The musical fun that is Magnolia Pictures’ “Frank” preemed on Tuesday night at the Sunshine Landmark Cinema in Gotham, but the real show began at the afterparty when star Michael Fassbender led the pic’s band of misfits, the Soronprfbs, in a spectacular performance while wearing “Frank’s” large papier mache head.
“Michael is a natural charismatic guy, so he was a natural frontman,” said Carla Azar, drummer for Autolux and who plays the band’s drummer in the film.
Many musical artists came out to show support including Azar’s sometimes bandmate Jack White, Marky Ramone, Francois Civil, who also stars in the film, Guns N’ Roses’ Frank Ferrer, and more. All the guests were given paper masks in the likeness of the Frank head ahead of the screening.
“Biggest challenge I suppose is tone in a film like this that doesn’t obey any well-established set of rules on how it unfolds,” said helmer Lenny Abrahamson. “The whole idea of the film is to try to do something original. So managing this gray area between something really sweet and funny and something quite sad and dark was something that we had to work very hard on.”
In fact, Maggie Gyllenhaal almost didn’t star in the indie pic, as she turned down the role initially. “I don’t think I got the tone at first,” she said. “And it’s the only time ever in my life that I’ve turned a role and then said ‘You know what, I think I made a mistake and I’d still love to do it if you’ll have me.’” It turned out to be a good decision, she said. “It was a really good time.”
“I think the other big challenge was music because all the music is live. It’s being played by the actors, there are no backing tapes…. it’s all really filmed in those rooms you see,” Abrahamson continued. “Funny enough, the thing I thought might be a challenge, which is the head, wasn’t a challenge. You just accept it. That’s Frank. So that’s who it is.”
“It felt more normal than interacting with humans at times,” added Azar.
As the wearer of the head, Fassbender had his own set of challenges with it. “What was difficult was singing and speaking because you’re inside this box that sort of reverberates and that was the most difficult thing. In terms of the acting, it was quite liberating to hide behind a mask and it encourages a certain level of mischievousness. So yeah, it was great. I wish I could do everything in the head to be honest.”
He admits there was a bit of a learning curve in wearing the head, though. “I was bumping into things a bit,” he said. “There was a bit of bumping into things. Into each other. But not too bad considering actually.”
Fassbender as Frank performed “I Love You All” (or “I Love You Wall”) at the The Westway afterparty, with the rest of the cast backing on their respective instruments and Azar drumming barefoot. Fassbender and friends spent the rest of the evening dancing until midnight.