Long before he stepped in front of a camera on his way to becoming the star of high-profile films like The Right Stuff and Parent Trap, Dennis Quaid was making music; he was just 12 when he got his first guitar from Kmart. Since 2000, the actor has also been performing with his band, the Sharks, including appearances at the venue that he considers hallowed ground, The Grand Ole Opry. Now, in a surprising move, he’s about to tour the country alone this fall in evenings of song and personal reminiscences. Coming soon, he stars in Reagan as the actor who left Hollywood behind to become president.
Jeanne Wolf: You’re hitting the road with just your music and your new wife, Laura.
Dennis Quaid: It’s just me, my guitar, and a piano. I’m looking forward to being one-on-one with the audience. On stage, what you give out is what you get back. My wife is going to be my road manager. We’re gonna rent a car and drive gig to gig and rediscover America.
JW: Next, we’ll see you playing President Reagan. Were you nervous about taking on the role?
DQ: More than any other role, this was maybe the scariest because, although I share Reagan’s sunny disposition, I don’t see a lot of similarities between us.
He was a hero of mine back in the day. I play him from when he was in his 30s to near the end of his life as he was struggling with Alzheimer’s. Thanks to makeup and effects, I look a lot like him. But I was worried about getting the voice right. When he was younger, he talked really fast, but as he aged, his voice deepened and he talked slower. Every speech he gave is on YouTube and I just spent a lot of time listening. I kept doing it badly until finally it felt like an old favorite piece of clothing that I put on. Reagan was a communicator, good at making us believe. A lot of Americans felt like the best days were past. He turned that around.
JW: You’ve also had your share of ups and downs, but never quit. Do you feel lucky?
DQ: Absolutely. In fact, that’s going to be the title of my autobiography, My Lucky Life. Another part of it is I just never quit. You can’t win if you don’t play. My mother was really great about making me feel like I could do anything that I set my mind to. Now, I do things that I like to do. When I’m doing things I enjoy, I’m not thinking whether it’s going to get me anywhere. And the older I’ve gotten, the more diverse and interesting roles have become because life becomes more interesting. I think we’re all dragged kicking and screaming into change. Life is definitely going to change us all because of what happens and things we don’t see coming. If you want to stay relevant, if you want to keep in the game, you can’t whine.
Featured image: Dennis Quaid attends the BMI Country Awards 2018 at BMI Nashville on November 13, 2018, in Nashville, Tennessee (Shutterstock)
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