‘Irreverent’ Star Colin Donnell on Season 1 Ending: ‘Who Does Mack Want to Be Now?’

Colin Donnell in 'Irreverent'
Spoiler Alert
Mark Rogers /Matchbox Productions

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Irreverent Season 1.]

Paulo’s (Colin Donnell) future is left very much up in the air.

The mediator for the mob fled to Australia — and posed as a reverend — to escape his past, but just as a hitman tracks him down, local cop Piper (Kylie Bracknell) figures out he isn’t who he says he is. At the end of the ensuing confrontations in the Irreverent Season 1 finale, the hitman is dead — the real reverend Mackenzie (PJ Byrne) driving into a tower causes a cross to fall on him (and knocks out Clump’s internet) — and Piper must decide what she’s going to do with her new knowledge.

Donnell breaks down where Paulo is at the end of the season.

Talk about Paulo losing Lewis [Marcus Johnson]. Like you said, he’s the one guy he trusts.

Colin Donnell: He was. Lewis is the only family that Mack or Paulo — I go between Mack and Paulo — has left, and so it really highlights the danger and the severity that he’s dealing with. Lewis has been the constant in his life. No matter what, he was always gonna pick up the phone. He was always gonna bail him out. To know that’s not there anymore puts him into a totally different space. He recognizes the danger. He knows there’s something that has to be done about it. If they did that to Lewis, then these other people that he started to care so much about — Daisy [Tegan Stimson], Piper, Peter [Wayne Blair], really the entire town of Clump that he’s come to have an affection for — are all in danger now.

Is he ready to leave that community behind? It’s almost like his first found family.

I don’t think so. But the big question is what happens now? The last person he wanted to know his secret now knows his secrets. The town is exposed because — well, they don’t necessarily have the internet after that. [Laughs] But it’s been exposed to the wider world. Now there’s a million ways this could go. He’s fallen into this comfortable rhythm of pretending to be a preacher. He’s gotten validation from the bishop herself who was like, “I know maybe you’re bad at this, but it turns out you’re actually pretty good because you can communicate with these people in a way that is honest and real and you’re speaking on universal truths within the walls of the church.” Because he’s been so singularly focused, now all of these balls are in the air and he doesn’t really know where they’re gonna land.

Does Paulo feel like maybe he’s gotten Piper to warm up to him enough and after what just happened that he can trust her to not turn him in?

Fingers crossed, right? That is the biggest question, I think, at the end of the season. Everybody’s got a decision to make. Does he leave? Does he stay? If he stays, what does Piper do? Is she committed to upholding the law and making him pay for all the things that he’s done? Or does she look the other way because he’s saved her life more than once? There are so many questions left unanswered, which I think is a great hopefully launching point going forward.

Kylie Bracknell and Colin Donnell in 'Irreverent'

Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

It seems like at times, there could have been sparks between them. Does he even know how he feels about her?

He’s confused. He doesn’t want to step on whatever she has with Aidan [Jason Wilder]. He knows that her trajectory in life doesn’t necessarily collide with his, and he also sees himself as a danger to whoever’s around him, which is a hard thing to cope with and which is why he tries to keep people at such a distance. He doesn’t want to involve them in whatever he’s got going on. By the end of our season, that’s no longer the case. Everybody’s sort of involved. But that’s the big question going forward is, will they, won’t they? To put it into simplistic terms. There’s a definite pull between the two of them, but he has always been very careful to tread lightly where she is concerned out of respect for her and also with a head full of knowledge that that’s not good for anybody right now.

That’s also why he tried to leave Daisy behind.

Yeah. There’s something about her that really brings out the protective side of him to the point where he’s willing to break her heart a little bit to try to keep her in a safe place. Those goodbye scenes with Tegan and I, when we were shooting them, were so lovely and she is such a wonderful actor. The whole cast really, I could probably spend the entire interview lauding them. But that relationship especially was just so wonderful to see grow and see where it went throughout the entire season. It’s not something that we normally see on television right now. It’s a friendship between a man and a young woman who are really helping each other discover new things about themselves.

Mackenzie told him he could be whoever he wants now. But that’s a question that Mack doesn’t even want to answer, right?

