The real Frank Tassone, the man portrayed by Hugh Jackman in the new HBO film “Bad Education,” says he thought Jackman did a “good job” portraying him but criticized how the film approached his sexuality and domestic partnership.
“Bad Education” tells the true story of a Long Island superintendent who embezzled $2.2 million of taxpayer money from the school district. The real Tassone, who was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison for larceny but was released on good behavior in 2010, spoke on the Coach Mike Podcast with host Mike Bayer and said that only about “40-50%” of “Bad Education” is accurate.
“He did a very good job portraying me,” Tassone said on the podcast, even thanking Jackman for defending his work as a superintendent during a recent appearance on “Today.” “I think he did a good job playing me, especially at the end when I’m in prison and I walk out and I see what I lost because I did something so terrible. And that really hit home for me.”
Tassone was emotional in the interview and remorseful for his “terrible” actions, and he added that at times the film was hard to watch.
“It was difficult. Very difficult. You know, I recognize that what I did was wrong and I broke the law, but that was 20 years ago and I finally thought, you know, I could go forward,” he said. “And for it to come all back 20 years later brought back feelings that were hurtful and that were warranted in many respects. So, it was a challenging time to watch the movie.”
Some SPOILERS for “Bad Education” follow.
Tassone did however criticize how the movie portrayed his sexuality and certain details of his relationships. In the film, Tassone is revealed as a gay man who has an affair in Las Vegas with a former student, something he keeps a secret from a man whom we discover is his domestic partner of 35 years (now 45 years). While Tassone did buy a home in Las Vegas as part of his affair, the man was never a former student, and Tassone says that his domestic partner Steven was aware that they were in an open relationship.
“I did not keep secrets from Steven,” he said. “What bothered me terribly was it was never a former student.”
The real Tassone is a widower of a marriage to a woman, as the film shows, but Tassone felt the film also implied that his partner Steven was unaware of his former marriage and that his marriage wasn’t strong.
“There was a lot of implication, or at least I felt, that i didn’t have a wonderful marriage or didn’t love her so very much, which I did,” Tassone said. “I almost felt it was disrespectful to her, and I loved her very much.”
Tassone added that he didn’t understand why his sexuality was brought up and called the film’s portrayal of it “somewhat sordid.”
“That upset me as well, because I’m not ashamed of being a gay man, and again, they made it seem somewhat sordid,” Tassone said. “That bothered me and upset me when the detective questioned Steven, and he implied that Steven didn’t even know I was married. That was not the case. And I don’t understand why they had to bring my sexuality into the film.”
Check out the whole podcast here. “Bad Education” is streaming now on HBO.