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Paul Bettany Says Playing Gay in “Uncle Frank” Is A Tribute To His Gay Dad

YouTube: Amazon Prime (screenshot)

Uncle Frank, a film about a closeted gay man who comes out to his family is the latest of a string of films featuring an LGBTIQA character.

In the film Uncle Frank by writer and director Alan Ball (American Beauty), a closeted gay man goes on a road trip from Manhattan to his home town in South Carolina with his niece and boyfriend.

In an interview with The BINGE Guide, Paul Bettany, who plays Frank an alcoholic gay professor, spoke about the personal nature of the story.

In the film, Bettany’s character must take his niece’s advice and come out as gay to his family, which mirrors the life of the actor’s own father, who came out when he was 63.

“When I read the script I was going to turn it down on the grounds that it felt very personal to me,” Bettany tells The BINGE Guide.

“My father was a gay man who came out to me when he was 63, then when his partner died when he was in his early 80s, he went back in the closet because he was a Catholic and thought it was a mortal sin.”

Bettany, who played the Vision in Marvel’s Avenger films, went on to say, “I was scared about going there, but then Alan told me the story of his coming out to his mother, which didn’t go anywhere near as well as Frank coming out to his mother, so it turned out we were both involved in a project where we wanted to put things right.”

Talking about the themes of prejudice, acceptance and redemption explored in the film Bettany said, “I wanted to imagine what things could have been like for my father if he had just got right with himself and accepted himself and his sexuality, which very sadly brought my father a lot of shame. So for me it was a very cathartic experience to imagine a different outcome.”

Uncle Frank lives a double life and keeps his sexuality hidden from his family, a theme which Bettany knows all too well.

“When my father came out, nobody was that surprised, and actually, it was a relief to everybody. And I think the whole family had much more trouble with him when he went back into the closet than we ever did with him coming out,” he explains.

During the interview Bettany reflected on his childhood and going to school in the suburbs.

“Growing up, I literally didn’t understand homophobia until I went to school in the suburbs, where I felt very alienated. People find out you have a very different lifestyle with very different family friends from the family friends that they might have. So I was very bullied because of it, which was very confusing for me. I had a very different experience than most teenage boys growing up,” Bettany said.

When asked about playing gay as a straight man, Bettany said he raised his concern with Alan but ultimately decided to accept the role based on his father’s experience.

Uncle Frank, streaming Wednesday, November 25 on Amazon Prime Video check out the trailer below.

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