'Justified' Star Neal McDonough Has Quarles and Remembers a Fallen 'Brother'

Today's cuppa: Gevalia coffee

Justified-Neal-McDonough.jpgAccording to actor Neal McDonough, if you liked him as Detroit mobster Robert Quarles in the seventh and most recent episode of FX's Tuesday-night Southern crime drama "Justified," you're going to love him in next week's episode, "Watching the Detectives."

Here's a sneak peek:



"Episode seven was just scratching as to where old Mr. Quarles is heading," says McDonough as he's driving to work on Wednesday, March 1, on his last episode of the season. "Jeepers. After that, it's getting hopped up on my own sh** and a deep, quick, horrible descent. it's fun.

Justified-Neal-McDonough-gun.jpg"We're flying. They don't waste any time here. The season finishes shooting tomorrow. It's the fastest 13 episodes ever. What, three months? Three and change? It's crazy. It's like doing a movie, same thing, except, in this, we're just doing a phenomenal movie."

McDonough is especially amused by one line in the show, where Timothy Olyphant's character, Kentucky U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens -- the creation of novelist Elmore Leonard -- refers to Quarles as a "big-toothed, albino-looking sonofab***ch."

"Isn't that nice?" says the son of Irish emigrants, with a laugh. "Sticks and stones. A lot of times, people ask me if I'm black. They say, 'Are you a black albino? Because you look so much like James Earl Jones, but very light.' I always say, I'll take that as the utmost compliment.'"

While McDonough is enjoying the "Justified" life, he is also mourning the loss of Lynn D. "Buck" Compton, the World War II veteran he played in the 2001 HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," who passed away on Feb. 25, at the age of 90.

Based on the 1992 book of the same name by Stephen Ambrose, the miniseries followed the men of Easy Company from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airbone Division from training at Fort Toccoa in Georgia through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge to the capture of Berchtesgaden, Hitler's retreat, at the war's end.

But Compton's story's didn't end there. After winning a Purple Heart and Silver Star in the war, he went on to join the LAPD, study law, become a Los Angeles prosecutor and later a judge. And, he was both a basketball and football star at UCLA, playing in the 1943 Rose Bowl.

"They don't make them like that anymore," says McDonough. "They can try to be like Buck, but there is only one Buck. If you're an All-American baseball and football player -- he was both at UCLA. That's insane. Then you get a Purple Heart and a Silver Star at Normandy. OK, that's crazy. Then you become an amazing police officer, and then you become an assistant D.A. and chief prosecuting attorney in the Sirhan Sirhan case.

"You do any of those things, just one of those things in your life, you've achieved greatness. He achieved greatness on so many levels. And the most amazing father -- his daughters just doted on him his whole life. He was the guy. He's left his mark, an indelible print on me, that's for sure."

And Compton left McDonough with more than just memories, starting with his wife and neal_mcdonough_band_of_brothers.jpgmother of his four children, South African former model Ruve Robertson.

"Were it not for Buck," McDonough says, "I would never have met Ruve, the first night I got into town, doing 'Band of Brothers.' I would never have had the career I've had, doing all the Spielberg projects, would never have done everything, wouldn't have been able to say in public that I'm a Republican, if he hadn't coerced me, saying, 'Tell them who you are.'

"So, talking to Buck as much as I had during his life, he helped me in so many ways. I'm going to miss that guy so much."

McDonough was among hundreds of guests who attended a 90th birthday party for Compton in January.

"I gave a speech," he says, "just crying like a baby, talking about how much I loved Buck."

And the day before Compton died, McDonough was able to speak to him over the speakerphone.

"At least I got to say goodbye that way," he says. "That was tough. That was really tough."