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Thursday, March 28, 2002
Updated: August 26, 9:43 AM ET
10 Burning Questions for Dennis Quaid

Page 2 staff

Dennis Quaid is a cinema sports regular, having starred as an aging quarterback in "Any Given Sunday," a running back in "Everybody's All-American" and a cyclist in "Breaking Away." Now he is playing former Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Jim Morris in Disney's "The Rookie," which opened in theaters Friday. (Disney is the parent company of ESPN and ESPN.com.)

Dennis Quaid
Dennis Quaid admires the drama of sports roles.
Page 2 caught up with the actor and threw our 10 best Burning Questions at him. We never laid a glove on him.

1. Page 2: What is it that draws you to roles in all these sports movies?

Dennis Quaid: They were all very good stories, No. 1. Drama is inherent in sports, and I think that's what draws me to these films. Athletes are sort of part of the community at large. They have to be dedicated to what they do, and go through lots of peaks and valleys. And there's a lot of training that goes into their careers. It's a struggle. Very dramatic.

2. How accomplished was your real-life athletic career? How good an athlete are you now?

Quaid: My real-life athletic career was not very much. I played Little League baseball.

What positions?

Quaid: First base, pitcher, left field. I tried out for the football team in high school, but the coach told me I was too small.

Did that break your heart?

Quaid: Not at all. I hate getting hit.

Then why did you want to play?

Quaid: Well, playing football is a rite of passage in Texas. But I'm a pretty good golfer. I play every day. My handicap is a 5. I'm trying to get to scratch. I'm in-between movies, so I've got a good chance.

How long have you been playing?

Quaid: Ten years.

What actors/other celebrity-types do you play with?

Quaid: Greg Kinnear and I play a lot, and Jimmy Woods, too.

Randy Quaid
And you thought the Amish just raced buggies all the time.
Who wins between you and Kinnear?

Quaid: I kick his ass. Jimmy's a really good player for his handicap ... which is about a 17 or 18.

3. Your brother Randy was a bowler in "Kingpin," starred in two baseball movies -- "Major League II" and "The Slugger's Wife" -- plus "Caddyshack II" and "Days of Thunder." So who would win the Quaid family pentathlon, consisting of bowling, one-on-one basketball, golf, ultimate fighting and baseball throw for distance?

Quaid: I'd kick his ass, but he'd tell you different. I'd win in bowling. I was a really avid bowler when I was a teenager. I had about a 210-220 average. I had blisters on my fingers.

Did you have your own shoes?

Quaid: Oh yeah. I had shoes, my own ball.

But you didn't have one of those wrist guards, did you?

Quaid: Oh, yeah. I had the wrist guard. You've got to get all the equipment. That's what it's all about. You've got to have the equipment so you can look cool. There's nothing cooler than bowlers.

Golf? That'd be close. It would depend on who's working at the time -- meaning, whoever has time to be out playing would probably win. He's about a 5-handicap, as well.

He'd kick my ass in basketball. He's 6-5. He'd beat me in boxing, too. And wrestling, I know he'd beat me. He's still my big brother. Plus, being older, he's got that whole psychological edge.

Dennis Quaid
Fulfilling near-impossible dreams make "The Rookie" the favorite sports film in Quaid's filmography.
4. What's the best non-Quaid sports movie ever? The best Quaid sports movie? How 'bout the worst of each?

Quaid: Best non-sports movie: "The Right Stuff." I just love it. I grew up in Houston, Bay City, and Gordon Cooper was my favorite astronaut, and I got to play him. And I got my pilot's license. It's a classic.

Best sports movie: This one. The thing I like about it is that it's not a sports movie, even though it's about sports. It's just a great story about unfilled dreams. It's very fulfilling. "Everybody's All-American" was about a guy who peaked early and spent the rest of his life trying to recapture that. This one's really about unfulfilled dreams, which we all have. This guy got a chance to do it in real life. It's a beautiful tale.

