"You're nervous, as you are for any love scene," he
said recently of his Far From Heaven departure. "On
the first take, we were like a couple of football
In the critically revered "Far From Heaven, Quaid's
character, Frank, begins to explore Hartford's
underground gay scene circa the late 1950s. The smooching
interlude in his office sets Far From Heaven on its
melodramatic way. As a result, Frank's wife (Julianne
Moore) seeks solace with the black gardener (Dennis
Haysbert) as the taboos of the era pile up like the
brilliant leaves of a New England autumn, in which the film is
set. The elements evoke the Technicolor soap operas of
the time, without a wink from director Todd Haynes.
"I'll tell people what the movie was about, and they'd
laugh because it does sound like a sendup. But it's
done with such sincerity that there is no irony," Quaid
Quaid, who was 48 at the time of the film, insisted that he did not wrestle with
playing a gay man. If the role was right, it was right, he
said. He found familiar ground in Frank's dual
"I was addicted to cocaine and living a lie about
that," Quaid said. "It's something I did for years. So I
can relate to what Frank is going through. He's a
person living an inauthentic life."
Quaid asked filmgoers not to rush to judgment. "Frank
isn't heroic or pathetic," he said. "I think he's an
ordinary person coming to grips with who he really is.
Everything was kept so under the carpet back then that
you didn't talk about being gay. It was a disease. He
goes to a doctor to cure him."
Sipping water in a Toronto coffee shop, Quaid tried to
keep the table from wobbling. Squeezing a napkin under
the short leg didn't work, so he gave up. He has done
a better job of balancing his life.
Quaid seemed to conquer both personal and career
fronts around the time of this film. He also starred in The Rookie, a
come-from-nowhere hit, in which he played a
high school teacher who became a major league pitcher.
Quaid said the film connected with audiences because
it was a true story.
He also completed The
Devil's Throat in which he and Sharon Stone were a
couple trying to patch up their marriage by moving to the
country. Quaid also headed for the top of the
marquee as a scientist who tries to save the world from
global warming in The Day After Tomorrow, and he has
played Sam Houston in The Alamo.
"The Rookie' was about second chances in life, and I'm
getting one, too," he told us.
Quaid's personal life took a turn for the calmer after
his divorce from Ryan. They share joint custody of
their 10-year-old son, Jack, and have no stake in each
other's film profits. Quaid said they are amicable and
that the settling of the matter has allowed him to
navigate his latest comeback without gossips on his tail.
"I had a helluva run there," he said. "For a while, it
was pretty ugly."
"I'm coming from a great place, better than I've ever
come from," said Quaid, who is involved with a
non-Hollywood "civilian" after splitting up with a Texas real
estate agent. "I feel like I know myself more. I know
what I can take. I'm a lot more patient."
He once had the patience of a bucking bronco. Armed
with a boyish smile and good looks that spoke of dust
and cowboy boots, Quaid followed big brother Randy from
their native Houston to Hollywood. The younger Quaid
made his Screen Actors Guild card worth something as a
townie in the cycling charmer Breaking Away (1979),
then served notice he was leading-man material as a
swaggering spaceman in The Right Stuff(1983).
Success came easy. Then the excesses of the 1980s
became candy in a candy jar for Quaid. He developed a
voracious cocaine habit. He took a year off to recover,
and Hollywood gave him another unwanted year off before
Quaid began a decade of rebuilding his career. Meaty
roles that he tackled with panache in such films as
The Big Easy (1987) and Great Balls of Fire! (1989)
rarely presented themselves in the '90s.
The highly acclaimed Far From Heaven presented
opportunity for Quaid to be a leading man and to star in one of the
most respected gay movies of the last decade.
Maybe a kiss isn't just a kiss.
"I know this won't last forever," he said. "Careers
have ups and downs. I've been doing this for 25 years,
and I'd like to be around for another 25."
You can but a copy of
FAR FROM HEAVEN on DVD from Amazon.