Ahead of the release of the brilliant Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them on DVD and Blu-ray, and following the film’s release on digital, we’ve got our hands on a brilliant new interview with Katherine Waterston who plays Tina Goldstein in the movie. Speaking about being a part of the Potter universe, her character Tina and more, Katherine delves deeply into her role and what went into making the first movie of the new Potter series…
How did you react when you found out you’d been cast as Tina Goldstein and would be part of a whole new era of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World?
I was thrilled to get the job. First and foremost, I loved the character so much and had such a good time exploring her in the auditions. You can get a little attached in that process, so it sometimes feels a bit like a heartbreak or a breakup when you don’t get the job because you don’t get to spend any more time with that character [laughs]. I was so fixated on getting to play this character and just loved her so much that, honestly, the size of this film and what it means to so many people didn’t really enter my mind initially.
Then, it slowly dawned on me that I had been invited into this massive pre-existing entity, which was quite an overwhelming realization. My first memory of the Harry Potter series was my little brother just falling into those books and not resurfacing until he was done. That J.K. Rowling got an entire generation reading is extraordinary – I'm amazed, thrilled, and proud to now be portraying one of that phenomenal writer's characters.
What was your little brother’s reaction when he found out you’d be doing this film?
My whole family is so thrilled for this stroke of good luck. I just worked with Ridley Scott on the new Alien film, and there was this great actress in the cast, Tess Haubrich, who was 11 when Harry Potter was 11. When she found out that I was doing this movie, she came to me and I almost didn’t recognize her. She was blushing, and giggling out of control [laughs] – I had never seen her behave like that— it was like meeting a whole new person. People like her – who grew up with this world – are the most amazing fans, and I’m excited that we’re giving them a new, more mature chapter. Although, the kids, I’m certain, will really enjoy it, too.
I think this film is going to offer so many surprises, treats, and new elements for people who are already fans of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, but, for anyone who, somehow, could be alive now and not be familiar with the Harry Potter films, our film can stand alone and won’t leave a newcomer’s headspinning with references they don’t know!
When you were finding your way into the character, how much of Tina came to you intuitively and what aspects did you have to dig a little deeper to find?
To me, it all feels intuitive. Obviously, there are clues in the script and you search for them and use them as best you can. But I think connecting to a character is like connecting to any human being – either you like them or you don’t. You might not be able to list the reasons why you love your best friend, or what attracted you to them; it’s just something that you feel – a connection, an understanding, or a curiosity that makes you want to get to know them. With Tina, it was her internal struggle that caught my attention.
She seemed to totally doubt herself and to suspect that she wasn’t good enough and, yet, simultaneously, she possessed a confidence, a conviction that she could be great. She’s on a confidence rollercoaster— when she fails at something, it confirms the worst suspicions she has about herself, and when she succeeds at something, it confirms the greatest hopes she has for herself. I just found that quality – that seesawing between insecurity and confidence – really beautiful, and a condition, I think, that any human being can relate to it.
What’s it like then for her to interact with Colin Farrell’s character, Percival Graves, who is a much higher-ranking figure at MACUSA [the Magical Congress of the United States of America], where she works?
Graves has the job that Tina, in her wildest dreams, hopes to have one day. He’s respected at work, successful, has authority, skill, and confidence – Tina admires him, she’s in awe of him, maybe even has a little crush on him.
Tina’s first encounter with Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, puts them somewhat at odds with each other, but what do you think it is that draws them together as the story unfolds?
They start to recognize that they’re both outsiders and both a little bit odd, I suppose, and I love that. It’s really tough to be weird until you find other weirdos [laughs]. I think that is beautifully woven into the story from the moment that they notice each other. In many ways, they’re both just starting to become the people they will be; they’re kind of dipping their toe in.
Something I think is interesting about the film is that it’s a coming-of-age story about adults. Even though Newt, Tina, Queen, and Jacob are technically all adults, in their own individual ways they are each a bit stunted, but as they come together – maybe even because they come together – they, finally, begin to ‘come into their own.’
How about Tina’s relationship with her sister, Queenie, played by Alison Sudol?
Really, until these men come into their lives, Tina and Queenie are everything to one another— sisters, best friends, parental figures. They were forced, I think especially Tina, to grow up quickly because they lost their parents young, but despite that painful fate their dynamic is very youthful and sweet. As the older sister, Tina definitely feels Queenie is her responsibility and is very protective of her. Of course, Queenie, being a legilimens, can see that Tina is, beneath the surface, very vulnerable and in need of protection, too.
What was it like working with Eddie, Alison and Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob Kowalski – the No-Mag [the American term for Muggle] of the group – as the four of you went on this adventure together as actors?
Most of my scenes were with Eddie, and he’s just a dream. He works so hard, and is so imaginative, intelligent, and generous. He's just got all the things one hopes to find in a scene partner. In order to feel free to mess up, play, and try things you need a partner you can trust and I definitely found that sense of security working with Eddie.
Then, when the four of us got together, it was really refreshing! Everybody brings a unique energy and does such smart, detailed character work. So it was just really fun to be thrown together and see what would happen. It’s always great to work with people you know you can play off and with.
How did you find working with director David Yates, and what kind of balance do you think he brings to the movie in terms of the character work and the immense practical demands of orchestrating a production on this scale?
