‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star Chris O’Donnell Has It All

Chris O’Donnell’s boyish looks have been making millions of women swoon for years. If those baby blues and killer smile aren’t enough to get your guy jealous, wait until we tell you what a nice, kind, down-to-earth family man O’Donnell is. From the inside out, this actor has all the right stuff! An edited version of our interview with him follows

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
chris o'donnell image
Photograph: Rene Macura

More: You are on NCIS: Los Angeles, one of the highest-rated shows on CBS.
COD: It is pretty great. We have been fortunate enough to follow in the footsteps of NCIS, a show that has many passionate fans. That gave us a huge opportunity to have a built-in audience. But as you know, nothing is guaranteed, and it is one of those things where you honestly can't predict what will happen. The producers put LL Cool J and myself on the show, and the fans, more than 17 million of them, have responded every week, which for us is terrific.  

More: Is there a lot of pressure, keeping a series like yours at the top of the ratings?
COD: There is always pressure, which is why we go to work every day and make the program as good as we can. At a certain point, though, it is out of our hands because there is marketing involved and fans need to tune in. I can tell you I go in with the best attitude, work hard, and, as the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” We recently had our first episode of the new season and that was a nerve-racking night because you are wondering to yourself, Are the fans going to tune in again and watch? Luckily for us, they did.

More: Tell me a secret about your costar, LL Cool J.
COD: LL is such an intelligent guy. He might be a big muscular rapper, but he is also a really sharp guy. I mean, he is book smart, philosophical and really gets it. The guy could have a conversation with anyone on the planet about anything and really connect with them. Although we had different backgrounds growing up, he and I have a real connection and a real bond.   

More: How do you juggle a red-hot Hollywood career and five kids and still manage to find time for date night with the missus?
COD: We don’t get out as much as we would like, but fortunately the kids go to bed at a good hour so we always carve out time at night to sit, have a glass of wine and just be together.

More: Sounds romantic.
COD: It is not like we are running off on romantic getaways on the spur of the moment. Planning something like that involves a lot of logistics. But yes, we do steal time for each other, and we will leave the kids behind to celebrate my wife’s 40th birthday, which is coming up.

More: I like how after 10-plus years of marriage you still love finding time for each other.
COD: Even just planning something like dinner for the two of us is hard because there is always a dinner invitation or a school event to go to. But if we get a random Friday night where it is just the two of us, we love going out for sushi or to this cute little Italian place. I am a creature of habit. I like to go to the same place and order the same things.  

More: What’s the rule when it comes to kissing female costars?
COD: It is work. My wife is fine with it because she is not the jealous type. I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite. If that were my wife kissing a guy, I can tell you this would not work for me at all! That is probably why I didn’t marry an actress.

More: Sounds like a fairy tale.
COD: It is work, just like for everyone else. Nothing is perfect, and we are not living a fairy tale life. But my commitment to marriage is extremely important to me. I will also say that we are blessed to have beautiful children and that I am working steady in a crazy business. There is not a lot of stability in this business, and to be working on a show that is now in its fourth season is a pretty nice gift to have. I have been in this industry for 25 years, and for once it is nice to have some consistency, especially when my children are so young. It is important for me to be in one place, and this opportunity could not have come at a better time.

More: Tell me about fatherhood.
COD: It is great. It is something I always wanted and something that was always important to me. My parents were very family oriented and always made it about the family. They were the type of parents who stayed home with the kids, had fun and kept track of where we all were. I love being a dad because it tests your endurance and strength every day. I spend my days juggling work, my children, keeping a career and my marriage in a good place. There is a lot going on, but I am working hard at it all.  

More: Have the children ever done anything that made you blow your top?
COD: Sure. There are varying degrees of that. I can tell their moods just by the type of cry they are giving off and they can tell when I am not screwing around by the way I reprimand them. There are certain things kids will do at different stages, and they get your point just by your tone. As my kids get older, they all do different things.

More: Such as?
COD: Right after we moved into our new house a year ago, our six-year-old disappeared at night and was gone for, like, four hours. We had the cops here, neighbors looking for him, the whole thing. Turned out he climbed into a cabinet at the house next door. At one point he thought it was funny. When he realized the police were looking for him, he got scared and hid because he was frightened. Look, he was six, and I am not sure he understood at first he was doing anything wrong, but it was a very serious thing.

More: What did you do?
COD: You don’t know what to do. You are scared, yet you also need to parent. The worst part was, when you look around you learn there is no parent manual to walk you through a situation like this. I will say this: my wife, Caroline, is much more level headed when it comes to this stuff than I am. I tend to freak out a bit more than she does. That is where the good cop/bad cop comes in. We really pull together as a team.

More: If my child was missing, I would go into cardiac arrest.
COD: It was pretty scary, and I have never seen my wife get the way she did. She really thought someone took our child. Here we were in a new neighborhood, it was dark, and our child was just gone. I mean, we scoured every inch of the neighborhood looking for him—so, yes, it was scary.

More: Will you follow in your parents' footsteps and have two more?
COD: No. We closed up shop around here. We are good right where we are.

More: Another admirable quality of yoursyou are putting your celebrity to good use by trying to keep people healthy. Tell me why you chose to get involved.
COD: Yes, I am really passionate about this. The Fluzone Intradermal (fluzone.com) is an alternative to the flu vaccine adults have been getting for years. Doctors are now using a much smaller needle, 90 percent smaller to be exact, so all you feel is a tiny prick for a second. As a father of five, I am very concerned about getting my flu shot because I don’t know what the kids are dragging in the door.

More: You play a real tough guy on TV, so getting a needle once a year must be a piece of cake.
COD: I hate getting shots and am always the last to get one. However, when my doctor showed me the size of this needle and why this would be painless, I decided to partner up with Sanofi Pasteur to help raise awareness about the importance of staying healthy. Two thirds of the population between the ages of 18 and 64 don’t get the flu shot, and I am hoping that people will change their minds and take the time to get vaccinated, because the flu can be especially harmful to infants and the elderly.

NCIS: Los Angeles airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.

Click here to read Jami Gertz’s Second Act and What Led to Her Reinvention.

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First Published Tue, 2012-10-02 22:03

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