Dennis Quaid on Soul Surfer, Footloose and Turning Down Tombstone


I'm not a religious person, but I almost admired the way Soul Surfer doesn't back down from religion because this is, obviously, a very religious family.

Exactly! There was some... I wouldn't call it fighting or debate, but there was some discussions before we started shooting about how much was to be in there and what they call a "faith-based" film. I really didn't see it as a faith based film; I saw it as a story of these people and they are a family who live by their faith in God -- their Christian faith. They live it, breathe it, walk the walk and talk the talk without beating you over the head with it. That's where they were before the accident, during and after. It got them through. And to separate, you can't tell the story without telling the story of their faith as well.

Why is this controversial?

Well, there are certain parts of Hollywood, especially in the studios, that are concerned about their investment -- about their return on their dollar. They want to appeal to the broadest audience possible and not turn everybody off, or whatever. And "Jesus" is a five-letter word sometimes in that context. There's also a really great, huge audience out there that you can't track. They're hungry for films that contain these elements. And the studio, in the end, made the right decision by leaving that part in there.

There are three movies I've always wanted to ask you about...


Jaws 3-D. Back then, were you being directed to do things like over-dramatically reach toward the camera to create a 3-D effect?

There were a few scenes like that, yeah. You know, back then it was like the early days of 3-D. And the camera was like a huge brontosaurus of a dinosaur, you know? They were very unwieldy and very awkward to use. And... [Laughs] Today's 3-D... To tell you the truth, I've seen a couple of 3-D films and I'd rather just see them in 2-D for right now. Certainly there are probably some event films that merit it, or whatever, but it's kind of a distraction for me. Maybe it's because I'm old. The one thing is the glasses; they're just a bother. They're going to get to a point where they are going to be able to have the 3-D screen without the glasses. Maybe that will make a difference, maybe it will still feel the same way. I don't know. I get kind of dizzy and get a headache when I watch 3-D.

You played Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp, but then it had to follow Val Kilmer in Tombstone...

In fact, I was offered the role of Doc Holliday in Tombstone.



How did you decide which movie to accept?

Because of [writer-director] Larry Kasdan, who I always wanted to work with. He had done The Big Chill, and so that's the one that I chose. But there's another real person; I lost 44 pounds for that role. I looked like this and lost 44 pounds. I kind of felt, the more I read about Doc and the more I thought about him, I felt like I really owed it to him.

I feel your portrayal of Doc Holliday was more accurate. Val Kilmer's was fun, but almost a caricature...

I thought Val was really good.

And then there were comparisons...

Right... Theirs came out first. And theirs is the one that was the hit, as well. I think our movie was too long, too.

Did Frequency come along at the right time in your career? It seemed to give you a shot of adrenaline.

Yeah, it did. It really did. You know, I had lost my dad about ten years before and, you know, I was still talking to my dad in my head. I mean, I still do. Yeah, you never lose that. That thing between fathers and sons. Once again, reading that script, it really hit me really hard and I think it touched a lot of people.

< b>For a person who grew up with the original Footloose, and this includes myself, what are we going to think of the new Footloose? You're playing the John Lithgow character.

Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted to have done it if it had just been a copy of, "Hey, let's create that wonderful thing -- especially with Glee on TV! It's a big hit! You know, let's do it!" [laughs] It didn't really appeal to me. For one thing, the story has been updated and it's a little darker, actually, then the original. Because it really does focus on what really spawns that story; the death of these high school kids when they're out partying and dancing and drinking. That they lose their lives and how it affects this community which overreacts.

That's interesting, because the original begins and they have already banned dancing.

Yeah, you hardly... I don't even remember that there was a death, I felt that they did it "just because." That this is the Christian-right type. This is really more of a community and parents trying to protect their kids. Misguided with good intentions.

And it's not Glee?

No. You know, there are a lot of parts of it that are a lot of fun to watch, and the dancing is part of all that. The music, of course, is updated, but it's a little darker and reality-based.

When I was a little kid, I think Footloose and Innerspace were on a constant loop at my house.

You know what's funny, Innerspace... That's the one movie, no matter where I am in the world, someone will come up to me, point and say, [in a foreign accent] "Innerspace!"

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  • Stewart says:

    Great job, Mike. I've been a fan of DQ since the terrific Breaking Away. He's consistently good, I'd cast him to play anything. Good info on Tombstone role, I had no idea.

  • epochd says:

    yeah good interview. glad you brought up jaws 3d.

  • Lorie says:

    Ditto "Stewart" and "Epochd". Innerspace: Thanks for the memory! I also loved Dennis in "Flesh and Bone" .

  • bradley Paul Valentine says:

    I've always wanted to confront Dennis Quaid by pointing at him with my finger and barking "InnerSpace!"