Dennis Quaid Passed on 'Big'; Talks Regrets, Kids and What Makes Him Cry
By Nicki Gostin Posted Apr 7th 2011 10:19PM
Dennis Quaid has a tender side, and that was in full display when he opened up this week on the 'TODAY' show while promoting his new movie, 'Soul Surfer,' about surfer Bethany Hamilton and her ordeal with losing an arm in a shark attack. "Like a little girl," he tells PopEater, describing the way he cried when he first heard about Bethany. "How she'd taken this horrific event that had happened to her, a shark attack, and turned it into a bump in the road in her life ... It really affected me."
What hasn't affected Quaid, 56, is the occasional bump in the road during his three-decade career. The hunky Texan reveals to us he turned down 'Big' (you're welcome, Hanks) and 'Peggy Sue Got Married,' but that his biggest regret is having never worked with iconic director David Lean. In our extended chat, Quaid talks about his hobbies, getting "verklempt," and the inspiring 'Soul Surfer,' co-starring AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt.
Hi Dennis, please excuse my screaming children in the background.
Oh I know nothing about that, mine are little angels! Oh my God with twins one will melt down while the other watches and then the other one melts down. Why can't they just melt down at the same time? Get it over and done with.
There's a big age difference between your kids (Quaid has a son, Jack nearly 19 with ex-wife Meg Ryan). Do you remember anything?
I think nature blessedly does that for us. I think that's how we have more kids, we forget. When you have another you go, 'Oh right!' I would say kids are the greatest blessing you can have in life and also the greatest challenge you'll ever have in life.
I do have a dim memory of hearing about it. But how I got involved, about two Christmases ago Bethany was on the Today show and I just happened to be watching it with my then one year old boy, while his sister was having a melt down upstairs, and she was promoting her book and telling her story and it hit me in such an emotional way. She was so optimistic and inspirational. I was a mess there on the couch.
You were crying?
Like a little girl. How she'd taken this horrific event that had happened to her, a shark attack, and turned it into a bump in the road in her life. She just seemed so normal, it really affected me. I was sitting there thinking, oh what problems could I possibly have when she has recovered from something like this. Then it just so happened three days later the producers called me and asked me to play her father in the movie. What a co-inky-dink!
Plus you got to shoot in Hawaii.
I would say that would be a big plus. Usually the locations I'm in, I'm in Eastern Europe up to my chest in mud and its three o'clock in the morning and I'm wearing summer clothes.
Are you a good surfer now?
I'm a good beginner and I'm almost intermediate. I can get up on a board and go down the wave with it.
You've done a million movies. Do you have a favorite?
'The Right Stuff' because I grew up in Houston which is space city. Gordo Cooper was my favorite astronaut as a kid, I liked his name, he was the youngest and I wound up getting to play him. It was a dream come true.
Is there a movie that you turned down that you regretted?
I turned down 'Big.'
I think I turned it down for something else.
Probably something completely forgettable.
Well I can't remember what it was. (Laughs). I also turned down 'Peggy Sue got Married,' but that turned out to be a good choice but it was turning down Coppola. The only regret I have in my career, it's not any of the movies I did even if they turned out not to be what I wanted them to be. The only regret was that I didn't get to work with director David Lean. He gave me a part in 'Nostromo' and I got to spend some time with him. That was really one of the great moments for me.
So 'Lawrence of Arabia' is your favorite movie.
Yes it is. Either you're a psychic or you have it right there in front of you.
Nooo, that's not very hard. That's Lean's masterpiece. I loved 'Breaking Away.' You've been working for a long time.
Exactly! I feel lucky to still be here. I look around and think about some of the other people I started out with and I wonder where they are now. I'm very grateful to still be here. I enjoy doing it now more than I did in my 20's and 30's. I have less angst about it.
What do you do in your time off?
I like gardening. I get excited about what flowers I'm going to put in my flowerbed. I get excited about a jacaranda tree.
Do you have those special knee pads?
No, I do it the old fashioned way.
I'm surprised to learn you're a bit of a softy; you talked about crying about Bethany while on the 'TODAY' show.
Well I get very emotional. I'm a sissy when it comes to that. I get all verklempt and emotional. Like every four years at the Olympics I always get choked up when the people are standing on the platform.
When was the last time you cried?
In this interview. (Laughs).
Hey, that was mean!
I just welled up a bit.
Oh because you're speaking to an adorable Aussie interviewer?
'Soul Surfer' (PG) hits theaters on Friday, April 8. Watch the trailer at Moviefone.
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