Jack Quaid Just Wants to Make You Laugh
I did not expect to warn Jack Quaid about the bongo drum teacher who happens to be my upstairs neighbor, but here we are. He seems slightly incredulous at first, before his face sinks into a joyful acceptance of this fact. "I love that that job exists!" Of course there are bongo drum teachers, and of course he's on Zoom with someone who lives directly under one banging away at that very moment. So charming is his reaction that it immediately papers over my annoyance that said neighbor chose now, of all moments, for a drum solo.
With that out of the way, it must be said again that Jack Quaid, who turns 30 in April, is exceedingly charming. How couldn't he be? The son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, he descends from among the most charming actors in Hollywood history. His first big break was in The Hunger Games, as the boyishly handsome Marvel, who kills fan-favorite Rue in the series titular battle royale. From there, he's gone on to star in other iconic (and nerdy) series, like Star Trek: Lower Decks and Amazon's The Boys. He makes no secret of his own nerdiness, and our conversation quickly devolves into excited laughter over his hopes for future projects. His personal wish? "Star Wars. It was my favorite as a kid, and I still remember watching my VHS box set of the original trilogy." Already, it's easy to picture him as a rogue-ish bounty hunter, or a swoon-worthy Jedi trainee, but he says he'd take anything. "I'll be the voice of a droid, I'll be a blade of grass. I don't care!" I ask if he has a preference, prequels or sequels, and he bursts into laughter again. "I feel like if I answer this question, I'll be out of any potential job that I would have in the universe!" For the time being, we'll keep that secret between ourselves.
Speaking of Meg Ryan, he says he just got back from the holidays with her and his sister, Daisy, in Santa Barbara. "It's nice, not too far away from L.A., but it definitely feels like you're somewhere else." Now he's back, promoting the first big franchise release of the year, Scream 5. While I'm still rubbing the sleep from my eyes after a short holiday respite, Quaid seems eager to jump back into work and be amongst his fans and peers. "Please, sign me up for a junket where I answer the same questions all day, I just want that so bad. To talk to people."
The Boys, arguably his big break, was quite popular at its launch in 2019, but practically exploded over the many months of quarantine, with everyone stuck inside and desperate for good television. "I had a few experiences where people would recognize me from the show," like a fan at a mermaid swim class he took last year, but it didn't quite hit him just how popular he'd become until he started on the convention circuit in late 2021. "We went to New York Comic Con, and we had a panel, and the crowd was massive. I remember being at that same convention before it came out, and we were trying to promote the show and tell people what it was, and nobody knew who we were. Maybe half the room was filled, and this time it was such a stark difference."
Having then filmed Scream 5 in 2020, in the clutches of the early shut-down, I ask if it was a relief to be around people on set. "We all lived on the same floor of a hotel, and this is a cliche, but it was like summer camp. I have all these amazing actors, who are amazing people, that I get to hang out with. I will always be thankful for that experience, especially the fact that it took place during such a crap time." There are certainly worse summer camp friends than Neve Campbell or Courteney Cox, his co-stars in the movie. "For sure, that's the summer camp you want to go to." I feel a pang of jealousy, as he follows with stories about their camp-time hobbies, including painting lessons from co-star David Arquette. "He's certified in the Bob Ross School of Painting, I guess. He brought us all the paints and bought the easels and boards, and just taught us how to paint like Bob Ross. It got us into the mentality of like, don't overthink it, just paint, which I think was supposed to help with the movie, I don't know. I believe he was just being a nice guy. I loved it." For a movie with as much blood and guts as Scream, he jokes that "it's weird how wholesome all of this stuff around a movie about murder was."
For a man whose career sees him so frequently covered in blood, I'd think a series like Scream must have felt a natural fit for Quaid. "Scream is such a great gateway drug for people who are interested in the horror genre," he says of the franchise, which launched in 1996 with the release of the original film. "It just came out at the perfect time, it was so iconic. At that point, slashers were on the downward slope. Like Jason was going to space. And then we have a movie where the characters know about the horror tropes; it was so mind-blowing at the time!"
Quaid's chill attitude must foster that same wholesomeness around him and his many projects. Fans will stop him on a convention floor to let him know they "love him the most." Perhaps the blood and guts and terror he so often endures in his career engenders the opposite atmosphere among his fans. "I don't know! I guess all the unchill people watch like, My Little Pony or something."
