First off, how are you?
I’m good, thank you. Just getting over a cold.
Congratulations on the release of Uncle Frank. Not only did you co-produce the film, you also play the role of Wally, a gay man from the Middle East and Frank’s (Paul Bettany) longtime partner. When Alan was writing Uncle Frank, did you know instantly you wanted to play Wally? And what drew you to the role as an actor?
I loved it the moment I read the script. I thought it was very moving and very funny. I did ask Alan if he thought I’d be the best choice for playing Wally as it was so different from all the roles I’ve played. He’s such a ray of light in the script and filled with so much positivity and optimism. It was a nice break from playing intense and traumatized characters!
How do you think people will relate to Wally? And what did you find most resembled your personal character or experiences?
I think people will relate to him because we all have a little Wally inside of us, the difference is that he was never afraid of showing it. He’s such a warrior in this respect. Nothing and no one would deter him from the loving person he is.
Uncle Frank stars an impressive cast of Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Judy Greer, Margot Martindale, Steven Rootand Steven Zahn among others, most of whom are known for their outstanding comedic performances as well. What was it like every day on the set?
Everyday was an adventure. Our budget was so small and our schedule so short, we never knew if we’d be able to nail the scenes creatively and technically. But it was a joy to be working with such a vast array of talent. Truly exciting and inspiring inspiring.
The film finely balances drama with comedic moments to relieve the dramatic tension, making it a highly enjoyable and relatable melodrama for young and old. Do you have a favorite scene in the film that stuck with you the most?
I enjoyed working on most scenes, with the possible exception of the fight scene in the motel, which was actually my first day of shooting, so the the stakes were high and we really needed to hit that possible breaking point in the relationship. Both Paul and I were pretty bruised and banged up the next day! But I loved the hallway scene where Wally confronts Frank about his drinking as well as the party scene at their house in N.Y.