Catholic Actor Was Fired for Refusing to Perform Sex Scenes
'Band of Brothers' and 'RED 2' star Neil McDonough is open about his religious beliefs, but it's caused controversy
Neal McDonough (pictured above left) said he was surprised when he was fired from the ABC series “Scoundrels” in 2010 for refusing to engage in sex scenes with his co-star Virginia Madsen.
“I was [surprised], and it was a horrible situation for me,” the actor recently told Closer Weekly. “After that, I couldn’t get a job because everybody thought I was this religious zealot. I am very religious. I put God and family first, and me second. That’s what I live by. It was hard for a few years.”
Deadline.com previously reported McDonough, now 52, was suddenly replaced with David James Elliott three days into the filming of the series and was poised to lose “as much as $1 million in paydays.”
The New York Daily News added the network’s decision to replace McDonough was a shocker because he is known for refusing sex scenes due to his religious beliefs.
At the time, ABC explained the move was simply a casting change.
McDonough has been married to model Ruvé Robertson (above right) since 2003 and the couple shares five children. McDonough told the magazine that he’s so dedicated to his wife that he still refuses to do love scenes with other actresses.
“I won’t kiss any other woman because these lips are meant for one woman,” he declared.
McDonough told Closer Weekly he had no regrets ditching love scenes with his on-screen wife Nicollette Sheridan in “Desperate Housewives.” McDonough appeared in that series from 2008 until 2009.
“When [creator] Marc Cherry signed me, I said, ‘I’m sure you know, but I won’t kiss anybody,’” recalled McDonough. “He was like, ‘But this is ‘Desperate Housewives!’ I said, ‘I know.’ He paused for about five seconds and said, ‘All right, I’m just going to have to write better.’ And we had a great time.”
McDonough added he met Robertson on the first night he was in England to shoot the TV mini-series “Band of Brothers” in 2001.
“It was St. Patrick’s Day, and we literally bumped into each other on the street, locked eyes and that was it,” he recalled. “The next morning, I called the woman I was dating at the time and said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not going to work out with us anymore — I just met the woman I’m going to marry.'”
“I called the woman I was dating at the time and said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not going to work out with us anymore — I just met the woman I’m going to marry.'”
The pair has been together ever since.
“Almost 20 years, five kids and just one heck of an awesome life later, to have her as my partner in everything, I’m just the most blessed guy I know,” said McDonough. “That’s why I go to church every day and say thank you to God for everything He’s given me. And most importantly, thank you for giving me Ruvé, because, without her, I most certainly would not be talking with you right now.”
And these days McDonough is keeping busy.
He’s currently starring in History Channel’s “Project Blue Book” as General James Harding, an Air Force general determined to keep UFO sightings top secret.
The TV series, which is based on a true story, explores U.S. Air Force-sponsored investigations into UFO-related phenomenon from 1947-70. Former “Game of Thrones” star Aidan Gillen stars as Dr. Allen Hynek, an astrophysicist who serves as a consultant to the Air Force project where he assesses reports on UFO.
Hynek is credited with coining the phrase “close encounters of the third kind” to describe human meeting aliens from outer space. He later served as technical adviser to the 1977 Steven Spielberg film that had the same title.
McDonough told the magazine he immediately identified with his character.
“It’s not so much that he’s a good guy or a bad guy,” he explained. “He’s a patriot, and he’s going to do the right thing for his country, no matter what. He totally believes the U.S. is the greatest country ever, as do I.
“My dad came over from Ireland and walked straight into the Army office and said, ‘Make me an American,’ and they shipped him overseas for five years. That’s deep in my blood, so when I get to play guys as I did in ‘Band of Brothers’ or ‘Flag of Our Fathers’ who bleed red, white and blue, it’s great for me.”
It was his family’s work ethic that has inspired McDonough to pursue his love of acting despite facing obstacles along the way over this beliefs.
“When my dad got back from being in the Army, he met my mom and worked the Ford assembly line, then he got into real estate and bought this mom and pop hotel on Cape Cod, which is where I grew up,” he said. “What he instilled in me was an honest work ethic. If you work hard, great things will happen.”
And the topic of “Project Blue Book” does not clash with McDonough’s faith.
“As a devout Catholic, I believe certain things,” said McDonough. “Who are we as human beings on this planet to say that God might not have plans in other places? To think it’s just us is a bit myopic. If you believe in spirits, why can’t you believe there might be extraterrestrials? Who knows?”
McDonough said he has no regrets about sticking to his principles, even if it has meant losing work along the way. In fact, McDonough said he has only grown to appreciate his acting, which prompted his skills to improve.
“I took a shot on the chin, but I was not going to lose the fight,” he said. “And it worked. My career has been phenomenal ever since.”
And why does McDonough continue to act knowing he might face scrutiny for his no-nonsense rule on axing any sex scenes? “Because I have to,” he shared.
“That’s what I’m supposed to do,” said McDonough about keeping busy as an actor. “God gave me this talent of being an actor, and I’m not going to waste it. That’s just who I am. I love working, and with five kids and a fantastic wife, I want to make sure I’m taking care of everyone. That’s what my dad did, and that’s what I’m going to do.
“If you had told me back then that I would be in 100 movies, I would’ve just laughed. It’s pretty remarkable all the people I’ve gotten to work with and all the places I’ve gotten to travel to. And believe me, I appreciate every second of it.”
For more on Neil McDonough, check out the video below:
“Project Blue Book” premieres January 8 at 10 p.m. on the History Channel.
This Fox News piece is used by permission.
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