Dennis Quaid: Cocaine was my biggest mistake
April 11th, 2011
09:30 AM ET

Dennis Quaid: Cocaine was my biggest mistake

"Soul Surfer" star Dennis Quaid has done a little soul searching - the actor admits that his biggest mistake was trying cocaine in the 1970s.

"I started after I left college and came to Los Angeles in 1974. It was very casual at first. That’s what people were doing when they were at parties," he tells Newsweek. "Cocaine was even in the budgets of movies, thinly disguised… It was supplied, basically, on movie sets because everyone was doing it. "

As his career began to skyrocket, Quaid used coke as a coping mechanism but realized it only made matters worse.

"Doing blow just contributed to me not being able to handle the fame, which, at the time, I guess I felt I didn’t deserve," he recalls. "By the time I was doing 'The Big Easy,' in the late 1980s, I was a mess. I was getting an hour of sleep a night. I had a reputation for being a 'bad boy,' which seemed like a good thing, but basically I just had my head stuck up my a—. I’d wake up, snort a line, and swear I wasn’t going to do it again that day. But then 4 o’clock rolled around, and I’d be right back down the same road like a little squirrel on one of those treadmills."

Quaid says the lack of sleep left him unfocused and affected his acting, and he became aware that his addiction was keeping him from living. After a disastrous gig with his band at L.A.'s China Club, he decided he needed help.

"I had one of those white-light experiences that night where I kind of realized I was going to be dead in five years if I didn’t change my ways," he says. "The next day I was in rehab."

Though Quaid got clean, his career floundered throughout much of the '90s. He now views that difficult time as a learning experience.

"It gave me the resolve and a resilience to persevere in life," he says. "If I hadn’t gone through that period, I don’t know if I’d still be acting. In the end, it taught me humility. I really learned to appreciate what I have in this life."

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Filed under: Celebrities • movies

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Deca Durabolin

    vale la pena leer. Me pareció muy informativo como he estado investigando mucho últimamente sobre cuestiones prácticas tales como hablar acerca de ┘

    December 10, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  2. Deca Durabolin

    Buen reportaje, soy visitante habitual de, mantener el funcionamiento agradable, y que va a ser un visitante regular durante mucho tiempo.

    December 5, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. los anabólicos esteroides en línea

    Tema sin igual, es muy interesante para mí)))) GRACIAS Grupo

    December 4, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. richard wratten

    i got a squirrel that does coke hes on that wheel all nite

    April 15, 2011 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    I feel you brother...w/o the success...but, still I feel you.

    April 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack Meoff

    Whiny self indulgent ex-drug user celebrity geek. Yawn. ZZZZZZZ

    April 12, 2011 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. sammy zoso

    Let's put alcoholics in jail too while we're at it.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. The Reel B lo me


    April 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Real B lo me

    Progression is key

    April 11, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HRPufnstuf

    No, "everyone" wasn't doing it. And in the 80's, not "everyone" thought it was OK, or even good for you. Some of us have always acted responsibly and avoided doing any kind of dope.

    Reminds me of the saying, "Cocaine is God's way of telling you you have too damn much money".

    April 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. The Real B lo me

    Hay Geezer, we are not 100% but 99% sure you take the chubby pickle. Just sayin...

    April 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Geezer

    Me and my buddies did shots with him last year. I should have asked him for a rail.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. harbharb

    That addiction probably helped mess up his marriage to Meg Ryan. She stood by him through a lot but it sounds like she got sick of being patient and sick of trying to be understanding. Glad he's got another chance at happiness. Hope his ex-wife gets to do the same.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Real B lo me

    Robin Meade looked good today.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. The Real B lo me

    Talk to me!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  16. The Real B lo me


    April 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  17. The Real B lo me

    Where is the imitation B lo me? He was on fire!

    April 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Steve-O

    To quote Mr. Quaid from one of his finest performances, Doc Holliday, in Kevin Costners' "Wyatt Earp": "All of you can kiss my Rebel d!ck!"

    April 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Bob

    Somethings should be kept personal. Seems like just another Hollywood phony jumping on the state sponsored just say no bandwagon. Should be good for some publicity anyway.

