Directing comes naturally to movie actor Dennis Quaid.
“I was always good at telling people what to do,” Quaid said during a news conference at the Park County Fairgrounds. “Now I’m getting paid for it.”
Quaid, 43, is directing and starring in the television movie “Everything That Rises,” being filmed this summer in Livingston and the surrounding Park County.
It’s helped that he’s so familiar with the area, Quaid said Thursday. He lives part-time in the nearby Paradise Valley with his actress wife, Meg Ryan.
Because he knows the area so well, he’s been able to picture where different scenes should be filmed.
“I’ve been coming here for over 20 years,” Quaid said. “I have a place around here. I’m still called a frequent visitor in all the newspapers. They’ll never call me a resident because I’ve never spent 20 winters up here.”
However, even he doesn’t call himself a Montana resident. When he buys a fishing license, he lists California as his home state.
Quaid first came to Montana after starring in one of his best-known movies, “Breaking Away,” in which his character raced with a bicycle team called the Cutters. For Friday’s press conference, he wore a T-shirt with “Cutters” printed on the front, made for a “Breaking Away” reunion.
When the movie was completed, he bought himself a car and drove through Yellowstone National Park, saw the scenery and thought, “This is it,” he said.
Quaid has appeared in 40 movies, including “The Right Stuff,” “The Big Easy,” “Suspect,” “Wyatt Earp,” “D.O.A.” and “Postcards From the Edge.”
For his current $8.5 million movie, the city of Livingston, its rodeo, its residents and some of Quaid’s friends have become part of the film.
“It’s turned into a big home movie for me,” he said.
The film is about a ranch family struggling to hang onto their way of life in the face of development. The story in the original script by Mark Spragg of Cody, Wyo., took place in the 1960s, but Quaid said it works well in the 1990s.
“We’re reflecting on what’s going on here in our story. We’re not trying to comment on it, saying it’s bad, it’s just the way things are. They’re not making any more land.”
To compound the family’s problems, their son’s legs are paralyzed in a stock truck accident and the accident is the dad’s fault.
“This whole story is close to my heart,” said Quaid, who portrays a father who has trouble expressing his emotions to his son. “All guys have father-son issues.”
Quaid learned to rope for the movie
“It’s very hard,” he said of learning the skill. “I knew how to fall off a horse really well. I wouldn’t call myself a great horseman.”
On Wednesday night, the crew filmed cowboys for two hours at the Livingston rodeo.
They will recreate their own movie rodeo — a roping event — at the fairgrounds Sunday and Monday.
“Anyone who’s breathing” is welcome, Quaid said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. Bring the whole family. Bring your dog and we’ll put him in a hat and sit him in the stands.”
Rock star Meat Loaf is scheduled to wrestle a greased pig during filming and Coke will be free both days.
The day after filming for “Everything That Rises” ends, Quaid said he’ll leave his home in Montana and fly to London, where he’ll star in a remake of the movie, “The Parent Trap.”
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