Chris O’Donnell Family

˜Next Big Thing–you hear all that crap. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t psyched. Chris O’Donnell CORN-FED, white bread, wholesome, and fresh-faced are just some of the adjectives used to describe Chris O’Donnell’s “good looks.” O’Donnell began capitalizing on his face at age 12 by landing modeling assignments and commercials (you might remember him as the McDonald’s counter boy who served Michael Jordan). His big break came, at age 17, when he secured the role of Jessica Lange’s eldest son in Men Don’t Leave. He says he almost missed his chance because of other priorities, namely crew practice (“I blew off the first three auditions because my crew team was going to be on the evening news”).

It was fortuitous that O’Donnell’s strength was in playing regular-guy types because that was exactly what Hollywood was looking for. He was cast as the decent boy-next-door, again opposite Jessica Lange, in Tony Richardson’s Blue Sky, but the project, which earned Lange an Academy Award, was shelved for three years. His breakthrough role came with Scent of a Woman, in which he played a wholesome prep-school kid hired to guide a blind Al Pacino through New York City for one last fling. The movie was a hit, and the exposure led to more regular-guy roles: he played a WASP in School Ties, and a naïve Musketeer-wannabe in The Three Musketeers.

His status as a star was cemented when he became the Boy Wonder in the third Batman installment, Batman Forever, and the way he filled out a codpiece soon made him a heartthrob in the eyes of many young women (and men one dedicated male fan put up an Internet site devoted to him). O’Donnell has no regrets about becoming part of the franchise, and says that “you have to do commercial-type films . . . you can make a lot of quality films and have the respect of many people, but studios green-light films by looking at what’s been successful it’s a business, after all.” Eventually, such Hollywood calculations find their way to failure, and despite his burgeoning success, O’Donnell has been involved in a couple of flops already including a miserable piece of film called Mad Love.

So far, O’Donnell has remained a regular guy in his real life quite a feat for a young movie star. He married longtime girlfriend Caroline Fentress, a kindergarten teacher; he still lives in his native Chicago and remains close to his old friends; and during the filming of Batman Forever, he attended night classes in order to complete the final credits for his marketing degree from Boston College.

O’Donnell’s marketing savvy has certainly come in handy when it comes to managing his film career, as his schedule is continually booked with blockbuster-style fare. He followed up his appearance in the adaptation of John Grisham’s The Chamber with the lead role of author Ernest Hemingway in In Love and War and another bow as Boy Wonder in the execrable follow-up to Batman Forever, Batman & Robin. Late 1999 brought a titular starring role opposite Renee Zellweger in New Line’s Bachelor, in which he played a young man who must marry within 24 hours in order to collect his inheritance. His recently formed production company, George Street Pictures, has two projects in development, both of which O’Donnell plans to produce and star in: the comedy The Flight Before Christmas and the thriller A Day in November.

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