Liza Soberano on Hollywood, ‘crying session’ with Cole Sprouse

Liza Soberano on her Hollywood debut, ‘crying session’ with Cole Sprouse

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:25 AM February 07, 2024

Liza Soberano on her Hollywood debut, ‘crying session’ with Cole Sprouse

Liza Soberano (left) and Kathryn Newton in “Lisa Frankenstein” —PHOTOS COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL PICTURES INTERNATIONAL

When Liza Soberano posted a clip from Universal Pictures’ “Lisa Frankenstein” on Instagram early last month, it was hard not to notice lead star Kathryn Newton’s flattering message in the thread, saying, “You are the best part of this film.” And, while that may sound patronizing to some and disarmingly self-effacing to others, Kathryn wasn’t wrong.

We’ve seen the film—in which Liza is prominently billed after Kathryn and Cole Sprouse—and we’re more than happy to note that the lovely homegrown actress more than holds her own in every scene she’s in.


In fact, however this fun, frothy and winkingly frisky film does at the box office, Liza can hold her head up high for the career-boosting performance she turns in. As top cheerleader Taffy Swallows, the beleaguered lead character’s charismatic stepsister, Liza comes off as the “nicest mean girl” in the “coming-of-rage” rom-com helmed by Fil-Am director Zelda Williams—yes, that’s Robin Williams’ daughter.


Liza’s take on Taffy cleverly turns the character trope on its head with a basher-proof portrayal worthy of her fans’ pride and perfervid adulation, and should make her nasty naysayers eat humble pie.

As Zelda aptly describes in the production notes, “Liza had such a firm grasp on Taffy’s hilarious sweetness that it helped blunt what otherwise could’ve been cruel lines. One of the main love stories of this movie is Lisa realizing that she loves Taffy as a sister after fighting it for so long, and [Kathryn and Liza] truly pulled that [complex relationship dynamic] off.”

But don’t take our word for it: See it for yourself when the movie opens in Philippine cinemas today.

Set in the fall of 1989, the film follows 17-year-old high school student Lisa Swallows (Kathryn of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”) adjusting to life after her mom falls victim to an ax murderer, and her father Dale (Joe Chrest) hastily marries her wicked stepmother, psychiatric nurse Janet (Carla Gugino), with her plucky and popular daughter Taffy (Liza) in tow.

Liza Soberano at the roundtable interview

Liza Soberano at the roundtable interview

Lisa’s luck takes a turn for the twisted after she makes a “cosmic mistake” by accident, bringing a handsome corpse (Cole)—who died from a broken heart in 1837—back to life. To make up for the “sinister” error of her ways, Lisa begins harvesting freshly decapitated body parts to boost her long-dead new companion’s self-esteem. But more complications ensue when Janet inexplicably goes missing.

Awkward audition

Liza initially told Zelda that she probably wasn’t right for the role, and even thought she did poorly in her awkward audition.


“I did it completely wrong because, before I started my transition to Hollywood, I was no longer auditioning for roles here, let alone making self-tapes,” Liza recalled during a recent roundtable interview with select members of the Philippine press. “I was used to auditioning in front of a group of people. But for this project, I didn’t have anyone to act with, except my managers, James Reid and Jeffrey Oh [of Careless]—they were the ones acting with me.

“Of course James is an actor, but I can’t take him seriously because we’re friends (laughs). And he isn’t in that world anymore. Meanwhile, Jeff isn’t an actor at all, so he was terrible at throwing lines with me (laughs). I was like, ‘Jeff, you’ve got to put in an emotion [to this].’

“We asked Zelda for pointers, like how to do it properly, but she didn’t really want to direct me on how to do the audition because she wanted to see my take on how the character should be. Then, two days later, I got a phone call telling me that I got the role.

“I was in Korea at the time. I was planning a trip back to the Philippines before heading to Hawaii for Bretman Rock’s birthday. But all of that got cut short. I flew back to the Philippines and had a night and two days to pack, went to Hawaii for a day, then flew to New Orleans for the shoot—from August till September in 2022.

“We were anticipating for an October release last year, but because of the actors’ strike, we had to hold off promoting the film in any way. I already started talking about it when we were filming because it got leaked, but then the momentum went away. I think people weren’t sure if it was going to come out or not at all. So I’m just excited that it’ll finally be released on Feb. 7. It’s a project that I really love so much.”

