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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Dennis Quaid

Aired March 12, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he's the Hollywood heartthrob with the killer smile and the star of countless tabloid headlines, too. Dennis Quaid on life after Meg Ryan, kicking cocaine. An making it into the majors. An exclusive one on one is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. What a treat it is tonight to have Dennis Quaid back on LARRY KING LIVE. It's always a great pleasure to have him with us. His new film is "The Rookie." I've seen it. It's fantastic.

And later we'll meet the principal he plays in the movie. He will be with us in the last portion of the show. It's a lot more than a baseball film. It's a great, terrific movie. It opens the 29th. Let's get started. Let's get one big story out of the way right away. Let's get through the stuff and handle it.

The latest "National Enquirer" reports that you got first poked and prodded by a female security agent at the Phoenix Airport.

DENNIS QUAID, ACTOR: Yes, it was the biggest thrill of that week.

KING: She said, I have always wanted to do that. Did that occur?

QUAID: To poke and prod me?

KING: Did that occur?

QUAID: Yes, it did. I had been taking a lot of one-way flights. So I think my name got in the computer.

KING: Really?

QUAID: So I've been searched every time I go.

KING: Did the woman say she wanted to do that? Did you hear her say that?

QUAID: No, I didn't hear that comment from her.

KING: Did it look like she was thrilled, Dennis?

QUAID: I didn't actually look at her. She made me turn around. KING: Are you bothered if you're stopped?

QUAID: Well, you know, it is what is in the country these days.

KING: But you're a famous face.

QUAID: Yes, well, so what? I think we all have to pitch in and take things like that because...

KING: The nature of the beast.


KING: Why are you doing one-way flights?

QUAID: Because I go to one city and be there a couple days and I don't know where I'm going the next day sometimes.

KING: They move you around.

QUAID: I've been doing a lot of promotion for this film.

KING: Of course you're really involved in this film. Normally you're not a big out-and-promote person.

QUAID: I like to go out and help sell my movies.

KING: "The Rookie" is one you're involved with.

QUAID: They are doing quite a bit on this one, though.

KING: You're involved with this emotionally?

QUAID: Sure, it's a great story. A script I read and I just really loved it. It's a true story.

KING: About a pitcher who pitches who is -- gets hurt early.

QUAID: Jimmy Morris. He was a high school science teacher in Big Lake, Texas, actually, in 1999. In his 20s he tried to get into baseball as a pitcher. He hurt his arm severely. He was in the minors. He had to have surgery. They took a ligament out of his ankle and put it up in his elbow and shoulder.

And he retired from baseball because he just couldn't pitch. And he spent the next 12 years teaching high school and coaching the baseball team there in this little town. And he was throwing batting practice a little bit to his kids all along the way. They complained at how hard he was throwing. And he didn't think he was throwing that hard. But he made a bet with him if they won the district championship, which they had never done, that he would go for a major league tryout.

Sort of like, you know how teachers sometimes shave their heads or something. And he thought he'd be embarrassed but he said OK, and they did win the district championship and he went to... KING: Tampa Bay.

QUAID: Yes, well, when he went to the tryout, he found out he could throw the ball 98 miles an hour. He had no idea.

KING: Great story. And he stayed for a year and a half.

QUAID: Yes, two years.

KING: How did you get on to this story?

I remember seeing a television news magazine story about it in 1999. I thought it would be a really great movie. But I didn't think I'd be playing it. I just read the script and I was really so taken with it, and when I was reading it, I was saying to myself, it's a good thing this is true because as a piece of fiction, it is totally unbelievable.

KING: A lot of guys who make sports movies -- you look like you were a quarterback in "Any Given Sunday." You looked like you'd been pitching all your life in this movie.

QUAID: I haven't played baseball since I was in little league. Jim Gott (ph) would come over to my house. He is an ex-Dodger pitcher. I had the luxury with a little time and we just threw in the front yard. I wanted to get it right. I've seen bad sports movies where actors look like they throw like actors.

KING: William Bendix in the "Babe Ruth Story."

QUAID: "Fear Strikes Out" is the one that comes to mind.

KING: Anthony Perkins -- Gary Cooper really wasn't a baseball player.

QUAID: No, but I sure live loved that movie. "Pride Of The Yankees." Great movie.

KING: Great movie. But he wasn't physically built like Gary, but you looked like a crafty left-hander with a lot of speed.

QUAID: It was like ultimate baseball fantasy camp and getting paid for it.

KING: Was it fun to do it?

