Frequent Time Travelers
Although Frequency is a time travel adventure, it is also a very earthly,
emotional drama and a crime suspense-thriller. Combining these three seemingly
disparate elements into wholly believable characters was the challenge for
Gregory Hoblit's cast. "I looked for courage," explains Hoblit about
his casting choices. "This was especially true with Dennis Quaid and Jim
Caviezel. Their total willingness and fearlessness to completely inhabit the
characters of Frank and John was so striking that many times it literally took
my breath away. They let out some powerful emotions on film, emotions you don't
often see male characters displaying. That was something I really wanted and
these two actors delivered 100 percent."
Hoblit placed Dennis Quaid at the center of the story as Frank Sullivan, the
firefighting hero who unwittingly abandoned his six year-old son by dying in a
1969 fire. Like the director, Quaid was overwhelmed with what-ifs while reading
"It makes you question the effect of everything," admits Quaid,
"like what if you had turned left that day instead of right? What
if I had made different choices would my life have turned out better or
worse? In Frank Sullivan's life, one wrong turn made all the difference not
just for himself but for his son, his wife, his friends and even the city of New
Quaid was also attracted to the challenges of playing a character who is
vibrantly alive yet exists only in a parallel universe where his grown-up son
cannot see or touch him. "It wasn't an easy film to make," comments
Quaid. "There were so many mind-boggling elements: time travel, two
distinct time periods in Queens, fire effects, visual effects, stunts, action
sequences and dramatic scenes between two characters who can't even see each
other and are separated in time by thirty years. That's a lot to think about
and keep clear in your head as an actor."
But the multiple dimensions of Frequency were also what made it
exciting for Quaid. He delved deeply into the character, especially Frank
Sullivan's obsession with his job as a firefighter. "Playing Frank gave me
a chance for me to live out my own childhood fantasy of being a
firefighter," he explains. In fact, Quaid became so interested in
firefighting that he spent a lot of his time hanging out with New York City
firefighters and even insisted on jumping into the flames to do many of his own
fire-fighting stunts. "The trucks, the sirens, the excitement, the danger
and the heroism involved are just so compelling," Quaid says. "It was
also an opportunity to hang out with real heroes, to get to know what makes
these men tick. I saw a lot of the contradictions that weigh on Frank Sullivan.
On the one hand, the best firefighters are all pretty down-to-earth, good,
family kind of guys. On the other hand, they're the guys running into a
burning building when everyone else is running out. That's Frank - he
loves his family but he has to be the very best at his job even when it puts him
While Frank Sullivan is a natural hero, John Sullivan is a reluctant one,
scarred by the firefighting sacrifice that left him without a father. Playing
John Sullivan was a highly emotional experience for Jim Caviezel, whose father
had open heart surgery just a short time before the actor read the script.
"The script hit home like nothing I'd ever read before," Caviezel
states. "It's all about the desire to get things back once they're lost,
the very human wish to be able to go back and change things for the better. You
know, most people don't regret the things they've done in their lives . . .
they regret the things they don't do. Now John Sullivan has a second chance to
do the things he missed the first time around. That's very moving."
For Caviezel, the i
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