‘Irreverent’ star Colin Donnell on his character in new Peacock drama: ‘He’s a little bit dangerous’

Colin Donnell plays a man living a double life in his new Peacock drama, “Irreverent.”

“This character is pretty different from anything I’ve gotten to do before,” Donnell, 40 (“Arrow,” “Chicago Med,”) told The Post. 

“Aside from the parallels of him being from Chicago – and I played a TV doctor living in Chicago – it was nice to be given something that felt very different. He is charming and funny and he’s quick on his feet. He is a survivor, and he’s a little bit dangerous underneath it all.”

Premiering Nov. 30, “Irreverent” follows Paulo, aka Mack (Colin Donnell), a criminal mediator from Chicago who is forced to flee when a mafia deal goes wrong. Due to a comedy of errors, he winds up hiding out in a remote and quirky Australian town in Far North Queensland, where he poses as the church’s new Reverend. 

Colin Donnell in a reverend outfit.
Colin Donnell as Paulo / Mack in “Irreverent.”
Scott Belzner/Matchbox Productions
Colin Donnell shirtless.
Colin Donnell in “Irreverent.”
Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

“I had been [to Australia] once before. Every once in a while, I do pop comic conventions because of doing ‘Arrow’ back in the day. So, I had been to Sydney and Perth before, but this is the first time I’d been to Australia for a significant amount of time, and it was the first time I had been to Queensland and Gold Coast and all that. The duality of the character was a really good time,” said Donnell, who’s based in New York with his wife, Patti Murin (“Chicago Med”) and their toddler. 

“He has a real ticking clock behind him. People are chasing him, and he’s also trying to figure out how to keep his cover in this town among people who are looking to him for a very specific thing that is way outside his comfort zone. But the coolest part about the character is that he’s a wonderful chameleon. He has this ability to be anything to anyone, in any given situation that he finds himself in. So, from scene to scene, he’s 5 different people, depending on who he’s faced with in that moment.”

Colin Donnell holding a box on a beach.
Colin Donnell as a fake Reverend in “Irreverent.”
Julian Panetta/Matchbox Productions
Tegan Stimson as Daisy, Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo in "Irreverent" standing on a porch.
Tegan Stimson as Daisy, Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo in “Irreverent.”
Julian Panetta/Matchbox Productions

“Irreverent” creator Paddy Macrae was partly inspired by the CBS show “Northern Exposure,” (1990-95) for the tone, Donnell said. 

“I loved that show when I was growing up. It was one of the shows that really stuck with me into adulthood. There’s so much humor and heart to our story, it’s pretty parallel to what was going on in that show as well. I think there’s so much to be mined from dropping a character into a completely unknown circumstance and making him a real fish out of water.”

Anita Hegh as Charmaine, Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo, Tegan Stimson as Daisy in "Irreverent."
Anita Hegh as Charmaine, Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo, Tegan Stimson as Daisy in “Irreverent.”
Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions
Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo, Tegan Stimson as Daisy in "Irreverent" standing outside a church arguing.
Colin Donnell as Mack/Paulo, Tegan Stimson as Daisy in “Irreverent.”
Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

Donnell, who also has a Broadway background (“Jersey Boys,”), said that he also drew from his theater experience to relate to Mack. 

“There’s something about doing what is necessary to survive – the extreme situation he finds himself in, I haven’t ever lived myself, thankfully. But, one thing we see with the character is finding himself in the way that he is affected by the community that he’s been implanted into. When we find ourselves within a chosen group of people, like the theater community that I’ve been part of in New York, or friends and family I’ve acclimated in my life – you can’t help but be affected by the people you surround yourself with. That was a really fun journey to find myself on with Mack, seeing how that theme of our show of community, and how it can really have a dramatic effect on an individual. Really Mack’s story is one of personal growth, and a bit of redemption.”

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