‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: The Surprising Reason Chris O’Donnell Turned Down Movie Roles Early in His Career

“NCIS: Los Angeles” star Chris O’Donnell has a thriving television career. Before he became a TV star, O’Donnell starred in many hit movies. However, he could have appeared in a lot more films if he didn’t refuse roles. Here’s the surprising reason he turned down some movie roles early in his career.

Chris O’Donnell’s movies

Chris O'Donnell as G. Callen on NCIS | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
Chris O’Donnell as G. Callen on NCIS | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

O’Donnell made his film debut in the 1990 movie “Men Don’t Leave,” in which he played the character Chris Macauley. The following year, he played Buddy Threadgoode in the hit movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.” His other films include appearances in “School Ties,” “Scent of a Woman,” “The Three Musketeers,” “Circle of Friends,” “Batman Forever,” and “Batman & Robin.”

Chris O’Donnell’s highest-grossing films

Chris O'Donnell and George Clooney |  Bob Carey/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Chris O’Donnell and George Clooney | Bob Carey/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

So far, O’Donnell’s highest-grossing film is “Batman Forever,” with worldwide box office earnings of more than $336 million. Some of his other high-grossing films include “Batman and Robin,” with worldwide box office earnings of more than $238 million; “Vertical Limit,” with worldwide box office earnings of more than $213 million; and “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore,” with more than $113 million in worldwide box office earnings, according to research from The Numbers.

Why Chris O’Donnell turned down movie roles early in his career

Chris O'Donnell in 2016 |  Adela Loconte/WireImage
Chris O’Donnell in 2016 | Adela Loconte/WireImage

During an interview with “Watch!” magazine, O’Donnell discussed his career. Journalist Alison Prato says O’Donnell’s performances were described as “not forced” during his early acting career. O’Donnell explains this was partly because he wasn’t a trained actor, so he chose roles he knew would be a natural fit. The actor also says he turned down a lot of roles because he was unsure of himself. He says he didn’t know if he had the talent to pull off some of the roles he was offered:

I wasn’t a trained actor. To me, it had to feel natural and real for it to work. Which is good and bad. It helped me to give very natural performances, but at the same time, because I hadn’t been trained, I was afraid of what my limits were. There were times when films would come by that I didn’t pursue, even though I knew they were very interested in me, because in the back of my head I thought, ‘I’m not sure if I can do that.’ I was thinking, ‘I’ve worked with some of the best actors and directors in the world, but I’m a fraud.’

What Chris O’Donnell would change about his career

Although O’Donnell has done well in his career, he told “Watch!” there are some things he would change. “Looking back, one thing I would’ve changed is what I call paralysis by over-analysis. A script would come along, and my gut instinct would be, ‘That sounds cool,’ and then I’d start breaking it down, talking to agents and managers and being like, ‘Should I?” O’Donnell said. “I was so green I didn’t realize I was the green-light element. I could’ve been more proactive and said, ‘Let’s get these people.’ I was so young. I didn’t know what I was doing.’”

It’s clear O’Donnell knows what he’s doing now. He’s the star of one of CBS’ top dramas, and fans can’t seem to get enough. We can’t wait to see what career move he makes next.  

Read more: ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’: How Much Does Chris O’Donnell Make Per Episode?

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