"Soul Surfer" star Dennis Quaid didn't have to dig too deep to play a dad facing his offspring's near-fatal accident.
Dennis Quaid’s devil-may-care persona made him a star, but after nearly losing his newborn twins he says the faith of others helped him through the crisis.
In his latest film “Soul Surfer,” Quaid plays the father of surf sensation Bethany Hamilton, the real-life teen who lost her left arm in a shark attack in 2003. And Quaid himself experienced the torment of a parent whose children are at death’s door when his newborn twins Thomas and Zoe nearly died from a medical overdose in 2007.
“It was easy to connect to that, because all of us who are parents we all share that,” Quaid tells PopcornBiz. “And the problem that happened with our kids – they had a near fatal overdose at a hospital, and I really do believe it was the power of a lot of prayer of a lot of people that saved their lives, to tell you the truth. And I'm very grateful for that…It really strengthened my faith in other people, because so many other people reached out and were praying for us or rooting for us. And, yeah, that really touched me: faith in humanity.”
“As a parent you're always afraid for your kids,” says Quaid. “You try not to show it on the surface, because you want them to be independent and confident and get out there and try new things and all this stuff. But you can't save them from so many things – emotional heartache or pain and sorrow. So with the Hamilton family I believe it was the power of prayer and faith that really got them through that, as well, and so I could relate with that.”
One thing Quaid has quickly accepted he can’t protect his eldest child (with ex-wife Meg Ryan) is the lure of a second-generation Hollywood career. “My 18-year-old Jack is at NYU in the drama department,” he reveals. “He's definitely going to be an actor. There's no signing off about anything, you know. The way I feel about my kids is I want them to do the things that they love in life. Whatever it was he decided to do that's what I want him to do. Go where your heart is. There is nothing worse than making a living at something you don't like doing.”
“He's probably the most talented one in the family, to tell you the truth,” the actor says of his son. “What I'm impressed with him is that he's really doing it the right way. He's really studying the craft and all that. We kept him out of child acting, as far as any kind of real jobs as a kid. And he did it in high school and he's done it on his own.”
On more troubling familial note, Quaid did address concern for his older brother, actor Randy Quaid, who remains a fugitive from justice in Canada with his wife Evie on burglary and related charges after allegedly occupying a Santa Barbara home illegally and publicly espousing a Hollywood conspiracy against them. “All I can tell you is that I love my brother,” offers Quaid. “That's all I can say. I love my brother and I miss my brother. That's all I want to say.”
Quaid steps up to the pulpit professionally in his next major project, the remake of the ‘80s hit “Footloose,” playing the conservative minister who crusades against teenage dancing. “Actually, it's been updated for our times, and so I thought it was worth a go. And it's a good part – John Lithgow played it before, the party-pooper preacher dad. And so I think it's going to have a little different slant."
"But as in the first one, no dancing for me! I don't break out into a tap-dance in the end.”
"Soul Surfer" opens everywhere this Friday.