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Kathryn Newton on Becoming a Universal Monsters Staple With Abigail and Lisa Frankenstein


While Universal Pictures has long stepped away from its planned Universal Monsters Dark Universe (except at Universal Studios theme parks), the cinematic lore of the characters has found new life, thanks to standalone films like Leigh Whannell’s Invisible Man, Zelda Williams’ Lisa Frankenstein, and now Radio Silence’s Abigail. The latter two happen to share a star in Kathryn Newton.

io9 recently sat down with Newton to talk about about her roles in the frightful and fun films the studio has been releasing. Newton is no stranger to Universal’s recent horror cadre of movies. In 2020, she starred as a high-schooler who gets body-swapped with a homicidal maniac in Freaky, and earlier this year she played the leading role in dark comedy Lisa Frankenstein. The latter seems destined for cult status; it’s been making the fandom rounds on TikTok and Instagram—which we brought up, excitedly curious if she has seen the love online.

“Oh, I do [see it]. I feel really grateful for that. I don’t think anyone knows what a big deal it is when when you do something that you love and it resonates with somebody and genuinely makes it all worth it,” she said, specifically noting all the fan art, cosplay, and permanent body homages made in tribute to Lisa Frankenstein. “[It’s] unbelievable. The tattoos. ‘Girl, what are you doing? But I love you.’ Yeah. It’s pretty mind-blowing. And there’s not a day that goes by where the director, Zelda and I don’t send each other something. I see something new every day, and, I don’t think we knew that would happen. [I’m] really excited to see some Lisa cosplay.”

In Abigail, Newton plays a different kind of monster—a criminal hired to break into the home of a very rich, powerful man in order to kidnap his daughter. “When I got the opportunity to play Sammy, you read the script, you see the character arc, you know it could be great, but you’re not sure, like, how much love is there to make it the best horror movie possible?,” Newton said. “We’re told everybody’s a bad person in this movie. Everyone in the movie is a villain. And then, you know, Abigail is the worst villain, right?” Anyone who has seen the film’s marketing knows that that the joke’s on the would-be crooks when they discover that the child they are holding captive is actually… a vampire ballerina holding them captive. For Newton, there was still enough about Sammy that’s worth caring about. “I didn’t judge my character. I thought that she was the best person in the world. I just liked playing her. I leaned into her, and I think the things I loved about her are the things you hate.”

Working with Radio Silence on their latest horror send-up—the directing team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett also made Ready or Not and the last two Scream films—excited Newton, “If you meet Matt and Tyler, our directors, they’re [all about] open communication, the collaboration. They never told me ‘no.’ So as an artist, I learned a lot, and I’m really grateful. And I can’t believe how much blood they used. This movie’s completely off the wall bonkers,” she said. “And I think as soon as we stepped on set, we all started to get to know each other.  So there was a lot of, improv just to create that chemistry.”

In particular, Newton shared many scenes with the late Angus Cloud (Euphoria), whose performance she celebrated, “I love Angus and I love working with him because I love an actor who is going to try things. He always said the words, he was always on script, but he always did it different. He always surprised me. He was just real, you know? And I think that’s the best actor. And I was so into it. So he made me a better actor. He’s one of the best actors I ever worked with. Period.”

Lisa Frankenstein is now streaming on Peacock and Abigail opens in theaters this Friday.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.



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