Dennis Quaid has been a Hollywood leading man for decades, fronts a band called The Sharks, and now stars in a new scripted musical podcast called Bear and a Banjo.
[Featured photo by Ryan Hartford of Ecliptic Media]

What We Discuss with Dennis Quaid:

  • Whether or not getting rejected for a coveted job in Hollywood ever gets easier — even when you’ve been getting cast for decades.
  • Why Dennis considers fear his greatest motivator — and what this indicates to him when he feels it upon being offered a role.
  • The hardest place to get respect, the greatest things our kids teach us, and where dad jokes go to die.
  • Listening versus improvising, and how Dennis brings his characters to life without strictly memorizing his lines before arriving on set.
  • Accents, biographical misinformation, and how learning to play a real-life astronaut led to Dennis learning how to fly real-life planes.
  • And much more…

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If you’ve watched a movie at any point since the ’70s, I have no doubt you’ve seen Dennis Quaid delivering at least one — or maybe 100 — of his groundbreaking performances. He was Mike in Breaking Away. He played astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff. He was Davidge in Enemy Mine. He was Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp. He was Nick Parker in The Parent Trap. And this is just a very short list. Additionally, he’s been fronting a band — Dennis Quaid and The Sharks — for nearly two decades. Now, he’s a fellow podcaster on Bear and a Banjo. Oh, and did I mention he can also fly planes?

In this episode, Dennis opens up about how he taps into his own experiences to play a role, what character research was like in the time before Google (and how it inadvertently led to him learning to fly planes), how his process has changed between now and when he began, the motivating power of fear, what parenting has taught him, and much more. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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Transcript for Dennis Quaid | Sharks, a Bear, and a Banjo (Episode 279)

Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I’m Jordan Harbinger. As always, I’m here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world’s most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you.

[00:00:19] I want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and how they behave. We want you to become a better thinker as well. If you’re new to the show, we’ve got episodes with CEOs, spies, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers, as well as toolboxes for negotiation, public speaking, body language, persuasion, influence, et cetera. So if you’re smart and you like to learn and improve, then you’ll be at home right here with us.

[00:00:42] Today’s episode was a lot of fun. None other than Dennis Quaid here in the studio today. We grew up with him. Basically, his career spans multiple generations and he’s still at it. We spend a fair bit of time discussing how Dennis accesses his emotions when acting, how he draws from his own life experience to become someone else. I also wanted to know how and when he stays in character, especially when he’s playing someone dysfunctional, out of control, or abusive. This is a really cool look inside the mind, life, and process of one of the most well-known artists here in Hollywood.

[00:01:15] If you want to know how I managed to book all these amazing guests for the show, check out our course — Six-Minute Networking. It’s a free course that teaches you how to make relationships better in your personal and professional life. That’s over at And by the way, most of the guests here on the show, they actually subscribe to the course and the newsletter, so come join us and you’ll be in great company. All right, here’s Dennis Quaid.

[00:01:42] Your dad’s a blue-collar tradesman from Texas, right?

Dennis Quaid: [00:01:45] Yeah, he owned his own electrical company. He was a contractor.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:50] It doesn’t sound like the usual type of dad that’s like, “Go to Hollywood and become an actor,” like really supportive of that kind of thing.

Dennis Quaid: [00:01:56] He got a little bit of that. My brother was three and a half years ahead of me. They came through at the University of Houston where he was going to school for The Last Picture Show to casting. That was like ’73, ’72, and got a part. The Last Picture Show was a pretty amazing movie back then. Ben Johnson was in it and Cybill Shepherd and directed by Peter Bogdanovich. He did that and then a year later, Bogdanovich called him out to Hollywood to do a small part in What’s Up, Doc? which is a Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal movie, and so he stayed. When my dad finally saw my brother on camera, he said, “Well, that’s my boy!”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:41] Oh, interesting.

Dennis Quaid: [00:02:41] Because he was a frustrated actor himself. He didn’t really know how to do it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:47] Acting?

Dennis Quaid: [00:02:48] Well, he didn’t know how to go about really doing it, like moving out to Hollywood, meeting an agent, and all the rest of that stuff. He thought you just got discovered.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:56] I think a lot of people think that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:02:57] I think they do. I really do think they do. And then for me, my brother was like a really good example for me. I didn’t know at the time if I wanted to be an actor. That was back during the time where I wanted to be a veterinarian or a forest ranger. A forest ranger!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:13] You’d be fighting fires right now.

Dennis Quaid: [00:03:15] Yes, I would. I’ve been evacuated from my house right now.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:17] Are you really? I saw the smoke when I flew in this morning.

Dennis Quaid: [00:03:20] Yeah. Where did you fly in from?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:22] San Jose. Our flight originally was canceled and I was like, “You got to give me to L.A. I got Dennis Quaid coming here and can’t stand them up for this bullshit fire.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:03:32] Yeah, I’m a refugee, I guess you’d call me, right? A vagabond.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:37] Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:03:38] An evacuee. In fact, Billy Bob Thornton and I are at the same hotel.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:43] I was wondering, maybe, you know, you came here originally, slept on your brother’s couch — maybe you’re just back to the same couch.

Dennis Quaid: [00:03:49] No, but it’s really amazing. I was staying at this hotel, it was off Sunset, and the room I’m staying in occupies the very same space of the first apartment that I lived in here in L.A.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:01] Really?

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:02] Yes. On Alta Loma.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:02] What are the odds of that?

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:04] I don’t know.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:05] That’s crazy. Are you happy about — ?

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:06] Do you think that’s a sign of something?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:08] I’m not one of — I don’t believe in that stuff, really.

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:10] You don’t believe in coinkydinks?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:12] Coincidences exist for sure.

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:14] You don’t think it goes beyond that?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:45] Nah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:16] You sure you’re not looking deep enough?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:17] Maybe, but maybe you chose that place because of that reason subconsciously.

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:21] Hmm. That does knock the odds down a little bit. You’re right, because I’m familiar with that place.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:27] Like maybe you went, “You know, I know this neighborhood and I’ll just, is there a hotel there? Oh yeah, look at this one.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:31] “Yeah. How, how about that? I’m at the same place?” Oh, okay.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:34] Yeah. Like your subconscious brain saw it coming a mile away.

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:36] All right, I’ll let that one go, then.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:38] So all right, so you started bugging agents for interviews, getting rejected everywhere when you first got out here?

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:43] Well, I came out here, I got my eight-by-tens done and I sent out that and a kind of a hyperbolic hyperbole of a resume to every agent in town.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:56] A bullshitty resume?

Dennis Quaid: [00:04:57] Yes, because I had done nothing except for college drama. I got turned down by everybody. So then I started looking in Variety and Hollywood Reporter in the back, they would have this section called Films in the Future, and it would list who the casting director was, who the director was, and the name of the film. And so I started calling casting directors’ offices, just to try to get an interview in general. I would call them up and nine out of 10 would say no, but one would say yes. And then the first couple, I went in and had an interview for nothing except just to have an interview and I looked at my shoes.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:36] The whole time?

