Is Frank Bledsoe based on a real person? Let’s explore the Uncle Frank character, while considering Alan Ball and Paul Bettany’s thoughts.

Alan Ball is back with a new directorial feature, Uncle Frank, which whisks audiences back to the year of 1973.

It tells the story of Frank Bledsoe (played by Paul Bettany), who takes a road trip with his 18-year-old niece Beth (Sophia Lillis) from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina.

They’re headed to a family funeral when Frank’s lover – Walid (played by Peter Macdissi) – joins them along the way.

Looking back, Alan won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for 1999’s American Beauty, going on to create the TV shows Six Feet Under and True Blood.

With his latest, Alan is telling a somewhat personal story, but is Frank Bledsoe a real person?

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Uncle Frank: Is Frank Bledsoe a real person?

  • No, Frank Bledsoe is not a real person. However, Uncle Frank serves as a semi-autobiographical piece of work in a sense.

In an interview with ScreenRant, the writer-director opened up about the connection between himself and the titular character. When he was 13-years-old, he was in a car accident which resulted in the death of his sister. She was driving and he describes that the loss changed his life:

“… it’s something I’ve been running from for most of my early life… For years, I blamed myself because she was driving me to my piano lesson. Frank’s experience with Sam and his blaming himself, although it’s not the exact same thing, it’s about how do you live with yourself when you survived something that took someone who you loved very, very much? How do you get past that?”

He continued to explain the parallels between Uncle Frank and his own experiences: “I think the way that he’s dealt with it is to leave town and build a new life for himself in New York, and think, ‘Okay, well, I left all that behind me.’ But you never really leave it behind you.”

Reflecting on the film’s message of “it’s never too late to start to heal from the worst thing that ever happened to you,” he adds: “In a way, Frank’s beginning of his healing process is a way for me to work on my continual healing process of my own.”

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Paul Bettany on Uncle Frank

The story of Uncle Frank was also inspired by the time Alan’s mother revealed to him that his father might have been gay.

As those who have seen the film will know, it deals with themes of concealing your sexuality, as Frank is a gay man who hasn’t yet come out to his family.

Alan himself is gay. Additionally, the theme of hidden sexuality struck a chord with Paul Bettany, who explained in an interview with CinemaBlend that he knows this still remains an issue:

“I have a friend who is a first assistant director, who will remain nameless, who is still closeted to his family. And in America, and found himself in an industry where that is entirely acceptable, and he has still hidden that aspect of his life to protect his mother.”

Fans praise the 2020 movie

In wake of the film’s release on Amazon Prime Video, a number of viewers have taken the time to praise the film on Twitter.

Check out a selection of tweets:

In other news, where was it filmed?