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Dennis Quaid Talks About "Far From Heaven"
by Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel

Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid in "Far From Heaven"
Photo©Focus Features - All Rights Reserved.

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"Far From Heaven" is the story of a privileged family living in Hartford, Connecticut in 1957. From having the right friends to hosting the proper social events, appearances mean everything to Cathy (Julianne Moore) and Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid). But as the story unfolds, cracks and crevices appear between what looks to be real and what lies barely concealed below the surface of their relationship.

Inspired by the great melodramas of the 1950s, in "Far From Heaven" director Todd Haynes reveals a world teeming with prejudice, bigotry and unspoken sexual desires.

Dennis Quaid's resume is loaded with heavily masculine roles. In "Far From Heaven," Quaid portrays a husband who can no longer hide his homosexuality from his wife. On casting Quaid as Frank, director Todd Haynes said, "Dennis and I talked after he'd read the script. While we spoke about the style being inseparable from the content, one of the things that drew him to the film was the fact that he'd never played a character like this before: a gay man, and one so conflicted. He understood the conflict that Frank is going through not just as an actor but as a person, because he said that he's had some very close friends for whom this has been the case."

DENNIS QUAID ('Frank Whitaker')

Had you been interested in doing a movie in the style of the '50s, prior to doing "Far From Heaven?"
To tell you the truth, I really relished doing it the way Todd [Haynes] recreated all these Douglas Sirk movies. I think he did a fantastic job of doing that. The whole style of acting in film back then, as well, which really fit this subject matter. So many things [happened] in the '50s, especially in movies, that people didn't talk about. So, that sort of added to the drama of this.

What actors did you look at to help you with your portrayal of a '50s businessman and family man?
I watched all the Douglas Sirk films. We sort of borrowed from that style but I didn't really borrow from a particular actor. The image I always had in mind - because for some reason it's back in the '50s - was Jack Lemmon. You used to always see him playing an ad man, with that overcoat and his hats.

How do you think romance in the '50s compares to romance now, in terms of marriage and making things work?
[In the '50s they would] stay in the marriage instead of just getting divorced like that. I think that's the way it was portrayed. I think it was a very different story from house to house back then. Maybe not much has changed really, but I don't think divorce was as prevalent then as it is now. People tried to make things work more back then.

Do you believe the film realistically portrays the way children related to their fathers in the '50s?
I really didn't find that...That's the part that's very far from me [and] that I think was unsympathetic about my character. I thought he was completely uninvolved in his kids' lives. It was sort of like every time they would say, "Hey dad, this..." it was like, "Your father's busy, your father's tired, your father needs a cocktail." [joking]

Did people sweep things under the carpet back then instead of dealing with them?
I think society as a whole used to sweep things under the carpet back then. I mean, that's why the '60s happened with the Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Movement, and the Gay Movement after that. That's when people finally started talking about it.

Is this a Douglas Sirk movie with a twist? When Julianne Moore discovers you with a man, would that have been a woman in a Sirk film?
Yeah, that would've been in a Douglas Sirk film. But the social issues that Douglas Sirk touched on back then were pretty strong for the '50s. What Todd [Haynes] did was he took Douglas Sirk and then replaced it with issues that would have some weight today. Like the guy coming out of the closet who's married, and a relationship [between] a white woman and a black man. That gives it more weight and by doing that, it makes this authentic '50s film relevant to today so you can relate to it.

Your character admits that he's gay.
Yeah, and that's the strongest thing that came out about him. I think he could have a relationship with his kids now because the basic problem with him to begin with was that he was not living an authentic life. I think that's what this movie is about in a way, is living an authentic life, and that's what troubled him. Because of that, I still see that in the gay population today. There's this life of shame that goes on because you have this secret. So, you're pretending to be something else.

That's true for some people who are gay.
Yeah. It's certainly easier to come out today than it was in the '50s, but at the same time, there is a certain period in one's life - - my gay friends who I've talked to and who I grew up with, I saw them come out of the closet. There was a certain period of their life where there was a secret life going on.

Is it still risky to play gay roles?
I don't think it's such a big risk anymore, unless you sort of get it wrong. And with this, I just felt that the story was told with such sincerity and it wasn't a send-up or a spoof of something. It really dealt with what was going on with these people. I didn't have any second thoughts about playing it.

Was it difficult to create a romantic vibe with the cabana boy and be closed off with Julianne Moore?
Well, Julianne is so gorgeous. But she was six months pregnant while we were doing it and she's also taken, as well. So, there was no chance over there. The cabana boy, however, he was available. I do like blondes. [joking]

How was it being 'the new guy' on the set? This team of filmmakers had already worked together.
It was great. I wanted to be part of it because I'd seen "Safe" and I'd seen "Velvet Goldmine." As soon as my agent called me and told me that they were offering this thing to me - and I think Julianne had as big a part as Todd did in offering this to me - I wanted to do it without even reading the script. I thought he's such a talented director and I wanted to work with her.

Is your next film "Day After Tomorrow?"
I start that next month with Roland Emmerich.

Are you doing anything special to prepare for that role?
Not at this point because I'm so involved in doing the film I'm doing now, "Devil's Throat," with Mike Figgis and Sharon Stone. As far as any preparation for it and stuff like that, there's no big active preparation for that because the movie is the star of the movie. It's going to be one of those... I mean, Roland Emmerich, I loved "Independence Day" myself, because of just that ride. It's not my usual taste but I did love that ride and it's just gonna be a big, action, end-of-the-world movie.

What can you say about "Devil's Throat?"
It's a thriller. I guess if you were to compare it to some movies, I guess it would be like "Cape Fear" or "Pacific Heights."

What's your role in the film?
I'm the good guy, I guess, the hero. Sharon and I are this married couple. We decide to move to the country from the city after 9/11. We buy this house at a really good deal and the guy who used to own it before, gets out of jail and wants it back.

After 27 years in the business, what's your secret to keeping it going?
[I] realize that careers are going to go up and down. You have to be dogged and I think for me, I just remember why I wanted to be an actor to begin with. I love acting and making your own luck. You have to recreate yourself, I guess. Although, I don't know how. I say recreate yourself, but I don't know how conscious a process that is. Someway, I think you have to do that over time, be able to sort of move into different roles at different times in your life.

Were you surprised by the success of "The Rookie?"
Yes, I was. When I saw the finished product I loved it. But I was very surprised at how well it was received, how many people saw it. I was really grateful for that, too. It was the biggest opening of a baseball movie ever.

What drew you to family films like "The Rookie" and "Parent Trap?"
"Parent Trap" was offered to me and I was on the fence about it. A woman in my life said, "You must do it." I'm glad I did it because I'm king of the carpool line now. Wherever I go, all the little girls just go, "It's the dream dad." [With] "The Rookie," we didn't set out to make a G rated movie but it turned out to be one. I myself, they made a thing in the press about it, but I really don't notice that it's a G movie. I like working over there. You know, [Devil's Throat"] is also a Disney film under the Touchstone banner. They make you feel like a partner in the making and the marketing of a film. They know how to sell their movies.

Julianne Moore Interview - >Page 2

"Far From Heaven" Production Photos

"Far From Heaven" Trailer, Credits and Websites

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