Neal McDonough is a devout Catholic who has been faithfully married to his wife Ruvé Robertson for fifteen years.
Both his religious faith and his marriage are central to his identity and he refuses to compromise them, even at the expense of his career.
But when he refused to do one thing on camera, he was fired from his acting job and faced several rough years as a result.
“It was a horrible situation for me. 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.”
Unlike the majority of actors in Hollywood, McDonough refuses to participate in sex scenes in films. In fact, he refuses not just to act in sex scenes, but even to take part in kissing scenes.
He noted: “Killing people on screen. . . .That’s not real. When you’re in bed with another woman on screen — guess what? That’s real.”
Not surprisingly, this has caused some problems in his career.
He has even lost work because of it. It was definitely a challenge in his initial meeting for Desperate Housewives when he told Mark Cherry, the show’s creator, that he wouldn’t participate in any kissing scenes.
Cherry was surprised by McDonough’s decision, but he eventually told McDonough: “All right, I’m just going to have to write better.”
McDonough appeared on 24 episodes, despite the fact that he never had a love scene in a show that was filled with them.
However, in 2010, McDonough was fired for his refusal to participate in sex scenes in another show called Scoundrels. ABC referred to his firing as a “casting change” and replaced him with another actor. The ousting from the show cost him around $1 million, and led to several difficult years in the industry.
After experiencing a lack of job prospects for several years, McDonough finally had a breakthrough when he got a part in the TV show Justified in 2012.
Since then, he has appeared in TV shows such as Mob City, Public Morals, To Appomattox, Arrow, Rogue, Legends of Tomorrow, and Suits; and movies such as Greater, The Jesuit, and Sonic the Hedgehog.
He is currently starring in Project Blue Book and Yellowstone on the small screen.
Because he often plays the role of the villain in his acting career, McDonough finds that it makes it a little easier for him to avoid love scenes. However, he knows he may not have these types of options forever.
“If at some point my career runs out as an actor of being bad guys and I can’t do anything else, then I’ll think of something else to do. But for now, I am really enjoying my career and enjoying my family, and most importantly, my relationship with God. I hope I’m doing Him proud.”
Ultimately, McDonough is not sorry about his decision regarding his personal convictions. He stated: “I took a shot on the chin, but I was not going to lose the fight.”
McDonough’s courage in standing up for what he believed in led to some bumpy times in his career, but he ultimately ended up becoming more successful and doing work that he loved.
It’s easy to see the small failures or disappointments in our personal journeys, but sometimes it can be difficult to focus on the long-term, big-picture outcome of our decisions.
McDonough could have easily caved to the demands of one or more of his bosses and had to live with the realization that he went against his beliefs, but now he can rest assured that he did what he knew was right.
McDonough believes in hard work and dedication, and using what God has given him, as he explained: “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. . . . And believe me I appreciate every second of it.”
Please pray for McDonough and everyone else in Hollywood who dares to go against the grain by trying to honor God even in such a challenging setting.
They are providing very public examples of loyalty and faithfulness that will deeply resonate with people who need to see them.