Strangest Casting Story Of My Career? Michael Fassbender To Play Frank Sidebottom

I’ve been tracking Frank for a long time now, at least since an early draft of Peter Straughan and Jon Ronson‘s screenplay placed on the Brit List in 2009. In 2010 they signed up to develop the film further with Film 4 and director Lenny Abrahamson, and they scuttled off to a cottage to work on a new version of the script, filling us in via Twitter as they did so.

At that time, Film 4 issued this official synopsis:

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.

Those who recall the late, great Frank Sidebottom will know exactly who they were referring to. For those of you who don’t, here’s a primer. Sample a bit of this beauty.

That’s right. That man there. With the big fake head. Michael Fassbender is going to play him in a film. I had to scoop my jaw off of the floor when I read that, and even though I’ve now typed it out myself, it still seems too good to be true.

Film 4 announced the casting today, alongside the recruitment of Domhnall Gleason in the role of Jon, based on co-writer Jon Ronson, a sometime member of Sidebottom’s band. That’s a top bit of casting too.

The screenplay is not a “literally true” account of Frank’s life and times – nor those of Chris Sievey, the man actually beneath that fantastic head. It’s something of a fantasy. Even though it’s been bent about, I hope they’re keeping the voice – I want to hear Fassbender talking like that.

Frank  is  something of a departure for Straughan, for Ronson, for Abrahamson – and definitely for Fassbender. You know it is, it really is.

Philip Glenister

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