Katherine Waterston: Fantastic Beasts is “tender without being saccharine”


Katherine Waterston is one of the stars of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. She praises the script and talks about her pre-scene rituals.

Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them, the successor to the Harry Potter franchise, comes out in a few weeks, and the leading cast members are teasing it up and down. For example, Katherine Waterston, who plays embattled Auror Porpentina (Tina) Goldstein, sat down with Pottermore while on the set of the movie and talked about her process, as well as the movie in general. “The script is clever,” she says. “It’s rooted in truth.”

"I normally don’t respond so well to innocent and lovely things. I think, “Come on, let’s get on with it.” But there’s something about this script and the way that J.K. Rowling writes it… It’s tender without being saccharine, ever."

That’s high praise, as the line between emotional and saccharine can be a difficult one to walk. Tina herself doesn’t seem to be a very saccharine character, at least not as Waterston describes her. “I like to think there’s this really joyous person in Tina,” she says, “but she hasn’t figured out how to get that out into the world yet.

"Her life hasn’t worked out like that. She doesn’t have the time for it, she hasn’t figured out how to bring it out yet – she’s too busy focusing on her dreams to enjoy life … That’s something I relate to. I was very focused on my work in my twenties. I didn’t go gallivanting too much. There’s something of that in Tina too. She knows what she wants to be doing and how to get there, but she doesn’t play much."

Everything we’ve seen so far indicates that Tina takes herself seriously, so this matches up. Waterston, however, has found a way to get at that “joyous person” who lives under Tina’s skin: before she shoots a scene, she does the Charleston, a flailing kind of dance that was in vogue in the 1920s. “[Tina] doesn’t get to have a lot of fun in her life,” Waterston said when explaining what’s behind the ritual. “In the movie she gets to have fun, but in her life she’s quite lonely and she isolates [herself] a lot and she struggles with self-doubt. I like the idea that she has this little dancer in her waiting to get out, she has this spirit in her.”

"That’s the great thing about J.K. Rowling’s characters. There’s always more to them than you expect. Tina’s not just bashful or awkward, and she also has a lot of courage and conviction. Those qualities are together in one person and that seems more true to my experience of what human beings are like. We’re all a jumbled mess."

I hear things like that and I’m intrigued to get to know Tina better. Also interesting was what Waterstone was wearing when she gave this interview. She was in costume, in what Pottermore calls “Tina Goldstein’s sensible trousers and a pyjama top.” What had she been filming? “The idea is that I have to run out of the house, straight from bed.”

Next: Check out Hot Topic's Fantastic Beasts-inspired clothing line

So we can look forward to some catastrophe rousing our heroes from their beds. Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them hits theaters on November 18.