Dennis Quaid: [00:05:38] Well, the first couple of them, because I didn’t know what to say or what to do, but I learned how to do interviews that way.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:44] Step one, don’t look at your shoes — like, “What charisma this man has!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:05:48] You’ve got to kind of figure it out.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:50] Why didn’t you give up? A lot of people I think, give up pretty quickly in this town once they figure out how hard it is to make it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:05:55] I don’t know. I guess I had a lot of ambition and I had a real purpose that I was never going to work as anything else but an actor. I had been out here a couple of summers before visiting my brother and I parked cars over on Santa Monica Boulevard, and this time I was just going to be an actor. So it was about nine months when one of those casting directors who originally turned me down, Geno Havens. I met with him and he called an agent for me who had turned me down, but by his recommendation, I got an agent. Three months later I got a job.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:35] Wow. You must have been jumping up and down on Randy’s couch after that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:06:40] Yeah, I was off Randy’s couch by that time. He didn’t put up with that but for about a couple of months. But, yes, I was. Then I got a job in another about a year later after that, and then another job, and then I got Breaking Away. Then things really changed.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:53] Yeah. That was kind of the breakout hit. I know you’ve said, “The second chances — the third and the fourth — are what you need to have success as an actor. You’ve got to have a large capacity for rejection; while it still feels as bad today as it always did, I’m just able to let it go.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:07] Yes, it does.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:08] It still feels just as bad.

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:09] Oh, yes.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:10] Dang.

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:11] Yes, of course. Doesn’t it to you?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:12] Uh, yeah. I just figured some point in the future —

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:14] When somebody tells you in the future, “Hey, we’re out of the carrot cake. We don’t have anymore.” And you really wanted it. Doesn’t that make you feel bad?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:21] It does. I take it that personally, but I am learning to let that go. I just figured it got easier over time. Yes, it does? Or no?

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:29] Hmm no.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:30] Shit.

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:31] No. Otherwise, I’d be retired.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:33] I suppose that’s true. Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:35] You’ve still got to have fire in your belly.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:36] How do you feel about having fire in your belly now versus like. 20, 30 years ago?

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:40] Oh, it’s so much more fun.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:41] Now?

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:42] I’ve got to the place in my career where I’m not trying to get anywhere. You know what I mean?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:46] Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:07:46] I’m already there or I already missed it — one of the two. I’m just having a fun time doing different types of roles and music is really starting to blossom in my life as well. If fear goes up my spine when I’m offered something, that means I should probably do it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:02] Oh yeah. Just kind of — that’s the sign.

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:4] To get yourself out of — there are so many actors that spend their entire careers with the same haircut. Think about it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:10] That’s kind of scary. The same haircut basically meaning you’re doing the same thing over and over. Works for a select few action heroes.

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:17] Yes. It does really work really well for a select few because that’s who you want to see. I just wasn’t that guy, because I have bad hair days.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:26] Yeah. Those guys are always like action heroes, right? It’s like Schwarzenegger, Stallone or something.

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:31] Or comedians.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:32] Or comedians, yeah, that makes sense if they stay relevant the whole time. That’s what’s scary about comedy.

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:36] Staying relevant, I guess, is really kind of the main thing throughout a career, isn’t it?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:42] I think so. Yeah. I have some questions about that obviously as well because I’m like, is there any time that you’re thinking, “Oh crap. What if I’m not relevant anymore?” or like, “What if I’m losing relevance?” I know you —

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:53] I’ve felt that way. I’ve felt, yes —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:55] in the ’90s, I know you said you have —

Dennis Quaid: [00:08:57] ’90s and about five, six years ago, I felt that way. I think it’s that if you’re in the arts or even just, I think growing as a person and the many different stages of your life, you need to change yourself about every seven years, where they call it seven-year itch, I think.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:15] I have heard that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:09:16] That’s the only way to grow at something. Do you agree?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:20] I mean, I don’t know about the seven-year thing. For me, I feel like it’s been more quick than that, but that’s because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do.

Dennis Quaid: [00:09:25] Yeah. But people hate change right off the bat. I do. When somebody comes in and tells me they’re going to change the thing that fits right into my routine really well, I’m going to be dragged kicking and screaming into it. But it’s a good thing. It’s like Shiva, who burns down the Destroyer so something new can come along.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:42] If you’re in a career valley in the ’90s, are you at that point thinking, “Oh crap, I’m going to be irrelevant,” or are you like, “Crap, I’m going to die broke?” Or is it a little bit of both?

Dennis Quaid: [00:09:51] I was thinking, “I’d better get my ass out there and hustle.” So that’s what I did.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:56] Is it motivation from fear or is it motivation from —

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:00] Fear, yeah, fear is a great motivator.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:02] I agree with that!

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:03] Fantastic motivator, probably the best one we have.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:05] I think you’re probably right, at least for someone like me, it’s like that fire burning behind me — there’s a little bit of fire, internal, like driven ambition, like you said, but some of it is just, it’s got to catch you.

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:17] Yeah. And your fear doesn’t have to be based on anything that’s logical.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:20] No. It’s usually not.

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:23] As long as you feel it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:24] Yeah, and it doesn’t just to over-consume you in some way.

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:27] Yeah. You’ve got to learn how to control it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:29] How do you control it then? I mean, or you just —

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:31] You let go.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:32] You let go of the outcome.

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:33] You let go, like right before you go on stage. I get stage fright or jitters or whatever.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:38] Do you really?

Dennis Quaid: [00:10:38] Yeah. Yes. Especially when I’m doing something new. So just right before going on stage, I just take that fear, put it right down, because it really makes you focus. Take a breath, maybe a prayer, and just let go and step out.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:53] You’ve done like a hundred, literally, like a hundred movie roles, right? And you still feel jitters. Is it the lights, the cameras? What is it?

Dennis Quaid: [00:11:00] I don’t know so much about that. Like the first day of my — you know, getting to learn the crew and, it takes me about three or four days to really feel like I fit in with the crew and the character really started to take shape from what I thought it was to the actual reality of where the location was, who are the other people, and things like that.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:19] Do you ever get intimidated working with someone else like, “Oh, man, they’re really good. I hope they think I’m good too.” Do you have that sort of judgment voice in your head?

Dennis Quaid: [00:11:26] Yeah. Oh, sure, in music and in acting. More so in music really, because I was more focused on acting. That was the thing that really paid the bills.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:37] So this music being your second act, it’s like, “Am I the real deal, or am I just one of those guys who’s like hacking it and everyone’s humoring me?” Like I would worry about things like that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:11:17] Yeah, but it’s amazing how the very best people are the easiest people to work with, really.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:53] Are or aren’t?

Dennis Quaid: [00:11:54] They are the easiest people to work with. Acting is reacting. If they’re so good, if you just let go and react, it just winds up being easy.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:04] That’s something I think non-actors like me don’t really kind of fully comprehend. For me, it just seems kind of terrifying to work with anybody who’s really good at something because I can’t turn that voice off or I haven’t been able to turn that voice off. It’s like, “Better pull your weight, man.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:12:18] Yeah. The voice is always going on in your head. You have to tell it to shut up!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:23] Yeah, it’s tough. The only time it turns off is like maybe right now, but that’s because if I have it going now, I’m screwed. This conversation —

Dennis Quaid: [00:12:29] Like you were intimidated about doing this interview with me and now you’re getting kind of used to it?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:33] Yeah. I mean, on the plane, I was like, “Don’t blow it.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:12:36] Is there anything I can do about that?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:37] No, no, no. It’s before literally like any interview, too. It could be like a scientist. Unless I really don’t — it’s a good sign.

