the latest detail…
Evi Quaid called from a pay phone in Vancouver to say that she and her husband, Randy, the actor, had tried to drive to Siberia, but they “couldn’t figure out how to get there.” She said, “We’re running for our lives.” She wanted me to meet them the next day in Vancouver’s Chinatown—which couldn’t be arranged any other way, as the Quaids don’t use cell phones anymore, because, Evi said, “they’re tracking us.”
“They” were “the Hollywood Star Whackers” the couple had been talking about in television interviews ever since they arrived in Canada in October, seeking asylum. The “Whackers,” they said, were the same people who may have “killed” David Carradine and Heath Ledger, possibly set up Robert Blake, and could now be targeting Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. “Are either of you mentally unstable, schizophrenic, or on drugs?,” Andrea Canning asked on Good Morning America. “Do you think we are?” demanded Evi. “No!” said Randy.
I found the Quaids sitting in their car outside a Chinese tearoom on a block glowing with red and yellow neon lights. Nobody was around. It was night. Their car, a black Prius, was crammed with stuff—clothes, coats, shoes, papers, a pillow, blankets, and an excitable Australian cattle dog named Doji, who was hoarse from barking while he was in the pound when his owners were being detained by Canadian immigration. The car smelled of fast food and dog pee and Randy’s cigars. I asked the Quaids if they were living in their car. “Only on nights when we’re too terrified to leave our stuff or don’t feel secure,” Evi said. “We used to have a Mercedes. This whole ordeal has forced us to become incredibly green.” “Priuses are deceptively roomy,” drawled Randy, who’s originally from Houston. “We’re tall people, and the legroom is important.”
Randy Quaid, who is 60, was nominated for an Oscar for The Last Detail (1973), won a Golden Globe for his performance as Lyndon Johnson in LBJ: The Early Years (1987), and has appeared in more than 70 other films, including Independence Day (1996) and Brokeback Mountain (2005). He has worked with countless legends of the film industry (Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Milos Forman, Hal Ashby), meanwhile earning a reputation as a great actor. He is probably best known, however, for his over-the-top role as “Cousin Eddie,” Chevy Chase’s schlemiel cousin-in-law in the Vacation comedies—something which irks him. When I came upon him, Quaid—who is six feet four with a pudding face and large, flat green eyes—was wearing Buddy Holly glasses, a blue shirt, an Armani blazer, and a purple tie; he looked slimmer than in years past and surprisingly stylish for a man on the run. “I call it ‘the Failure-to-Appear Diet,’ ” he said, joking about his and his wife’s not showing up for a string of court dates in Santa Barbara.
The Quaids were arrested in September of 2009 for defrauding an innkeeper, conspiracy, and burglary after skipping out on a $10,000 bill at Santa Barbara’s San Ysidro Ranch hotel; in September of 2010 they were arrested again, for residential burglary and entering a noncommercial building without consent, after squatting in a house in Montecito, California, which they had formerly owned. There was a warrant out for Evi’s arrest on the second set of charges. (The first case was resolved, with the charges against Randy dropped and Evi getting three years probation and 240 hours of community service after they settled their hotel bill.) Evi had also been charged with resisting arrest at the Montecito house. “They hog-tied me!” she told me.
Evi, 47, a former Hollywood “It girl” who once modeled nude for Helmut Newton and put up a show in a gallery in L.A. consisting of giant photographs of her pierced vagina, was dressed in a black YSL blazer, vest, pants, and combat boots—fugitive chic. She was wearing a bejeweled Prada belt that looked expensive. She was verging on emaciated, tense and jittery. “We haven’t eaten at a table in a restaurant like this in 18 months,” Randy said as we settled into a corner of the brightly lit tearoom, which was otherwise empty. Both Quaids were glancing nervously around. “They’re hunting us,” Evi said. “It’s really happening. They’ve got us in a spiral. ‘Don’t let up on ’em. Drive ’em off the road. Starve ’em to death.’ ” She was slapping her hands together for emphasis. “ ‘Pull their money out of their bank accounts.’”
“I guess I’m worth more to ’em dead than alive,” Randy said mildly.