You’ve likely seen Neal McDonough in a few television and movie scenes. He was in Justified, Band of Brothers, and Minority Report. He was in commercials for Cadillac. He’ll soon be seen in The History Channel’s upcoming UFO thriller, Project Blue Book. But there’s one scene you won’t be seeing McDonough in.
A love scene.
The veteran actor has had a policy for many years against performing in love scenes. He’s been married to Ruvé Robertson since 2003 and boldly declares that his, “lips are meant for one woman.” When McDonough speaks of his wife of 15 years he sounds like a man who is genuinely devoted and in love. But that love and devotion has not been without cost.
The 51-year-old actor was booted from ABC’s 2010 Scoundrels series because he refused to perform in a sex scene with access Virginia Madsen. That’s because a large part of this country’s entertainment industry is threatened by people who live by a code of sexual conduct, especially when it is rooted in religious beliefs. Entertainment moguls are much more comfortable covering for the sexual antics and crimes of their own than they are an actor who has committed to stay faithful to his wife both on and off the camera. Hollywood loves to talk about empowering women and makes tons of movies where women are the heroes but when a man really wants to honor a woman by refusing to play married with other women on film, he is shunned by much of Hollywood.
No doubt, Neal McDonough’s stance seemed strange to many in the industry.
But we must remember, this is an industry where Harvey Weinstein’s prowling seemed perfectly normal.
After being fired from Scoundrels and watching what he feared might be the end of his career, McDonough clung to his faith. “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.”
But it was most certainly worth it.
Scoundrels lasted for 8 episodes while Neal McDonough worked on four productions in 2018 and is scheduled to be in two more in 2019 with even more projects on the way.
Ironically, McDonough appeared in Desperate Housewives, a show that was seemingly built to showcase sex scenes. When creator Marc Cherry was made aware of McDonough’s strict stance, his response was quite telling. “All right, I’m just going to have to write better.”
Imagine that. When the opportunity to showcase sex is taken away, creators actually have to be creative. Someone should tell this to the folks over at Netflix who seem to give a deal to any writer, producer, director or actor who is welling to add more sex to the script. Who needs good writing when you’ve got that?
Neal McDonough, like most everyone else with conviction, lives in the gray areas. There are some who will question his other choices, preferring that he only appear in so-called Christian films about football teams in order to avoid the other types of filth that comes with Hollywood. At the very least, we should all respect McDonough’s stance and appreciate the rewards he’s gotten for it. McDonough is so good at his craft that many of the folks in Hollywood are willing to set aside their fascination with softcore porn in order to work with him.
There are lessons for Christians to learn here. We must hold to our convictions, even when it costs us. We must not settle for mediocrity. Whatever our craft, we must do it with excellence, knowing that our work is not for man but for God (Colossians 3:23-24). And we must resist the temptation to retreat into the safety of what Bob Briner called, “the Christian ghetto” -- a world where everything, even our breath mints, are safe for the whole family but not that much is excellent or even worthwhile.
Stepping out of that ghetto will lead us to some gray or even dark areas where decisions will be difficult and sacrifices will be frightening.
But we must remember, the light shines brightest in those dark areas.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
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