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Dennis Quaid (Thomas Barnes) - Vantage Point
Dennis Quaid was born in Houston, Texas, on 9 April 1954. He studied drama in high school and in college, but dropped out before completing his studies, moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career. He began to gain notice when he appeared in Breaking Away  and earned strong reviews for his role in The Right Stuff . Aside from acting, Quaid also plays with his band, the Sharks. ReviewGraveyard caught up with Quaid as Vantage Point was due for release on DVD...
ReviewGraveyard: Are you a fan of movies like Vantage Point?
Dennis Quaid: Yes, I always loved the movie Rashomon and the story Rashomon and how you can tell the same story from different points of view and how each point of view has a different truth to it, so what is the truth?
RG: What initially attracted you to the project?
DQ: It had me on the edge of my seat just reading the script! And I met with Pete Travis [the film's director], who gave me his movie that he’d already made called Omagh, which was about an Irish Republican Army bombing incident that happened in the 1970s in Ireland that killed a lot of people. That movie was like watching a documentary it was so realistic, so I knew he’d bring some of that style to our film and the immediate happening nature of the event we focus on.
RG: How much research did you do on the secret service?
DQ: It was great because we had an ex-secret service guy who came down who had been on a Presidential detail, and he trained us for three weeks before we started. We ran through a lot of simulations and crowd stuff you would do, like how to protect the President, so it would seem real in the film. There is more to it than walking down the line with the President and being able to throw yourself in front of him if you see something is going to happen. It’s like a football team and everybody has to know their play, even when the play changes.
There was also a lot of work with the stunt guys and also driving cars, which was really a lot of fun because I love the car chases.
RG: What training is involved in filming car chases?
DQ: I didn’t do all the driving because the insurance company and director would not let me slam into the other cars on film, but I got to do most of the driving I wanted to do myself.
Even before this film I had trained to do stunt driving with cars, going back to the film Breaking Away  when I was driving a car in reverse at 40 miles an hour.
I’ve always loved driving and I’ve been known myself - and maybe I shouldn’t say this in print - to go out to a parking lot in a rental car and have some fun with it doing reverse 180s. Anyone can do it but the hard part is doing it and knowing how to control it. So we would go out to a large parking lot and they’d set up boxes that would represent people or buildings or cars and you had to come up at 40 mph, hit the parking brake, slide that sucker, control the spin and come in sideways to park and miss the boxes. At first I knocked down several boxes, but then I got better at it. Let’s just say now if someone is in the passenger seat, I can curl your toes.
RG: What do you think about your character Barnes?
DQ: He’s a very tortured soul. The whole key to him is that he took a bullet for the President a year before the story started and this is his first day back on the job and he’s a very loyal, dedicated person to his President and his organization and he has a very high standard for himself. At the beginning of the movie he doesn’t know if he’s up to it and he wonders if he can go out there again with a different point of view. After you’ve been bucked off a horse, getting on a horse the next time is a very different experience for you until you get on and start riding.
I also read several books by former secret service agents and it’s a very stressful job I don’t think I’d ever want to have. It sounds very adventurous and glamorous at first but most of your job is spent sitting in a hallway for 12 hours at a time and you can’t even take a bathroom break. And you go from that to immediate jeopardy situations and you never know when the boogey man is going to jump up and you have to anticipate it, so the job is all about that.
RG: Do you understand your character being willing to throw himself in front of a bullet?
DQ: That really comes after a lot of training because they are trained to go against their instinct. When everyone else ducks, they are trained to stand up in those dangerous situations. If you watch the tape of Hinckley shooting Reagan, in an instant they just reacted, agents putting him in a car and the guy who took the bullet for him backed up and made himself as big as he could so he could take the bullet. You also see five police officers and everyone else around them ducking and hitting the ground, because that is the natural reaction.
RG: How physically challenging is a film like this?
DQ: In a way the action makes it easier because all that is set up with the character and through the action is how it all comes out without me having to think about it or tell it through dialogue.
RG: How hard was it to have to say the same lines from different points of view?
DQ: Tough, because I have to say them the same way each time so that was challenging. But what’s interesting is that Pete put in a scene at the beginning of my character alone in a hotel room getting ready to go back to work and you can see how apprehensive he feels, so you see what’s behind him and that’s all I needed. Everything else I do is informed by that.
RG: Did you need any weapons training?
DQ: No, because I already shoot. I’m from Texas. I’m not a very good shot but luckily I didn’t have to be.
RG: Did you get injured on this film?
DQ: Usually on these kinds of movies, jumping over cars and through broken glass, you get hurt. Luckily I came through this one unscathed but I’ve broken fingers and arms and been stitched up and bruised in the past. I thought it would be a no-brainer in this film that I’d wind up in the emergency room but I am glad I was wrong. But working at 9000 feet altitude in Mexico City, it wasn’t easy to do so much running.
RG: What was it like shooting in Mexico?
DQ: Mexico City is so crowded, it’s really hard to do a car chase. You can block off one street and slam down the road doing 60 mph but then you come to the end and you have to go around the block to reset, and that will take 45 minutes because of the traffic. It was really tough and the logistics were amazing.
RG: How was working with William Hurt?
DQ: He was great and we’ve known each other off and on for many years because we’re both pilots and golf fanatics, so we have a lot in common. I was thrilled when I heard he was doing the movie so he and I would go play golf together every chance we got.
RG: What about Matthew Fox?
DQ: I didn’t know him before but he did a really great job in this film because he is very contained in this film and perfect for the part. I’d never watched Lost so I hadn’t seen him before. You usually find me on the History channel or Court TV so I think he was glad I wasn’t grilling him about what’s going on with the show.
RG: Are you still playing music with your band The Sharks?
DQ: I haven’t done anything with the band since June, because I did four movies in a row so after the Hurricane Katrina relief concert in July, I wanted to take a break from everything. The twins were coming and I wanted to spend time with the family and relax. I’ve had eight months off now, so it’s been really good.
RG: Thank you for your time.
Vantage Point is released on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment from 04 August 2008.
Click here to buy Vantage Point on DVD for £9.98 (RRP: £19.99)
Click here to buy Vantage Point on Blu-ray for £17.98 (RRP: £24.99)
Click here to buy Vantage Point on UMD for £8.30 (RRP: £12.99)