The Cast Of Outlander Is Gorgeous In Real Life

It's easy to see why "Outlander" has developed such a devoted fanbase. Based on the novels of Diana Gabaldon, the mystical time travel series has everything from magic to mystery to romance. As a quick recap, the plot follows Claire Randall, a World War II nurse who magically travels through time and winds up in the midst of the Scottish Jacobite rising of the 1740s. As of 2023, the show has been running for seven seasons and has one more season left to go before what is sure to be a dramatic ending to the epic Scottish saga.

If you're a big "Outlander" fan, you're probably very used to seeing your favorite characters in all of their 1740s (or 1940s) splendor — but you may not have realized just how different the actors look in the present day. Let's take a look at the cast of "Outlander" in the present day and find out what they've all been up to — when they aren't galavanting around the Highlands, that is.

Caitriona Balfe is an Irish actor who began her career as a model

At the heart of "Outlander" is the outspoken and fiercely independent Claire, the World War II nurse who suddenly finds herself in Jacobean Scotland. In the series, Claire is portrayed by the Irish actor Caitriona Balfe. Before landing the starring role in "Outlander," Balfe had appeared in a number of other film and TV projects, including "Escape Plan," the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger film, and "Crush," a Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo movie.

However, until "Outlander," the actor had a slow start in the industry. Before her acting career took off, she worked mainly as a model in the early 2000s. "Modelling does two things," she told The Guardian. "It gives you a really, really tough exterior and then a really broken interior." She made the slow transition into acting. 

When she finally landed "Outlander," it was a dream come true. "I had done a few jobs, nothing of note really," she said. "I was living in LA and I was really struggling, actually, it was about four or five months since I'd had a job." Of course, since then, everything has changed. In 2019, she played Christian Bale's wife in "Le Mans '66," and in 2021, she starred in Kenneth Branagh's Academy Award-winning "Belfast." It's safe to say that "Outlander" changed everything for Balfe.

Sam Heughan is also a writer

Sam Heughan quickly won a legion of fans after starring as the dashing Jamie Fraser in "Outlander." The actor had previously appeared in a number of British TV shows, such as "Midsomer Murders" and "Doctors," but "Outlander" proved to be his big break. Since first appearing in the show, he has landed roles in projects like "When Starlight Ends," "The Spy Who Dumped Me," and "SAS: Red Notice." In 2023, he starred opposite Priyanka Chopra Jonas in the rom-com "Love Again."

Funnily enough, Heughan was actually with his "Outlander" co-star, Laura Donnelly, when he was cast in the show. "It was because we were in the Arctic Circle, doing this strange little movie. ... It was really odd to be in the middle of these fjords, in this dramatic landscape in the middle of nowhere, and going on Twitter or Facebook and seeing this excitement and buzz about it," he told Interview. After finding fame on the show, his career took off. "It's opened a lot of doors. There's always levels," he said. "I've become a bit more commercial, I guess."

However, despite his huge success on screen, Heughan has other interests, too. In fact, he's also written a number of books. With his "Outlander" co-star, Graham McTavish, Heughan wrote three "Clanlands" books, which focus on Scottish history and culture. He has also written a memoir entitled "Waypoints: My Scottish Journey." If it were possible, we'd say that Heughan is even dreamier in real-life than he is on-screen.

Sophie Skelton wanted to be a surgeon when she was a kid

Sophie Skelton joined the cast of "Outlander" in 2016 as Brianna Mackenzie, the daughter of Claire and Jamie who was raised in the '60s before traveling back in time to meet her real father. The role was one of her first big breaks in the industry, along she had appeared on British shows like "Waterloo Road," "Doctors," and "Foyle's War." 

As the actor told Grumpy Magazine, she first got into acting as a teenager after studying ballet as a child. Even though she loved acting, she didn't initially plan on pursuing the performing arts professionally. "All my studies were directed toward being a surgeon because that was what I wanted to do," she said. "But then, I got jobs, deferred my uni place, and after three years, I called the university and went, 'I don't think I'm coming.”"

It seems she chose the right path. Not only is Skelton still a fan favorite on "Outlander," but she's landed a few other major roles, too, appearing in "211," "Stalker," and the miniseries "Ren."

Richard Rankin is also a photographer

Richard Rankin plays Roger, Brianna's husband, in "Outlander." Originally from the 1960s timeline, Roger ends up traveling back in time. Rankin, like other cast members in the show, had his big break with "Outlander," having previously appeared mainly in guest TV roles. In more recent years, he has also had roles in "The Replacement," "The Last Kingdom," and "Burnistoun."

