Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and 8 Other Celebrity Dads on How Fatherhood Has Changed Them
They spend their lives in the limelight and are considered some of the most famous actors, musicians, talk-show hosts and athletes in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact that celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tom Brady, John Legend and Brad Pitt are devoted dads. Over the years these men have opened up and been surprisingly honest in discussing all things fatherhood, revealing how their children have transformed their lives and made them better people. In honor of Father’s Day, LIVESTRONG.COM is celebrating these men by sharing their inspiring musings about what being a dad means to them.
1. Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth has three children — Tristan, Sasha, and India — with actress Elsa Pataky. They have taught him about the complexities of the heart. “The biggest thing I’ve learned by having kids is that now I know what love is,” the Aussie actor told Australia’s Daily Life about fatherhood. “I know what frustration is. I know the full gamut of emotions, good and bad. I feel I had just scratched the surface.” Internationally renowned marriage, family and addictions psychotherapist Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., points out that the Australian actor hasn’t allowed the bright lights of Hollywood to blind him from the rainbow of emotions that come from parenting. “For Chris, parenting is not a dress rehearsal,” he explains, “but rather a dynamic process of learning about one’s self and the challenges of being human.” Basically, he might be Thor to us, but he’s just a normal dad to his little tribe.
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2. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
While his name might describe a cold and hard individual, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a gentle giant when it comes to his three children, Simone, Jasmine and Tiana. “I realized being a father is the greatest job I have ever had and the greatest job I will ever have,” Johnson (who only had a daughter, Simone, at the time) said during Oprah’s Master Class. “Throughout the years, throughout the ups and downs, I’ve realized that the most important thing that I could do with my daughter is lead our life with love. Not success, not fame, not anything else but, ‘I’m always here for you. I love you.’” Dr. Hokemeyer is totally on board with the star’s parenting value system. “The Rock has learned the best thing parents can do for their children is to provide a safe and nurturing environment to allow children to be who they are rather than what others want them to be,” he points out. Yep, love wins.
Up next: Dad is this star’s greatest role…
3. Chris Pratt
Chris Pratt has achieved tremendous success as an actor, but all of his accolades and experiences don’t have anything on the role of his lifetime: being a father to his son, Jack. “I’ve done all kinds of cool things as an actor. I’ve jumped out of helicopters and done some daring stunts and played baseball in a professional stadium, but none of it means anything compared to being somebody’s daddy,” Pratt said during a speech at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies in 2014. The actor’s son spent a month in the NICU after being born prematurely, something that Dr. Hokemeyer believes taught the actor that humility and gratitude — not commercial success — are the true rewards of life. “It is clear that Chris’ son is and will continue to be his teacher,” he says.
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4. John Legend
Becoming a father to daughter Luna and son Miles has changed the way John Legend views the world, inspiring him to make it a better place. “Having kids puts in context for me the kinds of things kids need to be successful and healthy and happy,” the singer-songwriter told the Chicago Tribune. “It puts a little more focus on what the world is going to be. You want it to be safe. You want it to be peaceful. You want people to have opportunity. You want people to have justice.” Dr. Hokemeyer believes that becoming a dad has clearly deepened Legend’s heart, making him more motivated to help other people. “One of the greatest challenges of celebrity is breaking out of its toxic self-absorption,” he says. “John has allowed his children to nurture his heart. In the process he’s developed an altruistic view of the world.”
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5. Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt spent years hustling in Hollywood, but it wasn’t until his recent split from Angelina Jolie that he realized his life priorities had been out of line. “People on their deathbeds don’t talk about what they obtained or were awarded. They talk about their loved ones or their regrets. I say that as someone who’s let the work take me away,” Pitt explained to GQ. Dr. Hokemeyer believes that becoming a father has forced Pitt’s transformation from a pretty boy into a mature and gracious man who recognizes his past mistakes and has cultivated a willingness to learn from them. “Rather than rely on his looks to carry him though life, Brad’s children [Maddox, Shiloh, Pax, Zahara, Vivienne and Knox] have enabled him to see the value that comes from humility and the beauty that comes from maturing with grace,” Dr. Hokemeyer says. And maturity certainly looks good on Brad, doesn’t it?
