The star of Vantage Point and the upcoming G.I. Joe flick discusses his recent career upswing.
In an era where some '80s movie icons seem incapable of letting go of their matinee idol status (I'm looking at you, Stallone), Dennis Quaid has transitioned nicely into middle age. After falling off the radar for much of the 1990s, the 53-year-old Texas native has enjoyed a nice career renaissance of late, garnering praise for restrained performances in critically-acclaimed flicks like In Good Company and Far from Heaven.
In his latest film, the action thriller Vantage Point, Quaid plays a veteran Secret Service agent faced with a crisis of disastrous proportions when the President is shot during a pivotal peace conference. It's veteran actor's most physically demanding role in years. "We had kind of a joke, actually," says Quaid. "I'm over 50 and I was running for the first part of this film, and then in the car. There was so much action...where are we gonna put the line, 'I'm getting too old for this (stuff)?'"
Indeed, the film's action-heavy plot left little room for dialogue. Vantage Point opens with the assassination attempt -- viewed, in Rashomon-like fashion, from several different perspectives -- before essentially morphing into a chase movie. "It was really kind of a challenge with this one, especially, because I have 17 lines of dialogue, I think, in this film," Quaid jokes. "And most of that is like, 'Oh my God, what have you done?'"
The paucity of lines forced Quaid to find other ways to get his message across, and he embraced the opportunity. "To me, that's what acting is really about, the silences between the words," he explains. "It's about feelings, really."
After Vantage Point, Quaid has three more movies opening this year: Smart People, a romantic dramedy in which he plays a recently widowed professor; The Horsemen, an apocolyptic thriller he describes as "a horror movie with heart"; and The Express, a biography of Bernie Davis, the Syracuse football star who in 1961 became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy. "If I've done anything intentional about my career, it's that I've chosen to try to do as many different types of things as possible," Quaid says of his diverse slate. "That's really what I like to do."
This week, Quaid heads into production on the tentpole action flick G.I. Joe, based on the popular '80s cartoon, in which he plays team leader General Hawk. "He's kind of a cross between Chuck Yeager, Sergeant Rock and maybe a naïve Hugh Hefner thrown in there," he jokes. "General Hawk's aide-de-camp is a Victoria's Secret supermodel. I mean, how serious can it be?"
According to Quaid, G.I. Joe's storyline will be set "a little bit in the future. In a way, the Joes are like this international, sort of special forces type of group that mainly fight these terrorist groups that spring up. The movie is more like James Bond, with the group being SPECTRE -- there's this evil mastermind that's behind it."
Given the various iterations of the Bond franchise, Quaid feels the need to clarify. "I think it's gonna be more like the old James Bonds," he says, "like Dr. No, where the mastermind has his own private island and all these people are wearing matching coveralls."
Vantage Point opens Friday, February 22nd; G.I. Joe is slated for an August 2009 release.