• Interviews

HFPA in Conversation: Katherine Waterston Tells an Intimate Love Story

Words matter to actress Katherine Waterston. She analyzes and thinks through her lines, especially in her latest movie The World to Come. The film is based on Jim Shepard’s book and tells of a love story between two women in Schoharie County, New York, in 1856. The film won the Queer Lion award for the best LGBTQ-themed film at the Venice International Film festival.

Waterston tells HFPA journalist Ting Ting Xu what impressed her in the script initially. “What I saw on the first page was a line of voiceover that didn’t end up in the film and the line was, at night I often wonder if those who have been my intimates have found me to be a steep hill whose view does not repay the ascent.”

It was clear to Waterston that her character, Abigail, was a very particular woman. “It suggested that the writers had given this woman a great deal of thought, which you know is sometimes hard to come by when you read scripts. So that struck me right away.”

As she read on she started to understand Abigail, who had just lost her child. “She was leading a rather grueling sort of hardscrabble hand-to-mouth kind of life, leading a life that was not of her choosing. She was married to the oldest boy of the family on a neighboring farm, which is a sort of polite way of saying that she was in an arranged marriage.”

Abigail kept up at night wondering how she’s disappointed others. “I found it incredibly moving. Especially as I learned she was a person who had such an original life, who did have dreams and desires that extended beyond the three-mile radius of her farm, with a hunger for the world beyond her farm, was still kept up at night not wishing for what she hadn’t gotten but worried about what she hadn’t given.”

Waterston was also taken about how intimate the story felt. “It really felt like the writers, Ron Hansen and Jim Shepard, had achieved something I don’t see a lot in cinema but we all experience when we read great novels, which is that you feel inside someone’s mind.”

Listen to the podcast and hear how her experience as a mother enriched her perception of Abigail; how was the preparation for intimate scenes with Vanessa Kirby and how was it working with director Mona Fastvold; what kind of research she did of LQBTQ community in the 19th century; how she benefitted that her dad is in the film business; how she felt during her early years in Los Angeles; what kind of memories she has from filming Inherent ViceFantastic Beasts