There are a handful of actors out there that not only did I grow up on, but that would get my arse into a theatre on their name alone. Whether it was as Jerry Lee Lewis in GREAT BALLS OF FIRE or Alex Gardner in DREAMSCAPE, if it had Dennis Quaid in it, I would see it. He had just the right amount of leading man charm mixed with a ton of talent. From THE BIG EASY to THE ROOKIE, the man is just one of the best in my humble opinion.
Rarely do I get as excited as I was to chat with Dennis over the phone. And I wasn’t disappointed. Although I would’ve really liked to have seen his latest PANDORUM before the interview. That is usually what happens at a junket, they have a screening first so you have something to base your questions on. And I seriously could’ve talked to him for a whole lot longer than the fifteen minutes we were given, hell, I could’ve spent fifteen minutes on AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE DIXIE BAR AND GRILL alone. But either way, Mr. Quaid was as nice as they get and he really is a favorite of mine, and this coming Friday, I will certainly be checking out Pandorum with everybody else. Frankly, I can’t wait.
I have to tell you man, I am such a fan boy of you and your work…
I was looking back at your career, and you’ve done so many movies that I love. I’m even talking AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE DIXIE BAR AND GRILL, which you were awesome in.
Wow! You’re bringing it now aren’t ya? That really does go back.
Well, not only that, before we get into your recent work, you have so many others that are personal favorites of mine, including THE BIG EASY and ENEMY MINE.
And of course, and now you have GI JOE and PANDORUM now…
Well, I’m lucky to still be here. And I just try to do as many different types of things as possible, stuff that is interesting to me. I do feel lucky to be here. A lot of the people I started out with, I wonder where they are now.
With elements of luck and tenacity I guess.
Now, I didn’t get the chance to see PANDORUM, and I’m a bit disappointed because I would’ve liked to have seen it…
Yeah, go see it.
What are we looking at, it almost looks like a modern day ALIENS. What is it about, what is your character like? What can you tell me about the movie without giving too much away?
Well there is something about ALIENS that is a little bit similar. You know, the feel and the look of the movie, but it’s different. It’s very unique and original, this story. Ben Foster and I are crew members on this spaceship. We’ve been asleep in hyper sleep for… we don’t know how long. Certainly years. We wake up… there is supposed to be someone there to wake us up because one of the aspects of hyper sleep is that you can’t remember who you are when you do wake up. So we wake up, there is no one there to wake us up. We don’t know who we are. We don’t know what we’re doing on this spaceship, what our mission is. We can’t contact anybody on the radio. And we can’t get out of this locked room. We do find a way to get out of this locked room and once we do, all hell breaks loose. And it goes to the question of, who are we and are we who we think we are.
What is the relationship between your character and Ben? Just crew members…
Yeah, just crew members. We wake up and we have lockers there that we find. My locker says that I’m Lt. Peyton. I have my uniform there and a couple of pictures. And his locker says that he’s Bower. But during the course of things, I find out that maybe I’m not who I think I am.
I’m very intrigued. I think this is partially due to seeing Christian Alvart’s film ANTIBODIES, which is fantastic.
Yeah, I saw ANTIBODIES too. I have to say that this movie… Christian is very talented. He’s like a thirty-four-year-old wunderkind. This movie really transcends anything he has done before. He did such a great job. He really elevated what was already a great script and created this world. It’s terrifying, physically and psychologically and satisfying on many different levels. Good movie.
You’ve been involved in a number of genre films lately, including this. What has brought you over to this genre…?
Well I’ve never been adverse to it. I myself have very diverse taste in film. I like all different kinds of movies. But what I really base my decision on is when I read a script… the only time I get to be an audience member, a first time experience of that… basically, its really about the story. And of course the director who is doing it. It just happens to be a coincidence this past year I had this film, and then I had LEGION. And I guess a little bit of GI JOE, you know, it is very special effects driven. But there wasn’t anything thought out about it.
With GI JOE, there was a lot of negative word of mouth before it opened and then a few people walked in and had fun with it.
Stephen Sommers knew what he was doing with it and he really delivered. You know, because everybody had very definite opinions about what GI JOE should be.
Well anytime you take on something like that, with an already developed fan base, there is going to be backlash. People are going to hate it, but there will also be the people that had fun with it for what it is.
I usually find that critics are not really going to receive movies like that that well to begin with. It’s the audiences who really connect with those films.
Have there been talks about the sequel? It definitely set itself up for a franchise.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. In fact, we’re all signed on to do another one. And hopefully… I think they will, the first one did well so…
Now with LEGION, we’re talking Biblical, apocalypse… what are we looking at with that film?
That one was just a really good script and Scott Stewart, who is based in special effects… his first time directing. He created this world. The movie is… what really appealed to me about it, and I mean this in a really good way, it reminded me of like an old drive-in B-movie on steroids [Laughing]. And it’s really a lot of fun too. And it’s funny at the same time. Once again, it was original and unique.
You’ve worked with every single type of director, how is it working with a visual director whose history is special effects and not necessarily “storytelling”?
Well, he had the script and the story, you know. The script was already there with the story to go along with it. And just in having meetings with him. You know, I’ve been doing this for long enough that you can just tell that this guy has… it’s a directors medium. The director is the storyteller. He really knew the story he wanted to tell. And I found it fascinating. And then he definitely brought it to the screen.
Now just to go back to PANDORUM. Is there room for a sequel? Is there room to continue the story?
Well if the movie connects with audiences, if it does well, there is actually a prequel and a sequel. The thing about PANDORUM is there is a mythology that goes along with it that is in some ways, very similar to how Joseph Campbell was imprinted on STAR WARS. There is a mythology that goes with Pandorum as well. Hopefully we’ll get to do it.
What’s your favorite Dennis Quaid film? Anybody else see AMATEUR NIGHT AT THE DIXIE BAR AND GRILL (which was directed by Joel Schumacher)?