These celebrity dads rake in millions of dollars and are met by screaming fans wherever they go. And yet somehow, they always manage to come off as cool, laid back fathers.
Here are the top 10 celebrity chill dads.
1. Brad Pitt (50)
It goes without saying that Pitt is at the top of the list. For 20 years this guy has managed to walk that tight rope of being ridiculously handsome while not alienating his male fan base. He’s one of the few actors who comes off like a rock star. So how does he do it? The good looks and perfect styling help, but there’s another factor at play that sets Brad Pitt apart – he makes great movies. He makes “guy” movies. From Seven to Inglorious Basterds to the generation defining Fight Club, he’s never cashed in on his movie star good looks and taken a vacuous romantic comedy without substance. Even in his star-making turn as a shirtless drifter in Thelma and Louise, he was working with Ridley Scott, a world-class director. It’s Pitt’s artistic choices that have kept him relevant, kept him cool. Meanwhile, he keeps his traveling brood of 6 kids intact, while somehow helping Angelina Jolie overcome her personal demons. This is clearly a couple that was made for each other, his mid-western values and her wild-child sense of danger creating a perfect yin-yang at the core of their family.
Lesson learned: The choices you make define you as a father and a man, more than anything else.
2. Matthew McConaughey (44)
He’s considered the man’s man, a rugged outdoorsman who once said that he tries to break a sweat every single day. Just take a look at the name of his film production company, J.K. Livin’ – Just keep living – and you have some telling insight into what makes the guy tick. He keeps moving forward, project to project, as if born with the innate knowledge that dwelling in the past is a waste of time. Whenever you see McCounaghey show up at an awards event, you can see that his eyes are taking it all in, that he is present. And when you see him with his family, he’s almost always throwing a ball around on the beach or frolicking in the surf with his kids (shirtless, of course).
Lesson learned: Be present and engage in the moment; be active with your kids.
3. Liam Neeson (62)
Five years ago, Liam Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson was killed in a tragic ski accent, leaving him alone to father his two boys. And yet, many people aren’t even aware of that fact. Neeson took the hit and put on a brave face for his children, with the tacit understanding that children follow the parent’s lead in a situation like that. Instead, he focused on work, continuing his career transformation into an action hero that begin just a year earlier in 2008 with Taken, that rare perfect genre film. On screen, Neeson radiates a cool charisma unlike any other celebrity. But underneath, he has stated that he occasionally gets “a profound feeling of instability” as a single parent. To look at him, you wouldn’t’ know it.
Lesson Learned: It’s not how hard you throw a punch, it’s whether you can take a punch.
4. Jay Z (44)
If you’re a fan of hip-hop, then you have some insight into why one of the world’s sexiest women would have hitched herself to a self-proclaimed drug dealer from the streets of Brooklyn with a mug only a mother could love. But if you don’t like hip-hop, then you’re probably left scratching your head, wondering, “How the hell is she with that him?” The answer? He’s a musical genius with incredible business savvy who radiates cool. From The Black Album to Watch The Throne, Hova’s musical soundscapes are densely layered yet rooted in old-school blues and soul; throw in the endlessly clever wordplay and you can see how he captured the heart of a woman to whom music is everything. And though he may have hooked her with his beats, it’s most likely Jay Z’s style, business sense and ability to move through “a room full of vultures” that keeps Beyonce by his side. As for Blue Ivy, they’ve done a masterful job of keeping their baby girl out of the press, just further proof of his talent when it comes to managing the media.
Lesson learned: It doesn’t matter where you start; carefully plot each step of your ascent and you’ll win the throne.
5. Bruce Willis (59)
Somehow, Bruce Willis survived a string of catastrophic box office misfires that would have derailed most other actors’ career. From Hudson Hawk to North to The 5th Element, he was legendary in the 80s for being a high-stakes Hollywood studio risk. But then, Pulp Fiction happened. Single-handedly, Willis created the concept of actors who oscillate between big studio films and small independent art projects. Today, everybody does it, but back then, he was a renegade. Amdist his career ups and downs, he got divorced from Demi Moore, yet somehow kept his “modern family” tight and intact, even showing up to premieres with Moore, her boy-toy Ashton Kutcher and all three of his own daughters. It takes a big man not to give a rat’s ass about who his ex is dating, especially when it’s a handsome former model like Kutcher, 20 years his junior. One gets the sense that Willis truly didn’t mind, because his daughters seemed to like Kutcher and their happiness was important to him. He has said, “I’m much more proud of being a father than being an actor.” Pictured above with his new wife, Emma Heming-Willis, with whom he has two more daughters.
Lesson learned: Jealousy is a waste of time.