Dennis Quaid: [00:12:45] I really get you. When I talk to really substantial people, like politicians who I admire — there’s not many to admire — or great figures that I grew up with — and you meet them — and I feel small.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:04] Yeah. I think that’s like a universal feeling that everyone probably has, especially any kind of creative personality, we always will have that. I’ve heard you say you think mythically for your characters. You create a backstory and everything like that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:13:15] Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:15] Yeah. Do you still do this?

Dennis Quaid: [00:13:17] Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:19] Are you writing it down? Is it all in your head?

Dennis Quaid: [00:13:20] I used to. I used to fill up notebooks. But in acting, you’re always playing yourself, no matter what. I mean, you can lose yourself supposedly in a character and all that, but you’re still you doing that. For instance, when you see The Godfather, you don’t see the Godfather, you see Marlon Brando and he’ll always be Marlon Brando in every movie. The only thing that makes a difference is because it’s Marlon Brando playing that part. If you put Jack Nicholson in it, it’d be very different because it’d be Jack Nicholson.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:54] Sure, yeah. Losing yourself in a part is something that not-actors for sure don’t understand. I mean, when I see Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, I’m like, “Is that what’s happening there?” Because he’s so good, but he’s also very strange in interviews.

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:06] Maybe a little bit. That’s why they chose him.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:08] I think so. Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:09] That’s why I’m not playing the Joker!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:13] No, it would be kind of — you’re more of a Bruce Wayne than a Joker.

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:17] I guess you’re right! As long as I’m not Robin. It’s always like a piece of your personality. You know what I mean?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:23] Yeah. Intellectually, I do. Me acting will probably never — I mean, even now, I’m basically just who I am even at home. I just have better questions and fewer dad jokes.

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:33] Fewer?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:34] Fewer dad jokes.

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:35] Are you sure about that?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:36] No. No, I’m not!

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:40] Same here. I use my best material on my 11-year-olds, and I just get the stare back like, waiting for the punchline.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:48] Do you think internally they’re laughing and they just don’t want to give you the satisfaction?

Dennis Quaid: [00:14:51] No, no, no, no. They’re really — they can’t help but be honest about —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:55] Damn, I was kind of hoping like he secretly thinks I’m really funny. They just don’t want to give me the satisfaction of laughing. Keep lying to yourself.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:01] The hardest place to get respect is at home. We all know that, right?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:04] Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:05] You’ve got kids?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:05] I do, but he’s only three months old, but I have like cousins, nieces, nephews —

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:08] Welcome to the club.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:09] Thank you.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:10] Fantastic.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:11] He’s three months old. He doesn’t do much. He grabs and cries like —

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:15] Your life is over!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:18] I’m fine with it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:19] It’s all about him. That’s the wonderful thing about it, isn’t it? I think it’s a great thing that kids teach us, is that you take the attention off of yourself, which we’re all prone to do, and you put it on someone else.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:33] It’s nice because I have like, a really good reason to get rid of all this narcissistic bullshit of like, “I’ve got to have this many on Instagram and worry about — ” It’s like “Focus on this stuff. This is important.” And then that relationship with him is the most important and with my wife.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:50] Actually, relationship with your wife comes first, I think.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:52] I think you’re right about that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:15:54] Because if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:56] Plus nobody takes care of Mom. If you’re taking both taking care of the kid, then she’s kind of neglected and that’s the end of that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:16:03] That’s right.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:04] Nobody wants that. I’ve heard that when you’re on screen, you err on the side of doing too much and the director pulls you back in. So what does that really mean?

Dennis Quaid: [00:16:11] It means like, I get out there and go over the top.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:15] Like overacting, kind of?

Dennis Quaid: [00:16:16] Kind of, yeah, that’s what will come out is like overacting, maybe not on the stage, but on film. And so I like to go out there and really just do something over the top. I don’t mind being bad — you’ve got all kinds of film. If I’m working with the right director, of course, you know, they’re going to protect me. I trust them. The director is the one who’s watching you, he’s the one telling the story, so he’ll just bring me back in. So I’ll do maybe one less, one in the middle, and then I’m ready. I’m fine.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:48] You’re listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Dennis Quaid. We’ll be right back.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:53] This episode is sponsored in part by Xero. I’ve been using Xero for years here in the company. It’s cloud-based accounting software, and I’ve said a lot about this in the past, but Jen loves this stuff. Xero is in the cloud. It means you can access it wherever you are, provided you have access to the internet, which you probably do everywhere. You can access it at the same time without needing to worry about backups and version control. If you have a problem with a bookkeeping entry, you contact them and they’ll sort it out. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal when you’re trying to reconcile transactions and you don’t know what’s what. Having them be able to help you is a huge, huge deal. Also, they take the information directly from your online banking. That means you don’t have to ever worry about making a mistake typing numbers, and there’s no more decimal errors. It saves bucket loads of time. It’s more accurate and it saves — if you don’t have data entry people on payroll that saves you money there too. Xero is always up-to-date. It uploads your bank information every day, securely, of course, so you can see exactly where you are financially whenever you want. You can make informed business decisions rather than relying on last week’s data or gut feeling and all that stuff, and they have an app, easy to use on the go. You can be on the train and sending out sales invoices to your customers. No more waiting to get back in the office for this. So it’s a great product. I highly recommend it. Jason.

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Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:25] This episode is also sponsored by Skillshare. I love the idea of Skillshare and I love Skillshare as a product. Getting out of the rut, staying creative. It’s easier said than done, especially when you have a busy schedule. Skillshare is an online learning community for the creator in all of us. They have thousands of classes in photography, creative writing, design, productivity. You can get inspired and join something. You can create something you love or you can just grab an on-demand class, learn at your own pace, something you’ve always wanted to learn. I recommend making a list of something you’ve always wanted to learn and then dive in a little bit each week. Why not? Do an hour a week of something you’ve always wanted to learn. Jason, I know you’re a fan of the Skillshare.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:03] Yeah, I’m using it for Photoshop right now. I mean, I’ve been using Photoshops since version two, but I took a few years off and the new version has so much stuff in it. It’s great for a refresher course, so I just grabbed a Photoshop course. It’s teaching me all the new stuff, so I’m really happy with how I can just get back up to speed on something that I’m just getting a little rusty at. It’s really helpful.

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[00:20:02] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit Don’t forget we have a worksheet for today’s episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Dennis Quaid. That link is in the show notes at If you’d like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don’t miss a single thing. And now back to our show with Dennis Quaid.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:39] Do you think you became a better actor when you had kids? Because you could let go of some of that other stuff that we were talking about before?

Dennis Quaid: [00:20:44] I don’t know.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:45] I feel like I’m becoming a better interviewer just because I have more shit to talk about, but that’s pretty much it. There’s more to relate to that’s not just my own stuff, and that’s more interesting for other people.

Dennis Quaid: [00:20:54] I think something we all share, and certainly with me. I saw Al Pacino; he’s played a couple of dads. This is back in the ’70s. And I didn’t really believe him as a dad.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:05] He doesn’t have kids, right?

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:06] He may now, but back then he did not have kids. And there’s something about it. It’s like you’ve really got to have that experience to kind of like have that feel, I think.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:16] Yeah, that makes sense. You had kids in The Parent Trap, right? I mean, not the movie, but before that —

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:21] Jack was, I think, four or five years old.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:23] Because I was going to say you’re a believable dad in that movie.

