Even after 25 years, with starring roles in “Scent of a Woman” and “Batman & Robin,” there’s still one thing that actor Chris O’Donnell does not like about the Hollywood complex.
“I hate auditions to this day,” O’Donnell said in an interview with ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez for “Newsmakers.” “It’s really the most uncomfortable thing because the amount of rejection is so high. It’s so scary going behind that door. Especially when you’re sitting in the hallway and you can hear people yelling and screaming and doing these scenes. And you’ve got this little window of time.”
O’Donnell acknowledged that not every one of his roles required an audition, such as when he was cast as Robin in two of the “Batman” films. But for his breakout role in 1990’s “Men Don’t Leave,” it was O’Donnell himself who suggested he not get the role.
“They brought in Joan Cusack, who is supposed to be this older woman that I fall in love with,” he recalled. “I was 17 and I looked like I was about 13. And Joan Cusack was about 5’10” and she walked in and I couldn’t keep a straight face. I walked outside and talked to the producer for a second and told him that no one’s going to believe this, so you can just forget about me. And I ended up getting the part.”
But for his memorable role starring alongside Al Pacino in 1992’s “Scent of a Woman,” O’Donnell did everything he could during the audition process to convince the filmmakers that it should be his.
“I really wanted it, I really prepared hard for it,” said O’Donnell. “Al Pacino was a no-brainer. But when I got in there, Al is such an intimidating presence and the character is supposed to be intimidated by him. I was able to play on that natural nervousness that I had around him in the audition process that helped me to win the role.”
Now starring alongside LL Cool J in “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which has been renewed for a fifth season, O’Donnell is taking the hiatus to spend time with his family and raise awareness about child hunger in the United States, where one in five children, about 17 million total, don’t know always know where their next meal is coming from. That number jumps in the summertime when children cannot rely on meals in school.
“I come from seven kids,” said O’Donnell. “We never had to worry about where our next meal is coming from. And I’ve got five kids. You take things for granted. But it’s such an alarming statistic that in this day and age, in the United States, that that many kids are not getting a nutritious meal.”
O’Donnell has partnered with ConAgra Food Foundation and created a PSA. For every viewing or share of the video, a meal will be donated to the charity Feeding America. The video can be found at www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com.
- Joan Cusack