LINE IN THE OFFIRE. Chris O’Donnell traded in his movie stardom for life as a TV headliner and family man, which turned out to be the best decision he could have ever made. DAMAN touches base once again with the now Agent G. Callen of “NCIS: Los Angeles”
American actor Chris O’Donnell made his mark as a star through a series of major motion pictures, including “Scent of a Woman” where he played opposite Al Pacino. He also gave us a modern take on iconic superhero sidekick Robin in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.” While he has been absent for quite a while from the big screen, he has become much more of a household name as the leading man (and occasional director) of popular TV series “NCIS: Los Angeles.” And, let’s face it, after 6 exciting seasons, we still can’t enough of the man.
DA MAN: Hi Chris, can you fill us in on what you’ve been working on lately?
Chris O’Donnell: I have been busy working on “NCIS: Los Angeles” for the past 6 years, acting and directing. Between that and raising 5 kids, I don’t have time for much else.
DA: Obviously, nowadays, people mostly know you as Agent Callen from “NCIS: Los Angeles.” What do you think is the secret behind the series’ enduring success?
CO: I think the secret is that the audience has fallen in love with the characters on the show. That is really the trick about these types of shows: If the audience care about the characters, they will go on the ride with you for a very long time. I also feel like the relationship that LL Cool J and I share in real life has really added to the show as well. We come from very different worlds, but we have a blast together.
“If the audience care about the characters, they will go on the ride with you for a very long time”
DA: So far, you’ve also directed two episodes of “NCIS: Los Angeles.” What was it like being in front and behind the camera at the same time?
CO: It takes a lot of concentration and trust to do them both at the same time. Obviously, the scenes that I am not in are easier to work on, but I really enjoy being behind the camera. It gives me a chance to tell the story the way I see it. I love directing my fellow cast mates.
Outfit by The Kooples
DA: Do you think that fulltime directing might be in the cards for you?
CO: Acting will always be my first love, but I am energized when I direct. There is so much to learn and explore. I have had the luxury of working with great directors over my career, I try to remember all that they’ve taught me.
DA: One of the most popular scenes from the entire “NCIS: Los Angeles” run so far was when you switched languages from Polish, Russian, German, Italian and French, in just over 30 seconds. Did you really have to learn all of these languages?
CO: Just enough to do the scene. That was a real challenge—I have about six dialect coaches standing off-stage eagerly waiting to see if I would do the right accent on each take. Lots of fun!
DA: What can we look forward to in this and maybe the next season of the show? A big finale, perhaps? Or maybe more crossover episodes with “Hawaii Five-O”?
CO: No plans for any more crossovers. I believe there is a love interest in Callen’s future. There are so many storylines that the showrunner has laid out over the past six years; now is the time to go harvest them.
DA: If the show continues for another six seasons like the original “NCIS” or even longer, do you think you’ll stay on board for the entire ride?
CO: I love what I do. I hope we are able to do it for many more years to come.
“I do look forward to doing more films one day. That I promise you”
DA: Your “bromance” with fellow “NCIS” star LL Cool J is quite popular among fans of the show, but how do you get along with the rest of the cast?
CO: We get along great. It really is like a family. We share each other’s real-life successes and disappointments. We all have lives outside of the show, and we spend a ton of time together on the set, but it is still fun to get together once in a while off camera to have some fun.
DA: And, of course, the most important question for fans of the series: Will we ever find out what the “G” in your character’s name stands for?
CO: Boy, I hope so!
DA: Are there any other filming projects besides NCIS that you’re currently involved in or that you’re looking into?
CO: No, I’m too busy right now. If I was younger and didn’t have five young kids, I probably would do a film, but I feel it is important for me to spend my summer break with the family at this point. I do look forward to doing more films one day. That I promise you.
DA: Do you see yourself ever returning to superhero movies? With your espionage-cred from NCIS, you’d be perfect for, say, a dark and gritty reimagining of Nightwing.
CO: Never say never!
DA: What do you think about the current trend of superhero flicks? Especially compared to the last time you donned a cape.
CO: Technology has really changed—it is amazing what they can do now. This is a genre that constantly pushes the envelope as far as special effects go, and I think fans love that.
DA: You are also known as a model father, who now has to deal with a couple of teenagers. How have you been coping with the added challenge?
CO: Yes, dealing with diapers is starting to look pretty easy right about now. Teenagers are a different breed, so we have our work cut out for us. But we have great kids and we are just trying to keep them on track and give them all the love and support we can, and try and teach them everything we have learned in life.
DA: If any of your children got the opportunity to start acting early on, would you allow them to?
CO: A few of them have had small parts on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” I wouldn’t push them into it, but if they wanted to do it, I would support them with the understanding that they are still going to go to college.
DA: When you’re not filming or taking care of your five children, how do you usually spend your time?
CO: I play a lot of golf and spend summers in Maine, we love it up there.
DA: Do you have a favorite quote? Something that really captures the essence of your life’s work so far?
CO: Not necessarily my work, but my father always told me, “to thine own self be true.”
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Photography Assistant Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Alexa Rangroummith Green
Styling Assistant Jaz Jenkins and Amber Blaufuss
VideographerJon Norris & Fickar Hajar
Grooming Elie Maalouf at Jed Root using Giorgio Armani Beauty