Is Irreverent’s Paulo Keegan Based on a Real Criminal?

Portrayed by Colin Donnell, Paulo Keegan is the protagonist of Peacock’s crime comedy-drama series ‘Irreverent.’ At the start of the show, Paulo is an elite negotiator working for a mob boss named Lorenzo and his wife Antoinette in Chicago. However, Paulo is forced to go on the run after he kills Lorenzo and Antoinette’s son in self-defense and takes their $1.8 million. Intending to get as far away as possible from his former employers, Paulo arrives in Gold Coast, a city in Queensland, Australia. But then, a priest, Mackenzie Boyd ( P. J. Byrne), steals the money and his clothes and disappears. Having no other choice, Paulo decides to go to the very town that Mackenzie was originally supposed to and pretend to be a minister until he can find any clues on the man’s whereabouts. If you are wondering whether Paulo is based on a real-life criminal, here is what you need to know.

Who is Paulo Keegan?

In ‘Irreverent,’ Paulo is an incredibly resourceful individual. Even though he is not remotely religious and doesn’t know the scriptures, he gradually establishes himself in the community with his people skills, helping other residents solve their problems and becoming a well-liked figure. With the money gone, Paulo recognizes that he needs to find another way to gather funds for his permanent disappearance. Hence, he convinces Agnes, the local Chop-chop or illegal tobacco grower, to enter into a partnership with him, in which he will let them use the church to store their product away from the prying eyes of the authorities. In exchange, Agnes pays him a portion of her profit.

Image Credit: Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions/Peacock

Paulo Keegan isn’t based on a real criminal. Series creator Paddy Macrae told Precinct TV (Fansided) that he drew from his personal life to develop the minister aspect of the character, but the criminal elements were added because he thought it would amplify the complexity of the character.

“I was born and raised as a preacher’s kid… I’ve got two sisters and a brother and we grew up with my mum and my dad in the manse… So we kind of grew up surrounded by these stories of beauty and laughter and pain,” the debutant series creator and showrunner stated.

Image Credit: Mark Rogers/Matchbox Productions/Peacock

Macrae continued, “I thought what an incredible setting for a drama… but what I wanted to do was elevate the premise and the idea in a way. Rather than making a show about a small-town reverend… was to take this idea that success in connection isn’t about the study and theological knowledge of a reverend. It’s about their ability to show love.”

The plan of Macrae and his team was to accentuate the dichotomy between the less-than-steller personality of their protagonist and the inherent innocence of the show’s setting, a remote but beautiful named Clump. “So we thought wouldn’t it just be funny and suspenseful and interesting to take a criminal who had the skillset of a crook at the top of their game and forced them into a role of community leadership whereas opposed to being neutral they had to take sides for the first time in their life,” Macrae explained.

Read More: When and Where Does Irreverent Take Place?