Michael Fassbender gets into his head for 'Frank'

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As the titular Frank in "Frank," Michael Fassbender plays a reclusive, eccentric musician who can only deal with the world from within a large, cartoonish papier mache head. You'll just have to take him at his word that it's him under there the whole time, but we believe him. Oh, and did you know kids used to make fun of him in school because of his last name? Because they did.

 

How do people know it's actually you under the head for the entire film?


They don't. (laughs) Well, I mean, if you look closely at my hands and stuff you can see it's me. There was supposed to be a couple of scenes where a double would be used because in terms of our scheduling it was overlapping with something else for me, but I ended up doing those as well. I ended up doing it all.

What stands out most about performing underneath a giant papier mache head?


It was just a lot of fun. By putting the head on I definitely increased my sense of mischief and anarchy. Sometimes wearing the head just standing there looking at another cast member, they're looking at me going, 'What's he thinking? Is he asleep in there?' There's a lot to play with. And we found after a while that the audience starts to project emotions or opinions or what they think Frank is thinking onto the mask, so it becomes an interesting interaction between the audience and the mask.

There's this notion in the film of being envious of artists with terrible childhoods explored here. Did you experience any of that growing up?


Absolutely. I think definitely when I was at drama school I thought the torture and the pain is necessary to gain any quality, like somehow you had to put yourself through that in order to get an end result. I don't believe that anymore, but I do believe that you've got to put a lot of work in. Talent is one thing, but work ethic is something else. I've seen plenty of talented people not work because of perhaps their misunderstanding of timing and being prepared and being ready when the opportunity comes, because with this kind of profession opportunities come about but maybe not so regularly. But in terms of angst and suffering, anxiety for the art? No, I hopefully left that behind at drama school.

Speaking of, you've been doing a wide range film projects. Is that part of a general plan, or just seizing what opportunities present themselves?


Yeah, really kind of the latter. What I try and do is I try and do different things. I try not to repeat a character as best as possible. There are obviously limitations, and I start to repeat myself anyway, but to try to pick as diverse characters as possible to keep that to a minimum if I can is something that I'm conscious about.

Did you feel any sort of extra added pressure going into film because of your name?


Because of Rainer Werner Fassbinder? There was obviously different connotations that could be made with my name when I was a teenager or in primary school growing up, so I've definitely been on the receiving end of some of those. But other than that, no. I think you just get used to it, don't you? It's my name. But like I say, having gone through the various ways that my name can be shortened or rhymed as a kid, I'm used to it. Nothing is original anymore with that one.

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick

 
 
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