QUAID: It was a blast. I'm from Texas myself. So is the director, John Lee Hancock. And it was just great that this is my favorite city in Texas.

KING: By the way, later in the show, Jim will join us.


KING: That's really nice. Your own career, do you look at yourself as a superstar? QUAID: Oh, absolutely not, no.

KING: Is that deliberate? Did you just want to do what you like to do?

QUAID: Well, it's half deliberate, maybe, I guess it is. The roles I choose and the things that I choose to do are not really sometimes mainstream, my taste is not really mainstream taste and I guess I try to do so many different types of things that I don't get identified with one.

So it's like when people go into the store and buy a candy bar, they know they're getting the same candy bar and that's why they go get that particular candy bar. With me, I'm always changing my wrapper.

KING: So you are like a really terrifically well known character actor.

QUAID: I've always considered myself a character actor. That's the way I was trained, really. A leading man just happens to be another character.

KING: And you're willing to accept roles where you're not the star?

QUAID: Yes, I like doing ensembles. And I like even doing, you know, smaller supporting roles. If it's -- if it strikes me.

KING: So therefore, when you look at your career, you don't say these were mistakes?


KING: I should have been...

QUAID: No, there's some unfortunate things out there, but I really don't see any of them as mistakes. You know, even those I've learned from.

KING: So even when the movie didn't do well.


KING: Did you have a movie that you thought would do super that didn't?

QUAID: Maybe "The Right Stuff." When we were doing that, because it was a very special film.

KING: That didn't do well?

QUAID: It didn't do well.

KING: Really? QUAID: I think it's kind of a classic right now, but at the time that it came out, John Glenn was running for president and I think a lot of people maybe saw it as having to go for a schoolroom lesson or something.

KING: Because it certain -- I think it is considered now a classic. Did you enjoy working with Al Pacino?

QUAID: Yes, great guy. Just a great guy.

KING: I hear that was wild, making that movie, Oliver Stone.

QUAID: Well, it was Oliver Stone. How is it not going to be, you know?

KING: Crazy, right?

QUAID: Yes. A lot of it -- I didn't really go out. I was married. I didn't really go out back then. But there are a lot of stories.

KING: I've heard. We'll be right back with Dennis Quaid. His newest film is "The Rookie." Here's a scene.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: He had to run with that one right there.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: So much for his arm falling off, huh?





QUAID: Lydia, look, don't leave. You know you love me. Look, I know you're crazy about me. I mean, in a week or two, I'm going to call you, you're going to call me, we're going to be back together again.

RYAN: No, we won't.

QUAID: I don't get it. I get a little drunk, I make an ass out of myself. What's the big deal?

RYAN: Things are different now, Tuck. It just hurts me too much to be with you.

QUAID: Lydia.


KING: "The Rookie" by the way opens on the 29th of March. That was a scene from "Innerspace" in 1987. Had you just met? You and Meg?

QUAID: We met on that film, actually.

KING: Was it right away?

QUAID: Actually, I was living with someone else and so was she. We didn't get together until a film after that.

KING: Which was?


KING: I liked D.O.A. That was a remake.

QUAID: Yes, it was.

KING: Of an older move with Edmond O'Brien.

QUAID: Very film noir.

KING: Very film noir. Was it -- did you enjoy the fact that you were a couple that got so much attention? I mean, was that not enjoyable, enjoyable, neither?

QUAID: I didn't really even think about it, to tell you the truth. We were never in the tabloids. We were...

KING: You mean...

QUAID: We never, no. And we didn't really go out to a lot of events, Hollywood events. We basically stayed home and most of the time. Took care of our son and lived sort of a normal life.

KING: How old is he now?

QUAID: He's 9.

KING: How is he doing?

QUAID: He's doing great. He's doing really good.

KING: You get to see him a lot?

QUAID: Well, we have joint custody. He's with me half the time.

KING: How does that work, does he have to go to different schools?

QUAID: No, he goes to the same school. She has a place that's ten minutes away. So, his life is basically in tact. I still live in the same house. And the think I'm most grateful for is that after the circus of last year is that he's doing really well now.

KING: You know, whenever we talked, you've always been open and direct, which is one of the reasons people appreciate you so much, not only as an actor, but as a person. Was this very difficult for you to have it all in print?

QUAID: Oh, sure. Absolutely. It was -- nobody really wants that. It is hard enough to begin with going through the pain of a divorce and a breakup. You know, especially, you know, because of the kids. But to have it be so public and, you know, and I think so wrong. And of course -- well, the tabloids are always going to sensationalize everything. So that wasn't fun at all.

