On the Monday episode of Megyn Kelly Today, Kelly sat down with actor Dennis Quaid at the Reagan Ranch to discuss his career, his upcoming role as the 40th POTUS Ronald Reagan, and how his cocaine addiction — and subsequent rehab — affected his career and his relationships. It’s a lengthy interview that focuses primarily on what Quaid is doing right now, but his past plays an integral role in the conversation.
“I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me,” Dennis Quaid on his addiction to cocaine and when he decided to get help and go to rehab. #MegynTODAY pic.twitter.com/3imer8FShJ
Kelly asked Quaid about his cocaine addiction during the second segment of her interview with him. He said that, growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, “there was a completely different attitude” toward cocaine and that using it was allegedly normal.
“It was even in some movie budgets,” Quaid said, to support his claim. “I was basically doing cocaine pretty much on a daily basis during the ’80s. 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.’” He added, “Then at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I’d go, ‘Oh, it’s not so bad.’”
He decided to go to rehab when he had a significant realization. It was “a white light experience where I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me.” He was engaged to Meg Ryan at the time, and Quaid said that coming clean about his addiction with her “was the end of the love affair with [him] and cocaine.”
Quaid sought treatment in 1990 and then, he told Kelly, his career tanked. It wasn’t until The Parent Trap in 1998 that he started steadily getting roles again. At the end of their interview, Kelly asked Quaid to tell her what comes to mind when she names some of his leading ladies. When she asked about Meg Ryan, Quaid said, “My most successful relationship. When we met, I was the big deal,” but then that changed.
“I have to admit it,” he said. “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.”
Quaid and Ryan went through a messy divorce in 2001. Their only son, Jack, is an actor in his own right. Quaid’s current girlfriend, Latvian-born model Santa Auzina, is 33 years his junior — but Quaid said that while he’s sure other people think about their age difference, they don’t.
Kelly’s interview with Quaid is an honest look at how his values have changed during the course of his career in Hollywood, including how his life has been shaped by the roles he’s taken. The kind words he has for the late Natasha Richardson and for Lindsay Lohan, Meryl Streep and Andie MacDowell are incredibly touching; they end the interview on a very high note.