In their drama and romance “The World to Come,” Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby’s characters have an instant onscreen connection. Off screen, the actresses themselves shared a similar immediate bond, even before they had formally met.
In an interview at TheWrap’s Sundance Studio presented by NFP and National Geographic, Waterston said she had seen Kirby from afar at a party and was both “incredibly intrigued” and “naturally captivated” by her as an actress and as a person. So she was relieved when Kirby took the co-lead role opposite her in “The World to Come.”
“It bodes well when you have that initial, instinctive response to someone. They will probably get along and will probably have a good time together,” Waterston said. “It took all the worry out of it, both Casey [Affleck] and Vanessa. When you know your scene partners are brilliant actors, it takes out all the stress going into a project. By the time I met Vanessa, I was so excited to work with her and felt ready to go rather than trepidation. I love her.”
Kirby responded, “I love you more,” and agreed that the film’s story allowed them to be vulnerable with one another on screen. A period drama set in the late 19th century, “The World to Come” is about two farmers’ wives (played by Kirby and Waterston) who slowly fall in love as they navigate their own marriages and their own personal grief and trauma.
“More than anything, it’s the most beautiful love story, and to think that the pain of meeting someone fleetingly in those times when geographically it might take you two hours to walk to them,” Kirby said. “And being a woman not being able to choose what to do with the minutes of your day. And you’re literally shackled to the home and your husband and the building that you live in. To me, it was this beautiful little poem of love.”
“It is a film so much about vulnerability and intimacy, and the male characters are not excluded from that or at all shortchanged by the writer,” Waterston added. “That was why I was so attracted to it — I got to play these two relationships. This isn’t simply a story of two women, ‘Oh, we have deadbeat husbands, let’s fall in love.’ The relationships are complex.”
Elsewhere in the conversation, Waterston playfully embarrassed her co-star by telling a story of how Kirby broke her ankle on the first day of shooting, to the point that her ankle was so swollen she couldn’t even get on the shoes of her costume.
“Sometimes you had to walk I don’t know how long. The crew literally wheelbarrowed me up a massive hill to get me to set, it was quite embarrassing. And down! I was so embarrassed. I was like, ‘I’m so sorry guys, I’m so sorry,'” Kirby recalled.
“They loved it, I think they felt very heroic,” Waterston joked. “‘I’ll carry you, darling.'”
Check out the full interview with the team of “The World to Come,” including Waterston, Kirby, director Mona Fastvold and star and producer Casey Affleck, above.
TheWrap’s Sundance Virtual Studio is sponsored by NFP and National Geographic.