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Interview: Quaid sticks to game plan

Dennis Quaid likes to take his time over his answers. He likes to chew on them a while. Or maybe he likes you to stew for a while over your question. Either way, the time delay means Quaid has usually stripped his answer down to the bare bones by the time he speaks. They're short.

So, I'm hoping, it's not because he's in a bad mood.

Mind you, I'd be a little tired and emotional if I was Dennis Quaid, given the run of very ordinary movies that he's had of late.

Quaid's latest, Legion, isn't much better. In the sci-fi comedy horror, Quaid plays the owner of a remote roadside cafe which just happens to house a young waitress pregnant with mankind's future saviour. Naturally enough, a gun-toting angel (played by Paul Bettany) and a devil who can take on any form (including, in the film's one kick-ass scene, a little old lady) are keen to get their hands on said hussy and her unborn child.

Quaid turns in a comical and slightly disturbing performance as the diner's hillbilly owner, going all Deliverance largely by morphing into his brother Randy. But it's not enough to make this worth watching. Which may explain Quaid's quiet-man approach today.

Then again, the man's got more important things on his mind. And it's not just trying to get over those humongous lips on his ex-wife, Meg Ryan.

Back in November 2007, Quaid's 12-day old twins Thomas and Zoe were lucky to survive getting a Herapin dose 1,000 times the common dosage, thanks to a hospital error.

That's the kind of thing that will focus the mind on what's important, and what's not important. You get the impression, from the movies Quaid is saying yes to, his family is what's important these days.

PAUL BYRNE: This is one bonkers movie -- was that the attraction for you?

DENNIS QUAID: It's twisted, isn't it? Yeah. That's what I like about it.

PB: Your guy, Bob Hanson, is a good old-fashioned, gun- toting, TV-slapping, roadside cafe owner stuck in the middle of nowhere. Easy to get into?

DQ: He's a big fat loser! That's what he was [laughs]. He was a lot of fun to play. He was a well-drawn character.

PB: You've always liked to mix it up. You'll have The Right Stuff beside Jaws 3D and Spongebob Squarepants alongside the likes of Traffic and The Long Riders. Is it an action-reaction career, or do you have a game plan?

DQ: The only game plan I've had is just do as many types of films as possible. That's really what keeps you around, I think, but it also keeps my interest.

PB: You've been itching to direct a biopic that you've written, Shame On You, based on the rise and fall of Spade Cooley, the one-time King of Western Swing. Is that going to happen?

DQ: I don't know. I hope so. We'll see, but they're hard to get done. Quirky dark movies...

PB: Do you think it's a particularly tough time now to make movies?

DQ: Yeah, sure . . . Money's tight, for everybody.

PB: You've just finished playing Bill Clinton in The Special Relationship for director Richard Loncraine.

DQ: Luckily, Bill's the kind of guy you can get plenty of material on . . . so, it wasn't too tough. You have to be careful playing real people, especially those who are still alive, as everyone has an opinion on what they're really like. At some point, you have to just go with your instincts, and make it your interpretation.

PB: Thanks to your parents, you've got both Irish and Cajun blood -- sounds like a good cocktail...

DQ: Yeah, sometimes [laughs]. It's certainly volatile.

PB: You've traced them. You were over last summer, and hooked up with a whole bunch of Irish Quaids there, right?

DQ: Yeah, I've been over there four or five times now. I love going back to Ireland. Just driving around, hitting the pubs, talking to the people. It's great...

Legion is in cinemas now. The Special Relationship is released May 7