pregnant with Jamie’s baby. 

Despite this, he agreed to raise Brianna as his own, however, the cracks in their relationship began to show. 

After a tragic car accident resulting in Frank’s death, Claire decided to return to Jamie although 20 years had passed. 

Brianna decided to stay in the future for university but soon followed in her mother’s footsteps to warn her about a fire, after finding her mother’s obituary. 

Travelling to the 1700s was a dramatic event for Brianna as she struggled to adjust to the times. 

While looking for her mother, she had come across the evil villain Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers) and noticed he was wearing one of Claire’s treasured rings. 

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A post shared by Caitríonabalfe (@caitrionabalfe)

After refusing to tell Brianna Claire’s location, he dragged her to the back of a pub, where he sexually assaulted her. 

Despite her pleas for help, none of the men in the packed pub batted an eyelid, which reminded her just how bad things were for women in the past. 

During an Instagram Q&A with Caitriona, actress Sophie Skelton opened up about filming the gut-wrenching scene. 

After being asked about difficult scenes, Sophie shared: “It’s a tricky one, I always think I’m quite good at being able to segregate what’s screen and what’s not, to not take work home, emotionally.

“But then, I do think there are certain scenes that obviously you just can’t, it’s very, very hard to get away from.”

Speaking to her co-star, she added: “I don’t know if you’ve found with sexual abuse scenes, where you feel like it’s almost like muscle memory. 

“You kind of get triggered by little things, emotionally maybe you can try and separate but I think when you do scenes like that, it’s very, very hard to not be in the mindset of people who’ve been through that.”

Sophie added: “It’s quite a hard thing to segregate, isn’t it?”

Caitriona also had to film similar sexual assault scenes in season six after she was attacked by Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy) and his men. 

Reflecting on these scenes, Caitriona responded: “It’s a funny thing because, I think like you, some actors try and use personal stuff.

“I learned very early on that, that can be a very damaging thing, a very unhealthy thing to do so I try and separate it.”

She added: “I think the circumstances of what the character’s going through, if you really, fully immerse yourself and empathise with that, you’ll put yourself in that situation. 

“When you go through these really tough scenes, you work yourself into a state of fear or stress … you’re simulating these emotions, but your body doesn’t really know, to a certain extent that you’re pretending.”

Outlander seasons one to six are available in the US on Starz and available in the UK on Lionsgate+

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