Neal McDonough: He’s such a good-natured person. He’s just this guy from South Dakota that came to Los Angeles for high school, didn’t really fit in, became a cop. He policed the streets, and he loved the city. Then he went off to Normandy (during World War II) when he was well into his 30s, and that’s where he became great friends with Buck Compton.
Zap2it: Wait, is that the same Army officer Lynn “Buck” Compton you played in the HBO WWII miniseries “Band of Brothers”?
Neal McDonough: I know, exactly. So those guys, they were very tight because they were in Normandy together, police academy together and everything else.
Zap2it: Compton passed away on Feb. 25, 2012, at the age of 90. Did he know you were playing Parker?
Neal McDonough: When he was dying, Tracy, his daughter was there. He hadn’t said anything for a day or so. I said, “Put the phone next to his ear.” I said, “Buck, guess what, it’s Neal. I’m playing your best pal William Parker,” and he smiled. A couple of hours later, he was gone. That was crazy.
How my career would have gone had I never played Compton … I would never have met [my wife] Rive, and I never would have had this life. Look at what’s happened in the last 13 years, and in the 13 years before that — guest stars and small, independent movies.