Why Katherine Waterston Is the Perfect Tina Goldstein
“A lot of actors say, the worst thing that can be written is just their names in parentheticals and no adjectives, there was nothing worth writing about.” That is how Katherine Waterston felt about reviews concerning her role of Tina Goldstein in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie. Even those who became fans of Katherine because of her portrayal of Tina recognized it. There was either nothing written, or the words like plain, boring, or nothing of note were used. I would go as far as to say that the first time I saw the movie, the feeling I had was that something was off. She didn’t vibe like the other three main characters. This made me pay more attention and subsequently become a fan of the actor and the character.
So why is Katherine as Tina overlooked? Why didn’t she spark like the other three did? Because that wasn’t the intent for Tina. Compared to Queenie, Tina is meant to be less outgoing, less spunky, less fun. On a shallow level, Tina is serious, dedicated to her work, and practical. She had to grow up quickly after their parents died to provide for Queenie and herself.
Mona Fastvold (director of The World to Come, another movie Katherine stars in) put it right when she talked about Katherine’s subtlety, “Katherine is a performer that makes you lean in, she’s not someone who jumps out at you” – and that is exactly what Tina needed. We love Jacob because we explore the world with him, much like we did with Harry. Tina, on the other hand, already knows that world. When talking about using a wand every day, Katherine said, “Just think of it as if you are opening the cupboard […] You do it 30,000 times, you don’t think about it that much” – this is exactly what the wizarding world is for Tina: her everyday job. I actually tend to forget that Tina is a witch because Katherine plays her in a way that shows Tina has known all her life that she is a witch. Nothing can really shock or surprise her anymore as it did with Harry or Jacob. Even Newt is amazed by MACUSA while Tina is just doing what she does every day – namely, walk in there.
The first time we see Tina showing excitement is when she witnesses Newt with the Occamy. That is new to her, and she is blown away. Eighty minutes into the movie, she gets a happy reaction. Before that, it is all chaos, bad, and just not a good day for her. That is if you don’t pay extra attention to her. There are a few moments in the background that you will see other sides to Tina. A sneaky one, when she quickly licks some soup off her finger while Queenie prepares dinner. Giggly, when Newt tells her Dougal’s name. Soft, when Queenie says they have each other. Proud, when she tells Newt about all the criminals in the speakeasy, she has arrested. Giddy with excitement, when she has a little hop in her step as she walks away from the ship. But the most important one is caring. I have seen people writing that she isn’t loyal to Newt or doesn’t care for his beasts. Okay, but seriously, they just met, and he didn’t make a great first impression by breaking the law. Tina is not just an Auror for the sake of it or because she likes arresting people. She cares about her community’s safety and, therefore, about the laws.
We miss a lot of her moments because Katherine does indeed perform very subtly. Furthermore, Tina is Katherine’s quietest character. It went so far that Katherine danced the Charleston in between takes, just so to get some joy. “I made up that story in my head, that every now and then, Tina just cut into a speakeasy and ripped it up and then got back to being very serious,” Katherine explained.
I can totally imagine Tina doing that, but what we see of Tina in the movies is her being the last person who would say, “Look at me! Here I am!” In fact, the complete opposite is the case. She wants to be unnoticed when we first meet her. Due to her job as an Auror, of course, but mainly because that is just how Tina is. If she could, she would probably wear an Invisibility Cloak. She is intended to be unseen by the writer, director, and the actress, because that is what Tina wants – do not look at her. But probably no one meant that to happen when it came to the audience, and yet it happened. Even when Katherine got to choose the wand for Tina, she went with the most plain-Jane wand on purpose, not thinking about the sales; she just felt it was the one most suited for Tina: “Since the wand chooses you if she got a wand that wasn’t that special looking it might just kinda add to that doubt that she will never really achieve her greatness, but then also sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover, and so maybe a simple wand might have a lot of power. So I just liked all of that.” Katherine understands Tina so well, and that’s why it was the perfect match.