Worst movie: "Jaws 3-D."

Why?

Quaid: It's Jaws. Sharks. In 3-D. But it's my son's favorite movie. He hauls it out about every other month or so.

Do you watch it with him?

Quaid: No.

Worst sports movie: I don't have one. I really like all of them.

Do you watch your movies, the finished product? A lot of actors say they don't.

Quaid: Oh sure, I watch them. They're lying. Sooner or later, you get curious. I watch them. But when they come on TV, I sort of, like, flip the channels. I'll watch for a couple minutes, and turn on something else. After seeing it about three or four times, that's what you do. But you see it when it's finished. You see it, then go to the premiere screening.

Payne Stewart
Quaid admired Payne Stewart, knickers and all.
5. Who's your favorite golfer?

Quaid: Well, we all like Tiger Woods. And I really love Payne Stewart. I love that guy. I kinda knew him a little bit, met him a couple times. He was a fine person.

Is there a golfer who you might say reminds us how you play?

Quaid: Well, maybe how I want to play. I'd love to play like Payne Stewart.

What about the garb? Would you be caught in the getup?

Quaid: I wouldn't mind it.

Even the knickers?

Quaid: Yeah. That thing was pretty cool.

6. Who would you start at quarterback for the big playoff game: Dennis Quaid or Jamie Foxx? And how many takes did Al Pacino need for his terrific speech at the end of "Any Given Sunday"?

Quaid: Oh, definitely me. He's faster, but I have a better spiral than he does.

As for Pacino, the very first one.

Any Given Sunday
Quaid, right, could out-throw Jamie Foxx, left. But Al Pacino really nailed it in "Any Given Sunday."
No way.

Quaid: Oh, yeah. He's really prepared. Of course, they shot it from several different angles. He had it nailed right from the beginning. Not a stutter.

OK, backing up ... you said you hate getting hit, but in "Any Given Sunday," what did you do, just grin and bear it?

Quaid: You know, it was ... ouch. In "Everybody's All-American," I broke my collarbone. It was the very last hit I had to take, and I was going out of bounds. It was supposed to be ... I guess Roger Staubach got his helmet knocked off one time when he was going out of bounds. They wanted to re-create that.

7. Jim Morris can bring it in the high 90s. How much heat can you bring?

Quaid: I never put myself on a radar gun, because I didn't want to be disappointed. I'm not really a pitcher; I just play one in the movies. I wanted to get the motion down and everything to really look like I knew what I was doing. I didn't want to look like Anthony Perkins in "Fear Strikes Out."

Morris was a high-school physics teacher. What's more of a stretch: Dennis Quaid throwing in the majors or Dennis Quaid teaching high-school physics?

Dennis Quaid
Quaid's not really a pitcher; he just plays one in the movies.
Quaid: Pitching in the majors. I could do the classroom thing. I was pretty good at physics. I could be in the classroom in six months.

What were your best topics in high school?

Quaid: English. Science. Geometry. I liked that.

Morris' story is about pursuing dreams. What were your dreams as a kid, and what the one dream you've still yet to chase?

Quaid: I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was my big dream as a kid. I loved animals.

What kinds?

Quaid: All animals. I still do. I still might become a veterinarian when all this is done.

8. What type of research did you do for the role ... and did you have to attend an actual Tampa Bay Devil Rays game in person?

Quaid: I'd throw pitches in my front yard every other day. Fifty to 75 every other day.

How long did you do this?

Quaid: For four months before we started shooting. Then, once a week, I'd go to Dodgers Stadium and throw on the mound there so I could get used to throwing on the mound.

9. Rumor has it, you often perform with your shoes off. Why is that? Ever get any complaints?

Quaid: I feel like I'm at home in my living room. But I don't do it all the time. Like when my feet hurt.

10. If you could win an Oscar, a Grammy, a World Series or a Super Bowl, which one would you take and why?

Quaid: An Oscar. It's what I do.