Opening in theaters on February 9th is the new horror comedy ‘Lisa Frankenstein,’ which was written by Oscar-winner Diablo Cody (‘Juno’), directed by Zelda Williams (‘Shrimp’), and stars Kathryn Newton (‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’).
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with director Zelda Williams and screenwriter Diablo Cody about their work on ‘Lisa Frankenstein,’ developing the screenplay, the themes Williams wanted to explore as a filmmaker, casting Kathryn Newton, and their experience working together on the project.
Moviefone: To begin with, Diablo, can you talk about developing the screenplay and is it true that you took inspiration from 80’s movies like ‘Weird Science’?
Diablo Cody: That is right. I had always been interested in the Frankenstein myth and particularly the idea of telling it from a female perspective of sort of creating the perfect guy. ‘Weird Science’ had a real impact on me as a child because of the idea of these two guys sitting and creating the perfect woman. I remember thinking to myself, “What does the other side of that look like?” So, I wrote this. I had always had the seed of this movie germinating inside of me. But then when the pandemic hit in 2020, I desperately needed to escape, as did many of us. So, at night, I would dive into the script and get to be in that world, and it was a nice escape for me.
MF: Zelda, what was your first reaction to Diablo’s screenplay and what were some of the themes you were excited to explore as a filmmaker?
Zelda Williams: I mean, surprise and joy. Because also the reason I got the script, they had completely buried the lead that it was from her. So, I got this, I opened my email, and I was like, “Diablo Cody, what on Earth?” and opened it. I read it so fast and responded to her so quickly. I think I was most excited about the tonal mashup with the violence, the camp and love being this central theme to it. It was so nice to see all of that together. Whereas usually I would be very much into that, even alone. But all of them in one script is a rare and wonderful delicacy.
MF: Can you talk about casting Kathryn Newton and what it was like to collaborate with her on this project?
ZW: Oh, I was so excited when she came along. I’d seen ‘Freaky,’ but I hadn’t seen ‘The Map of Tiny Perfect Things.’ Then I watched that, and I just found this incredible depth of character but also willingness. She’s so fearless, and comedy does really require that. It requires you to be willing to look silly and to do ridiculous things. I’ve never met someone, especially in her age range, that at that time was so excited to be that way. She tackled it 110% every single day.
MF: Diablo, what was your experience like working with Zelda on this movie?
DC: It’s the best. I mean, Zelda’s the best. I have been impressed with her since the day I met her. I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have a lot of great collaborations with great directors, but this is up there. So, I feel really just fortunate and I’m glad that I entrusted my baby to her.
MF: Finally, to follow up on something you just said, does it feel like you’re handing your baby over to someone else to parent when you give your script to another filmmaker to direct?
DC: Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like. Jonathan Demme once said to me, we were talking about the movie (‘Ricki and the Flash’) we were making, and he kept saying, “We literally are like parents where all we talk about is the baby.” I said, “Yup, that’s what it is, and it’s pretty great.”
What is the Plot of ‘Lisa Frankenstein’?
In 1989, a misunderstood teenage goth girl named Lisa Swallows (Kathryn Newton) reanimates a handsome corpse (Cole Sprouse) from the Victorian era during a lightning storm and starts to rebuild him into the man of her dreams by using a broken tanning machine in her garage. After going through a playfully horrific transformation, the romantic duo embarks on a murderous journey to find true love, happiness, and a few missing body parts along the way.