KNOXNEWS.COM JANUARY 21, 2003
stands by his choice to keep on acting
O'Connell was always a hyperactive kid. At one point there was even
talk of treating him with Ritalin to calm him down. But he found his
own cure: he became an actor.
Now as the star of the comedy film, "Kangaroo Jack" and with a continuing role as Detective. Woody Hoyt on NBC's "Crossing Jordan," O'Connell figures he did the right thing when he traded his blossoming career for college.
"I said to my mom after high school, 'What if I don't go to college?' And she said, 'Over my dead body.'"
So O'Connell went, and graduated from New York University in 1995, with a major in screenwriting.
"I know college isn't for everyone but it was definitely for me. It helped me to become an adult. A lot of my acting friends did not go to college and I think it gives them a narrow, skewed view on Los Angeles and I think it's pretty much the only world that they know," he says.
says "Stand By Me" was shown in one of his college classes.
Still blessed with excess energy, O'Connell admits that the long working hours stunt his social life.
"I'm a young guy, a single guy. I love to go out, especially in Hollywood where there are probably the most beautiful women in the world,'' he says. "When I was working on these films and 'Crossing Jordan ,' you work, like, 16 hours and it'll be 11 or 12 o'clock at night and you could go out for an hour but you're just so beat at that point. You go home and go to sleep. I don't think people understand how time consuming it is. That wears on me a little bit because I see friends going out and having a good time. And I think, 'God, I should be doing that.'"
What he's doing isn't bad. He co-starred in films like "Scream 2," "Mission to Mars," "Body Shots," and in the miniseries "The 60s" and in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of "The Room Upstairs."
With the bigger budget "Kangaroo Jack," O'Connell feels he's finally hit the big time. "When you do these films everything is top notch. Like the chase scenes, in some movies you take three or four days, and we'll take three weeks. Everything is just larger. And it's fun to do these stunt movies because I'm a young, athletic guy and I like jumping around.
His climb in show business has enabled O'Connell to realize at least one dream. "I bought this 1973 Buick convertible, and it's a pimp mobile," he says, with a wide, jack-o'lantern grin. "Everybody loves it. Being from New York we never had a very cool car. . . So I started to make some money and I bought the coolest car I possibly could. It's amazing how good a car can make you feel - and I'm not a car guy. I'm from New York."
parents had a pretty embarrassing car growing up. I love my parents
and I can see that things like cars are not important to them, and that's
great. But it was awful! I remember, before you had a license your parents
had to pick you up with your dates. It was a 1975 Cadillac and this
was the 1990s! The floor had actually dropped out of the back. I remember
thinking to myself, 'If I ever make a couple bucks I'm going to buy
myself a really nice car.' My mom came to visit L.A. and I picked her
up at the airport and she'd never seen anything like it. She put her
scarf on like Jackie O, we put the top down all over L.A.''
Lee writes entertainment profiles at Scripps Howard News Service.