is a dark rom-com laced with supernatural elements and references to Mary Shelley’s classic tale.
- The film stars Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton, both well-known actors in mainstream movies and TV shows.
- Director Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams, brings a unique vision to the film, creating a morbid and absurd high-school story set in 1989.
No, this isn’t a feel-good Hallmark movie in honor of Valentine’s Day. Sure, the timing is accurate, but this is Oscar-winner Diablo Cody’s deliciously dark stab (no pun intended) at a rom-com laced with Mary Shelley’s classic tale. We’ve watched Cole Sprouse grow up in front of the camera, dating back to his breakout role in Big Daddy alongside Adam Sandler — a movie that has a funny little connection with Focus Features’ Lisa Frankenstein, hitting theaters this week. Meanwhile, rising star Kathryn Newton has been all over mainstream movies in recent years, including a Marvel installment, so seeing the young pair in action with a morbid tale set in 1989 is fun.
In the directorial debut for Zelda Williams, daughter of the late, great Robin Williams, Newton plays a shy high-schooler named Lisa Swallows (yes, that’s her name), who hates her home life and social life — that is until some supernatural phenomena lead to her meeting what could quite possibly become the love of her life. No spoilers here, but we recently caught up with Newton and Sprouse in a paired interview in Los Angeles to learn more about their hilarious new rom-com, what it’s been like in Hollywood now that the strikes are over, and director Williams’ unique vision for Lisa Frankenstein.
‘I Want to Play a Monster’
Why does Big Daddy come to mind when thinking about Sprouse’s latest film? Well, fans of Sandler’s classic might remember Sprouse’s character Julian’s fascination with a certain terrifying name. “The internet pointed it out to me,” Sprouse told MovieWeb. “In Big Daddy, they asked me what I want to name myself, and I choose Frankenstein, or “Fwankenstein,” I couldn’t say my R’s. I had to have a speech coach come in and teach me how to say my R’s.”
Flash forward nearly 25 years, and Sprouse is all grown up and starring in yet another entertaining movie, which had its fair share of perks for the actor. “It was a lot of fun. I got to work with a bunch of friends,” he said. “We got to shoot in one of my favorite cities. We got to eat a lot of good food… And if you had asked me what kind of role I wanted at six years old, I would have said, ‘I want to play a monster.’ And this feels like me going, ‘Hey kid, you did it.'”
Meanwhile, anyone who’s seen co-star Kathryn Newton’s performance in Freaky (2020) knows that she’s been around the block when it comes to edgy high-school content. “In Freaky, I didn’t have many lines. My character, The Butcher, has a similar vibe but with no words till the end. You don’t even realize that,” Newton told us. “Not having to memorize lines takes the pressure off. It’s definitely a tool that you have to keep up with. I bet [my co-star Cole] is a pro at memorizing from all the years of Riverdale.”
And just to one-up that notion, Sprouse here replied, “And we got our scripts the night before…”
“It’s like a muscle, and you figure it out. I did something recently, and I had one scene, and I had to talk the most. And I can’t tell you how many times I messed it up. Like, I forgot how to memorize lines. It’s been so long since we’ve been allowed to be on set.”
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Lisa Frankenstein Is ‘Something Absurd’
And on that note, both Newton and Sprouse seem thrilled to be back on the Hollywood scene now that last year’s writer and actor strikes are over. “You go a little crazy. At least now, I have someone to laugh with,” she said in reference to doing the Lisa Frankenstein press junket alongside co-star Sprouse.
It’s probably even more aggravating for them after shooting a movie like this, a production process that they had nothing but positive things to speak about. “It’s nice when you like the people you work with,” Sprouse noted.
Going back to Kathryn Newton’s earlier film, the big difference between Lisa Frankenstein and Freaky is that Newton has a plethora of hysterical one-liners in her latest feature — lines that would be cruel to spoil here — even if she is barely audible during her delivery most of the time. As mentioned earlier, her anti-hero character, Lisa, is a bit reserved and even bullied at school (and at home by her evil mother-in-law, played to perfection by veteran Carla Gugino). Newton explained:
What made me want to do this was [director] Zelda said, ‘I’m sick of seeing the same
high school movie
. I want to do something absurd. And I said, ‘Cool, me too.’ So it was definitely that.
Absurd it is, and fun, too. From Focus Features, Lisa Frankenstein hits theaters on Friday, Feb. 9. Check out the trailer below: