How Oscar-Nominated Actor Randy Quaid Became A Delusional Fugitive
Life, as always seems to be the way, has imitated art once more, because Randy Quaid – a once great, Oscar-nominated actor – is now peddling the kind of paranoid rants that even Russell might consider far-fetched.
It's not aliens that are out to get him, says Randy, but a sinister cabal of what he calls "star-whackers", who Quaid claims were responsible for the deaths of his celebrity friends. So how did Randy Quaid go from working with directors like Ang Lee and Milos Forman to spouting wacko theories while on the run from the law?
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Quaid – older brother of actor Dennis – made his movie debut in Peter Bogdanovich's 'The Last Picture Show' and impressed in Hal Ashby's 'The Last Detail' opposite Jack Nicholson – the latter even gained him an Oscar nomination. However, it was in Chevy Chase's comedy vehicle 'Vacation' – known in the UK as 'National Lampoon's Vacation' – that he played goofy Cousin Eddie, establishing a pattern of slightly odd supporting characters that would serve him well throughout his career on stage and screen. Quaid won a Golden Globe in 1985 for playing US President Lyndon Baines Johnson in TV movie 'LBJ: The Early Years' but seemed to gravitate towards outlandish comedy – fitting, as eventually his personal life would become just as farcical as any sitcom.
Randy tried to sue the makers of Brokeback Mountain for over $10 million (Credit: Rex)
The problems started in 2006, when Quaid raised a lawsuit against Focus Features, makers of 'Brokeback Mountain', in which he played the role of small-minded rancher Joe Aguirre. The movie, Quaid alleged, was sold to him as a small indie flick with little chance of making any money, so he accepted a low fee – he was then outraged when the movie received a wide release and racked up award nomination after award nomination. Quaid sued for $10 million plus damages, but dropped his lawsuit a few short months later. He says that Focus Features settled out of court. They claim this never happened.
Quaid was no stranger to treading the boards but he burned his bridges in Broadway when he physically and verbally abused his co-stars in 'Lone Star Love', a Western re-telling of Shakespeare's 'The Merry Wives Of Windsor'. Twenty-five of his fellow performers filed charges against him, including allegations that he slapped an actor in the face four times during rehearsal. Quaid claims he was merely getting into character; the Actors' Equity Association disagreed and banned him for life, fining him $81,000. The actor was unrepentant: "I am guilty of only one thing," he stated, "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."
Randy and wife Evi's police mugshots in 2010 (Credit: Rex)
In 2009, Quaid's money problems started to become apparent. In September, Randy and his wife Evi – a former model and socialite – were arrested for defrauding an innkeeper: a roundabout way of saying they skipped out on paying a $10,000 hotel bill. Charges were dropped against Randy, but his wife was given three years probation and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service after they missed several court dates and resisted arrest. The Quaids, it turned out, had history in doing runners from hotels.