By: Donna Freydkin
His show, "NCIS: Los Angeles," has just been renewed for an eighth season. And Chris O'Donnell is as appreciative as the show's many, many fans (it airs Mondays on CBS). He's been famous since 1991's "Fried Green Tomatoes" and 1992's "School Ties," and with O'Donnell, you get the very real sense that nothing is taken for granted. Especially not a job that's stable, invigorating, and keeps him close to home and allows him to direct episodes, something he loves.
His show is about an elite group of agents who can infiltrate and handle any situation, no matter how terrifying. And his agent, G. Callum, is a master of transformation. In real life, O'Donnell, the father of five, views himself as closest to the character played by LL Cool J. "Sam, he's a good family guy. I guess that would be a connection," he says.
And a family needs somewhere to live. Which is where O'Donnell's HGTV mania reveals itself.
"I love building houses. I don't build it -- I hire a contractor and an architect. I watch HGTV all day, all day. I watch everything. I like 'Love It or List It.' I like 'Rehab Addict,'" he says.
As for other networks, "I do like 'Million Dollar Listing.' That's great. You know the neighborhoods and the houses. I love 'American Pickers.' I'm obsessed. They go and buy antiques. They roll up on a house," he says.
He's hands-on in real life, too. "The house we're in, I built, which took over two years. We have a house in Maine, a 100-year-old house, and we did that in under a year. We had to redo the guts of it. That was tough because I was at work. I had cameras set up," he says.
The actor has been in the business a long time, and that means his kids are aware that dad is famous.
"Yeah, The big ones obviously do (know). It doesn't ever come up. Last year we went on vacation (to a resort) -- I couldn't go anywhere (because of fans). It was a little brutal. In our life in LA, it doesn't ever happen," he says.
On the show, O'Donnell plays slick, savvy Special Agent G. Callum, who finally learned his real name and his own history. Now, says O'Donnell, he may even be ready for take the next step.
Yes, we mean love, 'NCIS'-style.
"Callum can start living his life. Maybe he'll have a relationship now," he says.