A Conversation with Dennis Quaid

Dennis opens up about his Houston roots and his life as an actor, musician, and producer

Article by Christa Eixman

Photography by Courtesy of Adkins Publicity

Originally published in River Oaks Lifestyle

For decades, Dennis Quaid has been entertaining audiences on the big screen with hit movies like “The Parent Trap”, “Frequency”, and “The Rookie”. Although Dennis has become a household name over the years, he actually grew up right here in Houston. I chatted with Dennis about his Texas roots and how growing up in the Houston area played a role in who he is today.

The son of Juanita and Buddy Quaid, Dennis and his older brother Randy grew up in the heart of Bellaire, Texas, on Maple Street. He lived in Bellaire his entire childhood, going to Horn Elementary, Pershing Middle School, and Bellaire High School. He recalls playing Little League Baseball, swimming at Evergreen Pool, and riding his bike with friends to Meyerland Plaza. To Dennis, Bellaire was the ideal place to grow up. 

"I walked to school, everyone looked out for each other, and they still do," he says.

Dennis described himself as a late bloomer, both skinny and shy. As a teenager, he considered becoming a veterinarian and attending Texas A&M University. After not making the Bellaire High football team, he gravitated toward the drama department, where he discovered his love for acting.

After graduation, Dennis attended the University of Houston, where his life changed forever. Although he had enjoyed dabbling in acting as a teenager, he had no plans to pursue it professionally. Then he took an acting class taught by Professor Cecil Pickett, and everything changed. He decided to become a professional actor. 

"I made up my mind that first week," Dennis says. "He was such a great teacher." 

After two and a half years of college, Dennis moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.

Once in Los Angeles, Dennis landed several film roles, but his career catapulted after starring in Breaking Away, a film that won numerous awards, including an Oscar for best screenplay. He then went on to star in countless other movies, including popular films like Footloose, Any Given Sunday, The Day After Tomorrow, and Far From Heaven, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Dennis' most recent films include the inspirational Netflix drama Blue Miracle, where he plays a boat captain helping a group of orphans save their orphanage. He also plays St. Louis Rams Coach Dick Vermeil in American Underdog, a film following the life of famed football player Kurt Warner.

Dennis just completed filming his upcoming movie, “Reagan”, based on the life of America's 40th president. He stars as the actor and former president Ronald Reagan, who just so happens to be his favorite commander in chief. When offered the role, Dennis described it as so daunting of a task that he did not immediately accept it. After some thought, he decided it was a role of a lifetime that he couldn't turn down.

Filming took place at the Reagan Ranch, also dubbed "The Western White House,” in Santa Barbara, California, which Dennis described as quite an experience. 

"You could really feel him there, and the house was really small. It was 1500 square feet,” he recalls.

He says it felt like the Reagans had just left and would be back any minute. Their clothes were even still hanging in the closet. “Reagan” is scheduled for release in January 2023.

In addition to being a successful actor, Dennis is also a very talented musician. Playing the guitar from the early age of 12, he always had an affinity for music. He learned how to play piano in his 30s when preparing for the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in "Great Balls of Fire." Jerry Lee was actually one of his piano teachers, and Dennis has been playing ever since.

His love for music led him to form the group Dennis Quaid and The Sharks back in 2000, performing as both the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. He loves the energy that comes from performing in front of a crowd. 

"You get out, and the audience is right there,” he says. “You look in their faces, and they're really feeling it and having fun. I want everyone to have a good time."

After Hurricane Harvey, Dennis Quaid and The Sharks played a pivotal role in raising money for those who fought hard to help others during the flood. Their benefit concert, dubbed the Bellaire Brave Block Party, raised over $100,000 for first responders. 

"It felt so good to be back, seeing old friends raising their kids and grandkids there," he says.  

Although Dennis no longer lives in Bellaire, he regularly spends time in Texas, primarily in Austin.

In addition to acting and singing, he is also a producer. In 2021, he launched his production company and named it Bonniedale, after his mother's middle name. The production company focuses on true stories, similar to those told in the movies that Dennis is known for. 

"I love true stories, mostly because they are so unbelievable!" Dennis says. 

Bonniedale's first feature film, “American Pride”, is about the life of musician Charlie Pride.

Dennis has three children, Jack (30), whose mother is actress Meg Ryan, and twins Thomas (14) and Zoe (14), by his ex-wife Kimberly Bluffington. He married Laura Savoie in 2020.

Dennis is one of a very few actors whose career has spanned four decades. Starring in over 50 films, he has a remarkable ability to bring humor, charm, intelligence, passion, and talent to his roles. His desire to bring uplifting, true stories to life brings inspiration to people all across the globe. Dennis’s life shows us that sometimes not making the team can be one of the best gifts of all.

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