A symbol of all-American hot-shot virility in adventures such as The Right Stuff and romantic capers such as The Big Easy, Dennis Quaid has always been underappreciated as an actor, as someone with more going on than dimpled cheeks and the lady-killer charm of a big, flashy grin. Of late, he's acquired some true gravitas. He outlasted a much publicized divorce from former wife Meg Ryan in 2001 and bounced right back, delivering meaty portrayals in Oscar-happy projects such as Traffic.
His batting average isn't consistent (Flight of the Phoenix, yikes!), but Quaid's turn as a downsized advertising wizard in the just-opened In Good Company is richly felt.
There are a few movies now in which you've played a guy having a midlife crisis... .
Which other ones would that be? The Rookie, was he a midlife crisis?
Well, there's "Any Given Sunday."
Oh, yeah. I guess. That would be an end-of-life crisis. I am 50, you know.
Seems to be working for you. You've gotten a lot of good roles the past few years.
It's been really good.
Is this the course you've thoughtfully plotted?
I don't have any strategy. Mostly, I look for good stories.
What was it about "In Good Company"?
It was the Weitz brothers [of American Pie infamy]. I really like their work, especially About a Boy. This is a great story, and it's also very timely about what's happening in corporate America. You have a guy who has worked hard all his life and should be reaping the benefits of his labor, and he's being cast out like a dog.
Where did you identify with this guy?
He's only a year older than myself. He's having some big changes in his life. He's having a baby late in life. I've started another family myself.
You have a baby on the way?
Not yet, but I just got married.
So you've been through some of that yourself in the last few years.
Everybody, at some time in their life, gets blindsided by life, and that's what happens to him. So I relate to him on that level.
Is it tough to come by these kinds of scripts?
Yeah. Great scripts are far and few between.
In your own life, going through your own crisis a couple of years ago, what sort of resources did you rely on to keep in balance?
You have to be dogged. I think that's what it is. Life is not always so sweet. You have to keep on going. That's the thing about life. You get up and keep on going. It happens to losers and it happens to champions. Gotta make lemonade out of lemons.
What's on your radar?
I wrote and am going to direct a film this summer. It's called Shame on You, about this bandleader from the 1940s named Spade Cooley. It's basically the O.J. story. I'm going to play Spade. Katie Holmes is going to play my wife.
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