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:26] Yes. In fact, I was “the dad” for quite a bit.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:30] Yeah, that makes more sense. That makes more sense because otherwise, you’re right, there’s something that’s not —

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:33] I played a lot of dads, played a few coaches.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:35] I can see that, too, the like, coach seeking redemption kind of thing, maybe a little?

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:42] Yes! Coach second chances. Coach seeking redemption, which is a great story.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:47] Well, you’ve said that once the cameras are on, you can read your mind. You don’t actually have to act. That sounds cryptic to non-actors. Like what does that mean? Does that sort of go back to what you mean by you’re playing yourself? It just sort of comes out?

Dennis Quaid: [00:21:57] I don’t learn the lines. I mean, I know the script. I’ve read the script maybe three or four times and really thought about it, but going onto the set that day, I really don’t know the lines. Because it’s film, you’re going to shoot what, a two, three-page scene, right? So I listen to the other person, what they’re saying, and that kind of tells me where they’re going, what I’m going to say. It makes you a better listener.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:22] So you’re kind of improvising that?

Dennis Quaid: [00:22:26] No, I’m just sitting there, just trying to be in the frame, and just be paying attention to what’s going on, and knowing the characters. You see, I know the character. It’s about listening. Then, I’m lucky I’m able to — I’ve always been like that — I’ve been able to memorize things pretty quickly.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:41] You don’t memorize the lines before you go in? Or I misunderstood —

Dennis Quaid: [00:22:44] No, I don’t. I read the scene, but I really don’t really have a —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:50] Wow, that’s incredible. How much of acting is improvised like that versus like — ?

Dennis Quaid: [00:22:53] Well, it’s not improvising. It’s just listening. After about two or three rehearsals of going through it, you’re blocking and stuff like that. You’re listening to what they say, then you react, because acting is reacting.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:03] Somebody has to start though, right? So somebody will be like —

Dennis Quaid: [00:23:08] There’s a starting point. You’ve got the script supervisor over there.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:11] And they’re like, ”Here’s Dennis. For sure he didn’t learn any of the lines!”

Dennis Quaid: I think De Niro in those, like, “Hey! You talking to me? You talking to me? I know you’re talking to me; you must be talking to me because –” just vamping, I think, because he didn’t know the lines! Say that a lot until it comes up.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:28] Yeah. That is kind of funny. I feel like you can only get away with that when you’ve hit a certain stature, though. Otherwise, you’re just that guy who like never bothers to learn the freaking lines.

Dennis Quaid: [00:23:36] Yeah. That’s true. I used to go out there and know the entire script before I got there because I want it to be asked back.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:42] Maybe that’s why it’s more fun now, because you show up and you go, “They’re not going to fire me. I can listen really well.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:23:47] I don’t know about that!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:48] You don’t know that yet? Maybe it’s good not to be —

Dennis Quaid: [00:23:51] You really can’t be thinking that “Hmm, I’m above all this.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:54] Yeah. We’ve seen how that works out with other people too.

Dennis Quaid: [00:23:57] Yeah. Just try being two hours late four times in a row.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:01] Oh yeah. Somebody will draw the line there.

Dennis Quaid: [00:24:03] Yeah, they’re going to take umbrage to that.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:05] You use a lot of different accents in many of your films. I’m curious how you learn and practice those.

Dennis Quaid: [00:24:09] My brother and I grew up doing impersonations, like Ed Sullivan and John Wayne, and everybody that was around us. I think that’s the whole voice thing. I’ve been able to travel so much in my life that I pick up wherever I go, I pick up on accents badly, even. Like in India, I will be talking just the way a little bit — and it’s something I kind of can’t help a little bit. I just pick up on other people’s voices.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:40] I’ve done that before and had friends go, “That was weird. You’re making fun of the cab driver.” I’m like, “No. I’m not making fun of him.” And like, “You’re talking like the cab driver,” who’s from Samoa or something, so it makes no sense. It’s not like an Irish accent or anything. It just creeps in subconsciously.

Dennis Quaid: [00:24:54] Yeah. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody or anything like that. I guess subconsciously I’m just fascinated by voices.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:02] Are you the guy that hears one on TV and then spends the rest of the week annoying everybody in the house?

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:05] I prepare in secret.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:07] So like you’re in the shower going, “One more, Jimmy! One more!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:12] “Aye, hoots, man! One more! I can’t get her to cool, Captain!”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:18] That one’s awesome. That’s definitely good. There’s a reason you get paid the big bucks for these and I don’t. That’s for sure. I heard you studied Mandarin, too. There’s no way —

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:26] Actually, I don’t know how that creeped into my bio.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:28] It is in Wikipedia, yeah!

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:29] That was creeped into my bio something like 35 years ago and it stayed there!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:34] So it’s just not true?

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:35] I’ve even had attempts to remove it. Please, I don’t speak Mandarin. I’ve never attempted to! But it’s still there.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:42] God, yeah. It’s in your IMDb: Studied Mandarin at like, university or high school, maybe.

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:48] You know like, Jim Morrison saying his parents were dead.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:50] It just never goes away?

Dennis Quaid: [00:25:52] Well, it’s just something that sticks and they print the legend.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:55] That’s true. I know you like to learn everything there is about the person you’re playing, you kind of mentioned that earlier. What’s the process like? What resources are you using to do that? What was it like before Google, for example? You can’t just be like, “Eh, tell me everything about Wyatt Earp.” You had to do it manually.

Dennis Quaid: [00:26:11] I actually had to use like, a telephone. You got a telephone book and tracked people down. I guess the first time that it really happened to me was Gordo Cooper in The Right Stuff. It was like my first real person. Turned out he lived three miles from me in L.A. He was one of the Mercury Seven astronauts, the last person actually to fly alone in space from liftoff to splashdown and he was up there three days. And what a great guy — he was my hero when I was a kid. I went over and met him. I watched the way he walked, kind of get a general idea about how he is in life. How we feel basically, inside ourself. If we’re basically confident or basically this or basically happy or basically whatever. Then I try to capture the spirit of a person. I mean, you also have this script that you’re doing, which is not all factual —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:08] They’re somewhat fictional.

Dennis Quaid: [00:27:09] That would be way too much. Because I mean, even my life is not all factual.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:13] Apparently not. You don’t even know Mandarin! Who am I even talking to right now?

Dennis Quaid: [00:27:16] So I just try to capture the spirit of that person and then think a little bit about what if somebody did my story and just the certain respect that goes with that. I try to do the character from their point of view because that’s what we’re doing right here, isn’t it? You and me.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:30] That’s a good point, because you don’t want to do it from — there’s no reason to do it from anyone else’s perspective.

Dennis Quaid: [00:27:35] Otherwise, you’re editorializing on him.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:38] Yeah. Which could be kind of offensive. I mean, some people might think it’s cool because you’re playing them up, but it’s also inaccurate, which is like less useful, somehow. Yeah, that makes sense. Aside from the script, are you looking for other resources — aside from the script and the person? Like if I’m interviewing an author here on the show, I read the book, talk to their friends if I can. I watch them talk about their work with other people because you get a different angle. That’s the source.

