Dennis Quaid on A Dog’s Journey, being a dog lover, and PETA.
Dennis Quaid is quite the legend in Hollywood and has had a part of so many different films ranging from famly films to horror films. This was my first time sitting down and chatting with Quaid for A Dog’s Journey but it was definitely a memorable experience. You can tell that because Quaid has been in the industry for so long that he doesn’t sugarcoat anythng. He is very honest and I loved chatting with him about his career, his dog, and his role as Ethan in A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.
Scott Menzel: Hey Dennis, nice to finally meet you. Congratulations on this film as well as The Intruder which has had some solid success that had at the box office so far. I was supposed to chat with you at the junket for The Intruder, but I know that you had to cancel due to a family thing. Is everything ok?
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, everything is just fine. My daughter had a volleyball tournament in Dallas. Her mother was going to take her, but her mother recently had surgery, and it was something that was set up way back in October. So her mother was unable to go, because the doctor couldn’t sign her off. She’s fine now, but I just didn’t want to disappoint my daughter. It gave me a chance to be a hero for my daughter, you know what I mean?
Scott Menzel: Absolutely, family first.
Dennis Quaid: I know that we are going to talk about A Dog’s Journey but if you don’t mind, can I ask you what was it like working with Deon Taylor?
Dennis Quaid: He was the reason I did the film (The Intruder) because it’s not a role I get offered a lot. Usually you get the warm and fuzzy Dennis Quaid. I’ve always been kind of weary of those roles in a way. After talking to him for 20 minutes, it just seemed like it’d be a lot of fun to take a ride with this guy. And Deon was just a lot of fun.
Scott Menzel: That energy that he has is amazing. I’ve met him multiple times now and I still don’t know where he gets it from. He’s always so energized.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, and it’s for real too.
Scott Menzel: He’s not phony like some of the press people (laughs).
Dennis Quaid: (laughs) Yeah, he’s not fake news like you guys. Yeah, that pervades his sets. I like to work with people like that, really positive people that are doing it for the joy of it.
Scott Menzel: Yeah, absolutely. So, congratulations on being part of A Dog’s Journey.
Dennis Quaid: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: I really enjoy it. I think it’s actually better than the first one.
Dennis Quaid: Oh, thanks.
Scott Menzel: This one is interesting because it’s kind of a switch. The first one is all about the guys. This is more about women. What was it like being a part of two films where you play the same character, but the stories are so different?
Dennis Quaid: Really, I think this is my first theatrical sequel. I did a sequel to a television movie with Mickey Rooney called “Bill On His Own” way back in the ’80s. I can’t believe I made it this far without doing a sequel. I wanted to be along on this one because I really loved the first one. The first one was more about an individual’s relationship with a dog. There was my relationship with Bailey. And then Bailey, of course, was the same Bailey, but in a different body with another person, like the lonely lady who he was trying to find love. (Walks over to the door in the hotel room and opens it) This is my dog, Peaches.Come on out, Peaches.
Scott Menzel: Come on out, Peaches. (Peaches comes out of the room and jumps up on the couch between Dennis and I)
Dennis Quaid: Anyway, the first film then comes back and sort of restores my character’s faith in life by bringing his first love, Hannah, back into his life. And in the second one, I think it’s really about how dogs are sort of the emotional diving force of a family and where they fit into the family and how they sort of reflect a family’s emotional well-being. My character goes out of his way to take care of the granddaughter now.
Scott Menzel: What I can feel about these two movies, is that I can almost everyone involved either has a dog or has a positive feeling towards dogs. And I think that’s incredible because you have your dog with you, Kathryn had her dog, and then Gail was telling me about her five dogs. Is that what the driving force was for you to do these movies?
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, I’ve always had dogs. Peaches is a year and a half. She goes everywhere with me. She’s a miniature English bulldog. Also, she wants to play. She goes everywhere with me without a leash. Even in airports, she goes right to the plane. She knows now to go right to the front of the line to get on the plane. She just goes on and sits under the seat. (Dennis leans over and starts to pet his dog)
Oh yeah, oh yeah. Isn’t that right, Peachy? Peachy, what do you think? What do you think? Yes? You have anything to say? Peaches. Now, you want to play, you don’t want to work. Hi. Okay. All right. Yeah, you bring that love of dogs to the film, I think.
Scott Menzel: What was it like for you to be on the set during the last scene of this movie. I’m not afraid to admit it, I bawled like a baby during that scene.
Dennis Quaid: Oh, yeah.
Scott Menzel: Did you get through that without crying?
