Favorite Star Dads
On the road, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, 28, keeps a reminder of 13-month-old daughter Apple (whose mom is wife Gwyneth Paltrow) close at hand. "There's normally an 'A' there," he says, referring to his palm, where he often scrawls messages. But he's not always so subtle: Martin has said that on his new album, XampY, fatherhood made him "want to sing louder about life."
When Russell Crowe, 41, was arrested in New York City recently after throwing a phone at a hotel employee, his angst was paternal: He couldn't get through to Australia before wife Danielle Spencer put 17-month-old Charles (with Dad in May) to bed. "I haven't been a husband and a father for that long," the Cinderella Man, who expressed regret for his actions, said. "And I'm just only getting used to the abject loneliness of being on the road."
"My favorite time is really, really early, when (Leni) gets up," Grammy winner Seal, 42, told Australia's Daily Telegraph of his 1-year-old stepdaughter (in New York City in June). "I give her a bottle, we go to the computer and start working." Wife Heidi Klum – who's expecting their first child together in August – adores it: "I love him as a father. He does everything. When people ask me, 'Does he change the diapers?' I'm like, 'Yeah!' "
When it comes to 12-year-old Isabella and 10-year-old Connor, the World stands still for Tom Cruise, 42, who adopted the two with his then-wife, Nicole Kidman. "There were times that I was about ready to say 'Action,' " War of the Worlds director Steven Spielberg says, "and the phone rang. If it was Tom's kids, everything stopped for that."
Jude Law, 32, who's dad to Rafferty, 8, Iris, 4 and Rudy, 2 (with ex-wife Sadie Frost), credits the birth of his children with improving his craft. "It gave me a very vital and grounding ingredient to being an actor," says the Alfie star (in London with his two youngest in April). "I come from a big, happy family. It was a security for me as a kid and now as a dad."
Colin Farrell, 29, calls fatherhood "the best job I'll ever land" – and 21-month-old James (in Miami in April), his son with model Kim Bordenave, often joins him on location. "I have a beautiful son," Farrell says. "As long as I can be with him and he always knows where his dad is, and I can go work as well, I'm fine." Plus, says an old school pal, "(Colin's) eyes go all gooey-gooey when he speaks about being a da. It's not the vodka talking."
"I'm completely comfortable changing diapers and doing stuff like that," says Ryan Phillippe, dad to Ava, 5 (in L.A. in March), and 20-month-old son Deacon. As well he should be: Growing up in Delaware, the actor, 30, would help out at his mom's in-home daycare business, often tending to 12 kids at once. "He's just very instinctual," wife Reese Witherspoon says. "He knows exactly how to say things or negotiate a temper tantrum."
"I've always wanted to be a young dad," Kevin Federline told Details. "I knew whenever I did have children, I was going to love them more than anything." As he awaits his third child, with wife Britney Spears, the 27-year-old takes time to dote on his kids with ex-girlfriend Shar Jackson: Kori, 2 (in Hollywood in May), and 11-month old Kaleb. "I just had my daughter for a week, and taking her home (to her mom) sucked, man."
Will Smith, 36, is so devoted to son Trey, 12 (with ex Sheree Zampino), and his kids with wife Jada Pinkett Smith – 6-year-old Jaden and 4-year-old Willow (left, in April) – that the Hitch star rarely hits the red carpet without them. His inspiration for family bonding? His own dad, Willard: "I look at my father, and how he was able to keep four kids fed and clothed and still managed to find time to spend with us."
"I don't know if fatherhood makes me sexy or not, but it makes me happy," X-Men's Hugh Jackman, 37, said when he was named one of PEOPLE's Sexiest Men in 2000. And he'll do anything to impress Oscar, 5 (in New York in May), his adopted son with wife Deborra-Lee Furness – including winning Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Award for Best Burp in 2003. "My son is finally really thrilled about what I do," he said.
Antonio Banderas, 44, already has a strategy when it comes to dealing with potential suitors for his 8-year-old daughter, Stella, with wife Melanie Griffith. The over-protective pop (in L.A. in February) says, "I'll put on my Desperado suit when a guy comes for a date with her. I'll have the sword out, and I'll say, 'What do you want from her?' "
"Being a dad is great. I love it," says Matthew Broderick, 43, who teaches 2-year-old James Wilkie to root, root, root for the home team – the New York Mets – in April. The actor, who shares parenting chores with wife Sarah Jessica Parker, dove right into daddy duty when his son was born. "It gives you a new focus and the fun of watching him turn into a person day by day," he says.