Born to be a sister

While Taffy can sometimes appear to be “unwittingly condescending,” Liza said that she related to her in terms of how she deals with her siblings.

“I always say to people who ask me what it’s like being the older sister of—sorry, I have so many younger siblings—nine so far, and I have a new one coming, so the math isn’t ‘mathing’ for me anymore (laughs).

“But I feel like I was put on this earth to be a sister, whether to my blood-related siblings or to my friends. I have this very nurturing energy that I release when I’m around people I truly care for. Taffy and I are both very selfless when it comes to loving our siblings, but we’re also pakialamera (laughs) because, of course we want what’s best for our siblings!

“You want to be able to prepare them for what’s to come in life. So sometimes, you make decisions on their behalf, thinking that that’s the best thing for them. But then I realized that, sometimes, you just have to let them experience messing up or gaining success on their own terms.”

The new challenge was understandably nerve-wracking for the new Hollywood star—with good reason.

“I was very nervous coming into it because I honestly felt like I wasn’t good enough to get cast as Taffy,” Liza admitted. “But while I felt undeserving of the role, as with anything I do, I always put in so much preparation and thought into it. So, as soon as I got the part, which was literally a week before we started filming, I read the script four times … literally.

“I started watching different movies from the ’80s—‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘Beetlejuice’ and ‘Heathers’ (upon Zelda’s suggestion)—as well as the comedy series ‘New Girl,’ to familiarize myself with American humor.

Newton (right) with Cole Sprouse

Newton (right) with Cole Sprouse

“I gave it my all and really tried not to hold back, which used to be my tendency. I would always try to give people what I thought they wanted, instead of just allowing myself to be creative and express myself as I see fit.”

Was this the kind of role Liza had in mind when she decided to “diversify” as an actress?

The actress related, “When I signed up with my new management, they asked me what it was I was looking for. And I told them verbatim, ‘I want to play a high school student because I want to be able to prolong my career. I feel like I could still play teenagers, even though I’m already 26. I also said I wanted to do a horror thriller that’s gory and bloody, but with a bit of romantic-comedy element to it, just so people aren’t too thrown off by it.

“So when I read this script a year later, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is exactly what I was looking for!’ On top of that, Cole Sprouse is someone that I’ve always looked up to. I’ve also watched a lot of Ms Carla Gugino’s movies! They’re amazing actors I would love to learn from and just be friends with.”

Industry tips

Speaking of Cole and Kathryn, what was it like working with two of Hollywood’s hot-to-trot young stars?

“Cole and I only have two scenes together, but we did have a lot of time behind the scenes,” Liza recounted. “While Kathryn was doing most of the scenes, since she’s the lead, we’d be on the side just talking. I got a few pointers from him as to how Hollywood works, what the dos and don’ts are, who are the people I should meet—he was giving me a lot of industry tips.

“I was shocked [by the generous gesture] because it made me realize he’s actually a very introspective person. He kind of picked up that I was probably nervous and hesitant about my career shift at the time, like going into Hollywood. So, he started giving me advice that I didn’t actually ask for—he just kind of sensed that I needed to hear it—which was great.

“So, I had a crying session with Cole, which is funny! I was really touched that he knew exactly what I needed to hear, and he was very approachable in that aspect.

“With Kathryn, we instantly clicked because I feel like we’re very similar in a lot of ways. Like, a lot of people don’t know that I’m goofy, very kengkay, and she is, too, in her own little way. We also have similar tastes in music, so we bonded over K-pop and rap music. She’s a sweetheart and is so much fun to be with. They all made it easy for me because I’m the type of person who’ll stay quiet in one corner until you approach me.”

Asked what it was like working with Zelda Williams, Liza disclosed, “I was nervous at first, but because we became friends before we started filming, that made it less intimidating to work with her. The thing about me and Zelda is, we bond over us being Filipinos—but from different perspectives, because she’s actually never been to the Philippines.

“Her mom [Marsha Garces-Williams] is half-Filipino, but Zelda partly grew up with her grandpa—who’s full Filipino. She told me that she’s always wanted to visit the Philippines, but never had a chance to.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“Also, there was a period where Zelda felt scared of coming to the Philippines because she’s very vocal about Philippine politics apparently. So I was trying to convince her to come visit. She started as an actor, then she worked her way into directing. [Because of that,] she knows how to direct from an actor’s point of view.” INQ

TAGS: Cole Sprouse, Entertainment, Hollywood, Lisa Frankenstein, Liza Soberano

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.