KING: You mean, the wrong part was there was another guy and the Russell Crowe thing.

QUAID: Well, what they will do is, you know the tabloids. They'll take one element of a story that may be true and they'll build everything around it. Take a picture and invent a story around it.

KING: That causes you to be ticked?

QUAID: Well, sure.

KING: Do you do anything about it?

QUAID: If you do anything about it, all you're going to do is perpetuate the story.

KING: So you're between a rock and a hard place?


KING: Is it embarrassing?

QUAID: Is it embarrassing?

KING: It makes it appear as if someone else broke up your marriage?

QUAID: Someone else didn't break up my marriage, Larry. That's not what happened. But it's not fun going through a divorce. That's what happens in life.

KING: Yes, I know.

QUAID: To quite a number of us. And I think anybody who has been married or in a long relationship can understand that.

KING: Now, of course, if it's intelligently handled -- are you friends?

QUAID: yes, we're friends. We talk almost every day because of Jack who is either with me or with her.

KING: But you got on with your own life and she's on with her own life?

QUAID: Yes. We've both moved on. The relationship changes and you have to change with that. You have to grow up about it.

KING: Do you root for her films?

QUAID: I root for her. I root for her to do well in life.

KING: She's the mother of your child.

QUAID: Yes. Exactly. She's Jack's mom.

KING: Do you have any problem if she would remarry and Jack would have a step-father.

QUAID: No, I would like her to find somebody. I think it would be good for her and good for Jack if that's what she wants to do.

KING: And how are you doing? I mean, are you back in love with someone?

QUAID: No. I'm not. Not right now. I'm just -- I haven't been single since I was 23.

KING: How old are you?

QUAID: I'm 48. Will be next month.

KING: You've been a married person for 25 years?

QUAID: Well, I've either been married or with somebody.

KING: What's it like on the loose?

QUAID: On the loose? Well, I think for about the first year, I probably was pretending I was 23 again. But things have settled down now a little bit.

KING: Wild oats.

QUAID: I guess so.

KING: Was that fun again in a sense?

QUAID: Yes, it was a lot of fun. I find it again for me more than anything else, it's really just about being my own person and being on my own. Certainly I've got Jack and the great thing about that is he also grounds me, so I don't go floating off in the air there so much. But it's good to be on my own, to find out what my tastes are, what I like.

KING: By the way, it's different at 48 than at 28.

QUAID: It's a lot easier.

KING: It is?

QUAID: Well, you know yourself more, don't you think?

KING: How does Jack handle all this? His mother, his father, the newspapers. Kids can be cruel. QUAID: We kept him from that. And the school was very good about that as well. But he is -- and it is hardest on the kids, like I said before. But he's really doing well now. And his life hasn't changed all that much because his life before was because of the two of us being working actors, she would go off and do a film, we didn't want to disrupt his life. I would stay home with Jack while she worked, then vice versa.

KING: You balanced that.

QUAID: Yes. Which was great, we were being really great parents. But it isn't so great for a marriage.

KING: Do you want another serious relationship?

QUAID: Yes, I'd like to have another family, in fact. Oh, sure, I'd like to have more kids. It's a natural thing for me to be with one person. That's my nature, I think.

KING: Is it hard, though, to be in your field and be married?

QUAID: Yes. But I think it's hard to be in any field and be married. Because there's always going to be -- well, there's always going to be something. Not enough togetherness or too much togetherness or...

KING: So the accountant in Topeka has the same kind of -- they may be different, but there are problems there.

QUAID: Everybody has the same problem, you know.

KING: Getting along.


KING: Dennis Quaid is our guest. The new film is "The Rookie." As I've said before, I've been fortunate to see this movie. It is terrific. It opens on the 29th. As we go to break here is a scene from D.O.A.


QUAID: Wife, he was murdered right in front of my eyes. So you're just going to have to forgive me because I've never been poisoned before.

Don't worry, I don't think you did it. But you are my link to last night. So we're going to retrace our steps. Where we sat, what we talked...

RYAN: We? No, wait a minute.

QUAID: I can't wait a minute. I need your help.

RYAN: I can't help you. I can't help my mother fold clothes. You need the police. QUAID: I've already had the police. They think I killed my student. They think I murdered my wife.





QUAID: Triple murder. I'm sorry. I'm really sorry.

BARKIN: That's OK. We never did have much luck with sex anyway.

QUAID: Your lucks about to change, Shaw (ph).


KING: "The Big Easy" scene with Ellen Barkin. That was a good movie.