Dennis Quaid: [00:28:00] Right. Yeah. A little bit of the mystery is — like the curtain is drawn. Well, I went to see Gordo, and then because of that, I learned to fly. He gave me an instructor to call over at Van Nuys airport and went over there. It was Bud Wallen and Bud Wallen at that time in the ’80s was 74 years old. I think he was about three years younger than aviation itself. So I was afraid to fly, but I learned to fly, which helped me with the radio voice, which is what all those guys had on that radio.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:28] The talking into the —

Dennis Quaid: [00:28:29] Four, five, four, delta, get back.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:31] That’s awesome.

Dennis Quaid: [00:28:32] Landing with Charlie.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:33] You built that from flying your own plane? Well, Bud’s plane at the time.

Dennis Quaid: [00:28:39] He was an instructor.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:40] You had your own plane, though, did you not? Or you still do?

Dennis Quaid: [00:28:44] Yes. I kept going. I made it up to flying a Citation jet.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:49] My friend had one of those and he goes, “The only thing I regret more than selling that jet for the price I sold it is buying that jet for the price that I paid for it.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:00] I was very lucky that they’re so darn convenient.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:02] Yeah, I’m sure.

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:05] But they just suck every dollar you have. And the most expensive part of flying is when the plane is in the hangar, because it’s not being used. So your price per hour goes way up.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:16] Oh, man, I didn’t even think about it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:17] You’re still paying insurance. This is a fascinating subject matter, isn’t it? I’m going to start to sell you some insurance —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:24] For the plane that I’ll have.

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:26] It’s going to be surprisingly painless!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:27] Are there real people in the stories you’re performing on set with you? Like do you have Gordo stand there and go, “Eh, it’s not really what I did,” or at least just watching you do it?

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:35] Gordo would never come to set, but Jerry Lee did. He was there every day over my shoulder saying, “You’re getting it wrong, son.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:41] Oh, that’d be —

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:44] But he was also one of my piano teachers.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:45] Really?

Dennis Quaid: [00:29:46] Yeah. He would slow it down and show me licks and gosh, that was an incredible time.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:50] I bet. Yeah. Does that affect the performer — I mean, obviously this is a dumb question. Of course it affects a performance if he’s saying, “You’re getting it wrong, son,” over your shoulder. I’d feel self-conscious even if they weren’t saying anything.

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:00] Oh, for sure it did. There was a little bit of a schoolyard bully in him.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:04] I’ve heard that. You hear that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:05] Yeah. And there’s also, he’s a perfectionist. He really wanted it to be right. I don’t blame him. So I didn’t play piano a year before I got that and I was lucky. For one thing, I was on cocaine back in those days, so I sat at the piano for 12 hours a day.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:22] You can get really good with the piano, yeah!

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:23] Yeah.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:24] So just the piano. Then —

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:26] In the end, he and I wound up doing two duets.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:30] Was he doing cocaine with you on the piano?

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:31] No, he didn’t do cocaine.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:32] No? That surprises me.

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:34] I don’t know what he did.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:35] You don’t know what he did.

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:35] I don’t know what he did.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:36] Gotcha.

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:37] I’m not going to speak for him.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:38] Yeah. I don’t blame you. That would be —

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:40] He had a stroke about nine months ago and he’s recovering and I think he’s going to come back. He’s 87 years old.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:50] Some of these guys, like they just last forever. There’s that joke with Keith Richards where like Adam and Eve are there with God and it’s like, “Who’s that?” “He was there when I got here.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:30:58] Yeah. Everybody thought that Jerry would be the first to go. Keith, too. They’re probably going to outlast everybody!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:04] It’s unbelievable. Yeah. Do you ever bring your work home with you? I mean, it seems like —

Dennis Quaid: [00:31:07] I used to. I don’t anymore. That’s how you wind up in rehab and stuff like that or — I had to drop it. I used to live the role and stuff like that just about all the time. It’s just too much. I found that I could actually be better if I would just drop it like a hot potato, even in between takes, not even think about it in between takes, and just come back to it. I just come back with a clear head that way.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:30] What tools do you use to get into character quickly then if you’re dropping in and out of it, even between takes?

Dennis Quaid: [00:31:36] Nothing. You try to be there. That’s all. You just try to be there.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:40] So when it’s rolling, you’re there. When it’s not rolling, you’re back to yourself, because you’re present. You’re not thinking about the —

Dennis Quaid: [00:31:45] You’re focused and you just be there in the frame. That’s why they hired you.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:51] Yeah, that’s true. Well, that’s why they hire you. They’re not going to hire me for that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:31:52] Well, they would hire you for a specific type, you know what I mean? Even if you have no lines or anything. You look like this and we’re going to have, she’s going to come up and she’s going to proposition you and you’ll remain and you’ll react like you. Maybe you’ll turn red, you know, whatever, or maybe you’ll turn it on. But that’s why they hired you, because you naturally — although you may not be that way, but on the outside, people have a tendency to type people.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:21] That’s for sure true. I told my wife today. She goes, “Why don’t you wear that orange shirt?” And I was like, “It looks like — those are like dad clothes.” She goes, “That’s fine. He has kids.” That’s what she said. I was like, “Okay.” And then you show up in like, this cool leather jacket and I’m like, “Fuck, I knew it! I knew it. I should have worn something cool!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:32:39] I had these pair of Merrell’s that I wore for like 12 years during my dad years. I thought they were pretty cool until I found that they weren’t.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:45] Yeah. You find out the hard way. Like, “Hey Dad, we threw away your shoes because we’re sick of looking at them.” “Oh man. Dang, it!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:32:53] I think I’m just going to dress up like Seinfeld.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:55] Yeah. That worked for him. When you’re playing someone with serious emotional issues like the abusive father in that film I Can Only Imagine, you don’t stay in character all day. How can you — ?

Dennis Quaid: [00:33:05] For sure not! In fact, I like to keep a distance in between, in between takes, just complete emotional distance. At the same time being very careful, especially — we had a kid in it who was 12. So I would be very, very careful about, you know, setting it up. We didn’t want the kid to really freak out. You know what I mean?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:26] Yeah. That could be really scary, because even though they know what’s going on, you can’t really stop yourself from emotionally reacting to somebody.

Dennis Quaid: 00:33:32] Well, for kids, I can. I’m a grown man.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:35] But he’s 12.

Dennis Quaid: [00:33:38] I’m doing this. I’m just concerned about him at the same time. Trying to be an abusive father, but Bart was on the set for that — Bart Millard. You know, it was his story, and that must’ve been a very difficult thing for him to watch.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:51] Yeah, I can imagine. But I guess he kind of hopefully knew what he was in for. It just seems really tough to watch.

Dennis Quaid: [00:33:56] Yeah, I would think. But that was a story of redemption, that’s for sure.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:01] You do see a lot of child actors [who] seem like they never got a chance to just like go throw spitballs and play soccer in the backyard. Like, they’re working.

Dennis Quaid: [00:34:08] Yeah. True.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:09] Which is strange for me, having grown up in Michigan with no child actor friends. They’re just like aliens now if I meet them.

