Jack Quaid knows what you’re thinking. Yes, he is the son of Dennis Quaid. Yes, his mother is Meg Ryan. And yes, he’s watched that scene in When Harry Met Sally, but only recently and only because he needed to prep to star in his own rom-com, and you can’t do that without witnessing the iconic deli scene. Quaid, who’s gearing up for a busy summer when his comedy, Plus One, co-starring Pen 15 breakout Maya Erskine drops June 14 before his Amazon series, The Boys, lands July 26, is completely comfortable fielding questions about orgasms and murdering superheroes and sometimes playing a “f*ckboy” on screen. He’s even more comfortable leading two projects as inherently different as a rom-com and gritty surrealist superhero drama.
Quaid’s got an everyman vibe on screen that translates into likable characters with surprising layers — guys you’d readily have a beer with and only later discover they’d shoved a makeshift bomb up some dude’s a**hole (it happens in the Garth Ennis comic adaptation, not the rom-com, in case you were wondering). We spoke with Quaid about adding to his mom’s rom-com legacy, weird cast bonding exercises, and why he thinks you won’t mind seeing him kill a superhero or two this summer.
With so many rom-coms coming out this year, what did you appreciate about this story and the character you play in it?
I think it brings up struggles that a lot of people in my generation have. I think there’s an over-idealization when it comes to relationships. I’ve always thought of Ben as a guy who has watched too many romantic comedies and took away all the wrong lessons, in thinking that people have to check a certain amount of boxes for them to be the person for you, and that’s not really true. Really, you just want to find someone that you can connect with and hopefully not screw it up. I’m proud that this was such a great take on the rom-com genre, which does tend to idealize things to a fault.
Did you feel any pressure, following in the footsteps of your mom?
Well, the funny thing about that is that I had never seen When Harry Met Sally before I did this movie.
It was shameful. Okay, but when you’re growing up and your mom has one of the most famous orgasm scenes of all time, as a child, you tend to avoid that movie. But I figured I’m about to do a rom-com. I need to watch the rom-com. So one day, before rehearsal with Maya, I sat down and watched the movie. By the time the movie was over, I was bawling. I think I was so proud of her and I learned so much from that. After I watched it and I called my mom, I went to rehearsal and I was still crying. So, yeah, watching the banter back and forth between my mom and Billy Crystal in that movie really helped me get the rhythm of this.
Because this is a film that relies so much on the chemistry between you two, how did you create that off-screen?
When I first met Maya actually, the two directors had us and them go into a wizard-themed escape room, which was great. There’s no better icebreaker than that because you can’t be self-conscious when you’re using wands to, you know, solve puzzles. Then we went to Boiling Crab in Koreatown and again, eating with your hands, everyone, you know, looking like a goblin — it was great. Maya and I bonded a lot, but it was really the four of us. It was like a team effort that’s what every day felt like.