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Filming ‘Boon’ in Spokane is a boon for Neal McDonough

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 9, 2021

Blood is dripping from the side of Neal McDonough’s face down to his neck. But not to worry. The red liquid covering his alabaster skin is of the Hollywood variety. The veteran actor of “Yellowstone” fame is taking a break shooting the film “Boon” one mile from Mount Spokane. The sequel to the indie Western “Red Stone” has been filming over the past month in Spokane and the surrounding area.

In “Red Stone,” the character Boon, played by McDonough, is a henchman for a crime kingpin. McDonough, 54, who is producing the film “Boon” with his wife, Ruvé, is portraying a character who has morphed. Boon has hung up his gun. However, the action continues. While shooting within shouting distance of Mount Spokane, a weaponless Boon made like the inventive TV character MacGyver and defended a mother and a son from the bad guys with a spoon.

“I gave up being a hitman so I didn’t have a gun, but I have to save these two people in this scene, and so I grabbed a spoon and jabbed the guy (the assailant) in the throat,” McDonough said. McDonough proceeded to grab the bad guy’s gun and starts firing, and a shootout ensues. “This scene became the OK Corral,” McDonough said. “It was fun.”

“Red Stone” was a good-time Western, and “Boon” looks like it’ll be an action-packed shoot ‘em up, as well. McDonough and his crew have a 23-date schedule around the area that will wrap Friday. “We’ve had a great time here,” McDonough said while sitting next to his wife in a trailer during their lunch break. “We’ve fallen in love with Spokane.”

Apparently, it’s not idle chatter. McDonough hopes to return to make more movies in the Lilac City. “There are so many reasons to come back,” McDonough said. “Downtown Spokane can look like New York, Boston or Chicago.” McDonough became more animated while speaking of his discovery.

“No one really knows about Spokane, and it’s really awesome to film here,” McDonough continued. “We were going to shoot in Lynden, Washington, but most of the crew is from Spokane. We scouted the locations in Spokane, and we saw how beautiful it is, and we decided to move the production to Spokane. It’s fantastic shooting here.”

The Boston native, who practically lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, since home is Point Roberts, loves capturing the Pacific Northwest on film.

“You can see why people shoot in these parts since it’s beautiful,” McDonough said. “But it’s so difficult shooting in Seattle. Filming in the street is so difficult in Seattle, but it’s so much less populated here.”

Add to that how McDonough is received here. While filming in the Garland District, locals made certain that the actor, who has appeared in films such as “Minority Report,” “The Guardian” and “The Hitcher,” was welcome in town.

“People would drive by and wave and say things like, ‘Thanks for filming here,’ ” McDonough said. “It’s been an amazing experience since Day 1.”

Well, that might be hyperbolic since the McDonough family, which includes five children ages 6 to 15, experienced a four-day power outage in their rented South Hill home due to the mighty windstorm last month.

“The power went out the morning after we arrived, and there was nothing like five kids and no Wi-Fi,” McDonough said while laughing. “It was beautiful.” The charismatic Ruvé McDonough chimed in: “It was actually a great way to start our time in Spokane. The kids were gathered around the fireplace. We had fun.”

After the McDonough children went sledding, they huddled the following days around a fire in the backyard. The electricity was out, but their house guest, Train lead singer Pat Monahan, provided the star power with a sing-along during a backyard campfire.

“Pat has been a good friend for more than a decade,” McDonough said. “He was out with us and the kids singing (Train’s) ‘Drops of Jupiter.’ Everyone knows Pat as the singer from Train, but they’re going to know about him as an actor. He’s in the first scene in our movie, and he just crushed it. For years, he’s been talking about being in a movie with me.”

Monahan isn’t the only singer who would like to share screen time with McDonough. “We’ve been at concerts and afterward Tim McGraw and James Taylor have asked about being in a movie with Neal,” Ruvé McDonough said. Neal McDonough shook his head in agreement. “I told James Taylor that he’ll be in my next movie. I want him to play my dad.”

Perhaps the next McDonough production will be in Spokane. “I would like nothing more than that,” McDonough said. “The experience we’re having right now is amazing.” McDonough’s “Boon” team in Spokane includes writer-director Derek Presley and producers Jason Starne and Stephen Endelman.

Considering COVID-19 protocols that have limited productions in Los Angeles, McDonough said the Spokane crew has “followed every single rule in terms of COVID. “We know that Gov. Inslee is watching us with a telescope. It’s been good, though.

“One of our crew tested positive for COVID, but it was a false positive. Nevertheless, we shut down for one day. It cost us quite a bit of money, and that hurts when you’re filming an independent movie, but that was the right thing to do. I’m fortunate I’ve had the chance to do my thing here and act.”

When McDonough was growing up, his nickname was “Headster” due to the large size of his skull. It’s fitting since many film actors have a big head and are short. McDonough isn’t diminutive, though. He’s 5 feet 11 inches tall, but he looks up to his wife, who is 6 feet 3 inches. “It’s true that actors have huge heads,” McDonough said. “That was so for Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy. It looks good on film. It magnifies your expression.”

McDonough played college baseball at Syracuse, and his first role was playing New York Yankees icon Lou Gehrig in the film “Babe Ruth.” His “Yellowstone” co-star Kevin Costner has played a baseball player in four films. Who is the better ballplayer?

“When we were making the movie ‘The Guardian,’ we were at LSU,” McDonough recalled. “During our lunch break, Kevin and I would take batting practice and smash baseballs. Kevin is a great gentleman. If he were uglier, he would win every Academy Award. But he has Tom Brady syndrome. He’s too good-looking. Who is the better ballplayer? We’re both very talented.”

Perhaps McDonough can lure Costner to Spokane for a film. “Who wouldn’t want to come to Spokane?” McDonough said. “It’s such a beautiful place. It feels like home.”

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