Chris O’Donnell Put ‘The Brakes’ on His Promising Career for His Wife & Mother of His 5 Kids

Popular Hollywood actor Chris O’Donnell, who is also a very likable person, opted to get married at 26 years old instead of living a playboy life. 

Chris O’Donnell is popularly known as one of the lead characters in CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles.” The actor has been a prominent figure in Hollywood since he made his movie debut in the 90s.

The Chicago-born star exchanged vows with his then-girlfriend, Caroline Frentess, at a young age; something quite uncommon for male movie stars at the time.

Actor Chris O’Donnell attends the Holllywood Women’s Press Club’s 53rd Annual Golden Apple Awards on December 12, 1993 [left]. Actor Chris O’Donnell and family at the Chris O’Donnell Star Ceremony On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame on March 5, 2015 [middle], Chris O’Donnell attends Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Fun Fearless Males of 2010 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on March 1, 2010 [right] | Photo: Getty Images

His decision to tie the knot so early was influenced by the family values instilled in him by his parents. However, O’Donnell, who is now a father to five children, claimed he has never regretted taking that leap.

O’Donnell was born to his father, William O’Donnell, in St. Louis. He grew up in the outskirts of Chicago and was the youngest of seven children. 

Chris O’Donnell at CBS Studios – Radford on August 1, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

The actor was born into a large Catholic family, and he had what is called the altar-boy values instilled in him as a child. This experience influenced his decisions further in life. 

At 13, he decided to try modeling when he discovered models were being paid $65 an hour. His sister then introduced him to the agent Maureen Brockman whom he met at a wedding. 

Brockman was so impressed by his looks, that she described his lovely personality and wonderful smile as some of what made him perfect. 

Starting off in commercials, O’Donnell famously appeared as a fast food server who served breakfast to basketball legend Michael Jordan in a McDonald’s commercial that aired in 1987. 

In the early 90s, he featured in movies such as, “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Men Don’t Leave,” and his performances showed he had much more to offer than just being a model. 

Surprisingly, with his acting career just getting off, O’Donnell left for Boston College to study marketing. He was not convinced about being an actor yet. While he was in college, he landed more acting gigs, and realized acting was what he wanted to do. 

At 24, O’Donnell landed his first big role in 1992 when he starred alongside Hollywood legend Al Pacino in “Scent of a Woman.” The youngster bagged his first Golden Globe nomination for his performance. 

He appeared in 1995’s “Circle of Friends” and played Robin the Boy Wonder in “Batman Forever.” The actor was offered the lead role in 1997’s “Men in Black” but rejected it for personal reasons.

The Chicago-raised actor has also appeared in “Vertical Limit” as well as hit TV series, “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”

O’Donnell met his wife Caroline when she visited her brother Andrew who lived in the same apartment as the actor. They soon found out they liked each other, which led to a kiss, but nothing serious happened. 

They did not see each other again for the next three years until this fateful day when the actor asked his neighbor and friend Andrew to call her so they could have a chat. 

After this, O’Donnell and Caroline kept in touch and dated for three years before their marriage in April 1997. The ceremony was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

O’Donnell and Caroline are parents to five children. The couple had their first child Lily on September 3, 1999, the same year O’Donnell returned to making movies. 

The next year, they welcomed their second child and first son Christopher Eugene, who they nicknamed Chip. The third child, Charles was born on July 11, 2003. In 2016 they had Finley, with Caroline later giving birth to their youngest son, Maeve Frances. 


In an interview with RedBook Magazine, O’Donnell explained he was offered multiple movie roles after his performance in “Batman,” but he rejected them.

As a Hollywood actor, he had the opportunity of living a playboy lifestyle, dating different celebrities without ever tying the knot, or having a traditional family life. 

O’Donnell went with the latter; he took a break rejecting all the movie offers he got at the time to focus on his wife and marriage because this was more important to him. 

He declared this move has made it easy for him and Caroline to stay together since her family also shares the same values and traditions he holds dear. 

Speaking of his kids, the father of five admitted he has not been able to share his time adequately with his last borns Maeve and Finn, the way he did when Lily and Chip were their age. This also makes him feel a bit sad.

O’Donnell travels everywhere with them and admitted it is sometimes very tricky getting tickets for everyone.

He also explained that they were not planning on having a fifth child even though they wanted another girl. However, when Caroline found out she was pregnant, they decided to have the baby.

Chris O’Donnell’s wife Caroline worked as an elementary school teacher. According to the actor’s wife, she had always found her husband attractive.

The first time they met, she saw him playing with his nieces and nephews, and she knew he was going to be a great dad. This trait is also one of the things that attracted her to the blue-eyed actor. 

She explained that being a father has toughened O’Donnell up. He previously could not stand the sight of injuries or blood, and he fainted during the birth of their first kid.  After that incident, the actor has managed to stay conscious at the birth of their other children.


O’Donnell’s wife Caroline filmed an episode of the show “Command & Control” alongside their daughter Maeve in 2015. Maeve, who was seven years old at the time, took this role very seriously, rehearsed her lines frequently, and made sure to give it her best shot. 

His eldest daughter Lily has also co-starred alongside her father in the CBS series “NCIS: Los Angeles.” She portrayed the character, Amy.  

Her younger brother Charlie O’Donnell also played a younger version of their father both in the series’ season two finale and the season three premiere.

Charlie made another appearance in the drama as a character called Michael Donnelly. He has also starred in the movie “Past Life.”

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