Dennis Quaid: [00:34:19] Yeah. I thought that’s what I would go with. I would go with my own childhood, which is what we do, I think. We go with our own childhood to raise our other kids, including, “Well, I’m not going to be that way with my kids!” The way my parents were. A few times, I’m going, “Oh, now I understand why they were that way.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:39] Definitely. Yeah. Like I want to screw my kid up in my own way. Not in the way my dad and mom did! I’ve got my own brand of dysfunction.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:48] You’re listening to the Jordan harbinger show with our guests that Dennis Quaid.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:54] This episode is sponsored in part by Yousician. This is a new sponsor, and I think this is such a brilliant idea. Seven out of 10 adults wish they played a musical instrument. I’m definitely in that camp. I’ve thought about this a lot. I do like singing, which Yousician also has, but unfortunately, many people never do learn how to do this. They think it’s too late. They think it’s too expensive. They feel like they don’t have the time. Some of those things can be true, but Yousician is perfect whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for years because it’s not just like, “Here play, this weird classical thing over and over again.” They have thousands of popular songs, expertly crafted lessons and exercises, dozens of genres. You can learn music theory, sheet reading, tablature too if you want to do that, or you can just jam. Compared to private lessons, Yousician is more affordable and of course, lets you learn on your own schedule whenever you want. It’s designed to be fun and addictive, so it’s kind of like Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but with real instruments. They really do have a lot of guitars, piano, bass, ukulele, and like I said, singing is where I’m at with it and it’s a lot of fun. I mean, they really do have 24/7 access to step-by-step video tutorials from world-class educators. The lessons are bite-sized. They’re easy to follow instructions. They’re exercises tailored to your goals, so you’re not going to have to like sit down and play for 90 minutes. I mean, you can take 10, 15 minutes to half an hour, and you can take a singing, music, piano, guitar lesson with Yousician, and you start playing right away. It’s not a bunch of sit down and memorize it before you can actually do anything. I think this is kind of the future. Of music education. If I had to guess, no more waiting in line for old Millie down the street to teach your kid piano, just throw them an iPad and sit them in front of the keyboard and this is a hell of a lot more fun. Jason.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:36:31] if you’ve been wanting to learn an instrument or simply want some help getting back to playing, check out Yousician. You can get an extended 14-day free trial of their premium plus package at That’s unlimited lessons and unlimited songs on as many instruments as you want for two whole weeks. Just go to to start your free trial today. That’s Y-O-U-S-I-C-I-A-N

[00:36:58] This episode is also sponsored by Figs. These are so fun. I love these. There’s suddenly we can all agree on nurses, doctors, dentists, people who work in medicine and healthcare are pretty awesome. All of us can think of a time when a medical professional helped us, helped a family member. But those scrubs, those are like gnarly pillowcases, ill-fitting. Half of them don’t have pockets. They’ve got little fricking Kleenex drawstrings that rip when you pull into hard, I mean, this is just, the stuff they’re wearing is just absolute garbage sometimes and that’s just not fair. It is not fair. Figs is an amazing company that is making scrubs stylish and functional for the people who deserve it most. No more scratchy pants and shirts. Not only were these things ugly and uncomfortable, but they weren’t innovative at all. I mean, these things probably haven’t changed since the freaking 40s. Figs creates the highest quality medical apparel so that medical professionals look their best, feel their best, perform at their best every day. Moisture-wicking stuff, soft stuff, four-way. stretch, odor control. Nobody wants a smelly. Doctor or nurse for that matter, or at least you guys are stinky. It’s not your fault. Get some Figs handle that problem they’re made with yoga waistbands and come in a variety of styles from classic to straight leg to joggers to skinny styles and Figs gives back, and you can too, every time you shop at Figs, they give scrubs to health care providers in need around the world through threads-for-threads, which is their initiative to make sure that. Even orderlies in third world countries don’t stink because of their scrubs. They’ve donated hundreds of thousands of sets in over 35 countries. I think the third world, Jason, is no longer an acceptable nomenclature, but we’re just going to let that slide for now because I’m trying to talk about Figs that make great gifts for the lifesavers in your life. So even if you’re not a doctor, nurse, dentist, dermatologist, pediatrician, you can gift one to somebody who is Jason, where can they get a deal on the Figs?

Jason DeFillippo: [00:38:46] So whether you’re one of the awesome humans that work in healthcare or someone that wants to say thanks to these deserving folks, Figs is going to make that easy by providing you with 15% off your first purchase by using the code JHS. Get ready to love your scrubs head to That’s W-E-A-R-F-I-G-S and enter our code JHS at checkout.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:08] This episode is also sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. Hiring can be a slow process and Cafe Altura’s COO, Dillon Miskiewicz, he needed to hire a director of coffee for his organic coffee company, so he switched to ZipRecruiter because he was having trouble finding some qualified candidates. ZipRecruiter doesn’t depend on candidates finding you. It finds them for you. It identifies people with the right experience and then invites them to apply for your job so you get qualified candidates fast. Also, they have a rating feature and you can use those to filter your applicants so you can focus on the relevant ones. And, that’s how Dillon found his new director of coffee and just a few days with results like that. No wonder four out of five employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate within the first day. Jason.

Jason DeFillippo: [00:39:52] See why ZipRecruiter is effective for businesses of all sizes. Try ZipRecruiter for free at our web address That’s ZipRecruiter, the smartest way to hire.

[00:40:08] Thank you for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers keeps us on the air. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, so you can check out those amazing sponsors, visit And don’t forget the worksheet for today’s episode. That link is in the show notes at And if you are listening to us in the Overcast player, please click that little star next to the episode. We really appreciate it. And now for the conclusion of our episode with Dennis Quaid.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:37] When you married Meg Ryan, her career took off slightly after that. Did that affect your marriage in any sort of negative way? Like, I know there’s probably some dialog of like, “Oh, well, you know, look how well she’s doing. Well, we know who pays that mortgage.” I don’t think people literally say that, but it seems like I would worry about that.

Dennis Quaid: [00:40:54] Only the haters!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:55] The haters?

Dennis Quaid: [00:40:55] Well, if I’m being honest, I really have to admit that Meg and I, we’ve got a beautiful relationship and we were together for 13 years, and when we first met, I was the one with my 15 minutes — “I’m the actor of the moment,” I guess. During our relationship, that got transcended. She did When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle and all those. I’d gone to rehab and gotten myself straight and cleaned. I thought, “Well, now things are going to really work out okay.” They don’t. It turns into like, not working for a year just to get on my feet. And then that turned into two, and then maybe choosing the wrong thing. So I started to feel a little bit like I was disappearing. If I’m really going to be honest about it, I thought, “Well, I’m never going to be — I’m too big of a person to ever feel that way.” But I did. I’d feel like a little bit like I was disappearing.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:54] Did it scare you, or did it make you more angry? Or something else?

Dennis Quaid: [00:41:58] I guess it made me sad. I also felt like, “Oh boy, I can’t admit this.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:05] Not to — especially not to your wife.

Dennis Quaid: [00:42:07] At the same time, it’s so obvious.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:10] It’s like you’re the last person, maybe —

Dennis Quaid: [00:42:12] You’re walking down the streets of New York and everybody’s going, “Meg! Meg!” or they come up and have me hold her purse!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:19] Yeah, while you take their pictures. I guess they didn’t have camera phones back then. “Hey, can you take a picture?”

Dennis Quaid: [00:42:25] That’s really funny the first couple of times, but that’s what it was. I think it was probably a really good lesson for me in life.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:31] Just like a little humility or something.

Dennis Quaid: [00:42:32] We all go through everything, whether we admit it or not. We’re all pretty shallow. We’re self-serving and self-involved down there at the bottom of it all.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:44] Did that affect your marriage at all? Was it like, “Oh no, it’s fine that she’s getting all the limelight?”

