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Neal McDonough relied on his faith to weather tough times in Hollywood.
In 2010, the actor claimed he was fired three days after filming the ABC series “Scoundrels” because he wouldn’t agree to see sex scenes onscreen. While the show only lasted one season, the 56-year-old said he was blacklisted by the industry.
“There was a time when I didn’t work,” the 56-year-old told Fox News Digital. “I couldn’t find a job because people thought I was this crazy religious guy. But I wasn’t. I love my wife, but I also love my acting. I was hoping that at some point someone would give me another chance.”
The devout Catholic clause was not new. From 2008 to 2009, McDonough starred in “Desperate Housewives” where he played Nicolette Sheridan’s husband. McDonough had a no-kissing rule that prompted series creator Marc Cherry to get creative with his writing. McDonough, who married his wife Ruvé in 2003, said, “I won’t kiss any other woman because these lips are for one woman only.”
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But after apparently receiving the boot of ‘Scoundrels’, McDonough had a “rough few years” trying to find work while remaining true to his religious beliefs.
“I remember falling to my knees and saying, ‘My God, why have you forgotten me? Why am I being punished so much?’ McDonough recalls, “And as soon as those words came out of my mouth, I realized how self-centered those questions were. God has given me so much. We all encounter challenges in our lives. I should be thankful – and thankful – for all the blessings I receive.”
That’s when McDonough said Graham Yost called. The star and screenwriter previously worked together on “Band of Brothers” in 2001.
“I remember, a few minutes later, I was sitting there at the kitchen table with Ruvé,” he said. “Graham called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to play the bad guy in the first one or two episodes of ‘Justified?’ I said, ‘Yes, yes I do.’ And after the first take, he came up to me and said, “Do you want to play bad guy all year? I joked, “Didn’t you know that was my game plan? That’s what I’m going to do.”
“And after ‘Justified’, everything was kind of forgotten. I was determined to give a really good performance and I did. And, you know, I realized that maybe I was taking part of my game I was working all the time, but maybe I wasn’t aware enough of what I could really do as an actor.”
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“I got through it on the other side,” McDonough continued. “I have worked so much over the past few years and I couldn’t be more grateful. I thank God everyday for all the blessings I receive, even in difficult times. Everyone always says, ‘Why work so much? My response is always, ‘They keep asking me, so I’m not going to stop.'”
McDonough said his career has only flourished since 2012’s ‘Justified’. The proud father of five said he couldn’t be more grateful to have been given a second chance on his terms.
“God gave me this gift of being an actor, and I’m not going to waste it,” he said. “I am now able to produce films with my wife. I am able to co-create projects. And I can continue to pursue my craft. I couldn’t be at a better place in my career. At every stage, I’ve had along the way, every challenge I’ve faced has built this moment. And it’s a moment that I really cherish. I’m proud of my work and what I can accomplish.”
McDonough stars in “Boon,” the action-packed sequel to “Red Stone” where his character Nick Boon must protect everything he stands for.
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And this time McDonough is playing a good guy.
“That was amazing,” he chuckled. “I’ve never had the opportunity to really play that kind of character before. And there’s kind of an on-screen romance with my co-star. She understood exactly who I was and what I wasn’t. I wouldn’t do. I put that out there. And it’s shocking how many people don’t want to do that stuff anyway. So once you put that out there, everybody’s much more comfortable.
“It was really wonderful to work with a cast like this,” he added. “I felt comfortable. And this movie is about a guy running from his past, but the past will always catch up with you. How do you deal with that when it finally catches up with you? What are you ready to do? how prepared are you to stand up for what is right?”
Although McDonough is known these days for playing villains on screen, he doesn’t mind flipping the script, when it’s done well.
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“The good guys are so dark and brooding now,” he said. “They’re really tortured, which makes the bad guy that much bigger, crazier, and more horrifying. Nick Boon doesn’t have a superpower. It’s just faith. And to me, that’s the biggest superpower that the “We can have. If you have faith, you love these types of characters, these types of almost 70s heroes where they have baggage, but at the end of the day, they’re going to figure out how to get the job done.”
“I’ve always loved westerns and neo-western movies that explore that theme. It hasn’t really been done in the last few years, but I feel like they’re finally coming back now. I couldn’t be happier gives us new opportunities to make these kinds of films.
“I played the lead, which is a big commitment,” McDonough explained. “But I infused a lot of myself into the character. He has his rosary. He explores faith in a unique way, and this time around, I’m playing a good guy. And on set, we also created a family atmosphere. We made this film with such pride. That was the goal.”
Today, McDonough continues to take on new roles and projects. And throughout his decades-long career, there’s one star he’s looked up to over the years.
“I remember we were doing ‘Band of Brothers’,” he explained. “We were about five days into filming. We went through this grueling boot camp where we were getting beat up. This guy came in from a helicopter. He had a long beard and long hair. It was Tom Hanks with his “Castaway” beard and hair.
“You haven’t seen him for several months. But he comes out and makes this speech explaining why we owe it to all those men and women who died for us. How World War II gave us the freedoms that we have today. How it is our job to never give up and do our best. How much we will give 100% of ourselves over the next 10 months to ensure we honor the men and women who died for us.
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“He was so emotional, and it meant the world to him,” he continued. “Then he got back in the helicopter to go back to the island he was on to shoot ‘Castaway’. “To be around a guy like Tom Hanks, you can’t help but be a better artist. Tom is an artist, but he is also a family man. He understands the position he is in and loves his life… He takes pride in his work. Tom lives in the light. We should all be more like Tom Hanks.”
In 2020, McDonough spoke to Fox News Digital about a few things he refuses to do in Hollywood.
“I will not mention the name of the Lord in vain, and then I will not kiss another woman,” McDonough said at the time. “The sex scenes aren’t there for me. And I think there’s enough sex scenes there, and me being in my 50s, I don’t know if anybody wants to see me do that kind of thing. anyway, but it’s a level of comfort.”
“I’m not very comfortable doing this,” the actor continued. “And I guess that’s probably why I play so many bad characters, because I love acting, and I’m really good at it. It’s a God-given talent, so for me to have a career, I have to be creative and smart and wise how I can keep doing what I’m doing.”