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Lisa Frankenstein Stars Cole Sprouse and Kathryn Newton Talk the Power of "Winging It"
The leads of the black comedy/rom-com Lisa Frankenstein reveal how they made their magical chemistry.
How do you sell a romance between a depressed, '80s goth teen and a recently undead Byronic hero? If you're Lisa Frankenstein stars Kathryn Newton (Abigail) and Cole Sprouse (Riverdale), then you play out the untraditional love story of Lisa Swallow and The Creature as big and darkly comedic as possible.
Both Lisa and The Creature are misfits connected across time via some weird juju and well-timed lightning. After being dead for hundreds of years, he awakens in 1989 and finds the girl whose been pining away at his grave. Not exactly fit for public consumption, the pair are awkwardly perfect for one another, with her antisocial ways and his inability to control his long dead limbs or frozen vocal chords. As they dance around one another — literally and figuratively — throughout Lisa Frankenstein, it's like the universe calibrated both the actors and the characters to orbit one another perfectly, imperfectly.
With the film opening in theaters this weekend, SYFY WIRE spoke to both Newton and Sprouse about how they choreographed such an unlikely love story while working with first-time director Zelda Williams and screenwriter Diablo Cody.
How wigs and silent-era comedians inspired Lisa Frankenstein's Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse
Seemingly the work of much rehearsal, Newton said that was actually not the case with Lisa Frankenstein. "I wish there was a rehearsal process," she told us. "We had two days before filming, and it was so chaotic, because my wig wasn't there yet. I was like, 'We're not going to able to do this movie. I don't have my wig. I can't do anything without my wig!'"
Don't worry. The panic dispersed when her '80s hair wig finally arrived. But the indie was on a tight 24-day shoot in New Orleans, so prep for Lisa and The Creature was primarily done by the actors way before production.
In particular, Sprouse said he looked to the masters of silent comedy to craft the early lumbering movements of The Creature which wreak havoc on Lisa's family home (and backyard). "Honestly, I love a lot of the Buster Keaton stuff, and I have loved the Keaton stuff for a long time," the actor shared. "You build these ideal figureheads to try and match, and [he's] the greatest example."
Once The Creature appears at Lisa's abode, Sprouse gives a fully committed performance as a reanimated dead body trying to gain his faculties again. It's both gruesome and hilarious as The Creature slowly evolves through the film from full-on corpse to sorta human once more.
To achieve it, Sprouse said he worked with a movement coach for three months before production to establish The Creature's breadth of motion, or lack of it. "We worked on gestural stuff and movement and posture, which clearly I'm not too good at in my waking hours," he laughed. "Zelda and I were joking around before the movie even launched into production, saying, 'Wouldn't it be great to study miming because it would be such a perfect art form? ' Then we were like that is a great spot to land, so she helped me find this guy named Lorin Salm out in L.A. And we studied miming for a bit."
"The truth is that you get a movie like this, and you prepare, as Cole did and as I did, and then you get on set," Newton said of the unknowns that come with any production. "I would think about things the day before. And I'm like, 'Well, it could work. I don't really know?' And you just have to try it. ... It was one of these movies where I've never done anything like this before, so you had to just go for it."
"Also the idea of preparation sounds so posh," Sprouse added. "But the truth is you kind of just take whatever you feel like is going to work and leave what doesn't. And then you end up on set and the rules change and you kind of hope you have the tools in the toolbox to make it work. From that point, there is this essence of winging it a bit. You just kind of hope the preparation paid off in some way."
"And you land somewhere near the target," Newton joked.
Lisa Frankenstein is playing exclusively in theaters. Get tickets now!