When he's not acting, Rankin is also a photographer, who mainly photographs landscapes and cities around the world. "I like the idea that someone buys something limited then they have something that's valuable to them, right? That's the idea," he said of his work at a photography show. He went on to share that many of his photos were taken while he was on holiday in the States. At the same event, he explained that he had been an amateur photographer for about eight years before getting more serious about his craft. "I've been very fortunate to be able to do that," he said.

Duncan Lacroix has made a career out of period dramas

In "Outlander," Duncan Lacroix played Murtagh, Jamie's godfather, from 2014 until 2020. If Lacroix looked familiar to you, there's a good reason — the actor has appeared in numerous period dramas over the years. 

In 2012, he landed one of his first roles as an unnamed soldier in one episode of "Game of Thrones." He then went on to play Sgt. Charlie Faulkner in "A Terrible Beauty...," another soldier in "Reign," a viking soldier in "Vikings," a World War II soldier in "The Sisters Brothers," and Henry de Percy (yes, another soldier) in Netflix's "Outlaw/King."

If you're an "Outlander" fan, you probably know that Murtaugh dies in Season 5. For Lacroix, saying goodbye wasn't easy. "It was weird when I came to shoot the death scene, it was really weird and I got a bit teary, I think because I realised my time was up on the show that kind of really sunk in," he told the Scottish Express. "I had spent years working on it, and I felt really sad for Murtagh as well."

You may recognize Graham McTavish from other cult shows and films

Graham McTavish played War Chieftain Dougal MacKenzie and his son Buck in "Outlander." Like his co-star Duncan LaCroix, McTavish is no stranger to playing war heroes in period dramas. The actor has also appeared in similar dramas like "The Hobbit," "The Witcher," and "House of the Dragon." 

Most of his roles so far have been a little less than savory. "I don't tend to get the chance to play thoroughly decent human beings," said the actor to Square Mile. Apparently, McTavish attributes his casting type to his looks. "I've got one of those faces," he said, adding, "and my dad always looked quite intimidating so I've inherited that resting expression that he had."

These days, McTavish is fairly well-known thanks to his many high-profile roles. But he's still getting used to fame. "Well, it's very odd. Anybody that's had a career as long as I have — which is nearly 40 years now — you've had many, many, many iterations of success or lack of success, disappointment, joy," he said. "You've gone through the whole gamut." Here's hoping we get to see McTavish in more period dramas in the years to come.

John Bell was a child actor who is now a champion of LGBTQ+ rights

Ian Fraser Murray, the adventurous son of Ian and Jenny Murray and the nephew of Jaimie, is played by John Bell. He first appeared in the show in 2017. Although he was only 20 at the time, he had already made his mark on British television with roles in "Doctor Who," "Life of Riley," and "Tracy Beaker Returns." He also landed roles in "The Hobbit" as Bain" and in "T2 Trainspotting" as Spud. 

In spite of all of his success, Bell still thinks of "Outlander" as one of his most important roles yet. "Being able to grow up on screen has been the biggest gift that 'Outlander' has given me," he told Time and Leisure. "It's allowed people to see what I look like now, and who I am now, and what I can bring to a character now."

In 2022, Bell starred in "The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me," a one-man show about a gay man in the '80s in the midst of the AIDS crisis. This was the first time Bell, who is gay, had a chance to play a gay character. "There's a new generation of gay people that are adults now, and they've never experienced the AIDS crisis and HIV in the way it was back then," he told PinkNews. "So I was excited to bring that story to a new generation of theatre-goers that maybe didn't quite understand the seriousness of it."

César Domboy didn't know much about Outlander before joining the cast

César Domboy plays Fergus, a French immigrant and orphan, in "Outlander." Like his character, Domboy is originally from France and began his career acting in mainly French films and TV shows. Since joining the cast of "Outlander" in 2017, however, he's appeared in a few other English-speaking roles, including playing Augustin Jordan in "SAS Rogue Heroes."

Although "Outlander" is one of Domboy's biggest roles to date, before he auditioned to play Fergus, he knew nothing about the show. "Before the first testing, I didn't know anything about 'Outlander,' actually, so I watched episodes with young Fergus, because it would be good training, to start with," he told Elle. He added, "I was very thrilled to be in it, so I started watching the show from the beginning, binge-watching, so I am all caught up. Young Fergus was so good, that when I was watching Romann Berrux, I decided to pick up a couple of things he was doing." 

Lauren Lyle has been busy since her casting in Outlander

In "Outlander," Lauren Lyle portrays Marsali, Laoghaire's oldest daughter who eventually marries Fergus Fraser. Prior to landing the role in "Outlander" in 2017, Lyle had appeared in a few short films and in an episode of "Holby City."

