For In Good Company, Topher Grace climbs over ad exec Dennis Quaid to reach the top of the corporate ladder – and to fall in love with his daughter (Scarlett Johansson). But off-camera Grace says he has plenty to learn from the veteran actor, 50. “I want to be the least good person in any project that I do,” says the 26-year-old, who’s best known for his seven seasons on That ’70s Show. “It was certainly true of (Company).” Quaid and Grace recently talked about learning from each other, dealing with the age issue and taking risks in Hollywood.
Dennis, being 50 now, do you think it was risky careerwise to play the aging lead?
Quaid: I don’t see how it’s a risky thing to take a great part with a great director and a great script. That to me is not really a dangerous, risky proposition. It’s actually a really good choice.
Do you think this movie implies that people become more irrelevant with age, especially in Hollywood?
Grace: The film is saying that there’s a perception that that’s true, and that that perception is wrong. My dad has a phrase that goes, “Having more energy doesn’t mean that you’re smarter.”
What do you think of this out with old, in with the new theme, like with Topher’s character selling mobile phones to kids?
Quaid: Well, back in the day when I was a young man, no one had a cell phone up to their ear or a laptop that was wireless to carry around anywhere that you wanted or a videogame that you could carry in your pocket. People had to talk to one another in between the three channels that they’d watch on TV and the commercials.
Grace: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Quaid: You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts anymore. You don’t have to process anything. You can call up someone to do something to instantly make you sort of feel better.
Dennis, recently you said you’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming to make changes in your life. Is that still true?
Quaid: We get comfortable in our lives and things work for us, and someone comes along and says, “You know, your jeans are really out of date.” And you don’t see it or whatever. I have a resistance to change in things that I feel comfortable with and that I’m used to.
Topher, were you intimidated at all to work with Dennis?
Grace: Yeah, it was daunting, but you can see that Dennis is the nicest guy. He’s the most easy going, nice guy. I think that it’s just his talent that’s intimidating.
What’d you learn from filming?
Grace: A big part of it for me was just trying to shut up and observe because you can ask tons of questions to people who are as accomplished as Dennis, but the best thing to do I think is just to watch how he talks to the director, how he relates to the crew and how he comes prepared every day.
Dennis, when did you realize, “Hey, this kid can act. I’m not going to have to work too hard”?
Grace: That moment never happened. (Laughs)
Quaid: Great people really make you better. Topher and I, we read together before we even started the movie and it was just really obvious how talented he was.
Grace: I’ll also say that there were a lot more famous people who wanted to play my role. Dennis was kind enough to put in his three cents and I don’t think that I would’ve gotten the role if Dennis hadn’t had stepped in.
So Topher, this is your last season of That ’70s Show. What’s next?
Grace: I bought an apartment in New York and I’m going to try and relax. Although, the reality of what’s going to happen is that this will come out and I’m going to do two other movies in a row.
Quaid: That’s good. I think that it’s good timing for him actually because I think that he’s really getting ready to take off.
Grace: See, look at this guy, how great is he?