Outlander’s Sophie Skelton on Brianna Fraser scene boss ‘pulled’ from series
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In recent seasons of the hit Starz drama, Brianna Fraser (played by Sophie Skelton) and her mother Claire (Caitriona Balfe) have supported each other while they heal from traumatic experiences with sexual assault. Outlander regular Sophie has since revealed her harrowing experience with Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speleers) was originally much more explicit before the producers stepped in.
Sophie confirmed she filmed the entirety of Bree’s horrific experience with Stephen before the writers decided it shouldn’t be included.
Over the past six seasons, Outlander has shone a light on the violence aimed at women throughout history which still pervades to this day.
However, writers on the show felt revealing Bree’s attack could prove too much for audiences to handle so close to Claire’s similar ordeal with Lionel Brown (Ned Dennehy).
“We shot Brianna’s rape scene with Stephen Bonnet,” Sophie explained.
“We filmed the whole thing and then the writers decided that there had been too much sexual abuse in the show, that it was too triggering for viewers.”
Near the end of the fifth season, Claire is kidnapped and raped by Lionel and his men.
Although her husband Jamie (Sam Heughan) took revenge by killing Lionel and delivering his body to his brother Richard (Chris Larkin), the ramifications of the attack were still being felt throughout season five.
Thankfully, Bree and Claire had each other’s shoulders to lean on as they dealt with the trauma, though Fraser’s Ridge nevertheless still came under attack from a vengeful Richard in the season finale.
With two scenes which could potentially cause significant distress to Outlander fans, Sophie explained Bree’s encounter with Stephen was sanitised and left up to interpretation.
“So they pulled that and obviously they knew what was coming with Claire’s scene and they decided to have that one instead,” she said during her appearance on Reign with Josh Smith.
“They are very sensitive to the fact that [sexual abuse is] very prominent in the show.”
Bree later recounted the details of Stephen’s abuse to her mother in a deeply moving conversation in season five, in which she also reveals she is pregnant.
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Although Bree’s monologue is equally as powerful as the scene itself may have been, Sophie also revealed she initially fought for the sequence to be included.
It would have explained more about how Bree closed herself off to deal with the attack, but the higher-ups ultimately decided it would have been too upsetting.
“I did a lot of research and found something called tonic immobility, which I didn’t really know about before and it’s a response that a fair few victims have whereby your adrenaline kicks in,” Sophie explained.
“A certain hormone’s released and your body goes into essentially fight or flight mode, but it’s an animalistic mode whereby your whole body goes numb on you and it’s how animals play dead if they’re prey.”
“So when we shot it, I kind of had Brianna’s head a little to the side and just kind of tears streaming, but she’s not feeling anything and she’s just completely not in the room.”
Sophie explained the scene would have been somewhat educational for viewers by detailing how some victims react to similar abuse in the real world.
“Then it’s doing something hopefully good and hopefully helpful as opposed to just be in there, to be in there,” she added.
The scene was eventually left on the cutting room floor, but Outlander fans can always turn to Diana Gabaldon’s original series of novels for the full story.
Outlander is available on Starz in the US and Starz Play in the UK.
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