Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse call 'Lisa Frankenstein' a campy, quirky date movie

Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton star in "Lisa Frankenstein," opening Friday in theaters. Photo courtesy of Focus Features
1 of 5 | Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton star in "Lisa Frankenstein," opening Friday in theaters. Photo courtesy of Focus Features

NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Kathryn Newton says her latest movie, Lisa Frankenstein, is a great date movie that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Set to open in theaters Friday, the horror-comedy was directed by Zelda Williams and written by Jennifer's Body and Juno scribe Diablo Cody.


The film kicks off in 1989 with Newton playing the title character, an ordinary teen in love with the idea of the mysterious man (played by Cole Sprouse) buried behind her family's home since 1837.

Lisa's life is turned upside down, however, when a series of unlikely events reanimate the guy's corpse and he unexpectedly comes a-courting.

"For me, it definitely started on the page with Diablo Cody. She is such a wordsmith and I feel like it's poetry. There is a lot of rhythm in the scenes," Newton (Big Little Lies, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) told UPI in a recent Zoom interview about why she was drawn to the project.


"I didn't want to let go of that, trying to play into the humanity of the character," she said. "You have to balance trying to fit the tone with trying to be real."

Lisa has a lot on her plate. The character is not just navigating an impossible romance here, but she also is mourning the violent death of her mother, too-fast remarriage of her father to a horrible woman and the well-meaning interference of a sweet, but overwhelming, step-sister.

"It's a story about grief first and a girl who is dealing with something and feels like no one can hear her," Newton said. "I think the other thing that is going to resonate with people is just how crazy it is. It's so fun to watch a movie that is absurd and nothing like real life."

Fans of 1980s and '90s movies may recognize glimmers of Heathers, Death Becomes Her, Desperately Seeking Susan, Encino Man, Pride & Prejudice and Pretty in Pink, in addition to classic creature features from the 1940s and '50s such as Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Creature of the Black Lagoon.


"We all love movies like this," the 26-year-old said. "They aren't like everything we see everyday. They take us somewhere else."

The actress said she was grateful to have a team that made her feel free and safe while she was navigating the comedy, drama and action that came with playing Lisa.

"It took me time to think I could do it and come up with a recipe to make it happen and, thank goodness, I had Cole Sprouse by my side to listen to me say these words," Newton said.

Williams -- daughter of the late comedian and Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams -- also was hugely supportive of the stars of her feature-film directorial debut, according to Newton.

"Zelda helped create the character from the ground up. It was the first time I had a dialogue with a director, probably because Diablo wrote a character that demanded so much of a conversation," Newton said.

"It was a lot of asking Zelda what she thought to validate what I thought of the character. She believed in me and she let me fly and I had way too much fun on this movie."

Sprouse (Riverdale and Suite Life of Zack & Cody) gives a comical and mostly silent performance as a rotting, un-dead, man-out-of-time with no clue about what's going on, but who knows he likes Lisa a lot.


"Zelda sent me some references and we went back and forth and I pitched some stuff and then, one night, we were joking around about how maybe I should do some mime training. Then we weren't joking around, and we were serious about mime training," Sprouse said.

"Then, we did mime training for two or three months -- that really helped me," he added. "And, honestly, just sitting in the makeup chair and putting all the prosthetics on really helps you get in the head-space. You really just settle in."

The actor said he understood his role as Creature is to serve Lisa.

"He had this kind of gentlemanly etiquette and that was sort of his purpose," Sprouse said.

The 31-year-old said he thinks people will enjoy the movie because it doesn't take itself too seriously.

"It's camp, which kind of invites people into an inside joke, if they are willing to be a part of it," he said.

"It's a very visually fun movie," Sprouse added. "It's going to live really well in image sets online, on social media. I think people are going to be excited to have something that isn't ooey-gooey romantic on Valentine's Day -- that feels fun and quirky and you can go and cut loose."


Newton said the movie doesn't put pressure on viewers to live up to the relationship they see on the screen because it is so bizarre.

"It's a good date movie," she added. "You don't have to feel romantic. You'll get a cool, funny, weird movie out of it, too."

The film co-stars Carla Gugino, Liza Soberano, Joe Chrest and Henry Eikenberry.

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