With boyish good looks and a relaxed screen presence, Chris O'Donnell has gone from playing key supporting roles opposite Oscar winners to embracing Spandex-clad super-heroics in a waning big-screen franchise, only to recently re-emerge as a reliable fixture in prime time TV stardom.
The youngest of seven children, O'Donnell got an early start in show business at 13, when he began modeling and appearing in national commercials. A notable early role found O'Donnell serving a hamburger meal to NBA superstar Michael Jordan in an ad for McDonald's. In 1986, he appeared in an episode of ABC's short-lived "Jack and Mike," which was shot in nearby Chicago.
The movie business soon caught on, and O'Donnell made his big-screen debut opposite Jessica Lange in 1990's "Men Don't Leave." O'Donnell soon appeared in a string of well-received films including "Fried Green Tomatoes" (1991), "School Ties" (1992) and "Scent of a Woman" (1992). O'Donnell was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the latter film, which earned co-star Al Pacino a best actor Oscar. "Blue Sky," which reunited O'Donnell with Lange, was completed in 1991 but went unreleased until 1994, when it earned an Oscar for Lange.
The increasingly in-demand O'Donnell appeared in numerous studio films in the second half of the '90s, including his performance as Robin in 1995's "Batman Forever" and 1997's "Batman and Robin." The latter, although a modest hit, was critically dismissed and brought the successful "Batman" franchise to a halt for nearly a decade.
O'Donnell also appeared in Robert Altman's ensemble film "Cookie's Fortune," the romantic comedy "The Bachelor," both 1999, and the 2000 action film "Vertical Limit."
By 2001, O'Donnell began to step away from movies and began a transition into television work, with guest roles on such shows as "The Practice," "Two and a Half Men" and "Grey's Anatomy." Meanwhile, he continued to make the occasional foray into feature films, including supporting roles in 2004's "Kinsey," as well as "Kit Kittredge: An American Girl" and "Hit Man," both released in 2008.
In 2009, O'Donnell joined co-lead L.L. Cool J in the CBS primetime series "NCIS: Los Angeles," part of the long-running "NCIS"/"JAG" franchise. As special agent G. Callen, O'Donnell has so far chalked up 137 episodes of the show over six seasons.