Outlander: Why was Gemma Fray replaced as Brianna Fraser?

Outlander teaser: "I Am Not Alone" – Season Finale

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The Droughtlander rages on as the cast and crew of Outlander work on a super-sized season seven, which is slated to consist of 16 episodes. The longer run is going to be compensating for the pared back sixth outing, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Season seven will be taking elements from Diana Gabaldon’s novels A Breath of Snow and Ashes and An Echo in the Bone.

Why was Gemma Fray replaced as Brianna Fraser in Outlander?

Some fans might be revisiting previous seasons of Outlander at the moment and wondering about some of the cast shake-ups including the actresses playing Brianna MacKenzie (played by Sophie Skelton).

Brianna was Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser’s (Sam Heughan) daughter, who was conceived in the past but grew up in the future after the nurse returned to her own time.

Claire and her first husband Frank Randall (Tobias Menzies) brought the child up together as their own with Brianna only learning later on about her true paternity.

Season three covered a large period of time, documenting Jamie and Claire’s heart-wrenching separation over 20 years.


During this time, Jamie and Claire both went through a lot with viewers also witnessing Brianna growing up in Boston over time.

As the story cut from 20th century Boston to Britain in the 17th century, audiences saw Brianna at different ages as Claire juggled motherhood with a promising medical career in the 1960s.

Outlander has seen several different actresses playing Brianna, including Lucy Maxwell who was baby Bree and Niamh Elwell portraying the character aged six.

Gemma Fray took on the role of Brianna between the ages of eight and 10, before actress Sophie Skelton took over the part as a teenager and young adult.

The reason Skelton took over the role in the first place is simply Brianna grows up over the course of Outlander and an adult actor was needed to play the part.

Given Outlander covers such a long period of time, the children in the story grow up and as such older actors take over the roles.

Actress Skelton auditioned for Outlander back in 2014 but didn’t hear anything from the casting agents for a year and assumed she’d missed out on the part.

However, she later got a call and eventually took the role, saying she “fell in love” with the character.

“I think she’s quite funny. I know a lot of people don’t like Brianna but I thought her humour was great in the books. Obviously, she has a temper and everything else,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.

After Claire went back to the past to reunite with Jamie, Brianna changed her degree from a history one to engineering at Harvard and completed her studies.

She later ventured through the stones and finally met her father and was reunited with mother Claire.

Brianna is currently living in the past with her husband Roger MacKenzie (Richard Rankin) and English actress Skelton continues to portray her.

Outlander raised Skelton’s profile and she has since starred in Blackbird, Day of the Dead: Bloodline, and 211.

More recently, the cast of Outlander shared some behind-the-scenes titbits from season seven as part of World Outlander Day on June 1 – the day Gabaldon’s novel was first published in 1991.

“We are here working hard for you, on what is, I think, my favorite season yet,” Skelton teased in the video from US broadcaster Starz.

While co-star Balfe added: “We’re going to have a mega-sized season for you to come back to, so get through this next Droughtlander.”

Outlander season 7 is in production

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