Neal McDonough and Steven R. McQueen Talk INSP's The WarrantCarissa Pavlica at .
Airing just in time for Father's Day, The Warrant stars Neal McDonough and Steven R. McQueen as a father and son both dedicated to upholding the law.
It is a thrilling, action-packed Western adventure about father-son relationships broken by the effects of the Civil War as father and son leave differences in the past for the ultimate pursuit of justice.
Sheriff John Breaker (McDonough) and his son, Cal (McQueen), reunite after the Civil War to deliver an arrest warrant to John’s former Union Army buddy, “The Saint” (Casper Van Dien – Starship Troopers, Tarzan).
Now the fiercest gang leader west of the Mississippi, The Saint frequently raids vulnerable Southern supply lines, threatening to pull the entire country back to the brink of conflict.
With the post-war peace at risk, John must leave the comfort of his home and wife to track down The Saint before it is too late.
After The Saint pins down father and son in a lethal firefight, John finds himself face-to-face with the ghosts of his past.
We had a chance to talk with McDonough and McQueen about their starring roles in the film, and they couldn't be more pleased about the way it developed.
"You know, when you act with someone, physically doing a movie or TV series, it's one thing, but sometimes, every once in awhile, you'll act with someone, and then, when you see them on screen ...," McDonough paused excitedly.
"It happened to me with Gwyneth Paltrow, one of the first movies I ever did, called Cruel Doubt, and I was working with Gwyneth, and I was like, 'Wow, this girl's really good at what she does. This is fantastic. She's in it and really dialed in.'
"And then, when I saw Cruel Doubt the miniseries, I was like, 'Holy smokes.' I didn't know she was going to be that good.
McDonough continued, "The same thing happened with Steven. Working with Steven is awesome, and it was fantastic. We had a tight schedule. We had to rush through so many things because it was a tight schedule and our budget and such."
"But watching Steven's performance onscreen was fantastic. It was such a joy to watch for me, and I just kind of giggled with happiness for Steven, and I can't wait for people to see the movie and watch Steven do what he does so well."
"Brother, you killed it. It was just great. It was really great," McDonough said to McQueen, who returned the sentiment.
It's a western-themed film that gives McDonough the chance to play the good-hearted tough guy, a deviation from the roles of the over-the-top bad guy that we expect from him.
There are times when McDonough speaks in The Warrant that it's impossible to imagine he might have been channeling John Wayne.
"I think he channeled me," McDonough laughed. "I love John Wayne. I wanted to join the Sigma Chi fraternity because I wanted to be like John Wayne.
"I wanted to kind of hold myself, in my real life, as a John Wayne type of guy, upstanding, Christian, straight-shooting type of guy. And that's kind of who I've always been, and what I've always aspired to do.
And I think he channeled me more than I channeled him because I watched the film. Usually, I watch my films, and I generally don't recognize myself so much because I'm a different person.
"But with John Breaker, I didn't really see a whole lot of Neal McDonough in it. I guess it was more of a John Wayne type, that all-American, we can do it, all odds are against us, but if we dig deep and we believe in ourselves and have God on our side, there's nothing that can stop us type. And I love that about John Breaker."
McDonough, whose excitement for the role and the film knows no bounds, believes it was director, Brent Christy, who got the performance you'll see in The Warrant.
"I think his calmness on the set made me really calm as an actor, and really pulled out that stony, tough, resolute, and we're going to get the job done type of character. And my hat is really off to Brent, for really pulling that out of me."
McDonough said there is a difference between the way The Warrant was directed versus most modern films where he finds, "It's spitting the line out as fast as you can, so we can get to the special effects, so we get to the blow-ups, so we can get to the explosion, so we can get to the stuff."
"This was different. This was more take your time, think about the situation, and then react to it. And that was Brent's direction. And that's what he pulled out of me. It didn't take a whole lot, because I love that kind of guy.
"I generally get to do that in my villains because I get to think about what heinous thing I'm about to do to whomever it is, and then do it because you love to see the villains think.
