A square-jawed blonde with steely blue eyes, actor Neal McDonough had essayed every role from psychopath to dunce before roles in HBO's Band of Brothers and Minority Report (2002) found him gaining a reputation as the man to cast if a script called for a dependable, all-American tough guy. Though his screen presence has been growing steadily in the first years of the new millennium, it wasn't long ago that McDonough was considering abandoning his career as an actor. A native of Dorchester, MA, easygoing McDonough attended Barnstable High School before graduating from Syracuse University and later training as an actor at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts and Sciences. Taking to the stage following his graduation, it wasn't long before McDonough was appearing in such productions as Waiting for Lefty and A Midsummer Night's Dream, and in 1991 he took home a Best Actor Dramalogue Award for his role in Away Alone.
McDonough began his move into film with a minor role in 1990's Darkman, and the same year appearances in such popular television series as China Beach and Quantum Leap ensured that his face would remain a familiar one to audiences. Following a turn as Lou Gehrig in the 1991 made-for-television feature Babe Ruth, McDonough's television career began to take off, and through the mid-'90s he found frequent work on the small screen with the exception of such features as Angels in the Outfield (1994). A childhood dream came true for the lifelong Star Trek fan when he was cast in the Star Trek: First Contact (1996), and that same year McDonough voiced Dr. Bruce Banner in the animated television series The Incredible Hulk. His career shifting increasingly toward feature work in the late '90s, McDonough took on memorable roles in such features as Circles (1998) and the quirky pseudo-horror film Ravenous (1999). Though the frustration of never receiving a truly gratifying role caused him to reconsider his chosen career, McDonough's big break was just around the corner.
Cast as 1st Lt. Lynn "Buck" Compton in director Steven Spielberg's acclaimed HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, McDonough's role as the troubled soldier who suffers a nervous breakdown in the chaos of war finally gave the actor a chance to flex his chops and caught the attention of series producer Spielberg, who immediately approached him for a role in Minority Report. Cast as the best friend of Tom Cruise's character, McDonough was now a recognizable Hollywood figure and was quickly developing a solid screen persona. Subsequently returning to the small screen for the television series Boomtown, McDonough was cast in the role formerly occupied by Jimmy Smits, who dropped out at the last minute. As McDonough began preparation for roles in Timeline (2003) and Walking Tall (2004), it seems as if the dependable actor might finally be edging toward leading-man status. Though that may not have been the case when McDonough accompanied his onscreen brothers into the woods to expose the skeletons in the family closet in the 2005 drama American Gothic, a more amiable turn as a dedicated friend attempting to help his best pal find a man to father her child in the comedy drama Silent Men went a long way in making the actor a bit more likeable to viewers. The following year McDonough could be seen treading water opposite Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher in the Coast Guard drama The Guardian.
He continued to work steadily in a variety of films including Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers, The Hitcher, I Know Who Killed Me, 88 Minutes, and Traitor. In 2008 he joined the cast of the successful ABC drama Desperate Housewives in that program's fifth season.