Soon, I realize I haven't even touched my questions for him, so off-topic have we gone. It's easy with a guy like Jack, whose excitement for his work bleeds into all other areas of his life. Take those same mermaid classes (in costume) I can't seem to get out of my head. Has he done another? No. But he does hope there's some other fantasy creature he could move onto. Like a dragon, or a minotaur. Careful, who knows what sort of monstrosity an L.A. fitness guru might cook up next. Minotaur workouts might be the next goat-yoga style trendy workout. "I've done goat yoga, in Martha's Vineyard. It was hilarious!" Goat yoga in Martha's Vineyard? He's now in the most exclusive club in America. "Not to brag, but it was great. I remember being in corpse pose, and one was stamping on my chest, and just constantly making noise. It was hilarious." His other pandemic-era hobbies include video games, obviously, which rank among the things he's looking forward to most in 2022: "The downfall of Covid-19, Breath of the Wild 2, and Scream." He laughs, saying he even took up photography in the pandemic, both in his video games, and in real life. (His mom, for the record, was perplexed how one could take pictures in a video game.) As for his actual photography, he looks forward to someday releasing pictures from the set of The Boys' upcoming third season.
Most importantly, I ask if he's on TikTok yet. His charm and humor seem perfectly suited for it. "I'm not, I have friends who show me things, but I would just have another social media app taking my attention. I know I'll get addicted to it." I joke that it will come for him eventually. "For sure, I know. I have like, a comedy band. We haven't released much, but we did release one song about raccoons having an orgy. It's a comedy song! Don't worry about it. But we put it on Instagram and I'm like, we should probably put this on TikTok where more people will see it." He jokes that I probably didn't think I'd hear him to say the words "raccoon orgy," and he's absolutely right. But now that he's said it, I feel as if I was meant to hear it all along. If anyone can make raccoon orgies a hit song, it's most certainly Jack Quaid.
Read on to hear about his first kiss under the watchful eye of Queen Latifah, his dreams about flying, and our shared infatuation with School of Rock era Jack Black.
What's the last thing you do before you fall asleep?
Typically I watch The Simpsons, like seasons five-ish, or season nine. It's just really good TV.
Scar from The Lion King. It was the first movie I ever saw, so Scar sticks in my memory. "Be Prepared" is an amazing song, and Jeremy Irons voice acts the hell out of it. Just a perfect villain, he's so menacing and well-depicted.
Describe a memorable dream.
I had a dream where I could fly, but I could only fly about six inches off the ground. It was … fun. I could go super fast, but I was always in everybody's way. Just flying down the street and people were just narrowly dodging out of the way. And this is somehow before I started working on The Boys.
First album you ever owned?
AC/DC's Back in Black. School of Rock had just come out, and I have to thank Jack Black for single-handedly getting me into music, period. I didn't know what my favorite bands were, I didn't know what my favorite songs were. And then I watched that movie and it spoke to me, and the whole soundtrack is amazing. "Back in Black" is in it! That started me on this whole rock journey I'm still on. So thanks, Jack Black, you got me into music.
If you were required to spend $1,000 today, what would you buy and why?
I haven't been to Disneyland in a very long time and I want to take my little sister, so I would buy the obscenely expensive tickets they're trying to sell these days, although I don't even know if that would cover two people at this point.
If you ran for office, what would your slogan be?
No one needs me to run for office, and I don't think I'd want it. But if I did, I think it would be like, "Hey! Why not?" Because hey, why not? And then it's a photo of me going like this. [Shrugs shoulders.] I feel like we don't need me in office, we don't need another like, white dude.
Name one place you've never been but have always wanted to go.
I always wanted to go to Australia. I've never been. And from the looks of it, everything that interests me is there. I remember being a kid and watching nature documentaries on the Great Barrier Reef and being obsessed with sharks and just about every animal that lives in Australia. So I want to go mainly for the wildlife.
Is there an outfit you regret wearing?
When I was a kid, my mom and I were the same size. At a certain point in our lives, we would get mixed up sometimes, so I would wear…I don't really regret it, really, but half the time I would go to middle school, I would be wearing 40-year-old-women's jeans and not know about it. If it happened now, I think people would be like, "hell yeah Jack!" But back then it was not … I definitely got made fun of for it. But what I will say now is kids, if you have the chance, wear your mom's jeans to school. Dress how you want to dress!
Favorite joke? Tell it!
I think I heard it in the movie Nightmare Alley … A man walks into a doctor's office. The doctor says, "I have two pieces of bad news: The first one is you have 24 hours to live." The man's like, "Oh my god, what's the second piece of bad news?" And the doctor goes, "Well, I was really trying to get a hold of you yesterday." That's all.
Describe your first kiss.
I was 13 and we went to see Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah. It was in that period before the trailers play, where they're showing you ads. She kissed me, and I was like, cool. Then I went to the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and was like, "Well done." Then I went back and was just proud of myself.
Last time you cried?
I've been getting back into Queer Eye, and everytime somebody's like: "My house!" I cry. I cry more at people experiencing very intense joy. It's tears of excitement for them.
Everything. You can't go wrong.
Photographs: Alex Harper, assisted by Darrin Bush. Grooming: Stephanie Hobgood. Polaroid Photos: Jack Quaid. Special thanks to Polaroid. Booking: Isabel Jones. Creative Director: Jenna Brillhart. Art Director: Sarah Maiden. Visuals Editor and production: Kelly Chiello.