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A Star is Born and Her Name is Katherine Waterston

12/25/2014 09:00 EST | Updated 02/24/2015 05:59 EST

When it comes to the world of entertainment, we are a society that loves to discover that new talent. That new star. The new IT. That someone who at first glance on that screen, you feel that wow.

Recently, we had the fortune to host a private screening for Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Inherent Vice, which opens in select markets on December 25, and will have a wider release on January 9.

We were honoured to meet one of its cast members Katherine Waterston who is clearly experiencing her "overnight" success moment playing Shasta Fay Hepworth.

All who attended were taken by this break out star -- on screen and in person.

Now, we all know Mr. Anderson as the visionary storyteller who brought us compelling pictures such as Boogie Nights, There Will be Blood, The Master & Magnolia, to name a few. His latest outing has everything you wish for. The characters, the environment, the writing. It truly will transport you to another world.

As for Ms. Waterston, her grace, focus, and composure on screen are something many major film critics have pointed out. But what we also saw live & in person was someone that was clearly genuine, humble, and incredibly committed to her craft.

As with most overnight successes, hers is one that has been years in the making. Her father just happens to be Sam Waterston, an acting veteran who we love in Law & Order and most recently in HBO's The Newsroom. Even with that, there were no short cuts taken by her. An NYU graduate, followed by years of many stage & lower profile film & TV roles, seems to have prepared her for this break, or what we found out was fate perhaps.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Waterston to chat about what makes her tick & what it was like to work on this film.

How did she get the role?

Apparently she was up for a role in The Master first, and that went away. Mr. Anderson was flipping through some channels one day and saw her in some cable movie, and called his casting director to find her. When Inherent Vice came along, she was asked to put herself on tape without reading the script. She read the scene cold. This made an impression which led to a trip out to LA to stay with Mr. Anderson for two days. The experience was mostly hanging out, doing regular day to day things, but did include reading through the scenes. In the end, he texted her to tell her she got the part with a sensibility he always saw her as Shasta.

So what was it like to work with Mr. Anderson and what was the vibe on set?

Ms. Waterston was very clear that the environment was something she never experienced before. The mood & tone Mr. Anderson created. He brought everyone into this world that was so detailed. His crew, many of which he has been working with throughout his career, were so committed to every take. Everyone was as excited as the cast, even the boom operator. There was a trust, shorthand and openness. They were immersed in it, including most calling her by her character name Shasta.

And working with Joaquin Phoenix?

For Ms. Waterston, it was Mr. Phoenix's playfulness and generosity that she loved. He was a wild and open performer.

It seemed that everything was so natural, it felt unscripted. Was it?

Interestingly, there was rarely rehearsal but an atmosphere where permission to play was always present. And the crew was so good, if the cast chose to do something differently on a take, they would catch it. There were some happy accidents which led to some impulsive reactions that made it in the final cut.

The infamous monologue scene between her and Mr. Phoenix. That was epic. How many takes did they do?

Only a few.

Favourite food on set?

Apparently, it was Red Vines. Mr. Anderson loves this west coast take on Twizzlers.

This film is about so many things. How would she describe it?

Ms. Waterston is someone who doesn't watch trailers, and feels that her personal opinion about a film, this one included, is something she does not want to impart on others. She did say that Mr. Anderson does not shortchange his audiences and gives them so much to consider. This film is no different.

Rumour has it that she doesn't have a mirror in her bathroom over the sink at home. True?

Ms. Waterston highly recommends it, as for her, it makes mornings better.

As she left the gathering, the group felt we witnessed something special. A "do you remember that night when we met" kind of moment. She did not leave empty handed. A journal book, a pen, and mug were clutched in her hand -- a gift from us.

She said she was broke and she was going to hawk them. Something tells us she will work again very soon, and often. And it will be a pleasure to see.

Was our gut right? Earlier this week, Ms. Waterston was just cast as Steve Job's long term girlfriend in an upcoming bio pic penned by famed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Reviews have been very strong for Inherent Vice. Read one here.

Selected screening details here.