Dennis Quaid talks daily cocaine binges in the '80s, being jealous of Meg Ryan's career success

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Dennis Quaid has been a Hollywood star for more than 40 years, but it hasn’t been without some bumps in the road.

The actor, who will soon be playing Ronald Reagan on the big screen, got candid about his past during an interview with Megyn Kelly that aired Monday. The chat touched on both his cocaine addiction in the 1980s — an era that saw him making a mark in films like Great Balls of Fire! — as well as his failed second marriage to actress Meg Ryan, whom he divorced in 2001.

“I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, and there was a completely different attitude about [cocaine] back then,” he said. “It was even in some movie budgets. But I kept roaring on,” he said of his use. “I was basically doing cocaine pretty much on a daily basis during the ’80s.”

It affected his work because he was staying up all night, but that didn’t get him to stop. “I had spent many, many a night screaming at God to please take this away from me, I’ll never do it again because I’ve only got an hour before I have to be at work.” However, after making it through the workday, he changed his tune. “Then about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I would go, ‘That’s not so bad,’” he recalled, going right back to it.

Dennis Quaid, pictured here on the set of AOL’s Build Series in 2017, opens up about overcoming cocaine addiction. (Photo: Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

Finally, he had an epiphany. “I had what I call a white-light experience, where I saw myself either dead or losing everything that meant anything to me,” he said. That led to a 1990 stint in rehab, where he went after sitting down his then-fiancée, Ryan, and explaining the severity of his addiction.

“That was the end of the love affair for me with cocaine,” Quaid said of his rehab stay. “I didn’t play music for a while because it was so connected to music. I meditated for two years straight. I read the Bible. I read the Dhammapada. I read the Bhagavad Gita. I read the Quran. I just started really delving into the mystery because that’s what addiction is really about — it’s about trying to fill up a hole inside of yourself.”

His relationship with Ryan survived his treatment, and the pair married in 1991 and welcomed their only child together, son Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games), the following year. After that, Ryan’s career just exploded (Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, When a Man Loves a Woman) while he was trying to find his footing again in a sober world, and it hurt their relationship — and Quaid’s ego. They filed for divorce in 2000.

Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan pictured together in 2001, the year they divorced. He calls their relationship “the most successful one of my life” in a new interview. He’s been married and divorced three times. (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

While Quaid said theirs was “the most successful relationship of my life,” he admitted, “When we met, I was the big deal. Then my career [stalled] and [hers soared]. We’d go out on the streets of New York, and it would be like, ‘Meg! Meg!’ And I have to admit it: I actually did feel like I disappeared.”

He said he surprised himself with his jealousy over it. “I didn’t think I was that small, but I was,” he said.

These days, the star of Amazon’s Fortitude, who has been divorced three times, is in a relationship with Latvian-born model Santa Auzina, 32, whom he began dating in 2016 after he split from third wife Kimberly Buffington, with whom he shares 10-year-old twins, Thomas and Zoe.

“I like to be in a relationship. It’s more fun,” he said. As for their age difference, “She and I, we don’t think about it. I’m sure a lot of other people do. But, hey, they’ll just have to get used to it.”

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