John Stamos I've Grown Up

Sitting in a swanky Manhattan restaurant, John Stamos draws the eyes of smiling women at every other table. But those aren’t the eyes that concern him at the moment. “I’ve recently realized,” Stamos says as he struggles to read some small print on the menu, “that I need glasses.”

It’s a surprisingly honest admission from a star who has long fostered a fun-loving reputation as a never-wanna-grow-up kind of guy. But it’s clear that Stamos is ready to get honest about a lot of things, from the demise of his six-year marriage to model-actress Rebecca Romijn to his desire to shed his party-boy image. “I still feel like I’m 25,” says the actor, who is currently starring in the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie, “and I have to tell myself, ‘You’re 46. You have to act like an adult’—you know?”

Looking back at the more than two decades since the California native broke out as a ’90s heartthrob playing Uncle Jesse on Full House, “I guess I got everything I ever wanted,” says Stamos, who wrapped a four-year stint on ER last spring before signing on to Birdie. “My dream was to be on a sitcom, play with the Beach Boys and marry a model.”

The hard part was what came next. While Stamos is still living out his Beach Boys dream, moonlighting as a drummer with the “Kokomo” singers on their summer stadium tours, his marriage to Romijn, 36, famously fell apart in 2004. “We were together for 10 years—it was heartbreaking,” he says. “In my book at this point I would still be married and have three kids. So it was more about that plan being foiled than anything. I felt like a failure. It wasn’t as much about her as it was that the whole thing didn’t work.”

He says there was no single reason for the divorce. “Everybody thought that she dumped me [because] her career was on fire and mine wasn’t,” Stamos says, “but that wasn’t the case. We just both woke up one day and it had run its course.”

He also refutes old rumors that his partying led to the breakup. “I don’t think it contributed to it,” he says. But he admits, “I was lost there for a while. I think I needed to be on my own to be me again.”

Stamos spent the year after the split living in Malibu, growing his beard out, drinking beer while fishing from his pier and surrounding himself with friends—including his “Full House family” as he fondly calls longtime pals such as Bob Saget and TV nieces Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (see box). And while Stamos says that his partying never crossed the line, he does say, “I had warning signs”—including an infamous tipsy appearance on an Australian morning talk show in 2007, after what he terms “a night of carrying on” that quickly went viral online. “The press beat me up so hard. I felt awful. It’s like 25 years of good behavior and one slip-up. . . .” Which is why today, “I have to keep myself in check,” says Stamos. “That’s part of growing up. I pride myself on having a lot of discipline.”

Discipline that’s needed for Birdie‘s eight-shows-a-week theater schedule. “Once it’s in you, there’s nothing like it,” he says of performing on Broadway in a role that seems far from his first gig as Blackie on General Hospital at age 19. “I think that after 25 years I’m just now starting to learn how to act.”

Before rehearsals even began in August, Stamos made a habit of going to bed by 9 p.m. And if that sounds like a downer for a swinging bachelor’s love life, it is. “Running around town, dating a lot of people—it’s a sign of holding onto your youth,” says Stamos. “I’m getting to the age when there are girls that are too young. There was a girl [I went out with] recently who told a friend, ‘Eh, he’s kind of too old for me.’ And it’s true!

“I’m not complaining,” says Stamos, adding that he hasn’t been on a date or so much as kissed a girl in more than two months. “I sound like a woman now, but I don’t want to just give myself to anybody, you know what I mean?”

These days he’s looking to settle down and start a family. “If I died and didn’t have any children,” he says, “I would feel like, whatever good things I’ve done in my life, I’ve accomplished nothing.”

For Stamos, articulating more grown-up dreams is an accomplishment all its own. And he doesn’t need glasses to see that he’s in a good place to start achieving them. “At 46, I’m finding that it’s so simple,” he says. “You just try to make the right choices.”


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