As Lyle told Wonderland Magazine, she first began acting as a kid when she and her friends would put on makeshift shows for their parents. Instead of training at a drama school, Lyle went straight into work. "After leaving high school I kept being knocked back from drama schools which I think spurred me on to work," Lyle said. "The year I did get into a school I was doing 'The Crucible' at The Old Vic Theatre. I spoke to the wonderful and late casting director Maggie Lunn and told her I wanted to carry on working — she agreed I should just go for it." And it's a good thing she did. Soon enough, she was playing Marsali. "It's been an incredible journey getting to become a part of such a loved and successful show," she said of "Outlander." 

Since finding fame as Marsali, Lyle has landed a few other big roles. In 2022, she even starred as the titular character in the detective show "Karen Pirie." "It's a whole new world leading a show and taking on all the extra responsibilities of being number one on the call sheet," she later told Country & Town House. "I've never done that before."

Tobias Menzies is a very familiar face for fans of British TV

Tobias Menzies plays not one but two roles in "Outlander," as both Frank Randall, Claire's historian husband, and Jonathan "Jack" Randall, Frank's ancestor, who Claire meets after traveling back in time. Menzies is no stranger to British period drama TV shows. In fact, chances are, you've seen him in full historic costume before. Some of his best-known roles include William Elliot in "Persuasion," the Duke of Cornwall in "King Lear," Marcus Brutus in "Rome," Edmure Tully in "Game of Thrones," and Prince Philip in "The Crown."

More recently, however, Menzies has moved into more contemporary projects. In 2023, for instance, he played Don opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus' Beth in "You Hurt My Feelings," a film about a married couple whose marriage begins to spiral when Don, a therapist, admits he didn't like his wife's latest novel. "It felt a chance to broaden my casting a bit with these softer, more naturalistic, even just modern roles," Menzies said of the project to Rolling Stone. "A lot of the roles I'm known for feel very period and often feel quite alpha male. Characters who come in and drive scenes. Don felt like a really good change of pace from that." One thing's for sure — "Outlander" fans will love seeing Menzies tackle such a different role.

Caitlin O'Ryan got her start with Outlander

Caitlin O'Ryan plays the charming Lizzie, Brianna's maid, in "Outlander." As of 2023, this is O'Ryan's first and only professional credit to date.

As O'Ryan explained to Survived the Shows, she first became interested in acting after joining a youth theater group. Luckily, her parents supported her. "I was always encouraged to follow this dream and run with it for as long as possible," she said. After graduating from school, O'Ryan went to drama school in Oldham. Then, she tried to enter the industry. At first, it wasn't easy. However, after a few failed auditions, she finally got the "Outlander" audition. "With 'Outlander,' it was the first audition I just let myself enjoy it. I didn't worry or over think it," she recalled. "In other auditions my nerves got in the way." Clearly, her approach worked. We can't wait to see what this young actor does after "Outlander" comes to an end.

For Steven Cree, Outlander changed his life

You probably know Steven Cree as Ian Murray, father of Young Ian and friend of Jamie Fraser. The Scottish actor had a long career prior to landing the role, appearing in "Vivaldi, the Red Priest," "The Awakening," and "Brave," to name just a few. However, despite his success, it was "Outlander" that really put the actor on the map. Since landing the role of Ian, Cree's career has well and truly taken off. You may have seen him in films like Disney's  "Maleficent," "Churchill,"and "Outlaw/King." He's also starred in shows like Netflix's "The Diplomat" and "A Discovery of Witches."

As Cree told SheKnows, appearing in "Outlander" was life changing in a number of ways. Not only did it serve as a big break, it also introduced him to an on-set family. "I don't think it will ever end, the community will always be there," he gushed, "[Returning for Season 7] didn't feel like going back to work, it felt like going back and hanging with some friends."

Nell Hudson has also appeared in Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Victoria

Laoghaire MacKenzie made her first appearance in the first season of "Outlander." Her obsession with Jamie soon caused problems for Claire. Played by Nell Hudson, Laoghaire quickly became an unlikely anti-hero in the show, while Hudson shot to fame. The young actor has already racked up an impressive resume, with roles in "Call the Midwife," "Death in Paradise," and "Crossing Lines." From 2016, she starred in "Victoria," the ITV show about Queen Victoria's reign, playing Nancy Skerrett, the queen's lady's maid who eventually marries the royal chef. In 2022, she also starred in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

For Hudson, each of her big roles has been a huge thrill. "It is this golden drug almost," she told Fabric magazine of the feeling of landing a big role. "It is the highest you can feel, ever. It is just incredible. And you sort of enjoy that for five minutes, and then the cliché is that all your neuroses fire up again and you start to think, 'Oh God, help! Can I even play this character?'" Well, from what we've seen, she's had no trouble flitting between vastly different characters in her career so far.

