Thursday 14th Apr 2016
Katherine Waterston on what it’s like working with beasts and David Yates.
Katherine will roll her eyes when she reads this. She’ll say I’m being kind. She might even blush.
But you have to know how perfectly she inhabits the character of Tina Goldstein. Everything she does – how she walks, the deft swish of her wand, the way strands of her dark brown bob escape from under her sensible hat – is just right. It’s enchanting.
Director David Yates saw that in Katherine straight away.
‘We were standing in the pouring rain with David Yates and I asked him about the casting process,’ I tell Katherine, wondering if she knows. ‘David said he got Eddie Redmayne to read with so many actresses but he knew immediately that you were Tina. That you had such perfect chemistry and it had to be you.’
‘Oh! Oh, really?’ she says, genuinely incredulous and in her soft American accent. ‘That’s too nice. I bet he was like, “Don’t tell her that, it’ll go to her head!” Oh, he’s such a dear man. He brings so much joy to the set, but the real thing that trickles down from the top is his faith in this process because he’s been in this world before.’
David knows his way around J.K. Rowling’s imagination, of course. He directed the final four Harry Potter films. Even though Katherine’s playing a character from a very different era, David’s intuition has really helped her feel at ease in a magical universe.
‘Usually on a movie, you’re going into new territory together and you’re like, “Is there quicksand around the corner, are there going to be wolves attacking?” Whereas David’s been here before so he’s just like, “You’re going to take a left here and avoid the quicksand.”
‘He has a shorthand and a comfort with the world. He’s not precious with it, he understands what it needs and what it doesn’t need and there’s something really comforting in that.’
Especially when you’re filming with beasts you can’t see (yet): ‘When we’re incorporating things that aren’t actually there, to look at David and know he can see the world is... everything,’ says Katherine, with a gesture that implies invisible things could be right here in her trailer with us now.
‘It’s sort of like when your parents read you a book when you’re a kid; if they read it with passion and curiosity, you can see the whole world.’
What’s her take on that world, I ask – what’s it like, walking around in J.K. Rowling’s imagination?
‘Ah, this movie. It’s so clever and it’s rooted in truth. It’s got light, funny elements and then much darker, more adult elements. I normally don’t respond so well to innocent lovely things, I think, “Come on, let’s get on with it.” But there’s something about this script and the way J.K. Rowling writes; it’s tender without being saccharine. It never lingers on the sweet parts but maybe that’s a slightly English thing: “Oh I felt something – moving on!” No, really, it’s a beautiful film. It’ll kill me to finish filming it.’