Liza Soberano makes her Hollywood debut in Zelda Williams’ horror-comedy film “Lisa Frankenstein,” a performance that’s garnered high praise from co-stars and even American director Joe Russo.
The Filipino community was already abuzz when news of Liza Soberano’s first Hollywood role in Lisa Frankenstein came out, and with the movie’s premiere on February 9 fast approaching, the excitement has grown even more so. After all, it’s not every day when a homegrown talent makes it to a Hollywood production alongside big names in the industry. Even before the film has premiered, positive reviews from those who’ve seen it in advance are starting to trickle in. Famous American director, Joe Russo (the mind behind Marvel blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) had nothing but praise for Soberano’s role in particular.
“Movies like LISA FRANKENSTEIN can be great vehicles to break new stars,” Russo wrote in a recent X post. “And @zeldawilliams and Diablo Cody found a superstar in Liza Soberano, who steals every scene she’s in as Lisa’s step-sister, Taffy.”
Lisa Frankenstein is the campy horror-comedy brainchild of writer Diablo Cody (who made waves with Juno and Jennifer’s Body) and director Zelda Williams. Taking place in the rollicking 80s, the film centers on a misunderstood teen girl named Lisa (played by Kathryn Newton), who as the title suggests, revives a Victorian corpse (“The Creature,” played by Cole Sprouse).
The undead young man becomes Lisa’s companion as she navigates the hardships of teenage life, including a fraught relationship with her step mom (played by horror veteran Carla Gugino). The movie manages to combine a bildungsroman with horror elements, comedy, and of course, romance.
In the film, Soberano plays the role of Taffy—Lisa’s popular and congenial step sister and foil to her character. Taffy isn’t the typical mean girl, however, balancing sweetness with her confidence in a way that subverts the usual It Girl trope in these movies. Director Zelda Williams herself picked Soberano to play the significant role, as she knew the actress for some time through mutual friends, she reveals in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
“I really wanted someone who could play so [sic] earnest, and sweet, and loving. And everyone who was coming in was kind of playing it very mean, no matter what notes I gave them,” Williams reveals in the interview. “I asked her [Liza Soberano] myself, ‘Please will you tape for this? I think you’re right for it.’ And everyone fell in love with her—she’s most people’s favorite part of this movie.”
As for Soberano, she seems to have enjoyed taking on the role of the complex step sister character. “I really love Taffy because she’s such a fun character to play,” Soberano says in an interview with iHollywoodTV.
“She’s very much like me, she’s such a sweetheart: she’s genuinely nice to everybody, but also she can’t help the fact that she is her mother’s child,” Soberano continues. “So there are instances where she talks a bit too much or doesn’t say the right things, but it’s not coming from a place of malice, it’s just that this is what she grew up hearing and this is the kind of mindset that she grew up around: sometimes it comes out, but she doesn’t mean it in a mean way.”
Two Debut Talents
Lisa Frankenstein doesn’t just mark Soberano’s Hollywood debut—it’s also the full-length directorial debut of Zelda Williams, reports Rebecca Aizin of People. If the name is familiar, that’s because Williams is none other than the daughter of late comedian and actor, Robin Williams. Like her father, Williams has starred in her fair share of voice acting roles, including her performance as Kuvira in Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra. Her other roles include those in the movies Never (2014) and Were the World Mine (2008).
Directing Lisa Frankenstein was Williams’ way of stepping away from the world of acting, something she wanted to maintain distance from since her father’s untimely passing in 2014. “I started transitioning toward wanting to direct and wanting to leave behind acting around when Dad died,” she tells Angie Martoccio in an interview with Rolling Stone. “Being behind the camera became a much less self-conscious place than being in front of it.”
That said, the world of directing isn’t unfamiliar territory to Williams, who’s been exposed to the filmmaking industry for as long as she could remember. The same Rolling Stone interview discusses how Williams has spent years shadowing under directors like Scott Derrickson.
Williams has also learned a thing or two about the industry from her mother, Marsha Garces Williams, a film producer and philanthropist who happens to be half-Filipino. So it seems that two talented young women of Filipino descent will be making their mark once the exciting coming-of-age film hits both local and international theaters.
Banner and feature photos via Instagram @lizasoberano.