Biopics about one-armed people are hot right now. First 127 Hours and now Soul Surfer (trailer at bottom), the inspiring story of Bethany Hamilton, who kept riding waves after a shark bit off her left arm. The flick’s notable for the acting debut of Carrie Underwood and the continued awesomeness of Dennis Quaid, who plays Bethany’s pop and learned to surf for the movie. “It gets frustrating,” he says. “Then, finally, everything just gets right, you catch a wave and actually ride it. Then you’re hooked!” Among many other roles, the guy’s delivered sports flick greatness in each the past four decades, from Breaking Away to Everybody’s All-American to Any Given Sunday to The Rookie. Fit as ever at 57, Quaid extols the value of surfing, staying positive and, um, smoking electronic cigarettes.
MADE MAN: What’s one thing you can’t leave home without?
DENNIS QUAID: My golf clubs. They’re always in the back of my car! But I gave up golf for about two months because I fell in love with surfing so much. And when we left Hawaii, I came back to Los Angeles and I got a wetsuit that’s got a heating coil in it for the cold water.
MM: What do you do to relax after tough days?
DQ: I go back and play with the kids and just kind of collapse from exhaustion. I love being out in the ocean and nature, you get into more of the rhythm of the elements there, the moon and the sun. It’s really the greatest feeling to be out in the ocean all day. I look around and just feel the water, feel myself going up and down and look back at the shore and look at the sky. It one of those things that makes you just forget about everything else.
MM: What’s your secret to staying in shape?
DQ: It’s only vanity that keeps me in shape! To tell you the truth, I’m blessed with a high metabolism. I’ve always been a runner, and I lift and just get out. There was an old really fit guy in his fifties, I remember when I was boxing in my twenties back at the Hollywood YMCA, and he was in really good shape. I asked him how he looked so good and he said, “Look kid, you take care of yourself in your twenties, thirties, and forties, and everything will take care of itself from there.”
MM: What’s the best advice you’ve received about women?
DQ: My mother gave me the best advice ever. She said, “Don’t ever let anyone steal your joy.” It keeps coming up in my head at times.
MM: What can Soul Surfer teach guys about being better men?
DQ: We all get these roadblocks thrown up in our lives and barriers that we either put up ourselves or sometimes unfair things happen to us. But what do we do with that? You can either quit or turn it into a positive and just a bump in the road of your life, and that’s what Bethany Hamilton did. I think that’s what people relate to and aspire to.
MM: Any parting words of wisdom?
DQ: Yeah, I’ve been using this electronic cigarette. It’s for lost-cause smokers like myself. There is a battery that you recharge every night, and a filter that has nicotine in it. It has no chemicals, there’s no carbon monoxide. It’s water vapor. That’s all it is. It’s the healthiest way you can smoke if you’re going to smoke because…nicotine by itself is not all that bad for you. I mean, there’s nicotine in spinach.