Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. One of the main things I noticed about Katherine Waterston when she was on stage at the premiere to introduce Alien: Covenant with her fellow crew members was that she seemed a bit nervous. Then she came out with it: she's a wimp when it comes to scary movies and had some real anxiety about sitting in a dark theater and watching this film for the first time.
That stuck with me and was one of the first things I brought up when I got the chance to ask her a few questions at the junket a couple days later.
In this interview we talk about the rather interesting way Ridley Scott helped her get through her premiere anxiety, what was appealing to her about the character of Daniels and I get chided for asking a spoilery question (that I still don't think is all that much of a spoiler). Enjoy!
Quint: How are you doing?
Katherine Waterston: I'm great, how're you?
Katherine Waterston: It's nice to see some Americans here today.
Quint: And a Texan, no less!
Katherine Waterston: So, a real American! Where are you from in Texas?
Quint: Austin, so maybe not so much a real 'Merican. I'm sure the rest of Texas would love to kick us out. So, at the premiere you seemed a little nervous about actually watching the movie. You said you don't handle scary movies well, so how'd the experience go?
Katherine Waterston: You know, I handled it a little bit better than I thought I would. I was a little bit traumatized by some teaser footage that I'd seen before, but I think in a way I got myself so freaked out... Actually, I think this is the brilliance of Ridley Scott. He realizes our imaginations are so much more disturbing than anything you could ever see in front of you. I managed to steel myself to it and sat through the whole thing. I'm not sure I should admit this, but he did give me some Vodka, which helped. As the lights were dimming, he turned to me and said “Vodka.”
Quint: I don't want to insult you, but as a scaredy-cat about watching movies...
Katherine Waterston: No, that's fair. That's actually an appropriate nickname, given what my name is. Katherine.
Quint: The Alien series is famously one of the scariest franchises of all time, so did you have to psych yourself up for it once you got the part? I know making a movie is not the same as watching it, but emotionally you did have to take yourself into some dark and scary places.
Katherine Waterston: I'm a huge fan of the original Alien, I'm just a little wimpy. It's actually just that initial viewing that's always the scariest. It's always fun to rewatch a scary movie and observe it once you've gotten over the shocking moments, you know?
But yeah, it's not coal mining, but there is something exhausting about having to maintain a certain level of energy all day; a certain level of deranged anxiety. But one thing that really help all of us really keep that level of excitement up was Ridley's enthusiasm and gung-ho leadership side and also the speed at which he shoots. He keeps everyone on their toes and hustling along all the time. I think it would be more difficult if you were working with someone who takes three hours to change the lights around because then you'd dip down and have to come back up, but we'd just go from start of the day to the end. When I was in college I was a bartender and it was always so much more agonizing when there were only two people at the bar, but when the place was jammed, suddenly it'd be 4am and you felt like you've been working an hour. Days would end and we'd be like, “Really? It's already over?” That's all down to Ridley.
Quint: Daniels is a really interesting character because from the first moment that we meet her she's lost everything... When she wakes up everything she thought her life was going to be...
Katherine Waterston: (interrupting, in a long drawn out whisper) Spppoooooiilllleeerrrrssss.
Quint: Well, that's the first five minutes of the movie!
Katherine Waterston: I know, but just because it's at the beginning of the movie doesn't mean it's not a spoiler!
Quint: Okay, I get it.
Katherine Waterston: I don't know, I'm paranoid.
Quint: I think it's okay to say you start the movie at a low spot and that defines your character a little bit because she's fighting through stuff from the first moment we meet her.
Katherine Waterston: Definitely. I agree.
Quint: I think that's a smart bit of screenwriting. Is that something that helped solidify the character in your mind when you first read the script?
Katherine Waterston: Yeah and it was also something that really got me excited about the prospect of being a part of this film. They were continuing this franchise, but were telling this fresh new story within it in a way they hadn't done up until now. I thought it was really beautifully woven, the sort of internal and external struggles she's faced with.
Short, but sweet. Make sure to check out my other Alien: Covenant chats with Demian Bichir, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, Michael Fassbender and Ridley Scott!