‘NCIS: LA’ Star Chris O’Donnell Picked Family Over Fame

'NCIS: LA' Star Chris O'Donnell and His Kids on the Cover of Redbook magazine (Photo: Redbook)

'NCIS: LA' Star Chris O'Donnell and His Kids on the Cover of Redbook magazine (Photo: Redbook)

NCIS: LA‘ star Chris O’Donnell’s acting career was taking off in 1995 when he appeared in ‘Batman Forever’ as Batman’s sidekick Robin, but he decided to step out of the spotlight to focus on starting a family.

“I was being offered these huge films that would have taken my career to a different level, and I decided to put on the brakes. I knew if I continued on that track, I probably wouldn’t have gotten married,” O’Donnell reveals in Redbook’s June issue. But taking a quick look at O’Donnell’s IMDB page, the actor hasn’t gone more than a year (since 1995) without making a film or starring in a TV show. But he claims his roles are carefully thought out, confessing he actually turned down the lead in 1997’s ‘Men in Black’ to focus on his family.

He and wife Caroline were married in 1997 and have five children — Lily Anne, 10, Christopher ‘Chip’ Eugene, 9, Charles McHugh, 6, Finley, 4, and Maeve Frances, 2.

O’Donnell says trying to balance his career and family has been one of his biggest struggles. “I knew when I got into this business I couldn’t have it both ways: I could live the playboy lifestyle, which is not a bad thing to do, or have a traditional family life, which is how I grew up. And that was more important to me,” he says.

O’Donnell has starred in movies like ‘In Love and War’ (1996) and ‘The Bachelor’ (1999), and on TV in shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (2006) and most recently as Special Agent G. Callen in ‘NCIS: Los Angeles.’ He is currently working on the sequel of the 2001 movie ‘Cats & Dogs,’ called ‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,’ due to be released in 2010.

Today, Caroline says, “He plays a vital role in our children’s lives, and that’s a big turn-on. The first time I met him, I watched him with his nieces and nephews and thought, He’s going to be a great dad. It’s what drew me to him in the beginning.”

With a full house, O’Donnell reveals they’re probably done having kids … for now. “To be honest, we got to four and said, ‘Wow, this is a lot.’ We really wanted to have another girl, but we thought, That’s crazy. A year later, we found out [we were pregnant] and were like, ‘Okay, a little miscommunication there.’ But things work out for a reason, and we can’t imagine our life without Maeve. Look at those little pigtails — she’s Cindy Lou Who!” he says.

While he is still making time for Hollywood, O’Donnell’s priorities have drastically changed since his ‘Batman’ fame.
“When I’m sitting in the backyard at the end of the day with a glass of wine, watching the kids having fun and clowning around, for me, that’s what it’s all about. I have my own worries and concerns and frustrations, but I’m doing something I love to do. My wife and kids are in good shape. What is there not to be happy about?” he admits.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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