6. Johnny Depp (51)
What is it about this guy that he can live a gypsy lifestyle, often wearing clown-like outfits that border on the absurd, and yet he still comes off as being completely cool? It could be the 60 million dollars he made off the last Pirates Movie. It could be that for some women he’ll always be their teenage crush from 21 jump street. But it could also be that the man is married to his craft in a way that is unheard of in today’s follow-the-trend celebrity culture. A throwback to Buster Keaton and great nimble physical actors of yesteryear, Depp seems to get off on shredding his sex symbol status… which of course only serves to make him more appealing. Clever guy. He loses points for leaving his long-term sweetheart Vanessa Paradis for the younger Amber Heard (pictured above), but his chill factor is simply undeniable. You get the feeling Depp would be much happier boozing with Keith Richards than bedding the hottest supermodels in the world. He seems to put art, music and acting above everything else and there’s something very cool about that.
Lesson learned: Commit 100% to your craft.
7. Gavin Rossdale (48)
For a few years back in the 90s, Rossdale had it all. As lead singer of a smash band (Bush, in case you forgot), he possessed a husky voice and model good looks, along with a cool demeanor that made his cheesy pop music palatable even to guys. And then, suddenly… vamoose. He disappeared from the limelight. Gwen Stefani swept him away and now we barely hear from the guy anymore except in celebrity taboloid photos. And yet, he appears totally okay with that. In fact, Rossdale seems to be enjoying taking a backseat to his wife’s superstar status, as if he had just enough of the mega-fame to satisfy his ego, snagged the girl he’s crazy about and then stepped back into the wings to enjoy his family. He comes across as a caring, loving father with absolutely zero career envy.
Lesson learned: Be secure enough to let your wife shine.
8. David Beckham (39)
Beckham seemed untouchable for awhile, a soccer playing sex symbol who managed to turn himself into a worldwide brand. Then the underwear ads took his ‘cool’ status down a few pegs in the eyes of his male fans, and allegedly sleeping with his nanny hurt him (somewhat) with his female fans. But amidst all the scandals and celebrity, the thing about Beckahm is his quiet intensity, no matter what’s gong on around him. Matthew Syed in the Courier Mail writes, “On the surface, he is as soft as you might expect from watching his television interviews. He gets emotional when talking about his kids. He is sensitive and empathetic. But there is also steel just beneath the surface, the sense that he likes nothing more than a battle.” That quiet intensity allows Beckham to stay focused while he and his superstar wife constantly create/battle the storm of publicity and scandal that seems to surround them.
Lesson learned: Be steady as a rock when insanity swirls around you; just keep your head down and do your job.
9. Adam Sandler (47)
How does this guy do it? Crap movie after crap movie and yet the country still embraces him like he’s some sort of national treasure. Sure, he’s earned some serious cache (and cash) after career-defining movies like Tommy Boy, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer. But that was 20 years ago. Why haven’t we collectively pushed him off stage right? Easy. Because he seems like a genuinely good guy, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Rob Schneider was recently on the radio talking about how beloved Sandler is by his buddies and fellow comedians. He’s loyal to a fault, putting the same motley crew of friends in every movie he makes. Here is the dedication he wrote to his own father, which appeared in the end credits of Fifty First Dates: “This movie is dedicated to Stanley Sandler. My father, my mentor, my teacher, my coach, my idol, my hero, my family’s leader, my mom’s best friend, and by far the coolest guy I will have ever known. We will miss you every day, but we will always try to make you proud.”
Lesson learned: Nice guys don’t finish last.
10. Barack Obama (52)
Thomas Jeffesron once said that nothing gives a man such an advantage over another as to remain cool-headed. And our current president must have read that qtuote, and re-read it, and read it some more, because he is the embodiment of political coolness. By keeping steady during the debates, he made Mitt Romney seem like the ‘excitable’ one, which was no easy fete. Then he rode the cool train all the way to a second term, deflecting criticism with a wink and a smile, while making off-handed comical remarks that perpetually frustrated his political opponents. His two daughters seem poised, classy and well-mannered, and he seems to maintain a flirtatious relationship with Michelle, balacning her seriousness with his sly grins and funny remarks. Not since Bill Clinton played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall have we had such a cool head of state. Granted, that’s a pretty low bar. But you’re talking about a president who’s so chill, he offhandedly called Kanye West a jackass and managed to take down one of the biggest celebrity egos of our time. When the president comes off cooler than a rapper, that’s pretty impressive.
Lesson learned: Stay cool while others lose their heads and you’ll be seen as a leader.
From Brad Pitt to Liam Neeson to Barack Obama, our culture is filled with celebrities who manage to radiate an air of coolness while still being good fathers and husbands. The general perception is that getting hitched and having kids means you have to ditch the coolness of your youth, trading it in for cargo pants and Bill Cosby sweaters. But the truth is, if you can keep your head about you, make good choices and hold on to your sense of humor, you can easily navigate the transtition from single young buck to chill dad.