Chris O'Donnell and his kids pose for Redbook in Venice Beach, California. - Matt Jones/RedbookChris O'Donnell is one of the few actors in Hollywood who really does seem to be a genuinely nice, normal (albeit hot) guy. The former teen heartthrob, whom I used to swoon over in films such as "Scent of a Woman" and "Circle of Friends," could have opted to take advantage of his fame and live the life of a swingin' bachelor, but instead the sweet Irish-Catholic boy from Chicago decided to settle down at the age of 26 with his now wife of 13 years, Caroline.
"I knew when I got into this business I couldn't have it both ways," Chris, 39, says in Redbook's "Hot Husbands" issue. "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." Awww.
The actor met his bride-to-be through her brother Andrew. "She came to visit and we had a little smooch," he recalls. "I knew there was something special about her from that moment, but we didn't see each other again for three years. One night I was out with Andrew and said, 'What is that little sister of yours up to? Let's give her a call.' So we did, and she was like, 'Why are you calling me?' I didn't really know why, except that I had never forgotten her. And we started talking.... We dated for three years and got married when I was 26."
Caroline and Chris have been married for 13 years. - Valerie Macon/Getty Images
Although the father of five -- Lily, 10, Chip, 9, Charles, 6, Finley, 4, and Maeve 2 -- turned down the lead role in 1997's "Men in Black" to focus on his family, he has no regrets. Starring on TV shows such as his current CBS hit, "NCIS: Los Angeles," is a much better fit for Chris as he gets to attend all of his children's weekend sporting events. Unfortunately, he doesn't have time to coach their teams anymore, but he still does his best to teach his kids by example. "My dad didn't tell us to work hard; we just saw how hard he worked," he notes. "I know I have shortcomings -- like a short fuse -- but I've learned you can't come home from a long day of work and snap at the kids. Caroline is really laid-back, so she's helped me with that. I'm lucky. I think we balance each other out."
When asked what it's like to have such a big brood, O'Donnell -- who is the youngest of seven -- says he loves it, but admits making travel plans can be difficult. "We usually bring a babysitter with us, so we have to buy tickets in packs of eight," he explains. "You'll plan your trip and say, 'The tickets are 400 bucks; that's not bad. Wait -- I need eight of them.' In fact, when you go on Orbitz or whatever, they won't let you do more than six at a time. So I have to break up the family into two reservations."
As you can imagine, the traveling part is even more difficult. "Once I was carrying Finley through security at an airport, and the guard said, 'Let him walk through.' Finn was sick, so I said, 'Trust me, you don't want me to put him down.' The minute I did, he projectile-vomited through the X-ray machine. I was like, 'Hey, there you go.' I used to try to be really low-key on airplanes, with my hat pulled down. Now I pre-announce to people around us, 'I want to apologize in advance.' When Chip was 3, as soon as we sat down, he said, 'My dad was Robin in the Batman movie.' I was like, 'Oh, my God. How are you guys doing?' I give up."
The "NCIS: Los Angeles" star gets a workout pulling his five children along the sand. - Matt Jones/Redbook
Despite all the fun the O'Donnell clan has, Chris doesn't foresee any more little ones in his family's future. "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....' [Laughs] 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!"
Pick up Redbook's June issue to read more about the dreamy blue-eyed dad!