Paul Bettany reflected on his father coming out as gay, and how he felt forced to go back into the closet aged 83 after his partner of more than 20 years passed away.
The Avengers star, 49, told Total Film magazine that when his dad, Thane, came out to him aged 63, he and the rest of his family were just happy that he had found someone.
“It was a joyous relief for everybody, actually,” Bettany said.
Thane, an actor and keen ballet dancer, sparked a relationship with a man named Andy Clark after he and Bettany’s mother, Anne, a theatre teacher, divorced in 1993 following 25 years of mariage.
Thane lived with Andy in Fife, Scotland, while he carried on acting at the Dundee Repetory Theatre up until his death in 2015.
“And once his partner died [in 2015, months before Thane’s own death], he was in his 80s at that point, my dad decided to go back inside the closet and say that it had all been a big misunderstanding because he was a Catholic and concerned about getting past Peter through the pearly gates.
“The shame he felt for his sexual identity was devastating, he was unable to mourn the person who I think was the love of his life.”
Paul Bettany’s role in Uncle Frank let him explore what his father’s life could have been.
Paul Bettany stars in the upcoming Uncle Frank, playing a literature professor living in New York City who is in the closet to his homophobic family.
He and director Alan Ball bonded over their shared experiences, with Ball telling NewNowNext he believes that his father might have been gay.
Ball described coming out to his mother at 33, only for her to say that his own father “might have been that way, too”.
“We talked about it a lot, and the fact we both had very traumatic experiences in our adolescence and how those stayed with us,” Ball said of Bettany.
“For Paul, the movie became a chance for him to have his own ‘what if’ story about his father. What if he was able to really embrace who he was and live his life fully?”