Yeah, I think you’re right. That particular line blows Mack’s mind. He’s now faced with the decision after listening to that: Am I comfortable in my life here? Or do I stick to my original plan and get the heck outta dodge and figure out what the next thing is? By the time we find him at the end of our season, he’s really tired of running. He’s felt like he is constantly against a ticking time bomb. Maybe he’s finally found a place where he can be safe. He’s found a community that he likes enough and he’s coming into his own. He’s still getting involved in the underworld of that community, but he’s finding that he can actually make a difference with what he’s doing. That’s another big question at the end: Who does Mack want to be now?

Especially because he doesn’t have anything left in Chicago. Lewis is dead. That was pretty much it.

That was it. He’s got a job that he can’t go back to. He’s got no family, no friends. In this new place where he started out as a complete stranger, he’s now found his little corner that he is realizing that he’s pretty good at filling.

Would he even want to go back to that job if he could?

I don’t think so. There’s so much he’s learned about himself being in Clump that he’s realized that he can use the set of skills that he fostered so well in Chicago to become what he was. He can point those in another direction and really make things work semi-legitimately.

Colin Donnell and Tegan Stimson in 'Irreverent'

Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions

Now Antoinette’s coming to deal with this herself. Paulo said meeting her once was enough for him, so they should all be terrified now, right?

Antoinette is the biggest danger, right? Mack is totally comfortable with a shotgun in his face, but if he had to go in front of Antoinette one more time, he’d probably poop his pants and move on. When we leave off, she’s moving on to another plan. She has no idea what happened to Farra, but now the immediate danger is her taking matters into her own hands. Mack and really everybody should be scared s**tless.

There’s so much unknown about Antoinette. When Farra was coming, it was like, OK, he’s a hitman. But with Antoinette…

She’s the wild card. She’s gonna use everything she can to get revenge for her son. Whether it’s another Farra, whether it’s burning the entire town to the ground, you’re right. He has no idea what’s coming down the pipe.

What are your hopes for a second season?

One of the most fun things is watching Mack deal with the town of Clump and his new responsibilities as the reverend. There’s so much humor to be found in him fumbling his way through even the most mundane circumstances, like walking in to find a sign-up for a 5k fun run. The criminal element aside, it’s those more human moments that happened between him and the people of Clump that really brought me so much joy. There’s so much material to mine within that, of him navigating his way through this weird wild place that he found himself in.

I would feel so bad for Peter if he found out the truth about Mack.

I think it would crush Peter’s soul to find out that Mack wasn’t really a reverend. That was another relationship that really surprised me through the course of the season. When we got to the big confrontation between Peter and Mack, there’s so much pent-up angst between the two of them, each sort of pissing each other off in different ways. Mack wasn’t anything what Peter was expecting. Peter was just sort of this annoying gnat buzzing around his head at all times.

And so when it came time to actually have that frank conversation between the two of them, it was just so … relieving, I think, is maybe a good word for it. There was something cathartic about listening to Wayne let it all out as Peter and seeing how Mack ends up dealing with that. It was very in the moment when we were doing it. I didn’t know exactly where it would go. I think it turned out to be a beautiful scene, and it was one of my favorite moments of the series. The two of them had this crackling energy throughout the first bunch of episodes, and when it finally came to a head, it was pretty electric.

Another beautiful scene was Peter bringing him wine and Mack’s reaction to this nice thing someone’s doing just because.

Yeah, I don’t think that Mack has ever had anybody do that for him before. To see somebody be grateful and to want to do something for him out of the goodness of their heart without wanting anything in return is hugely surprising for Mack. I think he realizes that he likes it. There’s a big draw to that to keep him in this town: He’s starting to see the people for who they are and what he can maybe mean to those people.

You were in Chicago for Med, now Chicago for Mack, too…

I’m hoping we can get back and shoot some of some flashbacks for Mack and I can bring some Aussie friends over to Chicago with me and show ’em around.

I want to see more of Mack’s life in Chicago. It’s the darker side to him that he had to let go of in Clump, that he couldn’t show.

Yeah, he’s a little bit of a dark horse, isn’t he?

Irreverent, Season 1, Streaming Now, Peacock