‘Multiverse:’ Sandra Mae Frank on deaf representation and doppelgängers

Munro Chambers as Gerry, Robert Naylor as Danny, and Sandra Mae Frank as Amy in the sci-fi thriller film, MULTIVERSE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban
Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

Sandra Mae Frank stars as Amy in Gaurav Seth’s newest film, the sci-fi thriller Multiverse. We got to chat about the film, deaf opportunities and her awesome upcoming projects.

Synopsis: Colleagues Loretta, Danny, Amy and Gerry are on the verge of an amazing breakthrough in quantum physics when tragedy strikes. Racing to complete the experiment, Loretta dies in a fiery car accident. Five months later, as the trio struggle to move on with their lives and the work they’d started, Loretta returns. She’s full of energy, enthusiasm, seemingly unaware she’s been gone for months. Are the friends losing their collective minds or has something remarkable happened? Soon, each of them comes face to face with their dead ringer. Professional rivalries and personal relationships surface and the friends realize only one version of them can exist in our reality. A violent correction is necessary to maintain order.

Check out my Q&A with Sandra!

What attracted you to the film and your character, Amy?

Sandra: I’m a big fan of sci-fi movies. The sci-fi stories I grew up with with my dad, we would always watch sci-fi and I would always sit there and be like, ‘oh, I would want a deaf actor in there. Sci- fi is such a great genre. Really any genre is absolutely amazing, but in sci-fi, they have a lot of opportunities and you can make up rules for sci-fi. And a deaf person could be a part of that world. It could be anything, whatever comes to mind. We could touch on so much and I can get so in depth with it. But when I got the script for Multiverse, Amy, the character, and I, we are so opposite. I like that though. And so I auditioned with a self tape and then I got a callback with their feedback and notes from the director and their team. And I sent in another one and then I was in, I got the role! The story was so great, it was just awesome. And we filmed in 2018 but I still keep in contact with a lot of the directors that cast and everything. I’m a big fan of Munro. He’s from de Grassi, and I’m a huge fan of his. So that was really cool working alongside him and Marlee Matlin as well. I did know that she was going to be involved as Amy’s mom and so that was another reason why I just had to get this role. She has made history.

What was it like working with the cast? The chemistry among the four of you was wonderful. And then also with you and Marlee, it was just incredible.

Sandra: Thanks. Me and Munro and Rob and Paloma, we are all from different areas and we all came into Sudbury Ontario, where we were located, in the same hotel for four weeks together, nowhere to go and no other people to hang out with, just stuck with the four of us together. I kind of enjoyed that because the camaraderie and the connection in this story for the four of us, it’s like we grew up together. We talked about our growing up and they didn’t really outcast me because I was deaf at all, it was absolutely amazing. I did teach them some sign, but they know I sometimes lip read but I just had such great conversations with them before the shoot. I would share my experience with them and they would share their perspectives with me and we would just talk about random things. We would go out and would have beers together and we would walk, just to go for walks, and we went to an island one time on the ferry and we actually really connected that day like family. It wasn’t just like, ‘Oh, we’re working together. That’s cool,’ we actually had that camaraderie, that chemistry that everybody saw on screen. We didn’t really have to try, it was just there. And working with Marlee, we had already known each other beforehand and we worked on Spring Awakening together, but it doesn’t really count because we had no scenes together. Our characters never touched each other in the play, so I was able to mess with her and I did. She took it and she’s a very good sport so we were able to have that camaraderie.

Munro Chambers as Gerry, Robert Naylor as Danny, Sandra Mae Frank as Amy, and Paloma Kwiatkowski as Loretta in the sci-fi thriller film, MULTIVERSE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
What was it like working with Shauna Black who voiced the multiverse version of Amy?

Sandra: We actually didn’t work together. She was post production.

Oh, wow. How did filming work for those scenes?

Sandra: I loved playing the doppelganger. I want to do more of these kinds of roles, I did enjoy doing that, the two different characters. I had to kind of pretend to swap, like I did have a double in front of me, but I had to kind of feed myself which is weird. I had a wonderful double, no hate on them, but I just had to kind of imagine what I would do as one Amy and with other Amy, I would kind of have to respond to myself and it was ‘Whoa.’ It made me think in a specific order or a way, but the director Gaurav was really wonderful. He gave me feedback, ideas, perspectives of different things that he wanted to see and it was really fascinating. And I do sign differently with both characters. And one really cool thing is, I can’t explain a lot about it yet, of course, but there’s a specific thing, there’s one really cool part and you’ll know when you see it. But it wasn’t that hard for me. I don’t want to say too much, but it was a wonderful challenge. I got to kind of box with myself.

Have you personally ever thought of how you might react to seeing yourself from a multiverse?