Dennis Quaid: Well, when I read the script that’s what it was. In fact, in the first one, my agent called me up and said, “They want to give you this movie, ‘A Dog’s Purpose.'” I said, “Okay, well, tell me about it.” And then he got three sentences in, and I said, “Stop. You’re making me well up, and I’m not going to cry in front of my agent. So just send me a script, and if it looks like it’s a good fit for me, I’ll do it for sure.”
Gail brought a completely different element. Lots of it was very improvisational in the way the first film was directed. Things just sort of happened. Gail was very structured, and she brought a different kind of emotional quality to it, which I don’t want to say feminine because it really kind of transcended that. She was just fantastic, really fantastic to work with. I think this was her first feature, as well.
Scott Menzel: It is.
Dennis Quaid: She comes from television, and relationships she really gets, and of course, she gets women and men too. It was a very happy set.
Scott Menzel: It sounds like it from everyone that I spoke with today. So, you are kind of a legend in your own right, is there any particular type of project that you would love to do that you still haven’t been able to do?
Dennis Quaid: No, I still take them as they come. When I read a script, it’s the only time that I get to be an audience member or the first-time experience of it. So, for me, when I read a script, it is just like watching a movie. It’s about how it makes me feel, and if it’s a movie I really enjoyed. You know what I mean? A story I really enjoyed. It’s mostly about the story. And the character and, of course, who’s going to be the director. But it’s mainly the script. It’s really simple.
Scott Menzel: I just realized that I did four interviews and I didn’t ask anyone about Josh Gad. Did you work with Josh Gad at all? Because I know he’s just the voice.
Dennis Quaid: No.
Scott Menzel: Really? Neither time?
Dennis Quaid: Never even saw him, except at the premiere. I didn’t even see him at the premiere of the first one because of all the controversy and stuff like that.
Scott Menzel: Oh my God, I do remember that. It turned out to be total bullshit.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. PETA, ugh.
Scott Menzel: I know. I talked to Gail about it. I said it’s so sad that the first movie was met with such controversy. They canceled the junket, I remember that.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah. Canceled the junket. I went out on my own junket.
Scott Menzel: Did you really?
Dennis Quaid: Oh, yeah. I went on Ellen and a few others. The real story was a completely different story. The guy wasn’t even a crew member, and he’d shot that footage, which abruptly ends with a dog underwater and the dog being pulled up and possibly choked.
Scott Menzel: Right.
Dennis Quaid: The dog was standing on a table that was under the water. There were two divers in the water as well that were down there at the end. The dog when he cuts, comes up, pops up, jumps out, and runs right to the other side of the pool and dives in again because he loved it. In fact, I made them show me all the footage from that day, and he was straining to get in and play. That’s what it was for him.
So, PETA makes this big deal about it, but PETA’s not pro-pet or animal. They don’t even want you to have a pet. They think your pet should be euthanized, that it’s an abomination and exploitation of an animal. They don’t think we should have farm animals or chickens or anything. It’s an exploitation of an animal. It’s pretty radical and extreme. They’re not really supporting pets and that relationship. A relationship with dogs is the most ancient relationship that we have.
Scott Menzel: Oh, of course. I completely agree.
Dennis Quaid: It’s our first relationship that man had with another animal was with dogs. They taught us how to hunt, I believe. We were both following the herds, and they’re very social. Then when we discovered fire, even before that when we were living in whatever protection, there would be dogs that would be there because we helped them, they helped us, and they would be out there. They would warn us of other animals like saber-tooth tigers or whatever the hell was out there, to warn us of other animals because their hearing was so much better and sight and all that. There’s a case to be made, would there even be a human race without dogs?
Scott Menzel: Did you see that movie “Alpha”?
Dennis Quaid: No.
Scott Menzel: It pretty much tells the story of the man and dog from long ago. The first story of man’s best friend kind of thing.
Dennis Quaid: Oh, I want to see that. Yeah. I’ve seen several documentaries on that relationship and read a lot about it because it really fascinates me. It’s basically … we were animals. We are animals ourselves. We’re not so far removed. And them too, they’re very different, just like us, from the caveman days or when we were hunter/gatherers. They’ve adapted. I think genetically they know how to show faces to us that engage us.
Scott Menzel: They really know how to toy with our emotions, that’s for sure.
Scott Menzel: Alright, well they are telling me that I have to wrap it up but it was so nice meeting you.
Dennis Quaid: Yeah, pleasure, man.
Scott Menzel: Nice meeting you.
A Dog’s Journey is now playing in theaters