'Ball' Talk

Alan Ball & Paul Bettany on exorcising demons of the past in ‘Uncle Frank’

Director Alan Ball with Peter Macdissi and Paul Bettany on the set of UNCLE FRANK
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

You know the work of Paul Bettany and Alan Ball.

Bettany, of course, has made a career specializing in flamboyant, often villainous characters in such films as The Da Vinci Code, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, as well as as the iconic superhero Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Alan Ball cut his teeth writing for television on sitcoms such as Cybil and Grace Under Fire before winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for American Beauty. He subsequently went on to create the addictive TV series True Blood and Six Feet Under, both of which draw on his experiences as a gay man.

Related: Will Alan Ball’s New Series, “Banshee,” Be Another “True Blood”?

Now the pair team up for Ball’s latest writer/directorial outing, Uncle Frank. Set in the 1970s, the film tells the story of college professor Frank Bladsoe, a gay man who escaped his small-town South Carolina upbringing for a life in the big city with his boyfriend Wally (Peter Macdissi, Ball’s real-life boyfriend). When Frank’s niece Beth (Sophia Lillis) enrolls in the university, Wally & Frank take her under their collective wing. But when word arrives that Frank’s father has died, the three return to South Carolina as dark memories from Frank’s past surface, along with his alcoholism. Judy Greer, Steve Zahn, Lois Smith and Margo Martindale also star.

We snagged time with Ball and Bettany to discuss the film, Ball’s inspiration, and Bettany’s stepping into a very different kind of role. Uncle Frank lands on Amazon November 25.



Video Editor: David Beerman.