His roles in Shame, Jane Eyre and Prometheus have made him one of Hollywood’s hottest leading men – but Irish-German actor Michael Fassbender’s new project will have more cultish appeal.
Fassbender has been announced as the lead in Frank, a comedy co-written by the writer and TV documentarist Jon Ronson. The story and lead character have been inspired partly by Ronson’s three-year stint as the keyboard player in Frank Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Big Band.
Sidebottom, instantly recognisable on account of his outsized papier-maché/fibreglass head, was the creation of comedian Chris Sievey and was popular on the British comedy circuit in the 1980s and 90s. Sievey died in 2010.
The film is to be directed by the relatively unknown Lenny Abrahamson and co-written by Peter Straughan, who scripted the 2011 movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as well as the 2009 dramatisation of Ronson’s book The Men Who Stare at Goats.
Film4 Productions billed Frank as follows: “In the strange world of the 1980s musical subculture, one man stands out as the strangest of them all. Frank tells the story of a hidden musical master and the disciple who loves him so much he might just have to destroy him. Frank – a mystery inside an enigma inside a large plastic head.”
Yet despite this, and the fact that Domhnall Gleeson (Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films) plays a character called Jon who joins Frank’s band, Ronson himself announced that Frank is not the story of Frank Sidebottom. “It’s not a film about Frank Sidebottom!” Ronson tweeted. “It’s totally made up and – whilst inspired by Frank – is inspired by other people too. Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart are other inspirations.”
Filming starts in December.