Lotte Verbeek is a well-known Dutch actor

Lotte Verbeek is best known to "Outlander" fans as Geillis. Although we first meet Geillis in the 1740s, Claire eventually discovers that Geillis is also from the future. Originally from the Netherlands, Verbeek has been acting in English-speaking film and TV for years. You may have also seen her in "The Fault in Our Stars" as Lidewij, "Agent Carter," "The Book of Vision," or "The Blacklist."

It's easy to see why fans of "Outlander" tend to love Verbeek's performance as Geillis. For one thing, she dove into the complex character headfirst. "In the book, Geillis sleeps with virgins and then she kills them," explained executive producer Matthew B. Roberts to Elle in 2017. "We wanted to amp that up, so I asked Lotte very early on how comfortable she might be with that, for the Ian scene. And she was like, 'Hells yeah!' She actually texted me the moment she got here, 'I'm ready for my bloodbath!' Best text ever." As fans of the show probably know, Geillis' arc only gets weirder as the show goes on — and once again, Verbeek was game. "I'm so excited that we get to see her darker side," she said while filming season 3. "It's so much fun to play. I finally get to blow the lid off!" And we loved every minute of it!

Grant O'Rourke has tons of interests outside of acting

For "Outlander" fans, Grant O'Rourke is better known as Rupert MacKenzie, a member of the MacKenzie clan. O'Rourke starred in "Outlander" for three seasons and, so far, it's been one of his biggest roles to date. He has also appeared in shows like "M.I.High," "Scot Squad," and "In Plain Sight." More recently, he's landed a five episode arc on the Scottish detective show "Shetland" as Jamie Narey. He also keeps busy with plenty of stage work.

O'Rourke grew up on the Scottish Borders with a love of acting. "I remember, I did a nativity play," he told Absolute Musical Chat, "where I was playing one of the three kings — I must have been aged 7 or 8 — and I remember looking at the narrator just thinking, 'That guy can't even read, I should be playing that!' And looking back now, realising that's obviously what I've had in me the whole time." He went on to study musical theater at RSAMD, Scotland's top drama school, before beginning his career. We can't wait to see what he does next!

David Berry loved his character in Outlander

Let's face it — there are few characters in "Outlander" who became as beloved as Lord John Grey. Played by David Berry, John Grey is a soldier from the 1700s who falls in love with Jamie. There is even a spin-off book series about the character by the original "Outlander" author, Diana Gabaldon. Berry, who is also known for his roles in "A Place to Call Home," "Home and Away," and "Riptide," loved his "Outlander" character just as much as the rest of us.

In fact, Berry is hoping that the producers might eventually make a spin-off series about John Grey. "I think the character is a great character... I'd jump at the chance to play the character again in the right series," he told Digital Spy. "The source material is really strong. Diana has written a wonderful character and a wonderful series of books, and I really enjoyed playing him." It turns out, we may be in luck. Gabaldon even replied to a tweet asking about a potential "Outlander" spin-off, writing, "Who knows? Interest Has Been Expressed, is about all I could tell you."

Ed Speleers has also starred in You and Downton Abbey

On TV, Ed Speleers is pretty good at being an unlikeable sleaze — just take his turn as violent criminal Stephen Bonnet in "Outlander." You may also recognize Speleers from some of his other TV roles. From 2012 to 2014, he played Jimmy, a conniving footman, on "Downton Abbey. Then, in 2015, he transformed into Edward Seymour, a plotting nobleman, in "Wolf Hall." Most recently, we've seen him play Rhys, the evil alter ego of Joe, in Netflix's "You."

Even though his character in "Outlander" wasn't exactly a good guy, Speleers loved playing him. In fact, when his character was killed, he was a little disappointed. "I didn't want it to stop, but it had too," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I'm very lucky that the script for that final episode for my character was a chance to maybe answer a few questions about who he is; he confesses perhaps quite a lot he's never confessed before. He almost goes through a big bit of therapy I suppose, as well as getting his comeuppance."

Laura Donnelly is no stranger to British TV

Laura Donnelly, like many of the other "Outlander" cast members, first got her start in British TV. The Irish actor landed guest roles on shows like "Casualty," "The Bill," and "Merlin," before landing a role in "The Fall" opposite Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. She then landed the role of Jenny Fraser, the younger sister of Jamie and the mother of Young Ian. The role proved to be a dream come true for the actor — for one thing, she was already close friends with Sam Heughan, her on-screen brother, having gone to the same drama school. "The relationship that Sam and I already had really helps with the relationship between Jenny and Jamie I think," she told Yahoo!