QUAID: Yes, I had a good time doing that.

KING: In New Orleans.

QUAID: Yes. Good time in my life.

KING: Your Texas roots stay with you, by the way?

QUAID: Well, yes. I talk to my mother. I get my accent back in about five minutes.

KING: Austin is where you were raised?

QUAID: No, I was raised in Houston for 21 years. Went to the University of Houston there as well. Then came out here.

KING: Were you a drama major?

QUAID: Drama major. I knew the first week in college that's what I wanted to be. I had a teacher whose name was Cecil Picket.

KING: It has been well documented, we have discussed it before. You had a problem with drugs. How did you first -- does anyone know why they start? Why you would take cocaine? Does anyone know. Richard Dreyfuss said you don't know why.

QUAID: Well, you got to put it in context. Back in the late '60s, early '70s. That was back during the time where, you know, drugs were going to expand our minds and everybody was experimenting and everything.

We were really getting high, we didn't know it. And cocaine at that time was considered harmless. You know. I remember magazine articles in "People" Magazine of doctors saying, it is not addicting. It is just -- alcohol is worse. So I think we all fell into that. But that's not the way it was.

KING: How long were you hooked for want of a better term?

QUAID: It was a gradual thing. But it got to the point where I couldn't have any fun unless I had it. Which is a bad place to be.

KING: Boy.

QUAID: Yes. And then so...

KING: How long?

QUAID: 14 years now that...

KING: That you've been...

QUAID: That I've been free.

KING: Sober as they say?


KING: How did you stop it?

QUAID: I had one of those white light experiences, I guess. I just -- because I tried to stop many times before, you know? And usually we'd wind up in the next day going oh, God, just get me through this one, I'll never do it again, I swear. By 4:00 the next afternoon, you say to yourself that wasn't so bad. Then there's somebody around you know, with a look in their eye. But I saw myself being dead in about five years if I didn't stop.

KING: Did you go get help?

QUAID: Yes, I went and got help.

KING: Is that what you do like a program? You go away?

QUAID: I went away for a month. And I -- then I took like two years off and didn't work because I planned on taking a year but it turned out to be two.

KING: Because?

QUAID: Because I couldn't really find the right thing that I wanted to do.

KING: Then you were able to work while addicted?

QUAID: Well, yes. There's all kinds of people right now who are working while they're addicted.

KING: So you could have -- you could be high and go in and do scenes?

QUAID: Yes, I did. yes. KING: Harder?

QUAID: What.

KING: Was it harder?

QUAID: yes, it was a big weight you are carrying around. You know, but when people get addicted to something, they feel like they need it. And, you know, it's sad. It's really, truly sad.

KING: Was it tough being famous in a place where they're doing rehab? You know, where, they could be insured everybody knows.

QUAID: Yes, they had tabloid photographers outside and stuff like that. Trying to be in there and getting healthy. But you know, that's -- I guess I asked for it.

KING: Briefly, what happens in the rehab place that works?

QUAID: Process of really being honest with yourself. I think that's it. And just -- it's a 12-step program, basically. You get to the point where you realize that you are powerless over this -- over whatever it is that you're addicted to.

KING: Could be nicotine.

QUAID: You're powerless. So you know it is getting to a point where you surrender that. Because that's what -- in a way, that's what people who are addicted to anything, they're control freaks. They want to control the way they feel. You know? That's what it says on the bottle.

KING: Is it hard to stay -- is it day to day, 14 years?

QUAID: I have to admit, the first year of being off of it was kind of a grinding my teeth type of experience. And also an emotional pit. You know, I think I was actually clinically depressed for a number of years after that. Because I think of what it did to the nervous system and having time to recover and also just the emotional development which I think stops at a certain point when you become addicted to something. It took me a while to catch back up.

KING: But still, during that period, with all that, you were able to do films?

QUAID: yes.

KING: Except for that two years.

QUAID: yes.

KING: Do you ever -- are you ever tempted now?

QUAID: No. No, no.

KING: What about when you were going through the bad thing with Meg?

QUAID: Well, no. Absolutely not then. You know, I wanted to -- I want to feel everything that's happening to me now, you know what I mean?

KING: You don't want to escape.

QUAID: Yes. Drugs are a way to not feel what is really going on. So you're sort of postponing the pain. Basically. The more -- you can postpone pain, but you can't really put it off. You're going to have to deal with it some time. And I think, you know, my going through it at the time, I think it helped me to recover faster.

KING: Make you a better actor?

QUAID: What's that?

