‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: Why Star Chris O’Donnell Chose Having a Family Over Major Movie Career

by Emily Morgan

During the ’90s, “NCIS” Chris O’Donnell was well on his way to Hollywood stardom. By that time, he had starred in some blockbuster hits like  Batman & Robin, Batman ForeverThe Three Musketeers, and Scent of a Woman. However, towards the end of the decade, he shifted gears and prioritized 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 explained to Redbook Magazine in 2010.

O’Donnell met his wife, Caroline Fentress, in the early 90s— just as his acting career was taking off. “We started talking…We dated for three years and got married when I was 26,” O’Donnell recounted about dating his wife. 

Chris O’Donnell Prioritized Family Over Fame

After getting hitched, the couple knew they wanted to have a big family. Today, they have five children together: Lily, 20, Christopher Jr., 19, Charlie, 16, Finley, 13, and Maeve, 12. While you’d think the couple might need extra help with their full house, they’ve never hired a nanny. 

Amid raising five kids, he currently stars as G. Callen opposite LL Cool J on the hit show “NCIS: Los Angeles.” Outside of “NCIS,” he’s also had numerous memorable TV roles on shows. He’s made appearances on shows like “Two and a Half Men,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Company,” and “American Dad.”

Despite being a family man first and foremost, O’Donnell wouldn’t be opposed to his children working in the entertainment industry. 

“I think it’s just great exposure to what else is out there in the world,” O’Donnell once told Entertainment Tonight. “I don’t know if any of my kids will actually end up in this industry. And if they do that’s terrific, but if my children think they’re just going to walk in and have their own television show, that’s just not a reality.”

Yet, it’s never been about the fame for O’Donnell. For him, he feels the most fulfilled at home. 

“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?”