Peaky Blinders

Peaky Blinders Season 6 True Story: Who Is Jack Nelson’s Boston Gang z

Peaky Blinders season 6 has introduced a new antagonist gang leader: Jack Nelson. But who is the mysterious friend of the president based on?

In Peaky Blinders season 6, episode 1, there is constant reference made to Jack Nelson, who leads the Boston gangsters, but the true story behind the character of Jack Nelson is complex. Jack Nelson joins Thomas Shelby’s ever-growing list of adversaries while his cast of allies continues to dwindle. After the dramatic end of Peaky Blinders season 5 and the opening moments of season 6, it is clear that Thomas Shelby will have to face off against Jack Nelson, Oswald Mosley, the IRA, and his cousin Michael Gray before his arc comes to an end.

When Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) meets with Michael Gray (Finn Cole) in Peaky Blinders, it is to negotiate a business deal with Michael’s new associates. One of Michael’s men says that they will have to take the proposal to “Uncle Jack in Boston.” Tommy identifies this man as Jack Nelson, Gina Gray’s (Anya Taylor-Joy) uncle and a man with a sketchy past. Tommy’s later conversation with Gina makes it clear that Jack Nelson runs the Boston gang but also has political aspirations and is trying to divulge himself of any illegal trade. Gina goes as far as to say that Jack Nelson is having regular meetings with President Roosevelt.

Throughout its run, Peaky Blinders has had a somewhat tenuous connection with history. While characters and events are often based on true stories, Peaky Blinders tends to take things in their own direction, for example with Oswald Mosley in season 5 who was a real political figure but was altered in some ways to fit the TV show’s narrative. The most notable occurrence of this is with the Peaky Blinders themselves. While the Peaky Blinders might not exist as a group in season 6, the real street gang had lost most of their power by 1910, before the setting of Peaky Blinders season 1, and by the 1920s Billy Kimber’s gang had far surpassed them. So, with Peaky Blinders season 6, it can be expected that Jack Nelson will draw heavily on history, but the story will still be some distance from fact.

Who Plays Peaky Blinders’ Jack Nelson?

Jack Nelson does not appear in Peaky Blinders season 6, episode 1, remaining as a silent bogeyman. However, In season 6 Jack Nelson will be portrayed by the actor James Frecheville. James Frecheville was born in 1991, meaning that he is 15 years younger than Cillian Murphy and this can help Jack Nelson to be set up as part of the new world that Tommy Shelby no longer can find a place in. James Frecheville is best known for his roles as Jamie Sullivan in The Dry and as Feeney in Black ’47.

Who Is Peaky Blinders Newcomer Jack Nelson Based On?

When working out who Peaky Blinders’ season 6 antagonist, Jack Nelson, was based on, it can be tempting to look towards openly criminal organizations. In many ways the description provided in Peaky Blinders season 6, episode 1 would suggest that he might be based on Frank Wallace who ran the Irish-American Gustin Gang in Boston in the 1920s and 1930s. Frank Wallace was a formidable figure but was killed by the Italian-American mafia in 1931. His brother, Stephen Wallace, took over after his death, and could also have influenced the character of Jack Nelson, especially as the Italian-American gangs are mentioned as a threat to Nelson in Peaky Blinders season 6. However, while Frank and Stephen Wallace might have influenced some elements of Jack Nelson’s story, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight has actually confirmed that rather than being based on a gangster it is a politician: Peaky Blinders Jack Nelson is based on Joseph Kennedy Sr., the father of JFK.

While historians have refuted the claims, criminals such as Frank Costello insisted that they worked with Joseph Kennedy on bootlegging operations and that that is where he made his initial fortune. With basing Jack Nelson on Joseph Kennedy, Peaky Blinders appears to either be using this version of Kennedy Sr.’s history, or a melding him with the Wallace brothers for the sake of the narrative. After becoming a bank president at a very early age, Kennedy began to generate huge profits in real estate and during World War One he worked on the production of transports and warships which led to him being introduced to the future president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Later in life, Kennedy became particularly close with Roosevelt, was appointed as Chairman of the U.S. Maritime Commission and as the ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1938 until 1940.

While Joseph Kennedy was never convicted of any crimes, there are implications that he was involved in illegal and immoral dealings. This would all match up to the clean image that Gina implies Jack Nelson is attempting to cultivate. During the 1920s, Kennedy made a huge amount of money on Wall Street using tactics that would later be made illegal including insider trading but was able to mostly avoid the repercussions of the 1929 Wall Street crash. At the same time, he began investing in movies, production studios, and theaters. One man, Alexander Pantages refused to sell his 63 theaters to Kennedy and was later charged a tried for rape. While he claimed that Kennedy had set him up, Pantages’ public image was damaged and he had to accept a smaller offer from Kennedy for his theaters. The woman who had originally accused Pantages of rape claimed on her deathbed that Kennedy had indeed been behind the scheme to frame Pantages. Using all of this history about Joseph Kennedy can help Peaky Blinders to create a criminal in the form of Jack Nelson who commits white-collar crime and pursues unethical business deals as a contrast to previous antagonists who have been more inclined to get their hands dirty.

What Jack Nelson Could Mean For Peaky Blinders Season 6

The fact that Peaky Blinders season 6’s Jack Nelson is based on Joseph Kennedy Sr. will help the show to pay off a lot of the ideas that the show has teased and has been building towards. Peaky Blinders season 5 pitched Tommy Shelby against fascism in the form of Oswald Mosley, a threat that is still going to be relevant in the 1933 setting as Peaky Blinders nears World War II. Joseph Kennedy was ultimately removed from his post as the ambassador to the United Kingdom because of his anti-British sentiments and his lack of support for democracy. He repeatedly told reporters that the was about self-preservation and not about fighting off fascism, ultimately famously stating that “Democracy is finished in England.”

Peaky Blinders season 5 also saw the surprising return of Tom Hardy’s Alfie Solomons, and he will once again return for season 6. The Joseph Kennedy Sr. inspired Jack Nelson will be a particularly fitting foil for Solomons as Kennedy was rampantly antisemitic. In both public and private communications, Kennedy spoke out against Jews and regularly used slurs to refer to them. Kennedy went as far as to respond to reports of Nazi assaults on Jews by suggesting that “they brought it on themselves” and told the German ambassador to the United Kingdom that he sympathized with their plans to get rid of the Jews but disliked the publicity it created. If Jack Nelson embodies all of these views and actions, then he will make for a villain who can bring together all of the ideological battles that Thomas Shelby and his allies have been fighting throughout Peaky Blinders.

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