Sandra: I’d be very curious, like, are you a good or bad person? I guess I’d have to feel the energy, like is this other Sandra friendly, would I have to defend myself in a fight right now? That would be my first instinct. I’ve watched enough movies to know what could happen, you know, always be on guard. But I would, for sure, have a conversation and try to figure out like, ‘now what? What do we do?’ I’m a problem solver naturally. I’m the total opposite of Amy, I stand up for myself. Amy is very sweet and shy, not really vulnerable, but she’s reserved, she tries to fit in. I’m totally the opposite of that. I feel sometimes too aggressive or sometimes I want to get involved too much. I kind of have to back off a little bit. 

Do you have any favorite moments or any funny stories from filming?

Sandra: Yes, where I was on the moped. I have never driven a moped before, I’d like to say that. I mean, I did have training and they taught me everything, of course, and there was a shooting scene where I was on a moped. I did have time to practice on, you know, a flat, soft level. It was easy. It was grounded. It was super easy. But then when the time came and I actually had to get on the moped and ride, of course Marlee Matlin was there. Where the moped was in the route. It was very rocky and uphill, not what I prepared for. So, I’m on the moped and the first scene comes up, and I’m like, ‘oh, boy, no, no,’ and I’m just kind of going back and forth and Marlee’s, like, ‘come on, you can do it. You can do it. Just toughen up. You can do it.’ I go off and there was one good scene and that was it. That’s all we got. And there was another one on the highway and I had to drive pretty fast. I was totally safe and protected. I never felt in danger and it was really a fun challenge for me to do. That was a good memory. Yeah. And then the water! The ocean! That’s all I’m going to say.

Sandra Mae Frank as Amy and Marlee Matlin as Dierdre in the sci-fi thriller film, MULTIVERSE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Without saying too much about the ending, what was your reaction to it?

Sandra: So when I read the script, I’m pretty good at picturing scenes and so when I watched how the ending went, I didn’t see that coming. It caught me off guard and that says a lot. I usually can catch the actors and how they’re gonna play it, I usually can catch it. They did a great job with the editing, and I kind of knew up until the end, but nope, it caught me off guard. It gave me chills, actual goosebumps. When I watched it, you know, it was 2019 or 2020, I don’t remember but they sent me the private version of it and I watched it. My friends and I watched and I enjoy watching their reactions. Whether they’re positive or negative. I don’t care. I’m just curious about people’s true reactions. But it gave them goosebumps too. I didn’t even see that coming. It was amazing.

Since this is a sci-fi thriller film, and you mentioned earlier that not a lot of deaf actors and actresses get to be a part of those, what do you think this means going forward?

Sandra: Oh, I think that there’s gonna be many more opportunities. We just had our first deaf, black superhero (Lauren Ridloff) in The Eternals. She doesn’t speak, she only uses sign language and she has amazing abilities. And in sci-fi, you can set up your rules, it doesn’t have to be clear. It’s just accepted. I don’t want to ruin anything but she has the power of speed. It means that she can feel the vibrations including everything, if hearing people are speaking, she can feel that too. So, you set up your own rules and then it’s good to go… sometimes it might be limited for the deaf actors, but it’s not always like that… “Supernatural” also has a deaf actor in it, Shoshanna Stern. She uses her voice and she speaks and sometimes signs but they have a power device thing that they could use, it’s on her hand. It gets me excited every time I see a deaf person involved in something like that. Like, how do they do it? It’s just fascinating to me. 

Thank you for that, I’ll check them out. So, what’s next for you?

Sandra: I’m currently on NBC’s TV Show “New Amsterdam.” I’m Dr. Elizabeth Wilder.
It’s every Tuesday on NBC 10:00/9:00. And I love that role so much. It was very challenging. I often play a young role, which is great, but this role is much more mature and wiser and more modern, queer too, so I love it. Working on the show has really been wonderful. I’m in New York right now working on that show. It’s been amazing. And I will be co directing a production at the Olny Theater in Maryland. I’m going to be directing The Music Man. And I’m going to be co directing with Michael Baron, with the lead Harold Hill played by Joey Caverly. He was just in the TV show called “Only Murders in the Building” on Hulu. I saw him in that and I grabbed him for The Music Man. It’s been very exciting. So that’s gonna be out in June, this summer.

Is there anything else that you would like to add about Multiverse?

Sandra: Yes, so when you watch the movie, just come in with an open mind and be curious.

Munro Chambers as Gerry, Robert Naylor as Danny, Sandra Mae Frank as Amy, and Paloma Kwiatkowski as Loretta in the sci-fi thriller film, MULTIVERSE, a Saban Films release. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.
Multiverse is now available in theaters and On Demand and Digital