On Outlander, Sophie Skelton Will Accept Brianna’s “Settled” Side

We haven’t seen Sophie Skelton in over two years as Brianna Fraser Mackenzie, the strong-willed student who accompanies her mother, Claire Randall Fraser, back in time on Outlander. Skelton and her castmates are finally returning to screens in season 6 after one world-altering epidemic and the longest “droughtlander” in the series’ history.

Outlander is notorious for its melodramatic drama (see: the time-travel precedent), and the stakes are only rising in season 6. The fallout from last season’s conclusion, in which Brianna’s father, Jamie Fraser, freed Claire from renegade kidnappers while Brianna, her husband Roger Mackenzie, and her son Jemmy attempted (and failed) to return to the relative safety of the 1960s, has yet to be revealed. The approaching Revolutionary War looms in the background, threatening to disturb whatever feeling of serenity the Fraser-Mackenzie family may find at their property in the North Carolina wilderness.

Outlander's Sophie Skelton on Brianna's Risky Decision, Meeting Jamie, and Roger's Proposal

What can be said with certainty? More changes are on the way for the Fraser-Mackenzie family. In Brianna’s instance, Skelton tells BAZAAR.com that this season will show a side of her character that fans haven’t seen before: one that’s pretty “settled” despite her family’s turbulence. Previous seasons had subjected Brianna to unrelenting anguish while she navigated a new existence in the past. This season, she’s allowed space to grow as a mother and family leader amongst all of the ongoing history…at least in the first episode.

Skelton spoke with us about tapping into a new version of Brianna, how her character is constructing a future in the past, and what lies ahead on Outlander this season before the show’s launch on Starz last weekend.

Covid was the longest I’d been away from Bree, and we didn’t have any new scripts for the upcoming season. Having the novels to depend on was obviously beneficial since I understood where the character was heading. So it hadn’t fully vanished, but there were moments when I wondered, “Oh, what accent does she have again?” It’s like putting on an old coat that you’re not sure will fit anymore.

Sophie Skelton on the Dangers Brianna Faces in Outlander Season 6 (2022) - Parade

I was eager to step back into Bree’s shoes because, in a strange way, I missed her. She’s fearless, bold, and unapologetically herself. I was also looking forward to portraying Brianna as a mother in Season 6. Roger and Brianna are the most at ease we’ve seen them.

Brianna is a more composed and collected version of herself. Normally, she’s a hothead who runs on all cylinders. This season, she’s become the go-to person for everyone. So I was looking forward to playing a more adult version of her.

What were some of your favorite scenes from the premiere where we can see this new side of Bree?

I believe that is one among the initial, early scenes in which we meet Roger and Brianna again. It’s one of those situations that might have easily been cut, but the fact that I kept it in makes me happy. This is a season where the insanity revolves around Roger and Bree; they’re the calm in the midst of it all, and they’re the ones on whom everyone else relies.Then there’s the Claire and Bree scenario.

I adore mother-daughter scenes and believe they are quite significant. I was thrilled to see Brianna’s character assist Claire work through her trauma, and I’m pleased they didn’t just ignore it. Even if we don’t need to highlight Brianna’s healing all the time, trauma never leaves you. I believe it’s vital to highlight these tiny throwbacks and reminders because otherwise you’re telling the audience that everyone gets over things—but it’s alright not to.

Can you elaborate more about how you and Caitriona [Balfe, who plays Claire] approached that scene? I found that conversation so moving because if anyone can understand the trauma Claire is experiencing, it’s Brianna.

Outlander' Star Sophie Skelton on What it Means for Brianna to Be Back in the Future - Parade

Caitriona and I spoke a lot about not just how the sexual assault happened differently, […] but also how we wanted the recovery to be different. Claire is used to dealing with problems on her own. Brianna didn’t tell anyone for a time, but I believe it was due to circumstances. Whereas I believe the wonderful thing about Claire is that we’re teaching folks that it’s alright not to talk.

That’s why I like that scene so much–Brianna isn’t pressuring Claire to talk. So I like Bree’s statement, “I claimed I was OK too, and I wasn’t.” “I kind of know you’re lying to me, but that’s your prerogative,” he says. And if you want to chat, I’m available.

