Neal McDonough

Minority Report

Interviewed by Sian Kirwan

Band of Brothers star Neal McDonough gets his big break playing Tom Cruise's best friend in Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report"...

How did you get involved with Steven Spielberg and the movie?

I was in the World War II TV series Band of Brothers, which Spielberg produced, but during filming I never got to meet him properly. A year later, I attended the Golden Globe Awards and, out of the blue, he approached me and said, "I saw you in BoB and thought you did a great job. Would you like to play the part of Tom Cruise's best friend in my next movie?". I couldn't believe it! I was holding my fiancé's hand at the time and felt like I'd crushed each of her fingers! I was trying to act really cool, meanwhile inside I was going crazy. It was a great moment. For an actor it's not only the ultimate compliment to have one of the world's greatest directors walk up to you and choose you for his movie, but it also validates you amongst your peers that you're doing a good job and makes it all worthwhile.

What did you learn from working with Tom Cruise?

Tom is very professional about everything he does. Even with all the personal stuff that was going on at the time, he would never bring it to the set. He's extremely positive, always excited to be working, and very generous. You can learn a lot from someone of that calibre and with that kind of attitude.

What's next for you?

I'm currently working on a movie with Paul Walker and Anna Friel called "Timeline", based on the novel by Michael Crichton. It's directed by Dick Donner ["Superman", "Lethal Weapon"], who's just amazing. He's 72-years-old but you wouldn't believe it, he's got so much energy. Straight afterwards, I start on a TV series for NBC called Boomtown, which is another Spielberg project. The role was supposed to be an hispanic character played by Jimmy Smits, but he pulled out at the last minute and Steven suggested using me and made the character Irish instead.

You studied acting in London, do you have plans to return to the UK?

I'd love to! I'd work there again in a heartbeat. I was in England for ten months whilst filming Band of Brothers, and had an absolute ball. If I got the chance, I'd like to do stage work. Since my studying days at Lamda [London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts] I haven't done any theatre, so I'd love to go back.