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'Irreverent' cast explores conflicted characters

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Paulo (Colin Donnell) impersonates a reverend in "Irreverent." Photo courtesy of Matchbox Producitons
Paulo (Colin Donnell) impersonates a reverend in "Irreverent." Photo courtesy of Matchbox Producitons

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Cast members Colin Donnell, P.J. Byrne and Kylie Bracknell said their characters on Irreverent, premiering Wednesday on Peacock, struggle with opposing sides.

Donnell, 40, plays Paulo Keegan, a Chicago gangster forced to go undercover as a reverend named Mack in Clump, Australia.

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"I had so much fun developing what priestly Mack would be, figuring out what he needs to be for the community and how to keep the facade," Donnell told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "Then, it's delightful to see Mack go back into his gangster ways and be the badass that he is."

The reason Paulo must pretend is that the real Mack Boyd (Byrne) stole $1.6 million the gangster was transporting. Paulo is playing the role in the hopes of locating Mack.

Irreverent creator Paddy Macrae based the show on his own experiences growing up as the son of a preacher in Australia. Macrae said faith finds its way into Paulo's life whether he wants it to or not.

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"If you are forced into a job where you have to appear to care about people, perhaps you will start to care about people," Macrae said. "You also get the suspense, the fun and the hijinks of someone who's trying to be a reverend, but only has the skill set of a criminal."

Meanwhile, Mack lives it up at luxurious resorts with Paulo's money. Byrne, 47, said Mack can justify his theft.

"Is this a small sign from God telling him, 'Try this out?'" Byrne said. "He's justified in stealing the money from this bad guy."

Both Byrne and Macrae agreed with the suggestion that Mack was lapsing before the opportunity to rob Paulo presented itself. When they meet on a plane, Mack reveals his wife left him.

"He might've been lapsing not only in his faith, in his community and probably most likely with his wife," Byrne said.

In Clump, Piper (Bracknell) is an officer who has little reason to suspect Paolo is not Mack at first. Bracknell said Piper is also hiding a secret that compromises effective law enforcement.

"Her backstory is that she kind of messed up a bit in the role," Bracknell said. "She's quietly second-guessing herself at times."

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Bracknell called Piper a "dream role" because the character is an indigenous woman in an authority position. Bracknell is Noongar from Western Australia.

Clump is in northern Australia, and Irreverent is filmed in Mission Beach, Queensland. The Djira are the aborigines indigenous to Mission Beach.

"There aren't that many roles for actors of my background in that leadership capacity," Bracknell said.

Irreverent finds humor in Paolo's attempts to be religious, and Mack's goofy extravagances, like a Zumba class. However, Donnell said Irreverent also has a sincere heart beneath the comedy.

"I don't know if we would call it faith, but I think he's definitely changed by the people that he's been forced to interact with," Donnell said. "He starts getting an idea of how to communicate with the community at large."

All 10 episodes of Irreverent are available Wednesday on Peacock.

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