A motley group of stars from the film and music industries appeared together at Manhattan’s Sunshine Cinema for the New York premiere celebration for “Frank,” a dark-comedy that first screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, which follows a strange modern rock band and its eccentric yet brilliant leader, the eponymous Frank, stars Domhnall Gleeson and Maggie Gyllenhaal as members of the band, with a concealed Michael Fassbender as the frontman. In addition to this cast, in attendance were members of the real-life rock community, including Jack White, whose drummer Carla Azar acts in the film. When asked how the cast, who performed all of the music themselves, compared with the musicians she knows so well, Azar remarked, “Everybody in this movie is a rock star. Everybody.”
That was not necessarily true before they began work on “Frank.” “I didn’t know how to play keyboard at all,” said Gleeson, “Like I could play the fiddle but keyboard is totally different.” Gyllenhaal, while describing herself as a musical person in the broadest sense of the term, felt similarly: “Luckily I was playing these electronic instruments that were supposed to sound like noise. I had a lot of leeway.”
Fassbender noted that while most of the lyrics were written by screenwriter/director Lenny Abrahamson, he was responsible for some improvisation and was drawn to the role in part do to the musical challenges. But even with the intrigue of professional actors recording the music live on set, the most buzzed about aspect of “Frank” long before it premiered at Sundance was Fassbender’s faceless performance. His character dons a large paper mache head for most of the film, which he admits got pretty sweaty. “After a day’s work in it, it was nice to put it down for the evening,” he said.
Fortunately, the sweat and other markers of use in the head prop did not get too gross. “Michael’s a fine smelling gentleman,” Gleeson said. “He’s hygienic.”
Head and all, Fassbender and the rest of the cast of the band took to the stage at the Westway in New York after the film for a brief performance. While they only played for a couple of minutes, it was a unique opportunity to see actors take up their roles for a final, live hurrah. Check out the video below:
The night was hosted by Tommy Hilfiger and Dark Horse wine.