‘My gay father went back in the closet’: Paul Bettany reveals his strict Catholic dad had a 20-year romance with a man but called his sexuality a ‘misunderstanding’ after his lover died
- Paul said: ‘I had a gay father who died a couple of years ago. He came out of the closet at 63. He then had a 20-year relationship with a man called Andy’
- He added that when his lover died, his Catholic dad, Thane, felt great shame – he said: ‘He was unable to mourn the person who I think was the love of his life’
- Thane, an actor, dancer and teacher was with his lover following his divorce from Paul’s mother, Avengers star, Anne
- The family suffered a tragedy when Bettany’s brother passed away aged 8 after slipping in a freak accident – he said life was never the same again
- Paul admitted his sadness over this nearly made him turn down the role in his upcoming movie, Uncle Frank
- Set in the 1970s, Uncle Frank is a movie about a gay man who confronts his past. The family drama is set mainly in South Carolina
Paul Bettany has revealed his gay father, Thane, felt forced to go back into the closet aged 83 after his male lover of 20 years passed away.
The actor, 49, told Total Film magazine his dad later claimed his homosexuality was ‘a big misunderstanding’ because he was a strict Catholic and was ‘worried about his place in heaven’.
Paul said: ‘I had a gay father who died a couple of years ago. He came out of the closet at 63. He then had a 20-year relationship with a man called Andy Clark. It was a joyous relief for everybody, actually.
‘Once his partner died, [in the 80s] he [my dad] 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.
‘My gay father went back in the closet’: Paul Bettany revealed his dad had a 20-year romance with a man but called his sexuality a ‘misunderstanding’ after his lover died (pictured in 2018)
Paul said: ‘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’ (pictured, his father Thane in 2003)
‘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.’
Thane, an actor, dancer and teacher was with his lover Andy for two decades following his divorce from Paul’s mother, Avengers star and theatre teacher, Anne.
Thane taught at Queenswood School, an all-girls boarding school near Hatfield, Hertfordshire, and Paul and his family, lived on the campus.
Paul told The Guardian: ‘I was brought up in Willesden in London. We used to live in a little railway cottage with an outside toilet…
‘I shared a bedroom with my older sister for a long time, then my parents had a third child, my brother, so my dad decided he wanted to move out of London.
‘We moved into a house tied to a girls’ public boarding school in Hertfordshire in exquisite grounds.’
His love: Paul with his wife Jennifer Connelly, who he married in January 2003 – pictured at the Louis Vuitton show in March 05, 2019 in Paris, France
Family: Paul’s mother Anne Bettany, is also a teacher and actress (pictured). Paul said: ‘ I didn’t really talk to my parents about much so I’m hard pushed to say what values they instilled’
He added: ‘ I didn’t really talk to my parents about much so I’m hard pushed to say what values they instilled.
‘My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. They’d moved away and became expats in Spain and then something went wrong and they came back to live with us in our house.’
Bettany suffered tragedy in his childhood and in 2015, he reflected on his spiral of drug and alcohol abuse following the death of his younger brother, Matthew.
Paul’s younger sibling Matthew died aged eight after fracturing his skull in a freak accident after falling onto concrete from a tennis pavilion roof at Queenswood.
Hurt: Paul admitted his sadness over this nearly made him turn down the role in his upcoming movie, Uncle Frank, (pictured) which tells the tale of a gay man who confronts his past
Paul was aged 16 and he has confessed he turned to alcohol and cocaine decades later to help him come to terms with his passing.
After leaving home and working as a street busker in the years after his brother’s death, the actor finally landed his breakthrough movie role in A Knight’s Tale in 2001, but became heavily dependent on the substances.
He recalled: ‘(It was) manic. I don’t know if I was aware I was numbing myself at the time. I don’t think (there was anger). It was nobody’s fault.
‘It was the awfulness that is bad luck. Had there not been a heavy dew that morning.’
He also told The Guardian: ‘My brother’s death blew the family apart. He had an accident and it was miserable. It coloured everything…
‘That was the end of family life from that point, as often happens in families where’s there’s a death of a child. The whole family explodes. Life was never the same again.’
A lookback: Thane as Tarak in Doctor Who Episode: ‘State of Decay’ in 1980
Tough: Paul shared this picture of himself as a child on Twitter – he suffered tragedy in his childhood when he lost his younger brother in a freak accident after he slipped over
Paul – who has two children Stellan, 16, and Agnes, eight, with his wife Jennifer Connelly – added the accident still impacts on his daily life and has caused him to feel increasingly anxious following the birth of his children.
In an interview with The Times newspaper, he said: ‘I think (the accident) is the very centre of my feeling that life is precarious, but I think I’m becoming better at it.
‘As more years pass without another catastrophe, I realise that the worst-case scenario often doesn’t happen.
‘I am definitely feeling calmer on that but don’t think it will ever entirely leave. It’s an indelible worry.’
Paul admitted his sadness over this nearly made him turn down the role in his upcoming movie, Uncle Frank.
He said that while he thought it was ‘beautifully done’, he ‘didn’t really want to go there’ and was ‘scared of it.’
Set in the 1970s, Uncle Frank is a movie about a gay man who confronts his past. The family drama is set mainly in smalltown South Carolina.
Bettany plays the title character, Frank Bledsoe, a literature professor teaching at New York University in the Seventies, safely removed from the judgmental eye of his belligerent father, Daddy Mac (Stephen Root).
Frank is gay and his decade-long partner is Walid (Peter Macdissi), a Saudi Arabian immigrant who escaped state-sanctioned homophobia in his own country.
But beyond the bigoted Daddy Mac, few members of Frank’s family know his ‘secret’, least of all his bright but unworldly teenage niece Betty (Sophia Lillis), who acts as a narrator and tells us that her Uncle Frank, her father’s brother, is the only grown-up she knows who looks her in the eye.
Uncle Frank streams on Amazon Prime Video from next Wednesday.
More to come: Sophia Lillis stars alongside Paul in the upcoming movie
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