Jerry O’Connell Says He Turned into a ‘Stage Father’ When His Twin Daughters Auditioned for a School Play

03/03/2016 at 09:30 PM ET

Acting. It’s all in the family. Or is it?

While promoting the launch of JCPenney’s “Get Your Penney’s Worth” campaign Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles, Jerry O’Connell told PEOPLE of his latest fatherly discovery when it comes to his 7-year-old twin daughters, Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip.

“My children had to audition for [High School Musical at their school],” the actor, 42, explains. “I had one child who did audition and I had another child who would not audition. I could not get her in there. It’s pretty crazy how quickly I became a stage father.”

O’Connell adds of his children with wife Rebecca Romijn, “I learned that kids are going to do whatever they’re going to do. You can guide them to an area, but you can’t force them into an area.”

Jerry O'Connel JCPenney
Lilly Lawrence/FilmMagic

Though raising twin girls can be a handful, O’Connell admits that he’s loving every minute of it.

“It’s just so cute having girls,” says the Mistresses star. “My relationship with them, just having little girls — and I can’t speak from experience because I only have girls — but, I just think I like girls more than I like boys. So terrible to say!”

O’Connell and Romijn, who have been married for nearly nine years, are still going strong and the couple aren’t shy about sharing their marital motivation.

“The secret is, because we have children, we’re too afraid to split up because one of us might end up with the children,” O’Connell playfully jokes.

“We try to stay together out of fear that we’ll be stuck with the kids. We have a joke — if we did spilt up, we would have an anti-custody battle where we try and convince the judge that we weren’t fit to have sole custody.”

— Christina Dugan​

FILED UNDER: Jerry O'Connell , News , Parenting

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Kathleen on

A sweet, cute couple with a lovely family. Nice to see.

Katie on

When they got married, I thought “What??”…now I can’t imagine them not together, and can’t imagine they aren’t happy every day they found each other and had those girls!

jennlyons4 on

That’s a “cute” joke in private re: no one wanting custody of the kids—and logically, I realize it is a joke. Just stung a bit as I have been embroiled in a custody battle for nearly 5 years. I have always been open to joint custody, but my children’s father has pursued vexatious litigation. I am well past “broke/n”—financially, spiritually, emotionally, etc. My life was lived in upheaval during the marriage and continues 4.5 years later.

Kathy on

Ok, that’s cute.

Tanya on

The joke is funny, Jerry is funny guy.

Guest on

Funny! I enjoy reading/watching interviews with Jerry!!

guest on

He’s so funny and real!! It’s so funny but I have a boy and I can’t imagine having girls. They scare me and I’m a girl!! I guess it’s good to be happy with what you have!!

Anonymous on

Dear Jerry,

Please cute your hair.

With Love,