Jan 13

Let’s Be Frank

Do You See17 comments • 1,770 views

So the first picture of Michael Fassbender as Frank Sidebottom have appeared on the internet, and the internet is all a kerfuffle. It doesn’t look – right – they say. The eyes aren’t round, the eyebrows have been shifted from Sievey’s perma-surprise to a more reflective, even pair of brows. And real-Frank was more dapper than this movie-Frank. The body language is all off too (but this may not be a film take). Just wait til we hear his voice, possible drifting from the Irish-German lilts that are the Scylla and Charybdis of all of Fassbender’s vocal performances.

But hold on a minute. Do we want this Frank to look just like the real Frank? This is not a case of impersonation, Fassbender is playing a role. A role in a film about which Jon Ronson , one of the writers, says : “The film isn’t a film about Frank Sidebottom. It’s totally made up and – whilst inspired by Frank – is inspired by other people too” Other people who took to the stage with papier mache heads, it was a big scene in the mid-eighties…

But if you think of it as a role, the subtle differences in this head to real-Frank’s head start to make more sense. If the other actors, if anyone is playing a real character, they will not be able to physically replicate them. This head must be a choice, its not as if the producers would have found it difficult to replicate Sievey’s original model. If it is a mistake that a costume design/art director is out of a job. So it must be intentional. And perhpas it is. I remember seeing Walk The Line and thinking at the end what a great job Joaquin Phoenix did as Johnny Cash. He didn’t look remotely like Cash. Or indeed sound much like him. So why hire Michael Fassbender if you are just going to put him in a perfect replica of Sidebottom’s head. Where is the acting in that? Oval eyes…that’s acting.


  1. 1
    wichita lineman on 10 Jan 2013 #

    Pardon my dumbness but… what’s the film? A Sidebottom biopic??

  2. 2
    Pete Baran on 10 Jan 2013 #

    Its called Frank, and is described in its press release thusly:

    Frank is a comedy about a young wannabe musician, Jon (Dominic Gleeson), who discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew when he joins a band of eccentric pop musicians led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank (Michael Fassbender) and his terrifying sidekick Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

    It appears to be loosely based on a memoir by Jon Ronson (who was once in a Sievey back-up band) but they keep saying its not strictly about Frank Sidebottom, rather it uses some aspects of Frank.


  3. 3


  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 10 Jan 2013 #

    Maybe the pic is from a scene depicting Frank’s early days when he was still trying to get the look of the head right. I wish it had just shifted gradually over the years from the left to the right without anyone really noticing. A bit like when you look at the differences in Michael Jackson’s face in 1992 and then 2002, let alone before that.

    Around a decade ago there were rumours Frank was considering even larger eyes, or to simply stride the town as a besuited cyclops.

  5. 5
    tm on 10 Jan 2013 #

    It looks like his head if you let ad-men design it to be less terrifying. I once did a stand-up gig with Frank (and hundreds of others – it was a 24hr gig for Red Nose Day), top bloke.

  6. 6
    tm on 10 Jan 2013 #

    Actually, it looks way more terrifying than the real Frank.

  7. 7
    thefatgit on 10 Jan 2013 #

    This isn’t getting Michael Fassbender any closer to the role he was born to play, ie. Lawrence Of Arabia. Somebody PLEASE reboot LOA, PLEASE!!!

  8. 9
    Ed on 11 Jan 2013 #

    “Michael Fassbender as Frank Sidebottom…” ?? *checks date*

    Mind you, I am quite excited about Kathryn Bigelow directing Jeremy Renner in “I’m Not The Wanderer: The Ted Chippington Story”

  9. 10
    Mark G on 11 Jan 2013 #

    Actually, Frank was a snail in his first incarnation..

  10. 11
    JimD on 11 Jan 2013 #

    How many pictures have been released/leaked? Because I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be a bit of post-modern cleverness where Frank’s expression changes from shot to shot. In fact that might even be pretty great.

  11. 12
    Sabina on 11 Jan 2013 #

    …Is this some sort of cross-cultural thing or should I actually have known who this person was. o_O

  12. 13
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jan 2013 #

    #12 @Sabina, Frank Sidebottom was certainly a peculiarly English (and for that matter Northern English, and even more so Mancunian) phenomenon.

    As someone who is more Scottish/Ulster Glaswegian and more Southern English/Londoner than he is Northern English, I’d like to think even my limited appreciation of Frank gives me a little bit of an insight into the lives of those who are obligated to spend their time among the dark satanic mills, the pie shore and the Pennines ;)

  13. 14
    Tommy Mack on 16 Aug 2015 #


    I watched Frank a couple of weeks ago.

    I liked how the mild-mannered, put upon indie protagonist turned out to be a bit of a monster when he couldn’t get what he wanted. (Mainly because it panders to my prejudices about “nice” musicians)

    ‘the feisty girl who hates me actually harbours lust for me’ is a lazy trope that really glared in this: nerd wish-fulfilment of the clumsiest type.

    It was heartbreaking seeing Frank with his head off at the end. “He was always musical. [mental illness] held him back if anything ” was a worthy point too seldom made I thought.

    Good film but I’d love to see an actual Frank Sidebottom biopic, rather than Captain Beefheart and Daniel Johnson folded in too.

  14. 15
    Mark M on 16 Aug 2015 #

    Funny, isn’t it, the way something goes from being so unlikely that it sounds like an April Fool, to, ‘Oh, yeah, that film…’

    ‘A bit of monster’ I think, if anything, understates it – he turns out to be a really horrible bloke. Which should be a good thing, but I think the way it was played slightly capsized the film.

    Absolutely with you that this Frank is more drawn from assorted noisy American outsiders than Sidebottom. I quite enjoyed their music, though.

    More thoughts…

  15. 16
    Ed on 16 Aug 2015 #

    Highly recommended: the terrific Slow West, which has another great performance from Fassbender and is written and directed by another keyboard player: John Maclean of The Beta Band.

    It all connects….

  16. 17
    Tommy Mack on 16 Aug 2015 #

    #16. Slow West looked really interesting. Will check it out when it inevitably ends up on Netflix.

    #15. Yeah, their music was great: a recognisable sketch of ‘weird music’ and also something you’d actually want to listen to.

    I think the only thing that stopped me totally siding against Jon, and you allude to this in your review, was that most of Frank’s band were kind of dicks too, even Maggie Gyllenhall. That and I’ve always found myself in the Jon role in bands, chivvying bandmates into rehearsing for gigs, emailing press releases etc. while really I’d prefer to just wear a big papier-mache head and let someone else do the boring stuff.

    It also made me really want to listen to Trout Mask Replica. Which is good.

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