Actor fired from ABC for refusing sex scene

In a town where keeping your marriage together is this tough, maybe Neal McDonough is on to something

Topics: Sex, Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Actor fired from ABC for refusing sex sceneLOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 18: Actor Neal McDonough (r) and wife Ruve Robertson arrive at the premiere of Overture Films' "Traitor" held at the Egyptian Theatre on August 18, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Overture)(Credit: Frazer Harrison)

In the glittery, tawdry jungle of the entertainment world, it’s rare that actors get in trouble for not having sex — or simulating sex — on camera. But not doing sex scenes is exactly why Neal McDonough, an actor perhaps best known for his role as Nicolette Sheridan’s sociopathic husband on “Desperate Housewives,” got the boot from the new ABC series “Scoundrels.” Deadline Hollywood reported that James David Elliott replaced McDonough three days into filming, a casting change caused by McDonough’s kibosh on doing racy scenes with co-star Virginia Madsen. This can’t have come as a surprise to ABC: McDonough, a devout Catholic, has apparently had long-standing policy against acting in intimate scenes because they conflict with his values.



McDonough isn’t the first person in Hollywood to reject getting it on on-set. Julia Roberts won’t do sex scenes now that she has children, and is famously averse to acting in the buff. (“To act with my clothes on is a performance. To act with my clothes off is a documentary,” she once quipped.) Other actors draw the line at nudity in films — Sarah Jessica Parker, Jenna Fischer, and Rachel Bilson, to name a few — but McDonough’s case is unusual because, well, he’s a guy. Granted, there isn’t as much male nudity as female nudity on film, and it’s not clear how raunchy the “Scoundrels” scenes were actually going to be — one assumes ABC isn’t exactly delving into HBO territory. But for whatever reason, there are fewer headlines about the pressure for male actors to bare it all on screen, and what kind of effect the steamy scenes have on relationships outside of TV-land.

It’s easy to dismiss McDonough as out of touch with the industry or perhaps even a religious nut, but the more I thought about it, the more I admired the guy. (It also may have something to do with his role in the baseball cheese-fest “Angels in the Outfield.”) Given the constant turmoil in most stars’ love lives and how difficult it seems to be to stay married in Hollywood (see: Sandra Bullock, Brad and Angelina, and, well, any acting couple ever), maybe McDonough’s move isn’t so much self-defeating as it is smart. 

Margaret Eby is an editorial fellow at Salon.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 13
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Api Étoile

    Like little stars.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Calville Blanc

    World's best pie apple. Essential for Tarte Tatin. Has five prominent ribs.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chenango Strawberry

    So pretty. So early. So ephemeral. Tastes like strawberry candy (slightly).

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Chestnut Crab

    My personal fave. Ultra-crisp. Graham cracker flavor. Should be famous. Isn't.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    D'Arcy Spice

    High flavored with notes of blood orange and allspice. Very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Esopus Spitzenberg

    Jefferson's favorite. The best all-purpose American apple.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Granite Beauty

    New Hampshire's native son has a grizzled appearance and a strangely addictive curry flavor. Very, very rare.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hewes Crab

    Makes the best hard cider in America. Soon to be famous.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Hidden Rose

    Freak seedling found in an Oregon field in the '60s has pink flesh and a fragrant strawberry snap. Makes a killer rose cider.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Knobbed Russet

    Freak city.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Newtown Pippin

    Ben Franklin's favorite. Queen Victoria's favorite. Only apple native to NYC.

    Clare Barboza/Bloomsbury

    Uncommon Apples

    Pitmaston Pineapple

    Really does taste like pineapple.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>