Dennis Quaid

Dennis Quaid Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: April 9, 1954

Age: 70 years old

Birth Place: Houston, Texas

Spouses: Meg Ryan

Children: Jack Quaid

Siblings: Randy Quaid

Often cast as a roguish charmer and Western renegade, Texan-born Dennis Quaid hit the Hollywood radar in the 1980s with rugged roles in "The Right Stuff" (1983) and "The Big Easy" (1987). Throughout his career he was also a frequent player in dramatic sports films like "Everybody's All American" (1988) but by decade's end, personal problems and drug addiction took a toll on the quality of Quaid's work. After a period of recovery, the actor strengthened his focus, married America's sweetheart, actress Meg Ryan, and began to rebuild his reputation as a solid screen presence with well-received roles in the Western epic "Wyatt Earp" (1993), the sports drama "Any Given Sunday" (1999), and the light family comedy, "Yours, Mine and Ours" (2005). But despite successful supporting roles in occasionally acclaimed dramas like "Traffic" (2000), Quaid's later work relied more heavily on outlandish, Earth-threatening scenarios, and unfortunately his appealing way with everyday-guy-turned-heroes was underused by Hollywood directors. Despite a rough road of public spectacles - including the dissolution of his fabled marriage to Ryan after rumors of infidelity on both their parts; hospital negligence in the accidental poisoning of his newborn twins - Quaid's undeniable charm both on and off screen made him one of the most appealing and reliable leading men of his generation.

Dennis Quaid was born on April 9, 1954, and raised in Houston, TX, in the shadow of older brother Randy, who began acting at an early age. The younger Quaid decided to make his mark in school plays after the 6'1" blond was deemed not big enough to play football, the favorite sport of Texans. Quaid was a natural performer who also played guitar and sang, and after graduating from high school he headed to his big brother's alma mater, the University of Houston, where he joined the theater department. Success in a 1974 college production of "Bus Stop" led to a decision to head to L.A., where Randy had just earned an Academy Award nomination for "The Last Detail" (1974). With his killer smile and rugged good looks, Quaid landed a rapid succession of bit parts in films including Jonathan Demme's "Crazy Mama" (1975), "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (1977), and finally, a larger role as one of a group of friends coping with the death of idol James Dean in James Bridges' "9/30/55" (1977). A supporting role in "Our Winning Season" (1978) introduced him to fellow castmate (and future cult figure as star of the 1979 punk classic "Rock and Roll High School) P.J. Soles, whom Quaid would marry later that year. But it was his turn as a frustrated, post-high school townie in the Midwestern coming of age drama "Breaking Away" (1979) that finally brought Quaid to the attention of Hollywood.

The following year, he teamed with brother Randy to play the outlaw Miller brothers in Walter Hill's Western "The Long Riders" (1980), before losing his momentum with a string of forgettable films, including "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" (1981) and "Jaws 3-D" (1983), which would introduce him to new love, actress Lea Thompson, around the time his marriage to Soles was disintegrating. The charismatic actor finally got a chance to demonstrate his potential with his fantastic turn as cocksure Houston astronaut Gordon Cooper in "The Right Stuff" (1983), Quaid's most high-profile film to date, as well as an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture. After appearing on stage opposite brother Randy in Sam Shepard's blistering "True West" in New York and Los Angeles, Quaid landed starring status in flops "Dreamscape" (1984) and "Enemy Mine" (1985), before receiving a much needed boost to the A-list in Jim McBride's "The Big Easy" (1987), enjoying excellent reviews as a Louisiana detective. Relaxed and sporting a Cajun accent, the actor was sexy and swaggeringly charming; even more important to viewers was the palpable onscreen chemistry with co-star Ellen Barkin. Off the set, however, Quaid had become an item with his "Innerspace" (1987) co-star and soon-to-be superstar, Meg Ryan. A year before Ryan became "America's Sweetheart" with her unforgettable performance in "When Harry Met Sally" (1989), the new couple also appeared together in the unsuccessful 1988 remake of the film noir classic "D.O.A."
Continuing to be in demand as a leading man, Quaid delivered a fine performance as a former high school football star in the middling "Everybody's All American" (1988), and reunited with Jim McBride to star in the biopic of explosive rockabilly legend Jerry Lee Lewis "Great Balls of Fire" (1989), but neither film drew in a big audience. Offscreen, it was later revealed that the actor was battling an addiction to cocaine. Following his turn as a roguishly charming cad opposite Meryl Streep in "Postcards From the Edge" (1990), he underwent treatment for substance abuse, followed by a two-year, self-imposed hiatus, during which time he married Ryan and the pair had a son, Jack. Post-rehab, Quaid returned to the big screen, starring in three little-seen 1993 pictures - the bizarre and confusing "Wilder Napalm," the precious "Thin Man" wannabe "Undercover Blues," and the well-acted family drama "Flesh and Bone." Then the actor literally transformed himself, dropping 40 pounds to play tubercular Doc Holliday in Lawrence Kasdan's epic "Wyatt Earp" (1993). Overall, the film was a disappointment, however reviewers singled out Quaid's performance. He followed up as the charming ne'er-do-well husband of Julia Roberts in "Something to Talk About" (1995) and brought a level of surprising believability to his turn as a medieval knight in "Dragonheart" (1996).

