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Actor Jerry O'Connell talks fatherhood and favorite city spots

We sat down with Jerry O'Connell at the GoGo squeeZ mobile playground in Bryant Park to talk about raising girls, spending time in NYC and Father's Day plans.

John Russo

Last Friday’s wind and rain didn’t stop GoGo squeeZ from hosting a happening block party in Bryant Park to encourage kids to “live playfully,” and raise money for the worthy foundation Life Is Good Playmakers (the group's mission is to stop the cycle of childhood trauma through play). We sat down with surprise celebrity spokesperson Jerry O’Connell to talk about GoGo squeeZ, his childhood in Manhattan, his hopes for his four-year-old daughters Dolly and Charlie, and his family's favorite spots around New York City.

What are some of your favorite things to do with Dolly and Charlie when you visit the city?
I grew up in Manhattan, and I was fortunate enough to have my two daughters, who were three at the time, in the city for four months when I did a play called Seminar on Broadway with Alan Rickman. I took them to Victorian Gardens and we rode the subway every day! They had never been to Times Square, so we took the train up there for a holiday party. I was carrying my daughter (she was in a real “uppy uppy” phase) and just looking around, and I said “This is Times Square. This is where Daddy grew up!” And I just heard her whisper “So many people!” It cracked me up so much.

It must have been so nice getting to spend that time in Manhattan with them.
It was a dream come true for me because I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles right now and I feel like I’m slighting my girls from the amazing childhood that I had being a city kid. I really believe that the only place in the world to raise children is New York City—if you can afford it. In Los Angeles, they're in the car, they go to a mall, then they get back in the car and they drive to wherever their gym class is. They don’t interact with other people!

How did you get involved with GoGo squeeZ? Are the twins big fans?
GoGo squeeZ partnered up with Life Is Good Playmakers, which is just a terrific charity—it really helps a lot of kids through the power of playfulness. They've been great to work with. As a dad, when my wife Rebecca [Romjin] is working, I’m probably not very good about giving them convenient food nearly as healthy as GoGo squeeZ is, so I’m very appreciative for the product and the Playmakers for what they are doing.

Any special Father’s Day plans?
I went to college with Mario Lavandiera—his stage name is Perez Hilton—so I'm going to his house to celebrate his first Father's Day. He invited Rebecca and I over so we’re going to take the kids. I think he just wants to set his son up with my daughters. [Laughs] But no, he’s an old friend, so that should be fun.

Sounds like a great way to spend the holiday! What’s the best part about being a Dad?
I have two little girls, and I kind of like being a father to girls. I can’t explain it, you know? They don’t really do what I tell them to do and they sort of boss me around, but at the same time, I can see what an important influence a dad is in a little girl’s life—especially at this age. I love just hanging out with them. They are really fun.

We hear you have a new show coming out on CBS, We Are Men. Do your daughters get a kick out of seeing you on screen?
They’ve seen me on television. I did a kids' movie a few years ago and they've watched that. I did a horror movie, and I thought “Oh maybe I’ll show them!” but then I said “What am I thinking? This is not really good parenting, someone call Child Services!” [Laughs] I don’t really think they get it, nor do they care!

To them you’re just dad!

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