‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star Chris O’Donnell Revealed What It’s Like to Work with Al Pacino

by John Jamison

Since 2009, actor Chris O’Donnell has been playing G. Callen on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” As the show heads into its 13th season, it hasn’t shown any signs of letting up. That’s good news for the cast. It also represents the longest Chris O’Donnell has spent on a project throughout his storied acting career. It’s a career that has seen him star in “Batman” movies, play Ernest Hemingway opposite Sandra Bullock, and share the screen with Al Pacino.

That last accolade is arguably the most impressive. Not taking anything away from Batman or Sandra Bullock, but Al Pacino is one of the most iconic actors to grace the screen. All the way back toward the beginning of his acting career, “NCIS: Los Angeles” star Chris O’Donnell had the opportunity of starring with him in the 1996 classic, “Scent of a Woman.”

In a February interview with Studio 10, the “NCIS: Los Angeles” star talked about his experience working with the great Al Pacino.

“Absolutely. It doesn’t get much better than Al. He’s one of the greats of his generation, maybe of all time. To have spent five or six months one on one for the majority of those scenes was incredible,” O’Donnell said. “And I would, I would just listen. He’s just a creative genius. He could do 15 takes of one scene. Every take was completely different. And at the end of those 15 takes, he knew which ones he liked, specifically.”

Al Pacino Was a Bit of a Wild Card

Some of the best scenes in the history of movies come from complete accidents. According to Chris O’Donnell, Al Pacino is incredibly gifted at bringing those accidents about.

“You didn’t know where he was going to go with things. And as long as you listened and were committed and just kind of ran with whatever he was doing, you had to stay in character. Great things came out of that. A lot of stuff that ended up in the film was reactions to stuff that he was doing,” O’Donnell continued.

‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Star Chris O’Donnell Has Had Years to Learn His Character

Part of being an actor is going off of someone else’s vision for a character. Sometimes it’s a writer, other times a producer or director, but huge character decisions generally don’t come from the star.

Chris O’Donnell knows this better than most. For more than a decade, he’s embodied a character that someone else cooked up. One benefit of all that time is he’s had the opportunity to learn Callen head to toe. During the interview, the “NCIS: Los Angeles” star was asked if he has any influence over his character.

“Only in my interpretation of what the writer’s given me,” O’Donnell said. “I mean the initial struggle for many of the years was just his search to find out family. And find out why he was in foster homes all his life.”