    April 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Julie

    I love CNN.....and I love lamp.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  21. The Real B lo me

    You are a loser clarence

    April 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Clarence

    How come after I read the article I still think he is LOSING and Charlie Sheen is WINNING!

    April 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • P&L2011

      because you must be thinking along the same lines as Charlie Sheen

      April 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Loopman

    Hey Dennis, Nice to see that at least one of the residents of Tinsel Town has the kahoonas to man up and admit that what they did was a mistake. Been there and done that more than once with things a whole hell of a lot worse than just coke. Like most everyone else that has kicked this S^!T, you don't realize it's killing you until it's almost too late. Keep it together and good luck with the Soul Surfer movie.

    April 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  24. neptonomist sentry

    I thought his biggest mistake was taking the role of Jerry Lee Lewis in Balls of Fire. God that was awful.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  25. The Real B lo me

    Hi Sunshine Girl

    April 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Ryan Seacrest

    I have to wear tampons up my butt every 28 to 32 days.

    April 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Head Diva In Charge

    Wow! I should try this then maybe I can lose weight!

    April 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Sunshine Girl *

    How is Dennis different than 90% of Hollywood? Oh yeah! He had the courage to stand up and admit what he had done wrong, and then change it for the better. Congratulations. He found the strength he needed. How can any of that be bad?

    April 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Sam

    i wonder if that wing was strategically placed ;) made myself and a co worker "lol"

    April 11, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Tom R. Clauss (age98)

    He stays young looking.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Dad Thomas R. Clauss Age98 San Diego

    He sure keeps fit.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Dad Thomas R. Clauss Age98 San Diego

    He will be great in the role.

    April 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  33. really?

    Yodude, good point. I think you need help !

    April 11, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  34. yodude

    wait a minute, he would do a line when he woke up in the morning and then go all the way until 4pm until he had to do another one??? Is it just me or is this not typical blow behavior? I know I need another line 30-45 minutes after doing one, an hour tops!!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  35. JimTheBear

    His mistake was making a wrong choice. I'm glad he has now made a right choice.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  36. dale

    cocaine was a big mistake. duh!

    April 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  37. alek

    2nd biggest mistake: The Day After Tomorrow

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  38. Hand Puppets

    Dennis Quaid standing in the street with just a towel on
    works for me.

    April 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  39. cindy bucek

    You had a wife and child during those times. Can't imagine what they went through. Have you asked them for forgiveness? Praying your life is on track now. Love you anyway

    April 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  40. B lo me

    Right after you learn how to write...sumyungai. You're a chubby pickle!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Tif

    "Cocaine is a hell of a drug." -Rick James

    April 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Acheet Mapanz

    He was excellent in Breaking Away, Enemy Mine and Gone with the Wind!

    April 11, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  43. ciny

    he never answered the about taking it to the next level he went upstairs and somewhere else, maybe
    the store that's it the STORE.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  44. jeffro too bad

    Mine too, Dennis. Mine too.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  45. johnrj08

    Dennis is an immensely likable guy. One of my favorite films is "The Rookie". He'll get better and better as he ages, unlike like Charlie Sheen, who is beginning to look and sound like a toothless meth addict.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Joe

    Too bad he didn't OD.

    April 11, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • P&L2011

      To wish that a person OD'd is not only incredibly rude but really sick.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  47. questionauthority

    "It gave me the resolve and a resilience to persevere in life," he says. "If I hadn’t gone through that period, I don’t know if I’d still be acting. In the end, it taught me humility. I really learned to appreciate what I have in this life."

    So much for his "biggest mistake"

    April 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  48. B lo me

    Nyborg is the true loser...commenting on others comments

    April 11, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • P&L2011

      This is a site where people can leave comments no matter how stupid the comments are. Please respect that.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Sweet T

    I bet you are all a bunch of Heteros

    April 11, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  50. Keep Austin Weird

    Dennis and his family live on our street now. He always says hello when he's out on his patio, and I'm walking my dog. They eat at Austin restaurants and promote local charities. His wife and kids seem sweet. I'm glad he got his life together. My daughter and her girlfriends all went to see Soul Surfer on Friday. The girls loved it. He seems a lot like the dad characters that he plays in films. He's a lot better of a neighbor than th that shirtless, naked bongo playing dude. Someone take his pot away!

