Exclusive: Diablo Cody on ‘Being Able to Play God’ with Zelda Williams for Lisa Frankenstein



  • Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams, makes her directorial debut with the dark and hilarious film
    Lisa Frankenstein
  • Diablo Cody, the award-winning screenwriter of
    Young Adult, Juno,
    Jennifer’s Body
    , collaborates with Williams to create a uniquely twisted take on the classic horror trope.
  • The film stars Kathryn Newton, Cole Sprouse, and Carla Gugino, and offers a morbidly funny joyride for dark comedy lovers.

Back in 2008, Diablo Cody won an Oscar for her incredible Juno script. Ever since, she has continued to churn out award-caliber screenplays, including Tully, Young Adult, and more. Also in the mix is her cult-classic Jennifer’s Body script, and Cody has even voiced interest in penning a sequel for the Megan Fox cult classic. In the meantime, director Zelda Williams (daughter of the iconic Robin Williams) has pounced on Cody’s most recent work: Lisa Frankenstein, which, like Jennifer’s Body, offers up an absurdist, feminist, and playful twist on a classic horror trope.

Starring Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse, the morbidly hilarious joyride that is Lisa Frankenstein is now playing in theaters, just in time for dark lovers to enjoy on Valentine’s Day. We recently caught up with Williams and Cody in a paired interview in Los Angeles to learn more about how much fun it was to put such a uniquely dark project together, their shared love for Carla Gugino, and some of their favorite moments from the film.

Love for Zelda — and the Video Game

It’s been reported that Robin Williams named his daughter after the acclaimed video game character. Years later, Zelda Williams has pivoted more to directing after working as an actor. She has also been vocal about her own love for the Zelda franchise, so we had to ask if she still plays any of the games. “Not while I’m working,” she replied. “It’s funny because as an actor, you do have more downtime. So when I used to be on sets, you’d have a couple hours here and there where they were resetting things, or you changed costume. You do not as a director, so not often. But yes, I do still occasionally play when I’m not working.”

Focus Features

Lisa Frankenstein is also Williams’ directorial debut, which is presumably a daunting endeavor. But for the seasoned Hollywood professional, it certainly sounds like the experience was rewarding, to say the least. “I would do this again a million times if I could,” Williams told MovieWeb. “We had such a wonderful time. I think I’m more appreciative because I know firsthand that you don’t often get to do what we got to do. But if I could repeat it all over again, I would.”

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Zelda Williams shared the tribute to her father Robin that features in her directorial debut, Lisa Frankenstein.

‘Starstruck’ by Carla Gugino

Then there is Williams’ partner in crime for the moment, Diablo Cody. Given the title, one can safely assume the classic book is noticed all over this new movie — not just in the plot points but on a thematic level as well. Cody’s own tale is wildly inventive, however, especially given that she leans into the film’s setting (year 1989) and all that has to offer. Cody says,

“I had read the novel before, and I was a big Mary Shelley fan. And I just love, not just Mary Shelley’s writing, but reading about her life and just the shenanigans that that whole crew of Gothic writers got up to. It’s amazing. In terms of a theme that connects the original novel to this movie, I think it’s just the the thrill of being able to play God. I think that’s why this story just sort of perpetually appeals to people, the idea of God being able to create life. And then, in this movie, it takes on a special significance because [the main character Lisa] has had this terrible loss, and she’s grieving. And suddenly, she’s got this guy in her tanning bed that she can reanimate!”

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It was plain to see that both Williams and Zelda simply had a ball putting Lisa Frankenstein together. It’s no surprise, then, that they were eager to share their favorite moments from when the film was in production. “There’s the scene where a creature and Lisa meet for the first time at the house, and that kind of madcap running around and dangling from the rooftop and all that stuff, in the canon of goo. I loved that,” said Williams. “But I also love the scene with Taffy and Lisa in the bedroom that just has some of my favorite like weird jokes and moments, Lisa doing the thing where she’s like, ‘You don’t understand because your mom’s already been murdered!’ It’s just so funny to me.”

Besides Newton and Sprouse’s standout lead performances, there is a veteran Hollywood actress also in the mix here. “I was on set the day with [co-star] Carla Gugino and the sewing machine,” Cody added while describing an epic moment from the film (that we won’t spoil here). “That was really fun because she’s one of my favorites, and I was completely starstruck by her. So that’s always fun. And when there’s a crazy prop involved like a giant rubber sewing machine…”

“She also says ‘special socks’ in such a specific way,” Williams continued, highlighting just one of the many one-liners Gugino delivers as Lisa’s evil stepmom. You have to just see it to appreciate the deliciously dark comedy.

From Focus Features, Lisa Frankenstein is now playing in theaters.

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