'Reagan' star Dennis Quaid reflects on faith, humility of Ronald Reagan; reveals if he'll ever run for office

Dennis Quaid stars in 'Reagan'
Dennis Quaid stars in "Reagan" | Rawhide Pictures

Few U.S. presidents have left as indelible a mark as Ronald Reagan, known for his charisma, leadership during the Cold War and deep connection with the American people. But according to actor Dennis Quaid, who stars in the forthcoming film “Reagan,” it was the former president’s humility and deep faith that made him uniquely qualified to lead during a tumultuous time in American history.

“He was my favorite president, and I think the greatest president of the 20th century, for sure,” Quaid, who plays Reagan in the film releasing Aug. 30, told The Christian Post.

“Everybody knows what Ronald Reagan looked like. He’s one of the most recognizable people in the world, like Muhammad Ali.”

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To truly embody Reagan — a task Quaid said initially “sent fear” through his spine — the 70-year-old actor knew he had to move beyond mere impersonation to help audiences see beyond the public persona of one of America's most iconic leaders.

“The public Reagan — that's kind of easy, but that’s kind of an impersonation. I wanted to get to feel him at his core,” he said.

This journey took Quaid to the Reagan Ranch, the Western White House, where he found a personal connection to the man behind the image. “Driving up those 5 miles of bad road, getting to the top of that mountain where his place was at, I could really feel him as a person,” he recounted. “Reagan, I realized, was a humble man.”

The Academy Award-nominated actor said it was the modesty of the Reagans' 1,100-square-foot home, where they received the Queen of England, that struck him. 

“They had a king-size bed that was two single beds zip-tied together. Three remote controls to operate the television with a note from Nancy on how to do it. I could really feel him, and that’s what compelled me to say yes to doing the movie.”

“When I play real people, I feel like I have a responsibility to portray them from their point of view, and it took me a while to really get there. Despite the great communicator that Ronald Reagan was, there was also a very private part of himself that made him difficult to really know,” he added. “Nancy, his wife, probably knew him better than anybody, and said there was a place there, too, that was difficult to penetrate. I think that that had to do with his relationship with God; it was very private. [The movie] was an honor to do, and I think we portray him as a human being like all of us.”

From ShowBiz Direct and set during the Cold War, "Reagan" tracks the life of the 40th president of the United States from his early days in a small town through his Hollywood career to his global political influence. The narrative, told through the perspective of Viktor Petrovich, a former KGB agent, explores Reagan's impact, which drew Soviet interest during his acting career. The film offers a different take on Reagan's legacy, shaped by his resolve and the support of his wife.

In addition to Quaid, the film's cast includes Penelope Ann Miller as Nancy Reagan, Mena Suvari as Jane Wyman, Lesley-Anne Down as Margaret Thatcher, David Henrie as a young Reagan, Kevin Dillon as Jack Warner, and Jon Voight as Petrovich. The film is directed by Sean McNamara, known for "Soul Surfer" and "Miracle Season."

Originally planned for a 2023 release, "Reagan" faced production delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and was further postponed by an actors' strike. It resumed shooting seven months after initially shutting down.

According to Quaid, “Reagan” aims to present a comprehensive view of Reagan’s life, from his early days in Dixon, Illinois, to his farewell to the American people after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The actor said through his portrayal of Reagan, he wanted to highlight the former president’s personal struggles and resilience without glossing over the difficult parts of his story. 

“It’s not a love letter. It’s a kind of warts-and-all portrayal,” Quaid explained. “But it’s also a story of triumph, about us as much as it is about him.”

“Reagan felt like, as an actor, he was a failure. He never got beyond playing in B movies,” Quaid added. Yet, he stressed that Reagan’s journey from Hollywood to the presidency is a testament to finding purpose. “His faith had a lot to do with him finding that purpose in life.” 

When asked if he has political aspirations himself, Quaid laughed. “Nope, no. God told me that’s not my purpose,” he said. 

“I’ve always been very interested in politics and in history as well,” he added. “As an actor, I just enjoy it so much because it's about what makes people tick, and Ronald Reagan has been like the epitome of that.”

For Quaid, who has starred in a slew of films over the last few decades, "Reagan" has become a career-defining project. “I’ve always said that ‘The Right Stuff’ was my favorite movie. ‘Reagan’ has knocked that off the top spot. It’s my favorite movie that I’ve ever done,” he said. 

Quaid said he hopes “Reagan” entertains audiences — “Going into the theater and having an experience with an audience, it’s quite thrilling. And it’s the right spot for it,” he said, adding that it provides hope at a time when the country desperately needs it.

“I have hope and faith in the wisdom of the American people winning in the end,” he said. “We're in times now that are very much like the times before Reagan came into office. He came along and won the Cold War and made us feel that we could do anything. I'm sure that Ronald Reagan would give credit for winning the Cold War to the American people. He said, ‘You know, it's amazing how much you can get done in Washington if you're willing to not take credit for it.’”

“He had an amazing life and was an amazing person. The movie is, number one, to entertain people, and that's in the story of his life. It’s an amazing love story, really, between him and Nancy that I think the public has not really seen before. You get to be like a fly on the wall for all these great events that happened … this movie goes there. That's what I love about it.”

Tickets for “Reagan” go on sale July 4. The film will be released exclusively in theaters nationwide on Aug. 30.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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