KING: Going through all this? This experience?

QUAID: I think life, all of its experiences is going to...

KING: You bring it.

QUAID: You bring it to the party. I don't know if it makes you better to begin with, you're either good or you're not. But -- in fact, I think you work because it's what you bring to the party.

KING: If you have any questions about Dennis Quaid's work, see "The Rookie." We'll be right back after this.


QUAID: I think we should just stop this. This is ridiculous. I do not like this particular side of you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I'm not a box. I don't have sides. This is it. One side fits all.

QUAID: Oh, you are so competitive, you know that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: And you're not, I suppose.

QUAID: No, I'm not.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You think you are just a reaction to me, is that it?

QUAID: You bet.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: You got as far as you did in show business by not being competitive.

QUAID: That's not competitive, that's ambition. combined with talent.



QUAID (singing): I want to love you like a lover should. so fine I got if tell this world that you're mine, mine, mine. I'm real nervous because it sure is fun. Come on, baby drive me crazy goodness, gracious, great balls of fire.


KING: Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis. Jerry Lee has been on this show a few times. What was that like to play him?

QUAID: That was an experience.

KING: You are a musician. You have a band?

QUAID: Yes. But Jerry Lee is a legend. And he's an eccentric legend.

KING: No kidding.

QUAID: Put it that way. He was on the set every day, right over my shoulder, right here, telling me how to do it.

KING: Did you have fun doing it or was that difficult having him there like that?

QUAID: It was both. When you have Jerry Lee in the room, you're going to have a little bit of both. You're going to have a little bit of fun and you are going to have a little bit of difficulty.

KING: Who was singing?

QUAID: Jerry Lee. He's alive, why not use it? It all had to be predubbed.

KING: So you just mouthed it.

QUAID: He's a tenor. I'm a baritone anyway.

KING: You sing with your band?


KING: There's going to be a national sneak preview of this movie Saturday night. The decision to do something like that, you know, a lot of people are going to see "The Rookie" free. The hope is they all go out and tell people?

QUAID: Right. Well, it just says that the studio really believes in the movie, so they're not trying to hide it.

KING: That's happened with some films. Do you firmly believe in it now? Are you happy with this finished product? QUAID: You know what? You always -- the question to actors, which film is your favorite. It is always politics to say the one you just finished. But with this one, it is very special to me. It's such a great inspirational story. And just a great story. It's more than just about baseball. That's what I love about it. I didn't want to just make a baseball movie. The movie is about second chances.

KING: Sure is. Also about the kind of father this character is.


KING: Are you that kind of father?

QUAID: Very similar, I got to say. My son's my best friend. And that's what I brought to the party. Jim is that way, too. The guy I play. He's that kind of dad. Then they also had the relationship between him and his own father, which is not so great.

KING: I know. How do you -- well played by the way. That guy was terrific.

QUAID: Brian Cox.

KING: Good seeing him again. How do you bring up a child in a famous household?

QUAID: Just...

KING: How do you not spoil him?

QUAID: Well, whether you're famous or not, I think that's the question, how do you not spoil him. Because you want to give your kid everything. You want him to have it all.

KING: You want him to have certainly what you didn't have.

QUAID: Yes. But you know, I think it's pretty normal, myself, for him. We keep him away from public eye. You know, all premiere and all the Hollywood stuff. And you know, he's got his own little world. He has his friends, gets up and does chores and has to do his homework.

KING: Does he understand this co-thing that he's with his father six months and with his mother six months?

QUAID: Yes, but like I said he's sort of used to that.

KING: I know, but now he goes to a different place, though, right? He knows you're divorced, right?

QUAID: Yes, absolutely. That goes without saying.

KING: Does he get interested in who daddy's dating?

QUAID: Not particularly, because I don't -- people who I see, I really don't bring him to the house to meet him. No. KING: By design?

QUAID: Yes, by design. Because I just don't really feel that it's appropriate to bring somebody else into his world right now. Because I'm also a child of divorce myself. And I remember how tenuous that was at the time. And I remember my feelings about it all as well. And so I'm trying to honor those feelings that he has at the same time, you know, honor my own.

KING: You would have to be serious about someone.


KING: Before you would get him involved then.


KING: Because you don't want him to see you break up again, right?

QUAID: Yes. I think -- he needs as much -- he needs as many things happening to be the same as it was before.

KING: He's certainly going to have acting genes based on...

QUAID: Maybe, maybe.

KING: Would that be OK with you?