Well, generally, you don't get to see the good guys think so much, maybe once or twice in a film, but with Breaker, Brent wanted me to really think everything through before I reacted to anything.
The characters of John and Cal Breaker don't take goodness and darkness within the human soul with a grain of salt. They are called upon to weigh the right and wrong, the good and bad of a situation before they act upon it. They face not only a legal challenge but a moral dilemma, as well.
"You look at some of the lines of Steven, and Steven, you can talk to it. The first time that I see Steven in the movie, here's me saying, 'Call me Dad, Pa, whatever. But when you're on my property, this is what you're going to call me.'
"And Steven's simplicity, when he just stares at me, and he just says, 'He's back.' Steven, talk about that if you don't mind because that was such a heavy moment in the movie; it was a moment of levity.
All the characters in that scene were smiling and giggling at what was going on, except for Steven because and he never gave into it. He never smiled into it, he never did a cheek. He was there for a reason.
"He was like, 'Dad, I'm not talking to you as my dad right now. I'm talking to you as a compatriot. We got a problem. And here's the problem.' Boom. So Steven, please, you talk about that.
McQueen laughed, "That sounded pretty good. It was fun. It was a fun moment. It was fun to shoot. And I think we were out in Toccoa, Georgia, right? I lived in Atlanta for a couple of years before that, so being back in that part of the world was a blast.
McDonough almost didn't get the opportunity to star in The Warrant when his agents passed on the script without his knowledge under the assumption that he probably wouldn't be interested in the drama. McDonough had other ideas.
"I read it, and I called them back, and I said, 'How dare you pass on something that you know is my wheelhouse, that I love to play, what I always aspired to play.'
"And when I read the script, I called Gary Wheeler, who's the producer. I said, 'Buddy, you got me. I want to be in this. I want to help produce this, and pull him some cash, and really talk about it.'
"And the first idea that I had to play my son was Steven. And then I thought, to play my wife, I worked with Annabeth [Gish ]years ago, on X-Files, but we'd seen each other over the years. Her husband, Wade, and I were working on Yellowstone this whole time. So I wanted Annabeth to play my wife."
"And then we talked about Casper. We were looking at pictures of guys who we can make them play against their type for the villain, and Casper had aged so coolly, with a little bit of gray in his beard.
"He was growing up a little bit of gray in that hair, and to play against that, really ... because you know, Casper's a great looking dude. And he's always been that guy. So to play against that, and play that rougher, tougher, been through it all type of guy, Casper was perfect.
"But for Steven, I've known Steven for a good long time. Stacia, his mom, and my wife, they are pals, and Luc, and everyone else. I thought, 'Well, if I'm going to have a son in this thing, I want it to be Steven McQueen because I think he'll be perfect for this.' And with Annabeth as the mom, it all, looks-wise, really fits in very, very well."
McQueen agreed. "Oh, well, I was excited to work with Neal and to be in a Western, which has been part of my heritage for a bit. I thought it would have been a lot of fun. And it was."
As for why it's fun to play the good guy, McQueen was stoic, "Well, you've got the cameras pointed at you more than the bad guys. Right? Yeah, it was fun. It's always fun to be the hero, the guy that saves the day."
We're in a time and place when heroism is needed more than ever, which is very timely for The Warrant.
Correlating our current climate with the film, McDonough said, "Right now, we're all doing things that we'll regret. Either doing things that we shouldn't be doing or not doing things that we should be doing. And I think now is a time, in this day and age, where heroes need to really step up.
"And that's what I love so much about this piece, is that Steven's character steps up. My character steps up. You can see Casper's trying to step up, but he can't. And I'm there to try to help him as much as I possibly can when I probably shouldn't, but I know the right thing to do.
"I know what God would do. It's love God first. Also, love your neighbors before you love yourself. Those are the two big commandments. And Breaker lives by that code.
"And I love that, that INSP will have the bravery to make movies that stand for those two big commandments. And for me, if I never made another movie again, I'd be fine, because I loved playing John Breaker because I got to tap into that part of me."
The Warrant will air exclusively on general entertainment television network INSP on Saturday, June 20th, at 8/7c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.