Dennis Quaid has taken up the challenge of playing Ronald Reagan, but confessed that he had doubts about doing the movie when he was first offered the role nearly four months ago.
Unsure of whether he would look the part, Quaid initially left producer Mark Joseph hanging.
“[I’m] really, really nervous. When I got offered the role about four months ago, I couldn’t give them an answer. I had a shiver of fear go up my spine. I don’t really feel that I look like Ronald Reagan. But usually, that shiver of fear is a sign to me that I should do something because it takes me out of my comfort zone.”
One of the things that convinced Quaid to play the former American president was the trouble Joseph had taken to research the biopic. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Joseph met with more than 50 of Reagan’s friends, confidantes and cabinet members, including his pastor and the surgeon who saved his life after he was shot in 1981, in an effort to paint a lifelike picture of the president and remain true to history.
Moreover, Quaid told Fox News that Reagan’s personality fascinates him, especially considering that he was an actor before he took the plunge into politics.
“I’m fascinated by Ronald Reagan,” Quaid said.
“And we do share a couple of traits. He had an optimistic, sunny disposition way of looking at life. And we’re both actors. He has an incredible life story. A story that I think most people really don’t know. They think they know the man, but they don’t.”
When asked if it was the right time for a movie based on Reagan’s life, Quaid said that the quest is more to see him as a person than a political figure. The actor believes audiences will learn much more about the president than they think they do.
“The movie is not political,” he said. “The script is not political. Reagan was a Democrat who turned Republican. And that’s what I like about it. It’s just the story of the man who was Ronald Reagan.”
For his role, Quaid is taking no chances. He has already immersed himself into studying Reagan closely and recently spent time at Reagan Ranch, the president’s family vacation home in California. During his time at the ranch, which the actor said is still preserved in exactly the same way that Reagan left it, Quaid read a number of his books and spent time mowing the grass.
“The place is surprisingly small and humble,” he said of the ranch. “It still has their 1974 house appliances… His books in the bookcase are a real treasure for me. I tried to read most of them. And he used to build all the fences and mowed the grass. You could really feel him there.”
It sure looks like Quaid is doing everything in his locker to play Ronald Reagan just right. The movie, which has tentatively been titled Reagan, begins shooting this fall and will be directed by Sean McNamara, known for having recently directed the sports movie The Miracle Season.
Reagan is expected to release next summer.