QUAID: He can do whatever he wants to do. I'm not going to push him towards there. I am just going to encourage him in anything that he really wants to do. You know? That's all. The only thing I wouldn't really want him to do and wouldn't let him do is be a child actor.

KING: Why?

QUAID: Because...

KING: You've worked with him.

QUAID: Yes. For me, personally, I just like to see him be a kid. For a while. And if he wants to be an actor, do school plays and things like that. But be a kid. You know?

KING: Because child actors can't can they? Their tutors are there.

QUAID: I think it's hard, tough for kids.

KING: A lot grow up.

QUAID: Then they get to the point where they're actually an adult and it is hard to make that transition from being a child actor to being an adult. KING: Dennis Quaid is our guest. In a moment we'll meet the real life person he plays in "The Rookie." There will be an advance national sneak preview this Saturday. It opens on the 29th. As we go to break, here's a scene of Dennis in "The Parent Trap."


UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Let's discuss this calmly and rationally.

QUAID: Yes. And in English, if you don't mind, all right?


QUAID: Sweetheart, what has gotten into you?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Nothing, nothing. Just, just, dad you can't get married. It will totally ruin completely everything.

QUAID: Hal. Hal! Halle?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Don't look at me. I don't know a thing.




QUAID: Do you believe in friendship Wyatt Earp? So do I. Do you have many friends? John here has been a friend to me when most men would not. Dave Rudabaugh (ph) is an ignorant scoundrel. I disapprove of his very existence. I considered ending it myself on several occasions, but self control got the better of me.


KING: Dennis Quaid with his scenes in "Wyatt Earp." You lost a lot of weight for this?

QUAID: Yes. I overdid it on Weight Watchers there, didn't I?

KING: Did you get sick?

QUAID: No, I didn't get sick. Had a doctor and a nutritionist. I lost 44 pounds for that.

KING: Why didn't the movie work, in retrospect?

QUAID: My honest opinion is I think the movie is too long. I think the first half of the movie is a history lesson. Of course, it may have something to do that I'm only in the second half, but...


KING: Once you come on, that works. QUAID: I thought myself, my taste, I personally thought it was too long. But I'm also really proud of it. You know, I loved working with Larry Kasdan. I loved working with Kevin.

KING: Do you ever turn down anything you regretted?

QUAID: Let's see. I turned down "Big." I turned down "Big."

KING: The Tom Hanks role? You would have been a boy again. Why would you not have liked that?

QUAID: Well, why did I turn down "Big"? I forgot. I had good reason for it, but I just can't remember what it was.

KING: You were on cocaine is why.

QUAID: Yes, I probably was.


KING: I'm told that Randy, who I see all the time, your brother...


KING: ... was the better athlete than you. You get to play athletes.

QUAID: Yes, but he was never on like a team after little league. What do you mean he was the better athlete? You mean golf?

KING: No. What, he played football? Did he play football?

QUAID: He never played football. I went out for the football team but, you know, I was too small. That's how I wound up in drama. I was too small and I hated getting hit so...

KING: You like playing athletes?

QUAID: Yes, I really do. I find their lives very interesting, to tell you the truth. They have a very compressed life. They, you know, live their life, they spend all their life in this game. And then you get to the prime of your life.

KING: It's over.

QUAID: It's over. They say you can't play. Can you imagine if somebody told you, and said, hey, you can't interview anybody anymore, Larry? It's done.

KING: When the cheering stops, that's the hard part to deal with. Athletes have their most famous...


QUAID: It is also interesting because for the most part, unless it's figure skating, as we all know, it is something that can be measured with a statistic.

KING: Hey, you won.

QUAID: Yes. You won or you're this good compared to whatever.

KING: That's right. We don't wake up every day with winning and losing. They do.


KING: I think there's a lot to be said for that. Before we meet Jim and we must ask, where you were on 9/11?

QUAID: I was here in L.A., just woke up and turned on the television.

KING: Were you working that day?

QUAID: No, I wasn't working that day. I had the day off. And I woke up and turned on the television just in time to see the first building fall. It's like I turned on the TV and it fell. And I didn't know what I was watching. But...

KING: Do you remember what you went through that day?

QUAID: Well, I just remembered I was thinking about the guys -- because I did a movie called "Frequency" in New York where I played a firefighter and we used the Greg Jones firehouse.

KING: Oh, yeah?

QUAID: Yes. And I was thinking about those guys because I knew that they were close and they wound up losing 10 guys that morning, the guys that I'd been around and worked with.

KING: That was a terrific movie, where he lives in the past and comes back to solve a murder. That was a great movie, "Frequency."

