Actor Sean Patrick Flanery poses for a photo at his residence in Cypress on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Flanery has released a new film, Frank and Penelope, which he directed, co-wrote and stars in.
Photo: Yi-Chin Lee / Staff Photographer
You can get the man out of Houston, but you can’t get Houston out of the man.
Sean Patrick Flanery, known for starring in everything from the crime ‘n’ grime film series Boondock Saints to the frothy daytime drama The Young & the Restless to the swashbuckling Adventures of Young Indiana Jones Prime time series, found this out the hard way. After moving to LA many years ago to further his career, Flanery returned to Houston in 2015 so his kids could be closer to family.
The only thing the actor — who was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana and raised in Houston where he attended Dulles High in Sugar Land and the University of St. Thomas in Montrose — did more than anything during his stay in the wilds of Hollywood other missing ? Lubys.
“If you go to Luby’s here in Cypress and don’t see me, I don’t have to be in town,” he enthuses over the phone recently. “I’m addicted to the square fish. I’m not afraid of a LuAnn Platter. If you’re hiding something from me, do it not Hide it under a LuAnn plate because I will find it.”
But Flanery, 56, an actor who works constantly but stays away from “Access Hollywood” stardom, may be moving far away from his beloved LuAnn Platter in the near future. He has just returned from Sestri Levante, Italy and Cannes, France, where he is making his directorial debut, the high-octane Texas-set love story Frank & Penelope, which he also co-stars and co-writes was at the Riviera International Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival.
Producer Allen Gilmer and Actor/Director Sean Patrick Flanery for “Frank & Penelope”
Photo: Jim Dobson
The film opens in US theaters on June 3, the same day as the premiere of season three of the hit streaming series The Boys, about spectacularly corrupt and violent caped crusaders. Flanery appears as a new character who goes by the brutally unsubtle name Gunpowder. He is also in pre-production on the third Boondock Saints film and starring in a pilot for the Rock Me series.
However, he is reluctant to see this rush of activity as any big moment when my time has come. “To be honest, I’m so lucky to have been in this industry for 30 years,” he says. “I always joke with my friends that I haven’t had to look for a real job since I moved to LA and got my first acting gig…Every time you get paid to do something you would do for free , man, your time came the day before.”
Into the ‘Wastelands’
“Frank & Penelope” – starring newcomers Caylee Cowan and Billy Budinich as lovers on the run who take off through the desert landscape in a beautiful 1968 Dodge Coronet Super Bee and find themselves in a dusty town (actually the towns of Terlingua and Lajitas) , run by a cult — is a nod to any American film fueled by sexual tension, violent spasms, and clouds of gasoline fumes on a two-lane asphalt pavement. Think Wild at Heart. Think “True Romance”. Think Thelma & Louise.
But the film that most inspired Flanery was Badlands, the 1973 crime drama starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek and directed by another Texan, Terrence Malick. “I’m not trying to imitate any art. I just wanted that feeling, that feeling when I first saw Badlands,” he says. “It was like those weird outlaws… It was like their isolated love created those weird situations… So I didn’t pull anything directly from any story. I just remembered how this movie made me feel. And so I chased that feeling.”
“Frank & Penelope” is based on a story by John Thaddeus that seemed to have more of a horror vibe. Executive producer Allen Gilmer, a former oil and gas and software executive who co-founded Redbud Studios in Austin, says the elements are a little “too ‘Hills Have Eyes’.”
Kevin Dillon, Caylee Cowan and Billy Budinich in Frank & Penelope
Photo: Tilu Loigu
So Flanery retooled it. “What’s important to me is that if there’s no love element at the heart of the story, I tend not to bother with it, regardless of genre,” he says. “And some of the horror movies — and I was in a ‘Saw’ (‘Saw: The Final Chapter’) — the ones that are just horror for horror’s sake don’t really move me.”
Aside from Flanery in a supporting role as the club manager and Kevin Dillon as the cop, the film is mostly populated by unfamiliar faces. But Flanery doesn’t think his two leads will remain anonymous for long.
“We saw every name we could think of and there was a litany of really, really good auditions, but there was something unique about Caylee and Billy,” he says. “When I wrote (the screenplay), I wrote it for a young Montgomery Clift. I wrote it for a young James Dean. I wrote it for the tender presence of Audrey Hepburn but the violent sexuality of Marilyn Monroe. And only Caylee and Billy brought those qualities with them.”
Flanery says he wasn’t particularly nervous about directing his first film because he’s been interested in what goes on behind the scenes since the early days of his career. Gilmer says any concerns he had about an inexperienced director who also starred in the film and co-wrote the screenplay were allayed early in the process.
“What really interests me about Sean is that he’s an extremely disciplined man,” explains Gilmer. “You don’t (easily) become an American Jiu-Jitsu champion. You have to have a tremendous amount of focus and discipline… And when we were putting him around directing and then he said he wanted to take the script and rewrite it, I was like, ‘Yes’. because I really like the idea of a director making a script their own.”
Sean and “The Boys”
The synchronicity that his film lands on the same day that such a popular project as “The Boys” returns does not escape him. “You see, I’ve made a career out of making films that no one sees. So whenever you have the opportunity to do a hit TV show like The Boys…” he says, and then falls silent. “I mean,[showrunner]Eric Kripke is one of the most brilliant television creators on planet earth today. So if he decides to have you on his TV series, man, I’ll do that every day and twice on Sunday.”
Director Sean Patrick Flanery and actors Johnathon Shaech and Donna D’Errico
If his newfound notoriety means he’s recognized more often while digging into his square fish, Flanery says that while he appreciates his anonymity, he’s up for it. Flanery says it’s a minor issue overall.
“Sure, there are people with far greater careers than mine, but I don’t envy them and I don’t take my career for granted at all and I’m incredibly grateful for every waking moment,” he says. “I mean I had real jobs. I worked at Church’s Fried Chicken. I have transported pianos for Atlas Van Lines. I put culverts in driveways.”
He even had a Houston Chronicle newspaper route by the age of eight.
“So it didn’t escape my notice that I should wake up every day and be like, ‘Man, today is a wonderful day.'”