Katherine Waterston, fresh-faced in baggy jeans, bounds across a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn. She has just finished a hectic week of photo shoots and makes it known she's dressed to chill. "Levi's from high school," she says. "I'm overly sentimental and don't throw things away." Today she has paired them with a cozy gray Jac + Jack sweater that she got working in Australia "because I didn't pack well." Underneath, she wears a burgundy T-shirt with "Houdini" printed across it, part of a Ron Herman Japan capsule collection. "I keep gravitating toward this shirt lately, and I think it's because I've been so busy that I'm desiring some kind of escape."
Or maybe it has something to do with magic. There's definitely a bit of that going on in Waterston's life. After spending July in London wrapping the hugely anticipated film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, she flew to Sydney for Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant. Next, she's off to Atlanta, where she'll shoot Steven Soderbergh's heist movie Logan Lucky as part of an ensemble cast. Somewhere in the midst of all this, she did an indie film in Toronto called State Like Sleep, which is ironic because she hasn't been getting much shut-eye. "All at once I'm thinking I'm so lucky and so exhausted," she says. "Interview me in 10 years, because it's more good fortune than I'm able to process right now."
Though Waterston, now 36, grew up in Hollywood (her father is acclaimed actor Sam Waterston) and has been acting since the early 2000s, she didn't break through until 2014's Inherent Vice, in which she plays the ex-girlfriend of a private investigator. "It's not like I was inundated with offers, but the scripts I was getting sent after this movie were really impressive," she says. "I love connecting with a character out of the blue, not knowing why."
VIDEO: Relive the 10 Most Fabulous Movie Makeovers
Asked about her beauty routines, Waterston champions the benefits of "a really hot washcloth," dancing alone in her apartment for exercise, and letting her hair run wild. Currently she's got a mop of short curls, a change from her dark, straight bob in Beasts. The look, which she chopped for her role in Alien, was inspired by Ian Curtis, frontman of the post-punk band Joy Division. "When I was preparing for the role, I was envisioning the character, and I kept seeing his hair in my head.... But in the end it doesn't look anything like Curtis's," she laughs, "which is a little disappointing."