Dennis Quaid (left) with AnnaSophia Robb and Helen Hunt in “Soul Surfer.” “Surfing is a great workout,” Quaid said.
Updated: April 17, 2011 9:10PM
He’s not the youngest dude catching a wave. At age 57, Dennis Quaid is still in fine form playing the father of a brave young athlete in “Soul Surfer.”
Quaid is quick to give his anti-workout tips.
“First, there is only one reason I look like this these days: total vanity,” he says. “The other thing is surfing is a great workout — except all that paddling is exhausting. During my month and a half of training before we started filming, it got to the point where they could film me for four or five seconds without me looking like a total fool.”
Quaid laughs while walking around his new Austin ranch, where he lives with his wife Kimberly and 3-year-old twins.
“We recently moved back to Austin because it’s like Chicago. The people make it great,” says Quaid. “I’ve wanted to live in Austin since I was 6 years old. I always loved it there. Plus, we want our kids to grow up around family. My wife’s entire family lives here.”
“Soul Surfer” recounts the real-life story of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), who was 13 when a shark attack almost killed her and left her with one arm. Yet, she wouldn’t stop in her quest to become a professional surfer. A month after her attack, she was back in the water and training.
1 What was the appeal of playing the father in “Soul Surfer?”
I actually took the role without even reading the script. It’s the only time I ever did that in my life. I saw Bethany on the “Today” show and I had a dim memory of what happened. I loved that she was just so positive and such an inspiration. The funny part about it is I saw this report around Christmastime while messing around on the couch with my then 1-year-old boy. Five days later, I got a call asking me if I wanted to play her dad. Eventually, I met the whole family in Hawaii. They are tight-knit and rely on their faith. It was actually refreshing.
2 You have an 18-year-old son, Jack, with Meg Ryan, and now 3-year-old twins. What is it like being a father of little kids again?
Another great way to stay in shape is having 3-year-olds in your house. Three is such a fun age. The things that come out of their mouth! Right now, we’re into “Yo Gabba Gabba.” My only question is how do kids watch the same exact episode of a show 40 times and want to watch it again?”
3 Can you give us a few hints about the “Footloose” remake?
I wasn’t interested in just doing a remake and this was so well written. The story was updated and a little bit darker than the original. The new story is based on five teenagers who die after being at a big party. That’s not illuminated in the original. The ban on dancing is from the parents who are still reeling from the aftermath of this party.
4 You’ve been working in films since 1975. Any favorites?
I do love “The Big Easy,” because all these years later, it really does hold up. But in general, I judge my movies a little differently than most people do. Mostly, I think about the experience, and experience-wise, my favorite was “The Right Stuff.” I wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little boy growing up in Houston, and my all-time favorite astronaut was Gordon Cooper. I was so lucky to get to play him and at the same time I got my pilot’s license. It was such an amazing experience. As for my best overall film, I’ll leave that to other people to decide.
5 But let’s say someone runs into you at an Austin burger joint. What are they most likely to bring up seeing?
It doesn’t matter if I’m in Cincinnati or Calcutta. People ask me about “Innerspace.” Or I’ll hear, “It’s the ‘Innerspace’ guy.” That really surprises me. Of course, kids will rush up and ask “Parent Trap” questions. I know parents have suffered through it 40 times in a row and I want to apologize right now. Of course, my own kids haven’t seen that one yet, although they did see me on the “Today” show the other day. They thought I was in the TV and talking to them. So they stood in front of the TV and talked right back to me.
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