David has such a deep understanding of this world because he’s made four Harry Potter films before this one. Being around him is similar to being around Jo [J.K. Rowling]. Their suspension of disbelief is so committed you get the feeling that they’re right on the edge of believing that this world is real. They’ve explored so much of it and both have such a strong understanding of it that when you’re around them, that depth of knowledge kind of influences you, rubs off on you, does half the job for you.
Obviously, as an actor, you have to embrace your imagination all the time, but when you’re doing one of these films you have to embrace your most childlike imagination— a sense of wonder and uninhibited playfulness. David invited us in to this world so beautifully and really set the tone on set.
It’s so convincing and delightful the way that David talks about the magical creatures in the film. He speaks about them so casually. ‘An actor will walk in the door’ or ‘A beast will walk in the room’ – it’s all the same to him! When you’re working with CGI, it really makes a difference if the person at the helm can visualize and believe in all of the things and creatures around you that aren’t necessarily physically in front of you on the day.
And Eddie did such great work on Newt’s relationship with all the beasts! All that physical stuff – the mating calls, the way Newt communicates with them, the way they needed to be handled – Eddie came up with all of that, and, in a sense, he really introduces each of the animals to the audience. I found everything he did to be really smart and also just totally charming.
Do you have a favorite beast?
Pickett. Of course, they’re all so amazing but yeah, Pickett’s my guy.
David assembled an award-winning creative team for this film, many of whom collaborated with him on Harry Potter. What was it like working on the amazing sets created by production designer Stuart Craig and his art department?
Stuart and his team are incredible. You walk around these environments and it’s extraordinary, the scale as well as the fine detail. There was a scene in the attic of a department store, and there were these shelves stacked high with cases and crates of all sorts of extra stock, housewares, fabrics, toys, etc and, on the side of each shelf, everything had been itemized – all the inventory! You’d pick up a spoon and it’d have a price tag on it. Most of those details won’t even make it into the film but it all, I think, contributes to the texture and mood of the environment.
Can you talk about working with costume designer Colleen Atwood on Tina’s wardrobe in the film. Did that process help inform the character for you?
Absolutely. It was a dream to work with Colleen. She doesn’t just put you in clothes that fit well or look good; she really understands character. It’s detailed, smart work, and I loved everything that she made.
What’s so great about Colleen is that she’s a real collaborator. She comes in with her ideas, and I come in with mine, and we find our way together. I really wanted Tina to wear trousers. That was my idea and something that seemed right to me – that Tina didn’t have much time for herself and, because she lost her parents suddenly, she was thrust into this parental role. I thought she maybe couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop, nor did she have the time, nor would she feel comfortable spending any money on herself. So, we started to build this concept together and then Colleen, obviously, developed the clothes.
The whole look, we thought, would be something she could’ve found in her parents’ wardrobes and thrown together herself. So the trousers are ill-fitting because they were her dad’s, and she has to take them in at the waist; but, when she takes them in at the waist, they go up too short in the leg. The shirts are her mother’s, so they’re sort of Victorian, rather than current to the period of the ‘20s. Even the shoes are men’s shoes because they belonged to her father. That was where all of that came from – this idea that she was trying to cobble together a look that would give her a responsible, effective aura [laughs].
Also, I do think she definitely has a little tomboy streak. She’s dressing for comfort – to be able to move freely around in the streets – and, also, a little to hide. All of these things we talked about, as well as, obviously, how to play her look in contrast to Queenie’s.
Looking back, do you have a favorite scene to play, or a moment during production that was particularly fun or memorable for you?
Two things. On one of our first days, we shot a scene just crossing the street into my apartment, and on that day, there was a Model T Ford that had crashed into a fire hydrant. It was just background but there was this whole storyline going. There was the mechanic there, and the guy whose car it was; smoke coming up off the car and the wheels that had been damaged when it hit the fire hydrant – I was so struck by all that detailed work.
There was somebody whose job it was to direct that whole thing, to plot it out, stage it, another to cast the driver, the mechanic, another to dress them – all the people it took to create this teeny little background subplot that might never even make it into the film. It’s just amazing to me. I thought, ‘My gosh! All these people around us are working so hard to make our jobs easier, really.’ Everywhere you look, 360 degrees, there’s real life happening and we get to use it if we need it. Maybe we don’t even look up; we just cross the street, look both ways for cars and go in the building, but there’s all this activity happening around us all the time.
It’s like being part of an orchestra, we are all in it together – the actors and, obviously, all the people off-camera who make this thing possible. It’s stunning, and yet no one even realizes. When I go to see a movie, I never think about all the people it took to make it. In a film like this, where you have thousands of extras, it might be a little easier to quantify, really, just how many people it takes and even if they’re just on for one day, for maybe three seconds of screen time, all of them make a difference.
Perhaps my favorite day on set was a scene with Tina and Newt on a dock. We were on location in an enormous hanger originally used to build zeppelins. It’s the biggest single storey building I’ve ever seen in my life, and had this incredible energy to it. We only shot a few takes of that scene, but that was one of my best memories. It was just one of those days that felt electric.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM IS OUT NOW ON DIGITAL DOWNLOAD AND ON 4K ULTRA HD, 3D, BLU-RAYTM AND DVD 27TH MARCH