Dennis Quaid is looking at forgiveness in his new film I Can Only Imagine. The movie tells the story of how one of the most popular contemporary songs, I Can Only Imagine, by Mercy Me, came to be. Dennis plays an abusive father, worn down by failures and defeated at life, who takes out his issues on his son.
Dennis sat down for a Cocktail Conversation, and his character is enough to drive you to drink!
A Tough Role
Dennis Quaid has made a career of playing varied roles, but we can’t think of any character as vile and ugly as Arthur Millard. “He was an abusive father mentally figuratively and emotionally,” Quaid told us. But he wants to put some perspective on Art’s bad behavior. “Most abusive parents were abused kids too, and it’s a chain going on that they broke.”
The film examines forgiveness. An easy word to say but a much tougher ideal to embody. But our characters struggle through towards a worthy goal. “And you know once you come to the realization of what you’ve been and how wrong that is and take your part for it there’s a lot of shame in that and it’s hard to forgive yourself as well.”
Inspiration From Pain
Dennis believes it’s quite possible that if everything had been perfect and rosy for Bart Millard growing up, he would have never written the song that’s touched millions of people. “Bart wrote the song I Can Only Imagine about his dad after all those years, those childhood years into the teenage years. That relationship, they finally had that bond.”
But Dennis isn’t sure if this movie will teach the lesson of forgiveness, telling the Cocktail “I don’t know if it’s gonna teach people anything.” Okay then. Dennis then encourages viewers to take a look in the mirror: “Maybe it says a lot about forgiving yourself as well.”
Music To His Ears
Like the Critic’s Cocktail, Dennis wasn’t familiar with the song or the band until he was pitched the gig. “I hadn’t heard the song when I got the script either. They sent me the script and the CD. I put the CD aside and and read the script cuz I’m doing a movie not doing a CD, I’m not doing a song.” Clearly he liked it cuz he signed on. “The story hit me very deeply.” And he stresses, much like the movie, there are no prerequisites to liking this film or the music that inspired it, “The song winds up having a personal meaning for everyone who hears it. You don’t have to be a christian to hear it. You can be of any faith really.”
Since everyone reconciles before it’s too late, we asked if he thought it was a feel good story. He hedged, saying “It’s not a comedy. But it’s very inspiring tale. In the end it is a feel good story. But you’ve gotta go through some things to get there.”
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
Coffee with Jameson. There’s no real connection to the movie (honestly it’s a sobering story, in the bad way) but we have a feeling Dennis wouldn’t mind.