Borders and refugees are words we’ve heard in the news nearly every day this year — but not usually in reference to a well-known U.S. actor.
This weekend, the story is on our Northern border: Randy Quaid of “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “Independence Day” was taken into police custody as he tried to cross from Canada into the United States.
The arrest was the latest chapter in the puzzling history of Quaid and his wife Evi, who for half a decade have been “on the run” from a celebrity-killing organization they refer to as the “Hollywood star whackers.” The couple filed for refugee status in Canada in 2010, saying they feared for their lives in the United States. The whackers, they claimed, were responsible for the deaths of actors David Carradine and Heath Ledger.
Quaid, who is the older brother of actor Dennis Quaid, was also running from a slew of legal problems. He and Evi were first arrested in 2009 for leaving a Santa Barbara, Calif., hotel without paying. In 2010, they were arrested again for living in and damaging a guest house on the property of a home they once owned. In between, there were multiple missed court appearances, arrest warrants and headlines such as “What the hell happened to Randy Quaid?”
The Associated Press reported that the 65-year-old actor was supposed to be deported from Canada on Oct. 14 after a failed bid for permanent residency in the country. Once back on U.S. soil, Quaid could be extradited back to California, where he faces felony charges for alleged vandalism of the guest house and failing to appear in court while on bail. Apparently, the couple didn’t want to wait until Wednesday to face the police.
As they tried to drive into the United States at the West Berkshire port of entry Friday night, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents realized who they were. The Quaids were taken to separate correctional facilities, where they will await arraignment Monday. Their bail was set at $500,000 each.
Quaid was last seen in lesser-known comedy films “Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach” and “Real Time,” but is a Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated actor. He portayed President Lyndon B. Johnson on the 1987 NBC television movie “LBJ: The Early Years,” pilot Russell Casse in “Independence Day,” the memorable Cousin Eddie in the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” series, and the ranch owner in “Brokeback Mountain.” In 2006, Quaid filed — then dropped — a $10 million lawsuit against the “Brokeback” filmmakers for not paying him enough.
Quaid told the Associated Press last week that he was ready to resolve his legal issues and “move on” with his life. To be determined: if he still thinks a gang of celebrity murderers is after him.
In 2011, the couple gave an interview to Vanity Fair that showed just how deep their conspiracy theory seemed to go. Evi believed that their mail in California was being rerouted, the detective on their arrest warrant was part of the “setup” against Michael Jackson during his child molestation trial, and Broadway producers poisoned Jeremy Piven with mercury, among other theories. While many people interviewed for the story worried about Evi’s stability, Quaid told the magazine that she is the smartest person he knows.
“You can call her crazy,” Quaid said. “You can call her whatever you want, but she is my lifeline, and if she wasn’t with me, I don’t know where I’d be.”
This story was updated to reflect a correction from the Associated Press. Randy and Evi Quaid were detained at the West Berkshire crossing, not the Highgate Springs crossing.