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Reagan, Star Wars, Trump, & Power | Dennis Quaid | EP 450

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Reagan, Star Wars, Trump, & Power | Dennis Quaid | EP 450

Coming up (00:00:00)

  • Movie stars used to be more exclusive and mysterious, which added to their appeal.

Intro (00:00:34)

  • Dennis Quaid is interviewed about his career, playing Reagan, the purpose of drama, Hollywood, the future of the music industry, and political attitudes.

Upcoming film: Reagan (00:02:09)

  • Dennis Quaid praises the film "Reagan" for focusing on Reagan's anti-communist activities throughout his life.
  • He also notes that the film has a classic Hollywood feel, being unabashedly pro-American without being overly cynical.

Living through unstable times, what Reagan stood for (00:04:16)

  • Dennis Quaid was approached to play Reagan in a project and was initially hesitant due to not resembling him physically.
  • Quaid considered Reagan his favorite president and voted for him in 1980 at the age of 26.
  • Quaid draws parallels between the current times and the era of Jimmy Carter's presidency, highlighting a sense of malaise and decline.
  • Reagan's message of optimism and his unapologetic stance against the Soviet Union resonated with the public.
  • Reagan's refusal to engage with the Soviets for the first six years of his presidency was a deliberate strategy in response to their constant leadership changes.
  • Quaid praises Reagan's communication skills and his ability to inspire people.
  • Reagan's strong stance against the Soviet Union, labeling them as an "evil empire," was well-received by the public.
  • Quaid contrasts Reagan's approach with that of previous presidents, highlighting Kennedy's effective management and Nixon's knowledge of world affairs.
  • Quaid criticizes Carter's attempts at appeasement and argues that empathy and compassion are not effective strategies against dishonest and ruthless adversaries.
  • Quaid admires Reagan's strength and principled character, despite his personal struggles and temptations.

Reagan’s movie career: “there was already John Wayne” (00:09:50)

  • Reagan's film career was not as successful as he had hoped.
  • He was overshadowed by actors like John Wayne.
  • His marriage to Jane Wyman also affected his career.
  • Reagan became vice president and then president of the Screen Actors Guild during this time.
  • His fight against communism began during this period.
  • Reagan had physical scars from fights he got in at the union hall.

The goal is to foment chaos (00:11:24)

  • The current university uprisings and protests in inner cities are similar to Marxist streams of thought.
  • Creating mayhem and chaos can confuse people and make them feel helpless.
  • Reagan did not want to expel Communists or the Communist party, believing that democracy could handle it.
  • Democracy requires informed and involved citizens to function effectively.
  • People are waking up to the current state of affairs and demanding change.

Being an independent in Hollywood (00:13:30)

  • Dennis Quaid has never been a Republican or Democrat, but has voted for both parties based on what he thought the country needed at the time.
  • Republicans and Democrats need each other to balance progressive social change with conservative principles.

The humility behind the grandeur, touring Reagan’s home (00:14:45)

  • Dennis Quaid was hesitant to play Reagan due to the fear of messing up the role.
  • Quaid visited Reagan's ranch and was surprised by its modesty.
  • Reagan was not a rich man despite making many people wealthy.
  • Quaid was impressed by Reagan's humility and authenticity.

“There was something in Reagan that was unknowable” (00:18:12)

  • Reagan had an unknowable quality that even those close to him couldn't fully understand.
  • Reagan was a very private person despite his public persona.
  • Reagan had integrity and vision, which allowed him to recognize the threat of communism early on.
  • Reagan was able to make communism the focal point of his presidency, even when it wasn't the most pressing issue for most people.
  • Reagan had a prophetic ability to see the current situation clearly and to predict the future.

Bankrupting the Soviets, project Star Wars (00:20:24)

  • Reagan's foreign policy vision was to bankrupt the Soviets.
  • The Soviet economy was minuscule compared to the US due to excessive military spending.
  • Reagan proposed the "Star Wars" program, a fictional space-based missile defense system.
  • The Soviets knew it was mostly a bluff but still felt compelled to match the spending, further straining their economy.
  • This contributed significantly to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

Prepping for the role, capturing Reagan’s smile (00:22:36)

  • Dennis Quaid prepared for the role by studying Reagan's physical mannerisms, such as his unique smile.
  • He watched YouTube videos and talked to people who knew Reagan personally to gain insights into his personality and motivations.
  • Quaid aimed to avoid doing a mere impersonation and instead capture the essence of Reagan's character.

Going deeper than an impersonation, why we go to the movies (00:25:47)

  • Watching characters in movies allows us to adopt their aims and emotions.
  • Embodying a character or characterizing their aims invites the audience to adopt their perspective.
  • This is one of the reasons why we go to the movies.

Leaving the character after the take, playing Jerry Lee Lewis (00:27:20)

  • Dennis Quaid finds it difficult to articulate how playing different characters changes him.
  • He leaves the character at the end of the day to let the subconscious work.
  • Playing Jerry Lee Lewis in "Great Balls of Fire" had a significant impact on Quaid.
  • He became addicted to cocaine after the movie's release, which he attributes to the manic energy of the character.
  • Quaid learned to play the piano from Jerry Lee Lewis and continued playing after the movie.

Quaid on Trump: “look at his kids” (00:30:41)

  • Trump has a reputation for being both generous and a bully.
  • People who know Trump personally speak of his kindness, but he also has a tendency to act like a schoolyard bully.
  • Trump is very principled and down-to-earth, but he can also be bullish.
  • Trump's success in the construction business demonstrates his toughness and ability to get things done.
  • Trump raised his children well, and they have a great relationship with him.