Up next: This actor has learned you don’t need a good father to be one…
6. Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart, father to Hendrix, Heaven and Kenzo, didn’t have the best father growing up — something he believes helped him be a better one himself. “I’m a great dad because I know what it’s like not to be a good dad,” Kevin revealed on Oprah’s Master Class. “Me and my dad’s relationship now has developed into an amazing relationship, you know, but for my young life, you know, it was null and void.” According to Dr. Hokemeyer, when a father is absent from their children’s lives, they will struggle to find their place in the world. Becoming a father oneself can remedy this, and even help fix the individual’s relationship with their own parent. “Kevin’s children have given him an identity outside of his professional identity where he can repair the transgressions of his own father-son relationship,” he explains. In a nutshell: Love can heal pain.
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7. Jimmy Fallon
Like many other celebrity dads, Jimmy Fallon’s greatest achievement hasn’t been his career — it’s being a dad to his daughters, Winnie and Frances. “It’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. You realize what’s important in life. Every single day you realize there’s a new cute thing they’re doing or saying,” Fallon told People. “They fill up my phone memory with photos. I’m just taking these pictures that no one else wants to see. No other stranger cares that your kid ate an artichoke, but you think it’s the best story ever.” Dr. Hokemeyer points out that, in spite of his financial successes, the “Tonight Show” host’s daughters have taught him that the most valuable things in life can’t be bought. “They come through the vulnerability and humility that comes from being a parent,” he adds. The best things in life are free, after all.
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8. David Beckham
David Beckham might strive for perfection when it comes to his athletic career, but as a father he is OK with doing the best he can. “My children mean the world to me. Being a parent is always the best thing, but it can also be challenging as well because you want to set the right example,” he told InStyle. “I feel that I do, but sometimes you make mistakes as parents.” Dr. Hokemeyer believes that being a parent — not just a celebrity — has made Beckham more humanistic and accepting of himself. “His children mirror back his imperfections and the vulnerabilities that come from loving another human being,” he explains.
Up next: Becoming a dad has forced this football star to shift priorities…
9. Tom Brady
Tom Brady, one of the most celebrated athletes of all time and father to Benjamin, John and Vivian, has made some serious changes for his family. “Becoming a father has changed my life dramatically,” Brady told Boston.com. “I’m sure for all the parents in here that’s what happens. Your life becomes very focused around your kids. For me, it’s been very much, with football stuff and obviously being with my family, a lot of things have been cut out over the years.” Dr. Hokemeyer believes that the demands of fatherhood has forced Brady to maintain balance in his life, despite the pressures of his career and the pedestal society has put him on. “The pressure that comes from being put on this pedestal is extraordinary,” he points out. “Tom’s comments reveal the grounding he receives from his children.”
Up next: This actor would do anything for his daughters — even sacrifice his beloved wife…
10. Ryan Reynolds
Ryan Reynolds may be Blake Lively’s biggest fan, but that doesn’t mean his beloved wife is the only leading lady in his life. In fact, once she gave birth to his two daughters, he realized that the love a father feels for a child is more profound than any other. “I used to say to her, ‘I would take a bullet for you. I could never love anything as much as I love you.’ And then the second I looked in that baby’s eyes, I knew in that exact moment, if we were ever under attack, I would use my wife as a human shield to protect that baby,” Reynolds said. Dr. Hokemeyer points out that becoming a dad has propelled the star into one of his most important roles of being a father, “and that which is to protect their children against outside harms,” he explains. And Blake, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. Your husband just has a strange sense of humor!
What Do YOU Think?
Do you agree with what these stars had to say about fatherhood? How has being a parent changed you? What lessons can we learn from our kids?