Interview: “Bad Frank” Actor Kevin Interdonato Talks About A Potentially Career-Defining Performance
Bad Frank from writer/director Tony Germinario is currently impressing audiences on the festival circuit and is set for a US release in June. Top 10 Films managed to grab some time with its leading man Kevin Interdonato to explore his intense and career-defining performance as Frank Pierce.
You can check out Top 10 Films’ review of Bad Frank here.
After seeing the film Top 10 Films writer Lyndon Wells approached the interview with caution, but luckily Kevin is a lot more friendly and chatty than the character of Bad Frank.
You are listed as both a writer and producer of the film as well, can you tell me a bit about the origins of Bad Frank and how you got involved?
Bad Frank was presented to me by writer-director Tony Germinario, and producer Brandon Heitkamp (who also wonderfully played Travis, Frank’s friend). I was offered the role of Frank before seeing the script, and accepted on the spot. I knew Tony and Brandon from working on a feature three years prior. They are good guys, honest, and talented individuals, and that covered my basis for what I look for in working with filmmakers. I instantly loved and had an oddly pure understanding for the character. It scared me. I was in.
The script, when presented, had the story in place, and I saw ways to improve certain elements. With their permission, I dove in the script and worked mostly on the character development of Frank and the other characters, fleshed out some loopholes, and raised the stakes throughout. I came on as a producer shortly thereafter. Small budget films need at least twice as much work to execute, and I was happy to help.
You have said in the past that filmmaking is often a director’s medium so did the smaller budget and script involvement help satisfy your personal creative side?
Small budget, no. Writing, yes. I was fortunate to have great producers around me to let me back off pre-production several weeks prior to filming [in order] to get ready. The work load is beyond extensive. Big films have a fairly quick pre-production. Small budgets require at least double that time, and a lot more elbow grease to find deals, and do a lot of the work that normally require positions filled for specific jobs. Everyone wore at least two hats. So that process sucks the creativity right out of you.
But I was fortunate to be able to dip in the script, and that was pretty rewarding, especially how everything came together. Everyone was pleased with the story, and it brought me closer to Frank’s journey.
I really enjoyed how Frank’s backstory is never fully revealed in the film, did you construct a full backstory for Frank?
Yes. I needed to know every main detail his ‘life’, even things that did not pertain to the movie, to be settled in as Frank Pierce. Certain events that happened that shaped his life, loves, hates and insecurities. These events justified everything especially his behaviour and his essence. This helped personalise everything so it was real to me. True, his backstory was never explained, in fact it is mostly the other characters that explained Frank’s story.
I can imagine the intensity of this role to have been all-consuming, so what did you do to prepare?
I bit the heads off bats!…kiddin. Ya know, I was sitting in Frank for some time, and just found myself getting a deeper understanding of him as we neared production. By time of the shoot, I was ready to explode. It’s not a great mindset to be in when real life is still happening, so I had to find my moments to be alone and away from people. I found myself being very quiet. My head was in a different place, and I think that inner solitude prepared me well. I found a balance of my personal life and preparation for Frank, it’s not easy. Your everyday is affected, the people around you.
As far as preparation, that’s tricky. My animalistic instincts were increasingly ready to surface. When that started to happen, I knew I tapped into something and found him. Kept it in for the shoot. Scared myself a couple times. [It] was not a healthy head-space to be in. Especially being married and having close family and friends.
Your wife Amanda Layton also plays Frank’s wife in the film so how was it working with your wife? I’ve worked with my wife in the past – it can have its pros and cons!!
Ha! We’ve worked together before, she’s great. We get each other’s process, and she knew what this entailed. Think it depends on the nature of the film too. Comedy would be fun. This was tough because of the budget restraints, several of us were all shacked up in a big upstairs garage apartment together, and I just slept on the floor downstairs to be by myself. You make do. But yeah it was tough, on her as well. [There are] some pretty rough scenes in Bad Frank. So I’m lucky to have the support from my wife to not put chains on me for my work.
What did you do to unwind and relax after what must have been some tough days on set?
I did find moments to relax between working. [I] had to. I would’ve popped. This entire film, cast and crew consisted of friends. Everyone knew someone, somehow, prior to filming. So when each day wrapped, I was comfortable to have very good friends of mine in the cast and crew; we’re all seasoned pros, and [we’re] able to take the load off here and there. As tough and ‘heavy’ as it was, making this film is a wonderful memory for all involved. [It was a] very close-knit family for those two weeks.
Frank’s character has a very specific evolution during the film, did you have the character mapped out and knew exactly where his mental state was in each scene?
Actually yes. It was so important to me for the audience to see his transformation, and sympathise for him. I worked very closely with the make-up artist Krista Clayton (my talented sister-in-law) on Frank’s appearance as he went through withdrawals. The levels of sweating was set in stages, and as we shot out of order, Krista adjusted my appearance accordingly. [It] helped me stay in tune with my own internal process. Playing a lead in a narrative, you have to know your character’s ‘inner’ continuity, it’s essential.
Are all the tattoos on Frank yours?
Yes they are mine. Didn’t cover or add anything because it tended to lend itself to the character. I was more focused on working from the inside-out, rather than being that concerned about a tattoo making me feel whole as Frank. I was comfortable in his skin, and that was enough for me.
What’s next for you?
I’m working opposite of Peter Dobson and Louis Mandylor in a really cool, neo-noir film called Dirty Dead on Men, it will be out this fall. In April, I’ll be in London working on the film False Witness by director Tom Sands; hell of a script and really excited about it. And Bad Frank will be getting released this June in the US…hoping people will get to see it in the UK!
A big thank you to Kevin Interdonato for taking the time to talk to us about the intense and surprising thriller Bad Frank. You can follow Kevin on social media on Twitter: @KevinIntro and Facebook: @TheKevinIntr and we will keep you updated on when Bad Frank will be coming to the UK.