What the hell happened to Randy Quaid?
By GINGER ADAMS OTIS
It’s been a harrowing, downward spiral — and now actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, have hit rock bottom.
The kooky couple was arrested Wednesday in Vancouver for immigration violations and then arraigned Friday in a bizarre hearing in front of Canada’s refugee board, where they begged for protection from a Hollywood hit squad.
“Yes we are requesting asylum from Hollywood ‘STAR WHACKERS,’ ” the couple scrawled on a piece of notebook paper held up to cameras by their lawyer, Brian Tsuji.
The pudding-faced older brother to movie star Dennis Quaid was released on $20,000 bail with his wife. They were ordered to appear on Oct. 28 to face outstanding arrest warrants from the United States.
But the Quaids say they need asylum in Canada to stay alive.
Quaid, 60, and Evi, 45, say they live in fear of a shadowy group they believe is responsible for killing eight Tinseltown friends — including Heath Ledger, who died of an apparent drug overdose in 2008, and David Carradine, who died last year from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation.
The wacky claim sounds more like something you’d hear from Cousin Eddie, Quaid’s character from the side-splitting “Vacation” movies for National Lampoon, than from an acclaimed actor who has appeared in more than 90 films.
What the hell happened to Randy Quaid?
Some Quaid intimates trace his grotesque meltdown to “Lone Star Love,” a 2008 play in Seattle that was going to be an Americanized version of Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor.”
Quaid was signed to the lead role of Falstaff. But he wound up blackballed by all 26 other members of the musical cast. They took charges against Quaid to the Actors’ Equity Association, claiming he’d “physically and verbally abused his fellow performers.”
The show closed rather than head to Broadway because of his “oddball behavior,” the actors’ complaint said. Actors’ Equity fined Quaid more than $81,000 and banned him for life — an unfair punishment, he said.
“I am guilty of only one thing: giving a performance that elicited a response so deeply felt by the actors and producers with little experience of my creative process that they actually think I am Falstaff,” Quaid wrote in a statement.
But the dispute seemed to be the catalyst for increasingly outlandish behavior from the Quaids, who had met in New York in 1989.
Evi was a former model for famed photographer Helmut Newton who was hired to work as a production assistant on “Bloodhounds of Broadway,” a movie starring Quaid. Her wacky humor and artistic zeal bewitched Quaid, who had divorced first wife Ella Jolly in 1985 after five years of marriage.
When he and Evi married, they carved out an eclectic, nomadic life that seemed to keep them both happy. And Quaid’s acting star steadily rose.
He had already been nominated for an Academy Award — for playing a young Navy sailor on his way to prison in “The Last Detail” in 1973 — and his fame grew as he found a niche playing laughable, comedic roles like Cousin Eddie and the gin-soaked, crop-dusting pilot who helps save the day in the sci-fi blockbuster “Independence Day.”
He also landed the pivotal role of the brutish ranch owner in the Academy Award-winning “Brokeback Mountain.” But he later sued the producers for $10 million in punitive damages, claiming they intentionally presented the movie as a “low-budget, art-house film with no prospect of making any money” to lock him in to a lower fee than usual. Quaid dropped the lawsuit after getting a promise of financial restitution in 2006.
But between the Seattle fiasco and the “Brokeback” lawsuit — the first time it appeared that money might be a problem despite Quaid’s years of steady work — darker issues began to play in the couple’s stunning self-destruction.
Evi, always an intense person ality, had be come so para noid that she hired a private detective to investigate other cast members of “Lone Star Love,” claiming one of them was making death threats against her.
“Evi demanded that I harass [the cast]. I observed Evi’s paranoia increase and she was convinced someone was going to murder Randy and then Evi to make it look like murder-suicide,” investigator Becky Altringer told Radar Online.
Her increasingly bizarre behavior and intense mood swings strained Quaid’s family relationships, opening a rift that divided him from brother Dennis and their mother, according to published reports.
The couple’s descent seemed only to quicken in September 2009, when they skipped out on a $10,000 bill at the San Ysidro Ranch Hotel near Santa Barbara.
Arrested within a few hours, Evi tore into the deputies with verbal and physical harassment, authorities said.
The next day, after paying $20,000 bond, Evi left a sign outside the local sheriff’s door accusing him of taking bribes; the officer countered with a threat to sue for libel.
Two months later, the Quaids had ignored four California court summonses — although Evi reportedly found time to send unsolicited nude pictures of herself to a Seattle newspaper with a note that read: “Here is my German stuff.”
After a fifth missed court date last December, the couple was arrested in Marfa, Texas, where they were apparently trying to open a museum in Quaid’s honor.
The Quaids posted $40,000 bail and made their next two Santa Barbara court appearances. Quaid showed up with his 1998 Golden Globe statue for Best Actor at one; Evi wore a “valid credit card” affixed to her head at another.
At a later court hearing, the Quaids appeared in matching pink handcuffs. Evi was given 240 hours of community service for defrauding an innkeeper. Charges against Randy were dropped.
The case was settled. Quaid was not — he went on a lawsuit rampage. Over the next few months, the actor filed multiple suits against his former bankers and money managers, claiming they conspired to steal his fortune, including the $600,000 he got for “Brokeback.”
It’s unclear how bad off financially the couple is, but on Sept. 19, they were discovered squatting in the guesthouse of a property on Santa Barbara that they used to own a decade ago.
The current owner, alerted by a security alarm, went to the guesthouse and allegedly found several thousand dollars worth of damage.
The last stretch of their sad road came Sept. 19, when the Quaids were busted for trashing a home they used to own.
Evi was arrested again for acting out when animal control showed up to take the family dog. Again, they posted bail and were sprung. And again they blew off their subsequent court date. They hit bottom across the border, in Vancouver.