Dennis Quaid's Ups & Downs: From Becoming a Singer to the Mistake That Almost Killed His Twins
Dennis Quaid has faced his fair share of adversity alongside his success and has publicly struggled through divorces and drug addictions
Dennis Quaid has lived a colorful life.
Since his breakthrough role in the 1979 cycling film Breaking Away, Quaid, 63, has worked steadily in Hollywood, starring in movies such as Innerspace (1987) Great Balls of Fire! (1989) and The Parent Trap (1998). But the actor has also faced his fair share of adversity and has publicly struggled through divorces and drug addictions.
Read on for the highs and lows of Quaid’s public and private life.
Cocaine addiction and rehab
The actor has been open about his struggle with cocaine addiction in the past and recently opened up with Megyn Kelly TODAY about how bad his problem was before he sought help. The star said that he grew up in the ’60s and ’70s when “there was a completely different attitude” and cocaine use was allegedly the norm.
“I was basically doing cocaine pretty much on a daily basis during the ’80s,” he admitted. “I spent many, many a night screaming at God to ‘Please take this away from me and I’ll never do it again, cause I’ve only got an hour before I have to be at work.’ Then at 4 o’clock in the afternoon I’d go, ‘Oh it’s not so bad.’ ”
The actor said he decided to get help when he had a vision of what his life would look like if he continued.
“I had what I call a white light experience where I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me,” he said.
Quaid went to rehab in 1990 while engaged to Meg Ryan.
His split from Meg Ryan
Quaid and Ryan fell in love while filming the 1988 movie D.O.A., five years after the actor divorced his first wife, actress P.J. Soles. Though they had starred together in 1987’s Innerspace, they didn’t start dating until D.O.A. and married in 1991. They separated in June 2000 after welcoming son Jack Quaid in 1992.
Even though their marriage ended almost two decades ago, Quaid recently said Ryan, now 56, was “the most successful relationship of my life.”
“When we met I was the big deal,” Quaid continued, adding that his career later stalled while hers skyrocketed in the ’90s. “We’d go out on the streets of New York and it would be like, ‘Meg! Meg!’ And I have to admit it, I actually did feel like I disappeared. I didn’t think I was that small, but I was. It was a growth opportunity — I learned from that.”
The Parent Trap success
After his career stalled following his stint in rehab, Quaid finally hit it big with 1998’s The Parent Trap — the hit comedy starring Lindsay Lohan as twins trying to reconnect their estranged parents. Quaid starred alongside Natasha Richardson in the movie, which celebrated it’s 20th anniversary last week. The actor admitted on Megyn Kelly TODAY that it changed the trajectory of his career.
“I did it and then when it came out I was the king of the carpool line,” Quaid joked to Megyn Kelly.
Quaid also opened up about working with Lohan, who he hopes will make a comeback.
“She was one of the most talented people I ever met,” he said. “When we were doing the film, she had me believing that there was two kids, that there were twins, for real.”
Welcoming twins — and almost losing them to an accidental overdose
In November 2007, the actor and his then-third wife, real estate agent Kimberly Buffington, had twins Thomas and Zoe via surrogate. Days after they were born, the babies developed staph infections and were admitted to the hospital. While being treated, they were accidentally given 10,000 units of Heparin blood thinner—twice—rather than the 10 units prescribed. The overdose nearly cost them their lives. Quaid went on to sue the drug manufacturer and eventually testify in front of a House Committee.
Now 10 years old, the twins are thriving.
“My favorite time is actually when I’m in the car taking them to school,” the actor recently told PEOPLE. “During breakfast, getting them up, you really get to know them. They’re as fresh as they’re going to get. It’s not the witching hour at night when it’s time to go to bed and all the excuses come out. A lot of bonding goes on in the morning, talking about life.”
Career resurgence with I Can Only Imagine
Aside from his acting career, Quaid is also an avid musician and plays in a band. He got to combine his two passions in the hit Christian movie I Can Only Imagine, which was released earlier this year to surprising success, making almost $90 million at the box office. The actor plays the abusive father of country singer MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard, who wrote the most successful Christian song in history.
As a child raised in Houston by his Southern Baptist parents, Quaid fell in love with the music of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and the Beatles. “I just started writing songs because it seemed natural,” he recently told PEOPLE. “That’s how I got through my teenage years.”
In 2000, the actor began singing and playing guitar and piano with his band, The Sharks, in between acting gigs. Now almost 18 years later, they continue to perform in venues around the country and hope to release more music this summer with producer T Bone Burnett. “We’re going to be the oldest guys to make it in the music business,” Quaid told PEOPLE, laughing. “I love making movies and I love to act, but playing music is very present. It moves people.”