    April 11, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  51. Dr. Rockso


    April 11, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • The Rock n' Roll Clown

      But shhhhhh, don't tell nobody....k-k-k-k-k-k yeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  52. The Real B lo me

    I love Matt too

    April 11, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  53. Clean and Sober

    I never touched that crap. Everyone was doing it is no excuse

    April 11, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Geezer

      I think you should be beafied so you can be called Saint Clean and Sober.

      April 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  54. I love Matt

    He is my man...I want to smooch on his gooberhead!

    April 11, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  55. tammy

    I liked a lot of his movies and am very lucky I was not a "follower personality" because if you never try it, you never buy it. Admiting it was a mistake only helps discourage use of drugs.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  56. Chad

    LOL! You, know what is funny? It's listening to all the individuals posting about all of Dennis' flaws and innuendo hoping to make them feel a little better about themselves. Dennis is not gay and if he was would it really matter? The guy has what, millions of dollars, fame, a beautiful wife, a great family, loyal fans and you think he is the loser? LOL! Now that is funny.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  57. Oscar

    holy smokes! dennis snorted so much cocaine...his eye brows fell off! 0_o

    April 11, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  58. RKG

    What's funny about a person acknowledging a mistake that took his life in a direction that he did not want it to go? When people do this, it's a courageous effort to move forward as well as help someone else who may be lost. But for you people with perfect lives with no vices and no mistakes to account for, then I salute you! God Bless....oh wait! you don't need God's blessings, you're perfect , I almost forgot.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  59. Terence

    He always was a B actor, at best, which is why his career floundered. Drugs probably enhanced his acting! Apparently he was also a poor musician, since that career didn't go anywhere either. So the question remains, why interview him? I suppose this could be his best role yet but he's not even the lead! Why not interview AnnaSophia Robb, whose career might actually go somewhere?

    April 11, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • johnrj08

      Nonsense. Quaid has played the lead in many terrific films, such as "Traffic", "Flight of the Phoenix", and "Frequency" which was a terrific movie. One of my favorites is "The Rookie". He's not the classically handsome leading man like Pitt or Clooney, but he's a solid actor.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  60. the_dude

    Dennis is awsome on the 2 1/2 men and a boy tv show.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  61. Joshua

    I'd like to hear from Randy Quad.
    Interestimg article here

    April 11, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  62. J

    Thanks for sharing, Dennis. But let's be honest. Jaws 3-D was your worst mistake.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  63. KK

    Talk about a bunch of haters teeming with jealousy, my God, you are all so perfect. Don't be so bitter just because you don't have jobs and are on the dole for unemployment and food stamps.

    April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  64. Jaydee

    Innerspace was yur best movie.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  65. Double Standard

    Instead of a war against Drug dealers. Why not chase Drug users?
    oh! I forgot all of the sons and dauthers of white collar folks, would be in JAIL.
    Offer and Demand hommie.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • PennyNot

      Absolutely, as long as users or as the poorer are called, junkies are considered victims instead of criminals, this is not going to change. Either drugs are illegal or not.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rookie

      Uh, "Double Standard", what state do you live in where posession isn't considered a crime too? Possession's a crime, and so is dealing, but dealing will (rightly) get you a longer sentence. Go back and ponder your conspiracy theories and make sure they pass a basic logic test before you shoot off your mouth.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pho-Que

      Double Standard- Where did you get your economics degree, LeDonta Shaniqua Washington's School of Pimps? OFFER AND DEMAND? Are you serious? Thanks for the biggest laugh I've gotten all year. "Offer and Demand, hommie." Excuse me, I have to get to the copyright office. THAT IS PRICELESS.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOregon

      Used to arrest the users just as much. Seems I remember some guy getting 99 years in Texas for a joint.
      Now our jails are full of pushers, no more room. Can you imagine how full they would be if they were arresting users all the time too?

      April 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  66. plasticman

    soul surfer? give it up already.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  67. Matt

    Wow – look at all the morons posting insults. America is ALL JACKED UP with you people.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  68. Ch33t0

    Cocaine is a hell of a drug!

    April 11, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |

    Kind of seems like a "duh" statement, would doing cocaine ever be anything but a huge mistake?

