Here’s a reason to sign up for Foxtel’s newest streaming platform (there is a 15-day free trial on offer), Binge! You can catch Hugh Jackman in one of his finest roles as a closeted conman in the dark comedy Bad Education. Jackman plays real-life Frank Tassone, a celebrated educator, who also embezzled $11.2 million over two decades.

Bad Education is rated 93 % on Rotten Tomatoes with the critics consensus being “anchored by an outstanding Hugh Jackman, Bad Education finds absurd laughs — and a worthy message — in the aftermath of a real-life scandal.”

This is not the first time that Jackman is playing a gay character – in 2003, fresh from his international success as Wolverine in the X-Men series – Jackman starred in the title role in the Broadway musical The Boy From Oz based on the life and music of Australian singer and song writer Peter Allen.

Unless you have been living under a rock under the Subway Sauna, you would know that  “gay rumours” have followed Jackman pretty much his entire career. His reaction has ranged from genuine anguish to cheerful acceptance of his role as a “gay icon.”

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 In a 2013 interview, he told 60 Minutes that he found it frustrating as it upset his wife Deborra-Lee Furness. ”If I was, I would be,” he said. In 2019, speaking at a New Zealand university, he said he didn’t care if people thought he was gay and he was proud to be a “gay icon.”

Meanwhile Deborra-Lee is set to direct three special episodes of Neighbours that will deal with a gay couple looking to start a family and how they navigate the adoption laws in Australia.

About his role as Tassone, Jackman had this to say in an interview with Variety: “He’s hiding — and then he was hiding from his partner also. And it just adds to the layers of him creating a version of himself that he thought would be successful. Being a gay man was not part of that. And that’s what was interesting to me.”

Jackman as Tassone and Allison Janney as his accomplice Pamela Gluckin won praise from critics and audiences alike.

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 So, what did the real-life Tassone think about it?

While he was pleased with Jackman’s performance, he was miffed about how he was portrayed.

In an interview on The Coach Mike Podcast, Tassone said, “I’m not ashamed of being a gay man, and again, they made it seem somewhat sordid.”

He was not happy that the film showed him cheating on his husband with a younger lover. Tassone said he was in an “open relationship.”

 

Hugh Jackman & Rafael Casel in Bad Education

 

Tassone,  as school district superintendent in Rosalyn, New York was credited with turning around the public school system in the 199os and early 2000 to one of the best in America. He also hustled the system to steal millions from school funds to finance everything from a Concorde flight to laundry bills and some plastic surgery. His reign came to an end when a student reporter busted the scam and Tassone ended up in prison before being released in 2010.

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Bad Education premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and HBO purchased the rights for a staggering $20 million.

Before the Binge trial period runs out, also catch these queer other titles:

Looking: Both seasons of this series as well as the film that focussed on contemporary gay lives as it follows three friends in San Francisco is a must watch.

Pose: 1980s New York, the Houses, feuds, the ballroom culture and Billy Porter. What is not to recommend about this award winning American drama series.

Gentleman Jack: Inspired by a true story this eight-part series is a lesbian romance set in West Yorkshire in 1832.

Some other titles on Binge which are iconic queer films include; Brokeback Mountain, The Normal Heart, Dallas Buyers Club, Philadelphia, and series Angels In America and Six Feet Under.

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