“I had a gay father who died a couple of years ago,” he told Total Film magazine. “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.”
Thane, who was also a performer, began his relationship with Clark following his divorce from Bettany’s mother, Anne, in 1993 after 25 years of marriage. Thane and Andy would go on to have a happy life in Scotland until Andy’s death in 2015. Thane died a few months later, according to reports.
“Once his partner died, 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,” Bettany continued. “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.”
The parallels of his dad’s life nearly made Bettany turn down his role in Uncle Frank, where he plays a gay New York University professor who travels to South Carolina in the 1970s to confront his past — including his homophobic father, Daddy Mac, played by Stephen Root.
Uncle Frank director Alan Ball also opened up about how he believed his father might have been gay, explaining to NewNowNext that he and Bettany connected over their similar upbringings.
“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 explained. “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?”
Uncle Frank is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.