Chris O'Donnell: Innocent Abroad

"It was a fantastic experience, but then I turned 18 during the filming, and I wanted to go to school. I went to Boston College for a year and a half straight. I knew I enjoyed the experience of acting, but I was having a great time at school. The idea was that I would try to do some acting in the summer and not miss school. And the summer after sophomore year, I found some work that fit into my schedule [Blue Sky, one of Orion's unreleased films, starring Jessica Lange and directed by Tony Richardson]. And during my junior year, after this other dose of acting, I really wanted to do it more and more. It used to be that when I was in school, I was thinking of acting, and when I was acting, I was thinking about school. But then it got to the point where I was always thinking about acting, so I finally started looking for another job no matter when it took place. I got Fried Green Tomatoes and School Ties."

"So school's not a big priority anymore?"

"Oh yeah, definitely. I want to get my degree. I feel incomplete. If I don't get an acting job soon I'll take some classes. I only have a semester to go. Definitely, I'm gonna finish school."

"Did you travel a lot when you were a kid?" I ask.

"Oh yeah. Of course," he says.

"Oh, so you had been to Europe before?"

"Europe! Oh God, no. To Florida. We were seven kids, so we had our annual trip to Florida. Pile everyone into two cars, certain kids had to be separated, and off we'd go. There are three boys and four girls. I'm the youngest. My dad had been to London on business, but my mom had never been to Europe. So I brought them over when we were doing Musketeers, and they had a great time. They stayed in Vienna, and then they went to the south of France and to Paris, and they had a great time. I just saw the photos, and there they were..."

"In front of the Eiffel Tower?" I ask, having seen everyone else's parents' photos from Europe.

"Exactly. It's really neat, you can see a lot more and experience more when you're working because you live there.

"I was laughing this morning," says O'Donnell, segueing like crazy, "because I remembered the first time I came to New York. I was with my dad, for the audition for Men Don't Leave. I've gotten pretty comfortable in this life style, you know what I mean? Well, maybe not comfortable, but I've gotten used to living in hotels like this. But I'll never forget my first time in New York, and we came right here [to The Regency]. We went to the room, and I remember calling my sister, who's a year older than me and she was back home, and I called her and said, 'Angela, I'm in my room, and there are three phones and one of them is in the bathroom! Every time you wash your hands, you get a new bar of Regency soap!' I'll never forget it. I laugh at it now."

"So," I say, waving my hand to include The Regency, New York City, and the world in general, "this wasn't part of your plan?"

"Oh my God, no. I was on my way to college, to go to business school. Probably move to New York and get a job at an investment bank. I was 17, I didn't know what the hell I was going to do. Acting was definitely an interest, but it was a dream. I'm a pretty realistic person, and I wasn't going to get my hopes up for being in the movies."

"What else didn't you know about The Three Musketeers?" I ask.

"It's a totally different movie than anything I've done. I was confused in the beginning. It's a lot of action, pure entertainment. You do a scene and you do a bunch of takes, and you might get a few that come out okay, because the horses didn't bolt, or the 800 extras did the right thing. But your performance is almost the last thing you worry about, because you don't want to screw up on the horse and fall on your head. They'd say we were moving on, and I'd realize that I had no idea if I had looked at the camera or anything.

"I had never horseback-ridden before. I mean, I had been on a horse at camp, where the horse had done the trail so many times that the most exciting thing that happened was that he'd brush you up against a tree or something. But I took riding lessons every day for six or seven weeks, and then lessons in sword-fighting. I'll tell you right now, Martha, if anyone messes with us [he grabs his butter knife menacingly] you have nothing to worry about. I had my sword on when I came into the hotel, I had it in my sheath, but I took it off so I wouldn't attract attention."

I might just believe him, but he starts to laugh.

"You should let me come up to your room," I say.

"Why?" he asks, getting nervous.

"So I can see how you pack, what you read, if you're messy, whatever. It'll be good for the interview."

He's not buying it. "No way. Definitely not." He's shaking his head so hard he looks like one of those dolls in the back window of a car.

"It was just a thought," I say, trying to shrug it off. Actually, I can't really remember why I wanted to go up there.

"I have my golf clubs up in my room," he says, as if I want the inventory.

"Don't tempt me," I say. "So tell me, were you with Kiefer when he found out Julia married Lyle?"

It takes him a minute to get the names straight.

"Yeah, I was there, we were filming that day, but he didn't seem to have any reaction. It seemed like it was old news or something."

"Did you have a wild time over there with Kiefer and Charlie?" I ask, thinking, Hey, if he's not going to take me to his room, he might as well tell me some good stories.

"It's funny... these guys have kind of made a living as these bad boys, and now they're in this Disney movie that's rated PG. When I first got there, it was strange because all three of those guys had worked together before. Kiefer and Charlie had done Young Guns, and Kiefer and Oliver had done Flatliners, so they all knew each other. The only one I knew was Gabby [Gabrielle Anwar], but she was only on the set for a few weeks.

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