QUAID: But I went back to see those guys back there.

KING: Did you? Was your son near you that day, 9/11?


KING: How did he deal?

QUAID: Well, he went to school and did everything as usual. And they did really great at school, because they talked about it. They didn't try to really hide -- shield the kids from it. They talked about it in their own sort of, you know, nine-year-old way, so everybody could express their feelings.

KING: Did you have anger?

QUAID: Oh, sure. Anger, disbelief and...

KING: It must have been tough to go to the firehouse.

QUAID: But I think, you know, I like everybody else knew that our lives were changed forever after that.

KING: Dennis Quaid, the movie is the "Rookie." When we come back, we'll meet the man he plays, Jim Morris, former major leaguer. He can say that proudly. Don't go away.


QUAID: I don't know what to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give it some time.

QUAID: Haven't got a lot of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're asking me?

QUAID: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your grandfather once told me it was OK to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do. That may not be what you wanted to hear.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got an eight-year-old boy inside this house who waited all day in the sun and the rain to see his daddy try to do something that nobody believed he could do. Now, what are we telling him if you don't try now?

QUAID: I can't leave you here with all this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jim Morris, I'm a Texas woman, which means I don't need the help of a man to keep things running.


KING: The incredible story of Jim Morris, who in his 40s, winds up in the major leagues. Dennis Quaid plays him in "The Rookie." And Jim Morris is with us now. Thank you for coming.


KING: Boy. It all started with Aaron Brown interviewing you on ABC, right?

MORRIS: Yes, incredible.

KING: And Dennis sees that and suddenly there's a book, right, and a movie, and you're back teaching again? MORRIS: I'm not teaching, no. I'm volunteering a lot of time in the Dallas area where I live.

KING: You moved to Dallas there. So you took that job?

MORRIS: I haven't taken a job. I'm just volunteering time on the baseball field with a bunch of kids in Dallas, all the high schools.

KING: Let's see the scene when Jim Morris -- here's a guy who is past his -- how old were you when you went to Tampa Bay?


KING: Here is a guy who lost out, the arm, bad surgery, he's got a kid, leaves the wife in Texas, goes with the kid and here is his first Major League appearance in Arlington. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED BROADCASTER: He appeared in 18 games for Triple-A Durham with a 3-1 record. High earned run average at 5.40 last spring. It was a challenge that he presented to them. He went around. It's a strikeout for Jim Morris. Morris, in his Major League debut, gets the strikeout.


KING: Jim, you shaved the mustache.

MORRIS: Yes. I'm old enough. I didn't want to look any older.

QUAID: You looked like Catfish Hunter.

KING: What was that like walking into a big league park?

MORRIS: It was a lifelong dream and all of a sudden there it was in front of me. I mean, that whole day was incredible.

QUAID: Three months before that, he was a teacher teaching in high school science in this little town in west Texas, in May. And then in September, he's fulfilling his lifelong dream of putting them out in a big league park.

KING: Didn't you know you could throw hard?

MORRIS: I had no idea. I didn't throw hard in my 20s. There was no reason to think at 35...

KING: This was a freak, right? You got to throw harder post- surgery.

MORRIS: Yes. And time off, a lot of time off.

KING: And those kids really stood by you. I mean, that was some relationship, you and that team. MORRIS: Yes, it was a great group of kids. And I have them to thank for the whole deal. I never would have tried it again.

KING: Did you watch him play you? Did you watch them shoot the movie?

MORRIS: Yes, I was on the set. I was a consultant, so I was there every day.

KING: What was that like?

MORRIS: It's very strange.

KING: To see someone famous play you.

MORRIS: I know. No. 1, it's Dennis Quaid. And No. 2, watching your life...

KING: Texas boy.

MORRIS: Yes. You watch your life unfold on screen with someone who is as good as Dennis is at acting, I mean, it is overwhelming.

KING: How did he get to do pitching so well? I know Gott (ph) worked with him, but you worked with him. Gee, I kept saying to myself, this guy pitched.

MORRIS: Yes, he did. He did great. I mean, he worked out for three months before the filming ever started. And then they worked along as the movie was being shot, he kept working out. He got to the point where he could tell when he messed up, just like a regular pitcher can. And that's the sign of being a pitcher.

KING: Start to believe you were a pitcher?

QUAID: No, I never put myself on a radar gun because I didn't want to be disappointed.

KING: How fast did he throw?

QUAID: I just don't know.

KING: They sure made it look fast, that popping sound in the glove.

