Dennis Quaid Questioned ‘Reagan’ Role Until He Visited the Reagan Ranch

Dennis Quaid Questioned ‘Reagan’ Role Until He Visited the Reagan Ranch

Dennis Quaid attends the 16th Annual Academy of Country Music Honors at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Aug. 23, 2023. (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for ACM)

Haika Mrema
Haika Mrema


Updated: 7/9/2024


Actor Dennis Quaid was more than conflicted about playing Ronald Reagan in an upcoming film about the 40th U.S. president’s life when offered the role six years ago.
Mr. Quaid told Fox News that fear contributed to his reluctance to do it, considering the impact President Reagan had on the world at the time.
“I didn’t say no, and I didn’t say yes because, really, fear,” he said. “Reagan was my favorite president, you know, personally, and he was also such a recognizable figure around the world, sort of like Muhammad Ali.”
“Everybody knew what he looked like, sounded like, and so that’s a pretty scary proposition,” he said.
The Emmy Award-winning actor felt he would face a lot of scrutiny and waited until he knew in-depth who Reagan was before accepting the role.
“It was about feeling like I was going to be judged and feeling unworthy,” he said. “He was the great communicator and all that, but I didn’t want to do an impersonation of him, I wanted to really kind of get to the core of who he was as a person. So, I put off saying yes.”
Mr. Quaid traveled to the Reagan ranch in Southern California to get a feel for the former president’s true character and lifestyle. The actor recalled driving through a private gate “after going up 5 miles of the worst road in California,” and realizing that “Reagan was a humble man.”
“He was not a rich man, and there was a humility about him that was kind of the bedrock of who he was,” he said. “And I felt him. I felt this core there. They had the ‘Western White House.’ It was bought by a circle of friends after he passed to keep it as it was. And their clothes are in the closet—he and Nancy’s clothes were in the closet still, just like they were,” he said, referring to First Lady Nancy Reagan.
Mr. Quaid admired the 1,100-square-foot two-bedroom home, noticing a king-sized bed made of two single beds that were zip-tied together.
“Also just the land itself. You could see that it was him that did all the work there,” he said. “You could feel it. And that’s when, after that, I said ‘Yes, I’ll do this,' because I found a way in.”
Mr. Quaid then committed himself to learning all he could about the 40th president, talking to those knew him best.
“I talked to people who were close to him, you know, who knew him really well,” he said. “They all said there was a part of Ronald Reagan that was unknowable, that was very private, that you just couldn’t penetrate. I think even Nancy felt that to a certain extent. You know, this is the great communicator.”

Quaid’s Career

Mr. Quaid was born in Houston, Texas, on April 9, 1954. After dropping out of the University of Houston, he moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in acting. His film debut was an uncredited role in the comedy film “Crazy Mama” (1975).
His acting career took off after playing astronaut Gordon Cooper in the film “The Right Stuff” (1983) and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. Other film appearances include “The Big Easy” (1987), “Great Balls of Fire!” (1989), and “Dragonheart” (1996).
This is not the first time Mr. Quaid portrayed a president on film. In 2009, he appeared as Bill Clinton in the HBO film “The Special Relationship.”
In an exclusive interview with People Magazine, Mr. Quaid said his Christian faith saved him after battling a cocaine addiction.
“We’re all looking for the joy of life, and drugs give that to you and alcohol and whatever it is for anybody give that to you really quick. Then they’re fun and then they’re fun with problems, and then they’re just problems after a while,” he told People.
“That’s really what we’re looking for, the joy of life, which is our gift, actually, the relationship with God that we all have. It’s at the bottom of it, the joy of being alive.”
Mr. Quaid stars in the upcoming biographical picture “Reagan” premiering Aug. 30 alongside Penelope Ann Miller, David Henrie, and Jon Voight.
“Sometimes, I think, you’ve gotta be careful about what you ask God for,“ he told Fox News. ”Because he just might give it to you, but he'll give it to you in a way that you weren’t planning on it.”

Haika Mrema is a freelance entertainment reporter for The Epoch Times. She is an experienced writer and has covered entertainment and higher-education content for platforms such as Campus Reform and Media Research Center. She holds a B.B.A. from Baylor University where she majored in marketing.

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