Dennis Quaid on the ups and downs of his long career

The National catches up with Hollywood star Dennis Quaid on his first ever visit to Dubai

Dennis Quaid is in the UAE to play in the Dubai Celebrity Golf Tournament, which raises money for several charities. Victor Besa for The National
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The constant flow of celebrities into the UAE shows no sign of slowing down, and Hollywood star Dennis Quaid is the latest to drop in.

The star of The Big Easy and Inner­space, among other movies spanning a 40-year career, is in town for the Dubai Celebrity Golf Tournament, at which he will tee off against fellow celebs including Kevin Sorbo, star of 1990s television hit Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hellboy star Ron Perlman and former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo.

The contest is a charitable event that will raise money for several local causes.

“It’s for an assortment of charities – helping out kids with Down syndrome, The Make a Wish Foundation, kids with genetic disorders that have to have blood transfusions every day,” says Quaid during an exclusive interview in Dubai.

“We went over to the hospital yesterday and it moves you to see how little kids just have this naturalness to be happy in spite of everything. It makes me want to tell myself to shut up and remember things are great.”

Quaid is no stranger to golf or charity – he works tirelessly with the International Hospital for Children, which takes youngsters from poor countries to the United States for treatment, in addition to building hospitals in their home countries. He also runs his own annual charity golf tournament in his native Texas.

The 61-year-old also personally knows the fear a parent faces when their child falls ill. In 2007, a California hospital mistakenly gave his then 10-day-old twins a massive dose of blood thinner. His twins, with wife Kimberly Buffington, survived but Quaid filed a suit against the drug manufacturer, blaming the packaging.

On to golf, Quaid, who plays off a handicap of five, was a late arrival to golf and did not have the most typical introduction to the sport.

“As you probably know, back in the 1980s I had some substance-abuse problems,” he says. “The day I got out of rehab, in 1990, I started playing golf. It wasn’t that it calmed me down – totally the opposite – but it was something I could do and be obsessive about. I’m one those people that when I start something I just can’t stop. I’m like a five-year old ADD [attention deficit disorder] guy.”

Golf and charity work aside, Quaid is also one of Hollywood’s most prolific actors, with more than 60 movies to his name. His introduction to thespian life was just as unconventional as his discovery of golf.

"My very first experience on a movie set was watching Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando on the set of The Missouri Breaks," he says. "I wasn't in it but my brother, Randy, was. I was only about two months in LA and I drove him up to Montana to the set. We were hanging out at Jack's house every night – he loved to hold court. It was quite an introduction."

Quaid was not in that movie but the calibre of his co-stars has been of a similar standard over the years. And he revealed that he has a few favourites.

“Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett – they just have an ability,” he says. “When they say ‘roll’, they’re just right into it, then when they say ‘cut’, they’re right out of it again. I love that. I hate the angst about it all. It’s not that big a deal – and they’re so good at doing that. They’re not divas at all. I really loved working with them.”

Now in his 60s, Quaid shows no sign of slowing down. He just wrapped filming of Truth with Robert Redford and Cate Blanchette. The drama follows the investigation by American current-affairs programme 60 Minutes into former American president George W Bush's military record and the subsequent controversy it sparked.

Quaid is also appearing in The Art of More. Set amid the New York arts scene, it is the first, origi­nal, hour-long drama series produced by Sony's video-­streaming service Crackle. He is the latest of a long line of A-listers embracing the move to online platforms.

“Television really seems like movies did in the 1970s,” he says. “It feels a bit like the inmates have taken over the asylum and there’s some really interesting things going on with long-form stories.”

A survivor in terms of his career and life, so far Quaid’s ultimate critique on the ups and downs of his life remains surprisingly humble.

“The thing I love about my life is that I’ve learnt so many things I would never had learnt if I’d had another job,” he says. “I’ve learnt all about the world that way, been through all those doors that say authorised personnel only.

"I even played my favourite astronaut [Gordon Cooper, who piloted the final Mercury mission in 1963] in The Right Stuff and learnt to fly as part of that. I played Bill Clinton and hung out with him in the White House for a weekend playing golf and eating Subway sandwiches. I've just done so many things that I would never have done otherwise."

The Dubai Celebrity Golf Tour­nament is on Friday and Saturday at Arabian Golf Ranches. To register to play, email or call 050 594 5132. For more details, visit