Finally Quaid scored a box office hit in 1998, co-starring with Natasha Richardson in the remake of Disney's "The Parent Trap," and offered a stellar performance as a mercenary in the little-seen "Savior" (1998), before turning in one of the more memorable performances of his career as an aging quarterback in the Oliver Stone-directed "Any Given Sunday" (1999). His run of solid, well-respected films continued when Quaid was included in a Screen Actors Guild Award given to the cast of "Traffic" (2000), in which he played a slippery lawyer advising the wife of a drug lord. Unfortunately, as he was savoring the success of the award-winning film, he found himself in a very public split with Ryan. Although there had been whispers of trouble between the couple for a few years, no one could have predicted "America's Sweetheart" would have an affair with the then hottest actor in town at that time, Russell Crowe, her co-star in "Proof of Life" (2000), and then leave Quaid not long after. While a brutal split, on a public relations level, Quaid came out on top, being the perceived wronged party in the scandalous love triangle.

After starring in the critically acclaimed television film "Dinner with Friends," he returned to the big screen in another sports-set drama, the surprising hit "The Rookie" (2002). Quaid had first billing in this fact-based story of a middle-aged high school baseball coach who tries out for the Major Leagues and becomes its oldest rookie. Quaid truly hit one out of the park in that year's intense drama "Far From Heaven" (2002), earning an Independent Spirit Award for his co-starring role opposite Julianne Moore. Set in Connecticut during the 1950s, Quaid was pitch-perfect in a fearless performance as a family man who is secretly homosexual, a secret which makes him neglectful, abusive and alcoholic. Universally praised for his tragic, tormented turn, Quaid delivered a powerful performance and was a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood again. Next up, Quaid teamed with Sharon Stone in Mike Figgis' sly but commercially lackluster take on the haunted house thriller in "Cold Creek Manor' (2003), then took on the history of his home state by portraying Sam Houston in Disney's unfortunate box office bomb "The Alamo" (2004). Bigger at the box office than either film was director Roland Emmerich's big budget disaster film "The Day After Tomorrow" (2004), in which Quaid starred as a climatologist racing northward to find his young son after the planet experiences a radical climate change.

After a turn in the superfluous but crowd-pleasing remake "Flight of the Ph nix" (2004), Quaid soared in a career-defining role as a successful middle-aged magazine ad salesman who suddenly finds himself working under a new boss (Topher Grace) nearly half his age in writer-director Paul Weitz's comedy "In Good Company" (2004). A remake of the 1968 Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda comedy "Yours, Mine and Ours" (2005), co-starring Rene Russo as the other half of a blended family, did moderately well at the box office despite tanking critically. The limp political satire "American Dreamz" (2006), in which Quaid played a doofus president, tanked on both accounts. Quaid followed up with a very different film centering on a U.S. president, playing a secret service agent who witnesses an assassination in "Vantage Point" (2008). The film brought action-oriented audiences to the theaters but sent critics home early. Quaid had three more releases scheduled for the year, including the college-set comedy "Smart People" co-starring young Oscar nominee Ellen Page, and "The Express," in which Quaid portrayed a football coach in the real-life story of Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy. Following supporting turns as General Hawk in "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" (2009) and a diner owner in the supernatural thriller "Legion" (2010), Quaid portrayed President Bill Clinton in "The Special Relationship" (HBO, 2010), a look at the intimate relationship between the American president and England's prime minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). For his efforts, Quaid earned Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie.

The beginning of the next decade saw Quaid taking on more work in feature films, most frequently in supporting roles. He and Helen Hunt played the supportive parents of a brave young girl (AnnaSophia Robb) who reenters the world of competitive surfing after losing an arm to a shark in the inspirational fact-based drama "Soul Surfer" (2011). This was followed by a turn as an overly protective preacher in the update of the hit '80s dance-drama "Footloose" (2011) and his scenery-chewing portrayal of a mild-mannered psychopath in the little-seen thriller "Beneath the Darkness" (2011). Quaid made small appearances in such features as the critically-blasted adaptation of the best-selling pregnancy preparedness book "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (2012) and a turn as a famous author in the literary drama "The Words" (2012), but it was the actor's first run as the star of a network series "Vegas" (CBS, 2012-13) that garnered the lion's share of the buzz for him that year. Set in the Sin City of the 1960s, the drama starred Quaid as a local sheriff at odds with a newly-arrived Chicago mob boss (Michael Chiklis) intent on setting up an operation in the future gambling mecca.

Credits

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News aboutDennis Quaid