Reflecting on Brianna’s journey on the Starz series thus far, Sophie Skelton has tackled her character’s most tragic and poignant scene. As the sixth season of Outlander approaches, actress Sophie has opened up to one of her most difficult scenes to date as Brianna.
When Brianna first traveled back in time to meet her mother Claire Fraser (Caitriona Balfe) and her father Jamie (Sam Heughan), she encountered the infamous Stephen Bonnet (Ed Speelers).
Bonnet had stolen Claire’s wedding ring early in season four, and seeing that she had it, Brianna wanted to make a deal to get it back. Unfortunately, Bonnet is not the type of man who easily gives up on things and attacked Brianna before throwing the jewelry at her.
As she sexually abused Brianna in a North Carolina pub room, the innkeepers in the next room could hear her screams of pain, but no one stepped in to help her.
Talking about the scene and why Brianna’s rape was not shown on screen, Sophie said that she felt it was a “shame” not to see her character’s reaction, but understood that it was a different way of portraying sexual assault in the screen.
The actress revealed how she investigated sexual assaults and the responses that victims often have. She explained:
“Many times people talk about sexual assault and abuse and things like that, people say ‘I would have done anything. I would have scratched her eyes and resisted. It’s not always about your physical strength. ”
For Brianna, I did a lot of research and discovered something called Tonic Immobility, which is essentially a fight or flight response, but one step further.
“It’s as if an animal plays dead, as if your body is attacking you completely and your brain makes the executive decision to shut down your body effectively. So when the attack happens, you turn off completely and you don’t feel anything. ”
Speaking about how this affected her performance as Brianna, she told Gold Derby:
“In that way, I thought it was a shame because she’s really fighting and then the way we filmed it, Bonnet threatens to kill Brianna in that moment and it’s like Brianna’s body completely freezes over.”
The actress confessed that during the scene she had a moment in which her head leans to the side, her eyes get glassy and that is when we can see that Brianna is no longer in the room, in that way she explained that it is only when Brianna begins to get up we can notice that his body is shaking, so his nerves recover beginning to process what happened.
Also, Sophie added that it was a “shame” not to show it, but continued: “What the producers decided to do in terms of being heard and not seen was really good and tragically moving.”
Outlander seasons 1-5 are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.