Dennis Quaid: [00:42:50] Yeah. Yes, it did. But the real thing was we were raising Jack and we wanted to keep his routine right. And so she would go off and do a film and then I would go off and do a film. That was back before they had these slick, great cameras, so a movie would take four, five months, sometimes, instead of eight weeks or five weeks to do. So there was a lot of separation and that was — I think that was the thing.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:20] It might’ve been better for Jack that you were around more than her?

Dennis Quaid: [00:43:23] That’s the wonderful part of it. I really got to be the kind of dad that I wanted to be.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:29] Yeah. I guess if you’re not suffering from a lot of FOMO or anything at the time and you’ve got a great kid, then you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.

Dennis Quaid: [00:43:35] I think most of being a dad is just being there. That’s most of it. It is a comforting thing because —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:42] That definitely makes sense, and you know, a lot of dads have told me the same thing, like, “Don’t panic about being Superdad all the time. Just show up. Just fucking show up.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:43:52] You’ll still have to do your job and keep up your relationship with your partner.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:56] I know music is a big part of your life. You wrote a few songs for three of your films. You’ve been in a band for like 20 years.

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:02] Same guys, we’re 19 years, this Halloween, like —

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:07] Happy bandiversary!

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:10] Well, that’s really good.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:11] You can steal that. I definitely think I just made that up just now.

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:15] Really? Yeah. I think you did too. I’ve never heard before.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:17] I’ve also never heard it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:19] Wow. It just came out. See what happens when you relax?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:21] That’s right!

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:22] Yeah! We’re the same guys for 19 years. Before that, I’ve always had a band really, and I’ve been a songwriter, I guess since I was 12 because I knew I was never going to be like a shredder on a guitar, and so songwriting was sort of my defense. Because when you start out playing guitar, it’s all about the girls. I’ve always been a writer, but I had a band, which was basically Bonnie Raitt’s band back in the ’80s called The Eclectics. You should see those photos.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:51] Oh, man. I saw the photos of them now. I can only imagine what they looked like 40 years ago.

Dennis Quaid: [00:44:46] But that was a different band. And then around 2000, that was it. Halloween, 2000, we started The Sharks.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:04] Because your kid made it — Jack came up with it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:45:06] Yes. It was Shark Week and we were looking for a name for the band and he was like nine. “What should we name our band?” He said, “Sharks.” And so, I always say, “Thank God it wasn’t Dinosaurs!” That’s a line I always use.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:22] Good dad joke, man! I’m going to keep that one in the back pocket. I found it a little surprising that you like Lil Wayne. Or is that also some bullshit?

Dennis Quaid: [00:45:30] I do like Lil Wayne! I think he is a genius, man. I really do.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:30] It’s a little unexpected.

Dennis Quaid: [00:45:32] You know, how you take Lil Wayne is another thing, but the stuff that just spouts out of his head. You know, he’s coming from his own authentic experience in life. Without any kind of judgment about what that is, that’s where he’s coming from and, man, he can do a hard rhyme. Amazing!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:50] I mean, there are things you just never forget that he says like, “Yes, I am Weezy, but I ain’t asthmatic.” And you just go, “Wow, that’s so good!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:45:56] And that stuff just — he’s spouting out of it.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:59] Yeah. Like Notorious B.I.G. had that effect, too. Have you ever listened to that?

Dennis Quaid: [00:46:02] Well, he could just do it. And Tupac. Tupac was it for me.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:06] Yes! I think I still have pretty much every single word memorized off of the All Eyes on Me double CD, just back and forth in my car.

Dennis Quaid: [00:46:14] I did a movie with Tupac. It’s called Gang Related.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:16] Really? Were you a police officer in the movie?

Dennis Quaid: [00:46:19] No, I was an itinerant bum on the street of downtown L.A. area who turned out to be this very wealthy surgeon doctor who would just go out in the street because his life blew up. But Tupac played a cop with Jim Belushi. I didn’t know who Tupac was back then. I was not into rap music, really. He was another actor. I’d been told, but he was like, 24. We wound up like having lunch together like, every day. We both love Chinese food. So we ordered it every day because we were down near Chinatown. We just wound up, like talking. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t know like, a bunch of stuff about him. We talked about our moms. We were both very close to our moms, maybe in different ways. And we talked about all about life and you know, acting, and a little bit of his background in it and all that stuff. He was a fantastic guy. He was very smart. He was very sensitive. He was very funny. And God, I think he would have had an incredible career in music and in acting. He was such a good actor.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:24] He’s a super hard worker too, by all accounts.

Dennis Quaid: [00:47:28] He didn’t assume anything. He was on the set and he was ready to work and ready to go. No bullshit. Just, you know, himself. And very professional.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:42] That stuff is amazing. I mean, when you see that and then you see like, “Oh, he got shot by some punk.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:47:45] That happened like, four months later.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:47] It must’ve been really quickly thereafter. Because he was still a kid when he died. I mean, he was —

Dennis Quaid: [00:47:52] He was 24 years old. So terrible. So was James Dean. He was 24. Buddy Holly was 24.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:02] Oh, man. That makes me feel like I’ve got to get after it. I mean, these guys did more —

Dennis Quaid: [00:48:06] Hank Williams was, what? 29. You look at their body of work, and your jaw drops.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:11] 27 for musicians is like a terrible sort of cursed number too, right?

Dennis Quaid: [00:48:16] Yeah! It is 27. Jim Morrison, Mama Cass, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:25] Hmm. It’s almost — it’s a whole different show, I think. As an artist, do you think that you need a wide variety of inputs to create your best output? Like Lil Wayne, Tupac, and then that goes in and then something up here happens, and you can create better?

Dennis Quaid: [00:48:39] I don’t necessarily think so, because people have made a career out of one thing. I grew up in Houston, which is sometimes called West Louisiana. You have a very diverse music background if you come from there. You’ve got all that Cajun music and jazz coming over from Louisiana. You’ve definitely got country and western music, and my dad was really into Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby and a lot of church music. It’s so varied and of course, we all went Beatlemania crazy when they came out. So it’s very diverse.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:17] Is it true that you play with your band in bare feet?

Dennis Quaid: [00:49:20] Yes. When we first started out.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:20] What’s up with that?

Dennis Quaid: [00:49:24] That was — well, I felt like I was in my living room. But that was probably, looking back, a device I used because I didn’t feel all that confident up there.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:34] Okay. Oh, so you wanted to be like “I’m at home.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:49:36] I figured I would try to be anonymously as bad as I could be. I didn’t really want to bring it to record; that’s the reason we waited like, 18 years to record a record. Yeah! We waited 18 years to record it because I wanted to give myself time to be bad and make mistakes, and I did.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:55] It seems like a gross thing to do at a bar.

Dennis Quaid: [00:49:58] Yes, it is! Yes, it is. Especially when it comes to cut feet, which I never had. There was blood on the stage sometimes, but not from my feet.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:07] Not from your feet?

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:09] It was probably a device that I was using because I did not feel all that confident.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:14] Do you not wear shoes in your house? You’re barefoot at home?

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:15] No. I like to wear shoes.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:17] Just not when you play music?

