‘Mindhunter’: How A 25-Minute Divorce in Mexico Inspired Holt McCallany’s Season Finale Performance

McCallany still remembers the story his father told ‘over and over again’


Warning: This article contains major spoilers for “Mindhunter” season two.

Netflix’s crime drama “Mindhunter” ended its second season with FBI agent Bill Tench coming home to an empty house, with fans wondering if his wife Nancy had left him for good.

Holt McCallany, who plays Tench, says he drew inspiration for the performance from a story told by his father, who decades ago was blindsided when he learned of his own divorce at a bar in New York.

McCallany’s late father, Michael McAloney, was the Tony-award winning producer of a 1970 Broadway production of “Borstal Boy”. According to McCallany, McAloney was, like Tench, pulled in two different directions because of his career and his family.

“I based those scenes on my own dad,” McCallany said of the finale. “He was a man of that era. In some of the ways was an absent father in the way Bill is an absent father.”

Before the closing moments of the season, Tench was in Atlanta with the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, looking to find who was behind the Atlanta child murders of the late 1970s. Despite a family crisis at home, Tench is sucked back into the investigation time and time again.

“It’s trying to be at two places at once,” McCallany said. “He thinks he’s making it work, but he’s not. It’s devastating for Bill.”

McAloney went through a similar tug-of-war between his career and family. In a story McCallany said he heard ‘over and over again’ for 40 years, McAloney’s ‘absenteeism’ from working so much hit a breaking point between he and McCallany’s mother, actress Julie Wilson. McAloney found this out while sitting in famous New York Bar Jim Downey’s, a spot that McCallany said was known as the “actor’s bar” at that time, where hot names like Paul Newman would stop by (it was also featured in the “Mad Men” episode “The Rejected”).

While sitting at a round table, McCallany recalls, a friend of McAloney asked if he had read the entertainment trades that day. A headline had read “Singer/Actress Julie Wilson Divorced Legit Producer Michael McAloney in Mexico City, They have two sons.”

McAloney and Wilson were married in Ireland–a country where divorce was illegal until 1995. So, McCallany said, Wilson went to Mexico to break it off.

“Apparently in Mexico, you could get a divorce in 25 minutes,” McCallany said.

“He spent years working for the Tony. My father was hanging out in Irish bars with guys like [Tench] and people from the IRA. It was something that my mother didn’t understand and didn’t have any appreciation of. She eventually left him without a word,” McCallany said.

While shooting the finale, McCallany remembered how emotional his father would be while telling the story, when “you’re not even give the courtesy of a goodbye,” he said.