    April 11, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • The Pusher Man

      Agreed...coke is a mistake when so much HEROIN is available...

      April 11, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Uhm, people, I think he pretty much explained it. If you go back and refer to the article, it was the thing to do in the 70s. EVERYONE was doing it. It was everywhere including the set. Hard to turn down, especially when yo don't know the ramifications until you're in to deep. I also thought Meg Ryan had something to do with his getting clean.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  70. jdurand


    I'm pretty sure taking drugs didn't seem like a mistake at the time, but hindsight it 20/20. Obviously he realizes now that getting involved with cocaine was a mistake. Not sure what your whole "choice" thing was supposed to be about. Whatever it was, you failed miserably at communicating it.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  71. JOregon

    That is YOUR mistake.
    an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  72. JOregon

    Too bad brother Randy isn't as mentally stable.
    Many of us did things in the 70's that hindered our growth. Nice to see someone admit and explain that.
    Now if Sheen could only understand that,

    April 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  73. Clem Kadiddlehopper

    A "mistake"? Hmmmmmm.. . . I always thought that a "mistake" was something you did unintentionally, such as locking your keys in your car.

    It seems to me that he made a "choice" to do drugs. A CHOICE!

    April 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • JOregon

      MY MISTAKE. Posted this a bit further down, should have been a reply to :
      That is YOUR mistake.
      an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • squeezy

      You have confused a MISTAKE with an ACCIDENT. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them and move on.

      April 11, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • growluf

      Clem, a mistake can be a choice, ding-dong. Just like when you "chose" to sleep with that trashy girl who gave
      you cooties. It turned out to be a mistake. Mistakes are not accidents. That's what you're confusing.

      April 11, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • growluf

      Squeezy beat me to it. Thanks, Squeezy

      April 11, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • sumyungai

      Honestly, I think some of the posters on here should have there voting rights taken away... and possible be spayed/neutered. Think how much farther along humanity would be!

      April 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      you sir are an idiot. truly are...haven't you ever heard that people learn from mistakes?

      April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheriff Deadeye

      Change your alias if you're going to leave comments like that. I doubt that Red Skelton would want to be associated with you.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jmanzelm

      That's called an "ACCIDENT" moron.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • gremlin

      He did make a choice. And he's manning up and saying that choice was a bad one and a mistake. He learned from it, cleaned up and didn't make (too many) excuses for his behavior.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walker Black

      Before you get a nosebleed up there on that pedestal, in the 80s everyone was convinced – even the medical community – that coke was harmless and nonaddictive. If it turned out tomorrow that caffeine was definitely proven to be addictive and toxic would you still be in here whining about how "you made a CHOICE to do drugs, maaaann!" for everyone who ever drank a cup of coffee? Times change, we learn new things, and you aren't *nearly* as flawless as you like to think.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      Thanks mom. I mean JOregon.

      April 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jo

      And you are a GOD, a GOD!!!!! Let me touch your perfection! LOL

      April 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • horrayforlogic

      sorry you were never cool enough to be in the same room as cocaine. it's a good thing.

      April 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Jose

    Is he trying to be a warm-up act for Charlie Sheen? His stories sound just as boring. yawn.

    April 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  75. The Real B lo me

    Where the hell is the impostor B lo me? This story is up his alley!

    April 11, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Kallen to Ken

      You're rude. He made something of himself and overcame a destructive lifestyle. If anything you should be proud of him not putting him down. Haven't you ever made a mistake? He had the guts to admit it!

      April 11, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
  76. Eldon L.

    Been there, done that! Thanx, for sharing Dennis.

    April 11, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Roger Blatto

      I think the biggest mistake he made in his life was being related to Randy Quaid.

      April 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe in Colorado

      I think he meant "hamster"? Must've been the coke talking.

      April 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aopolo

      And how a coke- head like that ends up with Meg Ryan--only God knows!

      April 12, 2011 at 4:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Army Sgt

      Coke is the worst mistake I've made. I couldnt join the Air Force, Navy, local Fire or Police dept due to my history, my only options were school teacher or the Army. ( Being a teacher wasnt really an option cuz I only have a GED). If I had made better choices, I would not be in the Army. Dont do drugs.... they are very bad.

      April 12, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |

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