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'At Any Price': Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham Bring Farming Drama to L.A.

Dennis Quaid Heather Graham At Any Price Premiere - H 2013
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(L-R) Clancy Brown, Ramin Bahrani, Heather Graham, Kim Dickens, Maika Monroe, Dennis Quaid

Zac Efron was noticeably absent from the film’s West Coast premiere, held Tuesday at the Egyptian Theatre.

Spring -- and the scent of Pink’s hot dogs -- were in the air Tuesday night at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, where Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Clancy Brown, Kim Dickens and Maika Monroe stepped out to celebrate the Los Angeles premiere of Ramin Bahrani’s Iowa-set farming drama, At Any Price.

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As guests mingled just outside the theater, snacking on hot dogs and sipping ice-cold beer, the stars posed for photos and chatted with select reporters.

Noticeably absent from the festivities was Zac Efron (off filming the Nicholas Stoller comedy Townies), who plays the rebel, race car-driving son to Quaid’s smooth-talking farm mogul.

“I think he’s gonna be one of the big ones,” Quaid told The Hollywood Reporter of his on-screen son. “I think he’s a great actor. He’s got all the tools in his tool box.”

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Adds director Bahrani, who cast Efron after witnessing the star’s “diabolical” laughter on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, “The reason you know he can do anything is he’s pushing himself to do things he doesn’t quite know how to do yet, and he’s proving he can do them.” (Worth noting: Efron may not laugh throughout the film’s 105 minutes, but his character does prove to have a “diabolical” streak, one could say.)

And while Efron has received strong reviews for his role, it’s Quaid who is earning some of the most stellar critiques of his career.

Writes THR’s David Rooney: “Particularly impressive is Quaid, who goes beyond his usual easygoing masculinity to convey the craggy gravitas of a man fixated on building his legacy and heedless of the compromises that entails. It’s to the actor’s credit that Quaid refuses to soften a blowhard character whose surface affability masks an encroaching unscrupulousness."

Admits Graham, who plays an on-screen love interest to Quaid: “I grew up having such a crush on him … and I think it’s so cool that he’s getting great reviews. I think he could get a lot of recognition for this role.”

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For the 59-year-old actor, Bahrani’s script (co-written with Hallie Elizabeth Newton) felt reminiscent of his earlier works.

“His films remind me of the films I cut my teeth on in the '70s,” Quaid said. “Human stories. You think you’re watching one kind of film, a farm movie, but you’re not really. It’s a human story that reflects much bigger ideas on a global scale.”

Set within the realm of modern-day farming, Bahrani’s father-son tale actually began as a quest to learn about the origins of his meals.

“I was curious where my food came from, and that led me to Iowa, which is corn and soy,” Bahrani told THR. “You start hearing mantras like, ‘Expand or Die,’ ‘Get Big or Get Out,’ and it was amazing how modern farming is. There’s nothing nostalgic or romantic about it; it’s a cutthroat business and it seemed like a great place to make a movie.”

At Any Price opens in New York and Los Angeles via Sony Pictures Classics on April 24.

Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci