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Actor Dennis Quaid Tells CBN News: 'I Can Only Imagine' is a Song of Joy

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Audiences worldwide have come to know Dennis Quaid for the good guy roles he's played in movies like Breaking Away, The Right Stuff, The Rookie, and Soul Surfer.

But in the new faith-based movie, "I Can Only Imagine" about MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard and the story behind his hit song of the same name, Quaid plays Arthur Millard, Bart's abusive father.

In a recent interview with CBN News, the veteran actor describes the transformation of his character.

Quaid revealed Arthur was a very abusive father to Bart. He abused Bart emotionally, physically, and verbally every day from his childhood into his teen years.

"When Bart was in his teens, Arthur got cancer.  And he (Arthur) had a spiritual awakening and started to pray. You know in prayer, you cannot lie to yourself," the actor said. 

The ordeal of his sickness began an awakening in Arthur who needed forgiveness and a relationship, not just with God, but his son, as well.   

"Slowly but surely, Bart started to see a real change in him. Because what his father wanted was forgiveness really.  And he was really trying to forgive himself," Quaid said. "Slowly and over time, they came to the point that had the most beautiful and loving relationship at the end of Arthur's life." 

"The gift that Arthur gave to Bart was that Bart did not have to carry that around for the rest of his life, which would be a heavy, heavy load. He broke that chain and freed Bart as well.  Just a beautiful, beautiful story about making the impossible possible," he noted. 

CBN News asked Quaid if this was a difficult role for him to play.

"Of course it was. I've played dads before many times. Most of my dads are like the "The Parent Trap" dads...dream dads. They really got me great points in the carpool line." he said laughing. 

However, Quaid also realized the film is a true story and Bart was often on the set, watching his own story unfold. 

"I wanted to get it authentic for him, more than for anything else," he said. 

"You had to go to these places to make it happen.  And one of the ways I did that... I sat Bart down and had him tell me the story.  It wasn't what he said. It was just a kind of feeling from him, watching him as he talked about his dad.  That's where I got his character," the actor explained. 

CBN News asked Quaid what does he feel when he hears the song "I Can Only Imagine?" 

"I hadn't' heard the song, but when I read the script it hit me so profoundly in the heart in a place where I don't even have words.," he replied. " And that's what the song does and it grows on you, too. Just like you grow in the Spirit, the song grows on you in that way, too.  In the end, it's just a song of joy."

Released on March 16, 2018, "I Can Only Imagine" the movie has grossed more than $28 million worldwide.

Shot primarily on location in Oklahoma, the movie also stars Madeline Carroll, Priscilla Shirer, Cloris Leachman and Trace Adkins.  


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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of