Catholic Actor Neal McDonough on Keeping the Faith in Hollywood

neal_mcdonough_2015_2In my former life as a syndicated entertainment journalist, I got to know actor Neal McDonough, whose TV work includes HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” NBC’s “Boomtown,” FX’s “Justified” and TNT’s “Mob City” and “Public Morals.”

Currently located with wife Ruve and their five children in Vancouver, Canada, Massachusetts native McDonough has been working on such Canada-based shows as USA Network’s “Suits,” and The CW’s “Legends of Tomrrow,” “Arrow” and “The Flash” (all produced by Greg Berlanti), in which he plays Damien Darhk.

He also recently co-starred in, and was a producer for, the faith-based film “Greater.” We talked over the summer. Click here to read what he had to say about “Greater,” and more from our conversation is below.

comptonWith his bleached-blond hair (first acquired to play World War II hero Buck Compton in “Band”) and ice-blue eyes, McDonough often plays the bad guy. But in real life, he’s a devout Catholic and a political conservative — and one of the nicest guys I ever met in Hollywood.

But, being true to the Faith does carry a price in all aspects of life, and the entertainment industry is no different — especially when you’re a married man with mouths to feed.

Said McDonough on what he will and won’t do:

Two rules. I don’t use the Lord’s name in vain on TV or movies, and I don’t have sex scenes. How do I work as an actor after that? Okay, I’m the bad guy. I tell you, with five kids, I’ve got to keep working.

I’ve got to pay those bills. Every time I have a job, I have to figure out how to be the most creative and fun guy and great performance and all that stuff. Aside from that, I just love doing what I do. I have a great time doing it, and I’m blessed beyond belief to have the opportunity to keep working. I mean, this is 30 years in the business of constantly working on whatever. It’s been awesome.

On the advice given to him by Father Colm O’Ryan, pastor emeritus of Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills:

Go out and sin one less time today. Go out and drink one less drink today. Go out and do these things one less time today, and you’ll be doing your job as a child of God. That’s what he’s about. That’s what I try to do after I get to play bad guys on TVs and movies.

On working on “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” with fellow Catholic Kevin James:

We had Mass every day at lunch.

We hired the biggest suite at the Wynn Hotel. We’d fly priests in. We’d have Mass every day during the filming of this in Las Vegas at the Wynn Hotel.

Not for gambling, but for God. It was phenomenal. Kevin James — not only one of the greatest actors on set, but one of the greatest guys I’ve ever met. Gosh, what an amazing human being to do that. “All right, everyone in the cast, everyone in the crew. You want Mass? It’s going to be in suite 306. Let’s have at it. Every day.”

Is it a challenge to be a faithful Catholic in Hollywood? Sure. And sometimes you may have to make tough choices about roles. But as McDonough shows, it can be done.

Image: Wikimedia Commons, HBO

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