Since playing Jenny, her career has only continued to grow. Most notably, Donnelly played Amalia in HBO's "The Nevers" from 2021 to 2022. As she later told Rose and Ivy Journal, for a long time she worried she would never "make it" in show business. "I have been told, and can I say is bollocks, for a woman you have to make it by the time you are 30 or that's it. So I had this ticking time bomb in my head," she said adding, "It was after that when things started to go a lot better; it was down to me relaxing and not having that time bomb in my head and thinking whatever will be will be." It sounds like her success is only just beginning.

Maria Doyle Kennedy is an Irish singer and actor

For "Outlander" fans, Maria Doyle Kennedy is best known as the formidable Jocasta, Jamie's blind aunt who owns a plantation. Although she doesn't usually sport a curly gray up-do, Doyle Kennedy may still be a familiar face to many viewers. In her long career, she has played Siobhan in "Orphan Black," Sonya in "Dexter," and Queen Catherine of Aragon in "The Tudors" to name just a few.

Nevertheless, her role in "Outlander" has always held a special place for Doyle Kennedy. As the actor explained to E! Insider, the character shows just how hard things were for women at the time. "Just by virtue of being a woman in that time, [everything she has built] could really slip away very, very easily," she said.

The role also presented Doyle Kennedy with a new challenge — to play someone who has no sight. It wasn't until her first day on set that she realized, as she put it, "I was never going to be able to make eye contact with anybody." She went on to explain that this transformed how she responded to the other actors. "It was extraordinarily isolating," she said. 

Tim Downie loves the Outlander family

Tim Downie plays Governor William Tryon of North Carolina in "Outlander." Downie joined the cast from 2018 to 2020. He his best known for his comedic work — other work includes the comedy series "Upstart Crow," the "Drunk History" video series, and "Horrible Histories: The Movie." You might also recongise him as Montgomery Clyde, the explorer, in "Paddington."

While "Outlander" may be more serious than some of his other work, Downie loved every minute of it. "The 'Outlander' family really is that, it really is a family," he gushed to Brief Take. "And they're very open and very welcoming, and even though I am a redcoat and there are edges of animosity to that, which is understandable, they've been great." 

What made things even easier for Downie was the fact that he and his co-star, Sam Heughan, were long-time friends. "We've known each other now for over ten years and we trust each other," he said. Who knows — maybe we'll see them reunite on screen one day soon!

Gary Lewis has been working nonstop for decades

If you love "Outlander," you may know Gary Lewis best as Colum MacKenzie, Jamie's uncle who has Toulouse-Lautrec Syndrome. However, long before playing Colum, Lewis found fame as the father in "Billy Elliot." He has appeared in dozens of other films and shows over the years, including "Gangs of New York," "Valhalla Rising," "Joyeux Noel," and the BBC's adaptation of "His Dark Materials." Despite his very long list of credits, Lewis didn't get his start until he was in his 30s, when he landed a role in a play in Glasgow. 

For Lewis, "Outlander" was an interesting experience. For one thing, even though the show is all about Scotland, Lewis claimed that locals aren't huge fans. "It is strange because I live in Scotland and 'Outlander' isn't massive here to the extent it is in Australia, America and Canada. There are fans all over the world," he told The Herald.

And although Lewis loves the romantic take on Scotland in "Outlander," he hopes fans also tune into grittier Scottish dramas, too. As he put it, "The Scottish tourist board must be very happy with 'Outlander' and other stuff just now, but we shouldn't have a cull on social realism."

Natalie Simpson is a well-known stage and TV actor

Phaedre, Jocasta's slave, is played by Natalie Simpson, a Nigerian-British actor. She is also known for appearing in shows like "Les Misérables" and "The Mallorca Files." However, her main claim to fame is her stage work. Simpson has appeared in numerous plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including "King Lear," "Cymbeline," and "Hamlet," along with other plays like Chekhov's "Three Sisters" and "Jack Absolute Flies Again."

For Simpson, there is nothing like working on a Shakespeare play. "The Shakespearean language, I just find it so much easier to get to a real emotional state as it is just there for you," she told Amy Stutz. She went on to explain that her dream role would be to play Cleopatra in Shakespeare's "Anthony and Cleopatra," a role she got to try at drama school. "It was probably one of the most important roles because it pulled me out of my shell, as an actor I didn't want to appear really huge, obnoxious and self indulgent," she said.

Well, after seeing her incredible performance in "Outlander," we would love to see her tackle some more Shakespeare.