'NCIS: New Orleans' ' Scott Bakula: Why I Put My Family First

Bakula's biggest regret is missing his daughter's "formative years," he tells PEOPLE

Photo: Getty

For NCIS: New Orelans‘ Scott Bakula, success came at a price.

After spending a decade making a name for himself in the New York City theater scene, the St. Louis-native moved his family – then-wife Krista Neumann and their daughter Chelsy, now 31 – to Los Angeles, where, in 1988, he booked the lead role in NBC’s time-traveling series Quantum Leap.

Being a series regular on a network TV show was great, but that also meant he was “hardly ever home for four and a half seasons,” the actor admits in the latest issue of PEOPLE.

Bakula’s marriage to Neumann, with whom he also had a son, Cody, 24, ended in 1995. “It took me a long time to work out my feelings about our relationship,” he says, adding that his biggest regret from that time is missing Chelsy’s “formative years.”

But when he signed on the headline Star Trek: Enterprise in 2001, Bakula, now 61, vowed to make his family the priority.

“I had it put in my contract that I would be done every Wednesday at 6 so I could be home for dinner,” says Bakula, who by then was also father of sons Wil, 20, and Owen, 16, with his second wife, actress Chelsea Field. “And I made time to coach my sons’ soccer and baseball teams.”

Even now that most of his kids are grown, Bakula flies home from New Orleans to spend weekends with Field, whom he wed six years ago after 15 years of dating.

“It takes energy and focus,” he says of his marriage to Field, with whom he enjoys doing theater projects in his time off. “We work hard to stay present in the relationship. Chelsea is amazingly present and has taught me a lot about relationships and spirituality. I feel incredibly lucky to have the career and family I do.”

For more on Bakula’s career and family, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now

NCIS: New Orleans airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on CBS.

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