Dennis Quaid knows all about second chances—and third, fourth and fifth ones too, if you want to be exact.
The actor overcame drug addiction, an eating disorder and divorce before his Hollywood redemption in the 1990s when he became known for his roles in The Parent Trap and Soul Surfer. And now his latest role in the inspirational flick I Can Only Imagine has brought home to him again the importance of fully grasping every second chance.
Based on the iconic song of the same name by Christian rock group MercyMe, Quaid plays Arthur Millard, the abusive father of lead singer Bart Millard, who penned the song.
“When Bart was in his teens, Arthur got cancer. And he [Arthur] had a spiritual awakening and started to pray…slowly but surely, Bart started to see a real change in him. Because what his father wanted was forgiveness really. And he was really trying to forgive himself,” he explained to CBN News.
The film chronicles Arthur’s journey to redemption and reconciliation with his son before his death. And after reading the script and spending time with Millard, Quaid’s own faith was encouraged as well.
“It hit me so profoundly, in the heart, in a place where I just don’t even have words,” he said.
Raised as a Southern Baptist, the first time Quaid set foot on a stage was during his full baptism immersion at age nine. Entering the acting scene in his 20s, he began a spiritual journey of his own, which eventually led him back to Christ. He was re-baptised in the Ganges River in India by a Baptist minister friend.
“I went around the world, actually, in my late 20s, and the question I had as I went around the world was, ‘Who is God?’ I became a seeker, really,” he said in a video promoting the film’s soundtrack.
“So I came back, and I read the Bible cover to cover. For me, it’s Jesus; it’s the red words of Jesus. How simple it is. There really is redemption in that.”
While faith plays a role in the actor’s life, it still hasn’t been a simple journey for the 64-year-old. A drug user in his younger years, he was faced with death before he changed his ways.
“I had one of those white-light moments—I saw myself dead in five years or at least losing everything I had worked for and wanted in life, and so I put myself in [a treatment centre] for 28 days and I did everything they said,” he told Radio Times.
He has also gone through three highly public divorces—but his priority within them has been his three children. He has 10-year-old twins Tom and Zoe with ex-wife Kimberly Buffington, and his oldest son Jack (25) is also an actor—inspired by the work of his father, and mother Meg Ryan.
Known for playing iconic father roles on film, Quaid’s role as Arthur Millard is undoubtedly a departure. However, the second chance his character receives is similar to the ongoing redemption he has experienced in his life.
Poetically, he recorded this in his own song ‘On My Way to Heaven’ that made it to the film’s soundtrack. Dedicated to his mum, it sums up the grace of second chances all too well.
“My life may not be roses, but still I’m gonna be alright, as long as I’ve got my Saviour by my side,” he sings. “He freed me from the heavy chains that had bound my broken heart. He picked me up, gave me a brand-new start.”