Balancing responsibility to your family with responsibility to the world (00:32:15)

  • Reagan did not have the best relationship with his children.
  • Reagan's youngest son, Ron, is particularly critical of him and his mother.
  • Reagan's son, Michael, has a good relationship with him.
  • Reagan was not around much for his children because he was busy working.
  • It is difficult for men to strike a balance between their work and family responsibilities.
  • Parental guilt is a common experience for parents, regardless of how good a parent they are.

An accurate portrayal includes the flaws, what Reagan got wrong (00:35:37)

  • Reagan had flaws like accepting second-rate movie scripts early in his career.
  • Reagan rejected Gorbachev's proposal to dismantle nuclear weapons and share Star Wars technology, which was seen as a missed opportunity.
  • Reagan delegated a lot, which was both a strength and a weakness as he may not have been fully aware of what was happening.
  • Reagan made the wrong decision on AIDS by portraying it as a punishment from God for being gay or a drug addict, showing that he was out of touch on the issue.
  • Reagan was a great adman and represented the presidency well in terms of image.
  • Reagan delegated a lot, which allowed him to focus on the big picture but may have also led to him being unaware of certain issues.

Faults and virtues are not so easy to distinguish (00:39:05)

  • Trump's bully-like behavior can be intimidating to people like the dictator of North Korea.
  • Agreeable leaders like Jimmy Carter may not be taken seriously by psychopathic leaders.
  • World leaders prioritize their self-interests, even if it doesn't align with others.
  • Leaders like Saddam Hussein, the Ayatollah, Putin, and the Chinese are smart, ruthless, and have long-term agendas.
  • North Korea's leadership has been in power for three generations and their actions are not just talk.
  • Dealing with ruthless leaders requires someone with a certain degree of toughness.
  • Naive agreeableness doesn't work against ruthless leaders and can lead to being taken advantage of.
  • Trying to avoid war by being agreeable can actually create war if red lines are not enforced.

Trump’s accomplishments as president (00:42:19)

  • Trump accomplished two remarkable and underappreciated things:
    • Ending ISIS
    • Abraham Accords
  • Reagan was called a "warer" throughout his presidency.
  • Despite this, Reagan's actions, such as standing up to the Soviets, helped prevent war.
  • The 1980s were a time of intense fear of nuclear war, with several close calls.

Being an independent in Hollywood, attempted cancellations (00:44:17)

  • Dennis Quaid is an independent who has voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past.
  • He was almost canceled twice, once for comments he made about Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and once for a false story that he had taken money from the CDC to promote the vaccine.
  • Quaid believes he was not canceled because he immediately went on Instagram to expose the false story and because he does not firmly align with either the left or the right.
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Where politics goes too far (00:49:00)

  • The Democrats' lack of clear boundaries between mainstream and radical members allows radical elements to influence the party.
  • Equality of outcome is seen as detrimental as it eliminates individual differences and hinders diversity.
  • Government-sponsored programs should be balanced, and checks and balances on wealth are necessary to prevent excessive power concentration.
  • Both Democrats and Republicans have used compassion as a guise for power, and the political spectrum's fringes are often driven by power-hungry individuals.
  • Power in politics often leads to corruption and the temptation to default to power.
  • Clinton's impeachment was a power play by the Republicans but failed due to good economic times and Clinton's pragmatic approach.
  • Clinton's pragmatic approach involved abandoning the Republican agenda and declaring the end of welfare, which helped him win the second election.

The state of Hollywood post-pandemic, the last real movie stars, social media (00:55:49)

  • The COVID-19 pandemic and the Hollywood strike have disrupted the movie industry, making it harder for fans to stay informed about upcoming releases.
  • The traditional methods of movie advertising and reviews have declined, and the current film industry lacks prominent movie stars compared to the past.
  • Social media platforms like YouTube have created new types of celebrities, and actors now actively self-promote on social media, diminishing the mystery and allure surrounding them.
  • The rise of social media has blurred the line between public and private life, with everyone being constantly recorded and documented.
  • Social media platforms like YouTube and podcasts allow for unfettered communication and self-representation, rewarding authentic and genuine interactions.
  • In contrast to traditional media interviews, social media and podcasts quickly reveal the true nature of individuals, exposing those who lack depth or authenticity.
  • The permanence of online content means that past actions and statements can resurface and potentially have negative consequences in the future.

Producing films like they used to, upcoming projects (01:04:29)

  • Dennis Quaid expresses concern about the potential negative consequences of having permanent video records of teenage mistakes.
  • Quaid discusses his passion for filmmaking and his new production company.
  • His upcoming film, "Diamond Back," is inspired by 1970s movies and tells the story of a young Marine turned bank robber who repeatedly escapes from prison.
  • Quaid emphasizes the importance of a strong story when evaluating scripts and choosing movies.
  • He reflects on his extensive filmography, which includes over 120 movies of varying quality.
  • Quaid's upcoming movie, "Reagan," is set for release on August 30th and is expected to have a wide distribution of 3,000 to 3,500 theaters.
  • He is pleased with the final cut after an extensive editing process.
  • Quaid is also working on another project called "Happy Face," where he plays a serial killer from Canada who killed eight women over five years in the 90s.
  • He enjoys playing complex characters that explore the human psyche and finds motivation in fear.

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