(Samira Bouaou for American Essence)

How Fear Motivates Dennis Quaid, Who Will Play Reagan in New Film

Dennis Quaid is drawn to projects that strike fear on first encounter.

“You take that fear and you channel it, and you use it. Then what it is is energy,” said Quaid, actor and, some may be surprised to know, singer-songwriter. Fear is what ignited some of his most inspired moments while writing his latest album, “Fallen: A Gospel Record for Sinners,” and what drove him to say yes to playing Ronald Reagan in the upcoming biopic “Reagan,” which spans the life of the late president and is told from the perspective of a KGB agent.

“Fear is really inspirational,” Quaid said with a laugh.

Seeking God

“Fallen,” the album, was 30 years in the making, he explained, built around a song he had earlier written for his mother, “On My Way to Heaven.”

“I was coming out of addiction at that time, and I wrote the song to let my mother know that I was okay,” said Quaid, who has been open about his struggle with cocaine in the ’80s. The song was released with the addition of a bridge he penned within minutes, on the soundtrack of the 2018 faith-based film “I Can Only Imagine.”

Quaid is releasing his second music album after four decades of touring the country with his music. (Samira Bouaou for American Essence)

“So it took me 30 years and 15 minutes to write the song,” Quaid said. After her passing four years ago, he felt compelled to write a song about her vision of heaven. She was religious, and a bit literal about it, he said; he himself has always been more of a spiritual person.

“My dad passed back in ’87, and my mom passed four years ago, and it led to a lot of thinking about what’s after this, and what is all this for?” Quaid said. “It’s about a personal relationship with God.” Quaid grew up on the hymns of the Baptist Church and loved the music even though he had grown “disillusioned with church-ianity,” he said. In his teens, he read the Herman Hesse novel “Siddhartha” about the life of the Gautama Buddha, and he started on a journey of reading books and sacred texts from different faiths.

“They’re really all about the same thing,” he said. “It’s man seeking God and knowing God.”

When he overcame his addiction, …

(This is a short preview of a story from the Aug. Issue, Volume 3.)