‘Frank’ Featurette: Michael Fassbender & Domhnall Gleeson Try to Explain Frank

Published 12 months ago by

A great many weird and wonderful fashions and style choices have emerged from the world of pop music over the years, from Mike Score’s seagull hair to Lady Gaga’s… well, whatever Lady Gaga is wearing this week. In Frank, the bizarre new indie comedy from director Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did), Michael Fassbender plays a creative but troubled musician who composes, performs, and lives his entire life from the confines of a giant papier mache head.

It’s a head that will be very familiar to anyone who was watching TV in Britain during the eighties. Frank is inspired real-life music and stand-up act Frank Sidebottom, the alter ego of comedian Chris Sievey, and is based on co-writer Jon Ronson’s experiences playing the keyboard in Frank’s band. The resulting music sounded a little something like this.

Although Ronson has plenty of fascinating anecdotes to share from his time in Frank’s band, a new featurette for Frank explains that the film is almost entirely fictionalized. In an interview with The Guardian, Ronson revealed that this decision was partially made because of his friendship with Sievey, who had been worried about how his own personality might come across in the film. Sievey (and Frank) sadly passed away in 2010, but by that time Ronson and his fellow writer, Peter Straughn (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) had already decided to write the film as, “a fable instead of a biopic – a tribute to people like Frank who were just too fantastically strange to make it in the mainstream.”

Michael Fassbender as Frank 570x294 Frank Featurette: Michael Fassbender & Domhnall Gleeson Try to Explain Frank

Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Star Wars: Episode VII) plays Jon: a new member of Frank’s band (The Soronprfbs) who has plenty of ambition but unfortunately no talent. The other band members are manager Don (Scoot McNairy), bass player Baraque (Francois Civil), percussionist Nana (Carla Azar) and the unsmiling theremin player Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It’s a very different role for Fassbender, who’s usually seen playing more somber characters, but in the featurette Ronson explains that Frank definitely has an edge of melancholia to it.

Frank received glowing reviews after its festival run, with The Playlist describing it as “sublime” and “strikingly original,” and Variety praising it as “profoundly moving” and “remarkably accessible.” If you can track down a screening this summer, Frank looks like a must-see indie movie to break up the Hollywood blockbuster season.


Frank is out on limited US release starting August 22nd, 2014.

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. I saw him live in the early ’90s and the joke wore very thin very quickly, but then again I never found him funny before that. Despite this the film might be okay: the idea of Frank Sidebottom was always more appealing to me than the reality anyway.

  2. I used to love Frank Sidebottom and little Frank on No.73 on saturday mornings when I was a nipper. RIP Frank.

    • OOh i loved number 73, i remember frank more from late night tv?

  3. For UK readers, Frank releases tomorrow (May 9th) but I’m not sure if it’s limited release like The Zero Theorem was or if it’s wide release. The only other major movie releasing this week was yesterday’s Schwarzenegger film Sabotage anyway so this will be a good thing to see until Godzilla’s out on the 15th.

    I was a fan of Frank, purely because I’ve always been a fan of the surreal (taking in Monty Python, Eddie Izzard, Harry Hill, Reeves & Mortimer and Bottom amongst others), the only disappointing thing about it seems to be that Fassbender is using his own voice and not attempting the Frank Sidebottom voice.

    Still though, I’ll be watching.

    • Fassbender seems to be using an American accent. I can’t really pick out any of his usual Irish Brogue. I suppose they didn’t want to do an imitation of Frank, but tell a new story in the spirit of him.

  4. Wow! No more posting links then! There goes all the fun.

    “Frank” is on at the Bristol Watershed from tomorrow, just incase anyone in the UK near there is looking for a showing.

    • I take that back. Huzzah! We have links!!! :)