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:19] Well, I wear shoes. I’ve been wearing shoes now for a good 10 years on stage! I could tell you that I have more confidence up there now.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:26] That makes sense. How do you come up with a device like that? Who just comes up with that kind of thing? Is this like something you hear, like, “Oh, you know, this guy doesn’t wear shoes.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:33] I don’t know. It just happened one night as a lark and so I kept it. Then a bunch of people mentioned it, so I thought, “Well, I’ll keep it. How many guys don’t wear shoes?”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:45] Right. Yeah, it’s harder to hit the football, but it doesn’t matter.

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:47] Yeah. The Beastie Boys, they don’t wear shirts. I won’t wear shoes.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:52] How come you never had a Hollywood meltdown? Like where’s the Dennis Quaid tape of you losing your shit at some lighting guy? I saw one, but it looked fake.

Dennis Quaid: [00:50:59] I did that hoax! Actually it had people going for about three days. It was a Funny or Die video that we did where we set it up, we shot it like I was doing a movie, and wind up just having a meltdown on the set over the slightest little bitty thing and somebody secretly doing the audio on it. And so we leaked that out there. And of course, everybody, TMZ and all of those picked up on it. You know, “Well, he’s back on drugs,” or “He’s this,” or “He’s that,” or whatever he is, and we let it go for like two days until we released what really happened. It was a comedy skit actually, by the way. And then all the talk shows and everything helped us. We used like, Billy Bush on Extra or whatever it was at the time. And Jimmy Kimmel, of course, gave us quite a boost. And, it was just funny.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:53] It is funny. Yeah. Especially like, “You got these two zombies whispering in each other’s ears. I’m a fucking pro!”

Dennis Quaid: [00:51:59] “And a bunch of –”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:02] We’ll link it in the show notes.

Dennis Quaid: [00:52:03] It’s very funny.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:04] I believe it ends with “Blow me!” and the door slamming —

Dennis Quaid: [00:52:07] Yeah! “Blow me!” and then I’m getting a hairdryer.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:10] All right. Tell me about the Bear and a Banjo before your publicist like, throws something at me from across the room.

Dennis Quaid: [00:52:17] I think you’ve got the buyout rights to my story now after so long, right? Bear and a Banjo is a podcast that I have been a part of and producing and also acting in. Jared, Jingle Jared is what I call him, Gutstadt who is my business partner, T-Bone Burnett, and Bob Dylan, who contributed some lyrics, and Poo Bear, who writes for Justin Bieber. It’s a true fiction of a story of American musical history. These two characters, Bear and Banjo, starting from in the ’20s when everybody dispersed from New York with their portable, finally, recording machines and started recording music in the country. What if they’d passed the Carter Family farm and gone a hundred miles down the road? What would music sound like now? You know, if there wasn’t a Jimmie Rodgers, it was somebody else. But Bear and Banjo show up these seminal moments in American musical history. Little Richard, and the birth of rock and roll, the blues in Chicago and Detroit. Even working with the US Army on sonic warfare. And it was a lot of fun to do — a whole lot of fun to do. I think it’s number two behind Dolly Parton’s, and very fun to produce. It doesn’t take a lot of money to do a podcast.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:43] Now you know why I’m in the business!

Dennis Quaid: [00:53:45] Exactly. And who knows where it goes from there?

Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:48] So far so good. Yeah.

Dennis Quaid: [00:53:49] It really is sort of like when MTV first came out, or Sirius Radio first came out, nobody really knows where it’s going, but you know it’s going somewhere. Nobody can tell where it’s going to be a year from now, and the audience increased fourfold over just the last year. To tell you the truth, year and a half ago, I really didn’t know what a podcast was. I was probably in a couple of them, but it really can be anything. It could be a story, a scripted story. I want to do like, radio plays basically. And that’s sort of like the script in the drawer — everybody’s got a script in the drawer!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:29] That’s right. And you don’t have to stay in great shape to do them, too. By the way, you look like you’re in awesome shape! What kind of — do you have a trainer? What kind of workout do you do?

Dennis Quaid: [00:54:34] I ride. I ride a bicycle a lot. I’ve done it for so long. There was an old guy when I was boxing down at the Hollywood Y in my 20s. He was in great shape, and I asked him how. He said, “If you take care of yourself in your 20s and your 30s, the rest will take care of itself.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:50] Well, I’m 39. I’ve still got time.

Dennis Quaid: [00:54:53] Well, it’s the truth though, you know, because you form habits, and that’s just what you do. Plus, I’m vain!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:03] Fair enough. Do you wish you would have done more movies with Randy, with your brother?

Dennis Quaid: [00:55:05] Well, we did several. We did The Long Riders. We did True West off-Broadway for a year, and between there and Hollywood, and, uh. We did kind of a Saturday Night Live thing. They were going to do it as a prime-time show. It was called Prime Time. Couple of other movies, but I don’t have any regrets, to tell you the truth.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:27] Yeah. It must’ve been fun being in a movie with your brother. Have you done anything with Jack? No, right?

Dennis Quaid: [00:55:32] No! Kind of intentionally. You know, Jack wanted — I offered to help him with an agent and he said, “No, Dad, I want to do it myself.” And then the first thing he got was Hunger Games, and then he’s doing Vinyl with Scorsese. Now he’s got The Boys, which is like maybe the biggest show on TV.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:48] It’s killing it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:55:50] So I have no qualms about asking him for help!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:54] Yeah, I was going to say, why don’t you have him throw you a part?

Dennis Quaid: [00:55:56] “A little boost over here, man! Throw me a bone.”

Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:59] “I raised you. It’s the least you could do.”

Dennis Quaid: [00:56:04] I’m very, very proud of him.

Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:05] I bet! As well you should be. Thanks for coming in, man. I appreciate it.

Dennis Quaid: [00:56:08] I’m so glad to be here. I really had a great time!

Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:11] Same here. Yeah. I really appreciate it. Big thank you to Dennis Quaid. His new podcast is called the Bear and a Banjo. Link to that will be in the show notes. There’s a video of this interview on our YouTube channel at and there are also worksheets for each episode, so you can review what you’ve learned here from Dennis Quaid. Those will also be at in the show notes. We’ve also got transcripts now for every episode, and those can be found in the show notes as well.

[00:56:40] We’re teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at I know you think you’re going to — you don’t have time right now. You got to do it later. Dig the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you’re too late to make them. Procrastination leads to stagnation. You ever get a call from someone you haven’t heard from them in two years and they want something. Don’t let that be you. Take a few minutes each day. Be consistent. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It’s not fluff. It’s crucial, both for business and personal success. You will find it all for free at By the way, most of the guests here on the show, they subscribe to the course and the newsletter, so come join us and you’ll be in some smart company. Speaking of building relationships, you can always reach out and follow me on social. I’m at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.

[00:57:31] This show has created an association with PodcastOne. This episode was produced by Jen Harbinger and Jason DeFillippo and edited by Jase Sanderson, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola, and I’m your host, Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yes, I’m a lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting, which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don’t. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we’ll see you next time.

[00:58:14] Check out Business Casual. It’s a new podcast by Morning Brew. Every week, host Kinsey Grant sits down with the biggest names in business to talk about the biggest stories in business. They’ve been diving into topics like the future of the flexible workspace, what’s actually happening with the trade war, and whether or not we should break up big tech. This week, they’re tackling the streaming wars with none other than Matthew Ball. Subscribe a Business Casual wherever you listen to podcasts.

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