Peter Macdissi interview: ‘Uncle Frank’
“Everybody needs a Wally!” exclaims actor Peter Macdissi. He is referring to his loveable character in the Amazon film “Uncle Frank.” Wally is the longtime partner of the titular Frank (Paul Bettany). The pair end up journeying from New York City to Frank’s hometown in the south, to a conservative family that doesn’t know of the pair’s relationship. Nevertheless, Wally is a source of positivity and exuberance who lifts up the traumatized people around him. Macdissi believes that the Wallys of the world are necessary “to make life more palatable” and find the positives in every situation. “I’ve learned from Wally,” admits the actor, “to appreciate the little things.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“Uncle Frank” is written and directed by Oscar and Emmy winner Alan Ball, Macdissi’s real life partner. “I just cried my eyes out,” says Macdissi of the first time he read the script. The touching story covers a ton of terrain. It tackles coming out, coming of age, family connection, and self acceptance. The actor was particularly struck by Wally’s character: a gay Muslim man who was able to happily reconcile his faith and sexuality. In 1970’s America no less. According to Macdissi, “he’s the character that knew himself the most.”
While some Hollywood couples actively avoid working together, “Uncle Frank” is the latest project in a long collaborative history between Macdissi and Ball. This includes the series “Six Feet Under” and “Here and Now.” The actor explains that “it’s not always the easiest thing to do, but when it’s done properly it can be magical.” The extreme levels of trust between the pair enable them to work seamlessly and successfully together.
Macdissi is also a producer on “Uncle Frank.” He started exploring producing due to “the scarcity of roles that I wanted to play.” Being involved in projects at this level has helped him more fully understand the business, and focus on telling stories that he finds important and emotionally resonant. This includes movies like “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” for which he was Emmy nominated for Best TV Movie. “Uncle Frank” continues his tradition of diving into intimate tales of connection. As Macdissi puts it, he wants to present stories “that tell you about the human condition.”