Brianna, Roger, and Jemmy didn’t make it back to their time at the end of season 5. In season 6, has Brianna’s understanding of what she wants for her future changed, knowing that she can’t go back—at least for now?

Do you ever get the feeling that when you don’t have a choice, it’s just nicer? Because you can’t blame yourself for making the incorrect decision? That’s why Bree and Roger are so at ease in season 6, and why they’re so wonderful and kind. Because they no longer have that option, they must live their lives and make the best of it.

Brianna has clearly had a lot going on, as well as this undertone of anxiety at the fact that she can’t do what we love. She can’t be an engineer, despite having spent her whole life working towards that goal. She knows she can assist the Ridge, but she can’t.

Roger’s attempts to fit in with this period have dominated previous seasons. And this season, the tables are turned. This season, there’s a running theme in which Roger is busy and Bree isn’t, and it’s an intriguing little reversal of Bree twiddling her thumbs and ripping her hair out.

You mentioned being excited to play Brianna as a mother. In any era, to be a young woman in a relationship, people beyond it can have expectations or enforce norms about whether and when you’re having kids, or how many.

Or, why aren’t you married yet? Every Christmas it’s like, “No boyfriend?” And I’m like, “Are we really going to do this?” That’s already a lot! Then playing a modern woman stuck in 1773, where being a wife or a mother is the most many women can do…And she can’t even talk about it. It’s not like she can say, “In the future, this is different!”

There’s so much for Brianna to contend with, and at the same time, there have been hints that Brianna may have another child later in the show. I was curious about how you thought about playing that nuance: what Brianna actually wants for her family versus the norms this time may place on her.

Outlander's Brianna teases 1980s plot and one thing she 'didn't like' from other seasons - TV - Entertainment - Daily Express US

I also think it’s that thing of whether Brianna even wanted to be a mother before or not. I think once you’ve had a kid–and I haven’t, so speaking from how I played it—that love is so magnificent, I can imagine, and overwhelming, that having another is like, why not, if you can expand that love? Bree was an only child. I think for Jemmy, the idea of having a sibling would be magical for Bree. So I think all of those things play.

But I do also think the worry is also Roger. We know Bree can have children, maybe Roger can’t, and in that time you can’t just go get tested.Brianna clearly sees Roger as Jemmy’s father. Although it’s not something Brianna thinks about consciously, I believe having another kid with Roger would be a new dynamic that would be a bit more entire for her. Not that the child would be any better or worse than Jemmy, but having a child of their own would mean something to her and Roger.

Season 6 only has eight episodes, and Outlander‘s known for some very action-packed seasons. With so few episodes, what are you most excited for us to see?

I know I said everything’s peachy with Roger and Bree, but this is Outlander. There’s obviously going to be some ruffles. And it brings up a very modern conversation about jealousy in relationships, should we say. Or men misreading signals from other women.Then there’s the last episode, which I’m looking forward to.

We didn’t get much warning when the season was cut short. We were ready to get into the season because a lot of Roger and Brianna’s plot was going to happen—and then it was clipped. As a result, season 7 will be delayed. As a result of our conversation with the producers, they re-did portions of the previous episode and modified the tale slightly. So there are a lot of really sweet family moments in the final episode with Jemmy, Roger, and Bree.

The end of Outlander, the series, hasn’t been published yet. Has Diana [Gabaldon, the author] given you any hints about where Brianna is headed in the long-term, or how her story ends?

Sophie Skelton Interview About Brianna's Reunion with Jamie in Outlander Season 4 Episode 9

Absolutely not. It’s funny: Diana told me one of the first times I met her, “I have no idea who Brianna is.” When Claire and Bree had a mother-daughter spat, she’d merely label Brianna as a brat. “Thank you for discovering Bree and everything you’ve done for her,” she stated.

Diana writes the characters to us now that we’re catching up to the novels [on the program]. So, yeah, I’m not sure where she’ll take it. But you’re in good hands with the writing. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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