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The New Guard

Fateful Visit To The Reagan Ranch Inspired Dennis Quaid To Take On The Role Of ‘Reagan’

By

Nick Baker

July 8, 2024

Actor Dennis Quaid was initially hesitant to portray President Ronald Reagan in an upcoming biopic. However, a visit to the president’s cherished Rancho del Cielo, which is now preserved and operated by Young America’s Foundation, changed his mind.

Despite his deep admiration for Reagan, the Emmy award-winning star was daunted by the thought of playing such a recognizable figure. Quaid explained in an interview with Fox Digital, “I didn’t say no, and I didn’t say yes, because, really, fear. Reagan was my favorite president personally, and he was also such a recognizable figure around the world, sort of like Muhammad Ali.”

Quaid’s hesitance originated from the pressure of living up to Reagan’s iconic image. “Everybody knew what he looked like, sounded like, and so that was a pretty scary proposition,” he shared. “I didn’t want to do an impersonation of him. I wanted to really kind of get to the core of who he was as a person,” he emphasized.

As part of that process, Young America’s Foundation welcomed Quaid to Reagan’s ranch, Rancho del Cielo, also known as the “Western White House.” Driving through a rough five-mile gravel road to reach the humble 1,100-square-foot home, Quaid was struck by Reagan’s simplicity and humility. “He was not a rich man, and there was a humility about him that was kind of the bedrock of who he was,” Quaid reflected. 

The modesty of Reagan’s living conditions, from the zip-tied twin beds to the three remote controls needed to operate the TV, resonated with the actor. “You could see that it was him that did all the work there. You could feel it,” Quaid said. 

Young America’s Foundation stepped forward to save Rancho del Cielo in the spring of 1998 to preserve, protect, and utilize the Ranch as a unique and impactful tool to pass on Ronald Reagan’s ideas and lasting accomplishments to future generations. President Reagan committed himself to reaching young people with conservative ideas—a goal that is also central to the Foundation’s mission.

YAF students pose in front of the Reagan Ranch. Through our preservation of Rancho del Cielo and the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home in Dixon, Illinois, and extensive programming for middle school, high school, and college students, YAF plays an instrumental role in sharing the legacy of President Ronald Reagan with young people throughout the country.

By maintaining the Ranch, YAF ensures that students and visitors can continue to be inspired by Reagan’s principles, humility, and vision, experiencing firsthand the essence of his character and leadership for generations to come.

YAF’s Reagan Ranch Center in Downtown Santa Barbara is open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays, and students enrolled in middle school through college can participate in exclusive tours of the presidential property as part of YAF’s conferences and events that are hosted throughout the year.

The film “Reagan,” featuring Quaid along with Jon Voight, Penelope Ann Miller, and David Henrie, is set to release in theaters nationwide on August 30, with tickets now available.

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