QUAID: I just didn't want to embarrass him or myself. That's really who he is, you know, at the core of who he is and what's the movie's about. He's a pitcher. You know, and it is hard to hide that, like in a football movie where you get a lot of violence around you and pads and a helmet and you start from a dead stop and you're alone out there.

KING: What did second chance mean to you? That's what this is about, second chances.

MORRIS: It was a second chance at not only a shot at my dream, which I'd wanted since a child playing baseball, but a relationship. There's a relationship between my father and myself and making that transition from being a son into a father with my own son. I mean, Hunter's my best friend. We do everything together. And he's honest with me, tells me exactly what he thinks of things. That's good in itself.

Now, the lady that played my mom in the movie was dead on. And mom was always there to sit there and tell me exactly how things were. So there's a lot of second chances in life.

KING: How old is your boy now?

MORRIS: He's 11.

KING: And the girl?

MORRIS: Jessica is 7.

KING: Boy. Did your dad pass on or is he still...

MORRIS: No, he's still alive. He's going to see the movie in a couple weeks.

KING: He hasn't seen it yet?


KING: You think he'll like the way he was portrayed?

MORRIS: I think he will. I mean, it's good. He was there at Arlington when the game was over. And we talked. He was waiting for me outside the clubhouse and we've been working on our relationship since.

KING: Because it was difficult early?


KING: Military man and the like. So that scene was not fake? His father was at that game?

QUAID: Yes. Yes, he was there.

KING: Because I said to myself, all this drama.

QUAID: Yes. Like I said before, you know, it was a piece of fiction that was too unbelievable. But all these things happened to this guy in such quick succession, too.

KING: Then you lasted another whole year, right? I mean, you came up in August and pitched the following season.

MORRIS: Yes, sir.

KING: Why are you no longer with the majors? MORRIS: I missed my kids. I talked to my son on the phone one day in spring training last year when I was with the Dodgers. And he said how much longer are you going to do this. I miss you. And I quit.

KING: You think you would have made the Dodgers?

MORRIS: I think I had a very good chance.

KING: You could still bring it, as they say?

QUAID: He can still do it. He can also kick a football real well. He's an all-American punter.

KING: So when you say you don't work in Texas, how do you earn a living?

MORRIS: I'm doing inspirational speaking across the country right now. And as a matter of fact, I go to Hawaii tomorrow. I'll speak to a group there.

KING: And do you discuss your own life, is that what the emphasis is?

MORRIS: Yes, sir.

KING: On how anybody can get a second chance?

MORRIS: Everybody can get a second chance. I think the movie shows it well. Baseball just happened to be my dream. I think anybody can take their life and stick themselves in that situation and see what they want to be in their life and go for it.

KING: In fact, you got second chances.

QUAID: Don't we all?

KING: Didn't you?

QUAID: Oh, yes. I've had several second chances, I think. I think it's always about renewal. You know, renewing that original desire that we want to do something. You know, we didn't make this movie before -- we made it before 9/11. And since then, I hear about a lot of people who are -- everybody's reassessing their lives, I think. And, you know, I hear the stories of a lot of people who are either quitting their jobs or got laid off and going back and doing that original thing that they wanted to do with their lives, taking a pay cut. People are finding out that there's more to life than making money. There's our dreams that we have in our heart, and there's the people that we love in our lives.

KING: Nobody discovered it better than you. It has been a great pleasure meeting you.

MORRIS: Nice to meet you, sir.

KING: I've admired you. And, Dennis, what can I say?

QUAID: Good to see you, Larry.

KING: And let me tell the viewers, you will love "The Rookie." And there's a sneak preview Saturday night. And it opens everywhere March 29th. And our guests have been Dennis Quaid, who stars in it. He's playing the man who is right here with him, Jim Morris. And I'm Larry King.

A parting note tonight. We are celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the association with this network of our senior executive producer and senior vice president Wendy Walker-Whitworth (ph), who has manned this show for close to 10 years now, I guess. She's been with the network 22 years. Now that may shock you because this network will not be 22 years old until June 1st. That means she joined the network two months ahead of its going on the air, maybe two-and-a-half months. I can't keep count. Anyway, she has been terrific all that time serving at the White House and for these, lo these past years at LARRY KING LIVE. We all appreciate and love her yeoman-like work, her serious attention to detail and her unbelievable absorption with owning every handbag in the Western world. We salute you, Wendy, and wish you 22 more, if I survive.

Stay tuned now for "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron -- I forgot his name -- Aaron Brown. Good night.