Katherine Waterston on Acting and “The World to Come”

Now that filming on Fantastic Beasts 3 has resumed, Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein) may soon be returning to the wizarding world. But before she returns to the magic of the early 20th century, she has been reliving her time in 19th-century America at the premiere of The World to Come.

In an interview with Vogue during her preparations for the Venice Film Festival red carpet, Waterston shared her amazement at the response to her latest feature film.

To have our film met with a response we would not have dared to dream for was gobsmacking and extraordinary.

But it wasn’t just the reaction to the movie that left her feeling a sense of wonder. This year, the Venice Film Festival premiered almost an equal number of films by men and women, something that felt very prevalent to Waterston, who, in the role of Abigail, takes center stage in a story about the lives of women:

To be at a festival that, this year, has achieved what no festival has before—almost an equal percentage of films by women and men—and representing a film that tells the story of a woman whose self-education is her only escape from the limitations and isolation of her circumstances, it felt incredible and incredibly fitting to wear looks from the recent collections of what is often referred to as ‘the thinking woman’s brand.’

My character Abigail in The World [t]o Come has a predetermined, limited life—since playing her, I’ve felt I can no longer turn a blind eye to the obvious fact that I am immensely privileged simply to have the option to imagine a future for myself.

Of course, the Venice Film Festival also served as Waterston’s first major film industry event after months of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the podcast Back to One, Waterston revealed that the period in lockdown has made her reflect on her love for working with others.

This time makes it very clear: You can’t do it at home on your own. We rely on each other to make these things happen. I’m feeling very appreciative of my collaborators right now.

Collaboration is a theme that surfaced throughout the interview with Back to One. Waterston loves working with other people and in particular, those who challenge her approach to acting, especially when someone’s method is so different from her own. 

Waterston likes to know her characters inside out, preferring to have time with a script to fully understand the role and doing as many takes as necessary to feel as though she has got to the core of the scene. 

It’s probably a kind of sense of permission. I can be the authority on this character. I’ve done time with her, I know what she’s about, I’m going to take her from the director or the writer. She’s mine now. I think that that feeling then liberates me when it comes to actually shooting the scenes.

Not all directors work in this way, however, and for Waterston, part of her love for acting comes from the opportunity to work with different people with different approaches. 

Then it gets really exciting. One director likes to do 4,000 takes, one director likes to do two. How do I learn from this? How do I work with this?

I like doing loads of different takes. I could do takes until the cows come home. I could go way down the rabbit hole […] But I loved working with Ridley [Scott], and you’re lucky if you get two takes. I guess that’s a really long way round of saying I just really love working with people and they’re all different and that’s part of the pleasure.

You can check out a clip of The World to Come below. Waterston can currently be seen in HBO’s The Third Day with her Fantastic Beasts costar, Jude Law. The series will feature a 12-hour streamed event, which will take place on October 3.



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Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!