Staying Alive

Randy and Evi Quaid, who've applied for refugee status in Canada, believe a Hollywood cabal of "star whackers" is out to get them

Randy and Evi Quaid, who’ve applied for refugee status in Canada, believe a Hollywood cabal of “star whackers” is out to get them

You might think that fleeing California and applying for refugee status in Canada-on the basis of being the target of an assassination plot by “star whackers” back home-might lend special poignancy to a visit here, but apparently not. “It’s not really different,” Evi Quaid told me about her current sojourn in these parts with her movie-star husband. “Because Randy is always here, at least two times a year, on a couple of projects. So honestly it’s just more of the same. We simply are just so appreciative of staying alive.”Over two decades, Randy Quaid, 60, has evolved from talented character actor to real-life character, largely due to his marriage to Evi (born Evzenya Motolanez), 47, whom he met in 1988 when she was a production assistant assigned to drive him to set during a New York film shoot. They instantly became an item and soon married. Evi-who once modelled nude for Helmut Newton, and invited a group of editors to admire photos of her vagina-apparently had a thirst for the celebrity lifestyle as legendary as her shopping prowess. The couple spent the next decade burning through cash. By the 2000s, their lavish tastes had caught up with them, resulting in bankruptcy, an abandoned “Randy Quaid Museum” in Marfa, Texas, a string of unpaid hotel bills along the California coast, and Quaid’s expulsion from Actors’ Equity for naughty behaviour during theatre rehearsals in Seattle.The Quaids have a different explanation for their troubles, claiming that a conspiracy of lawyers and accountants is out to kill them and collect the insurance money, as the murderous cabal supposedly did with Randy’s friend David Carradine (who died in a Thai hotel room, reportedly of auto-erotic asphyxiation). The expanding roster of the Quaids’ cabal victims reads like a who’s who of celebrity oopsie-daisies: Heath Ledger (drug overdose), Michael Jackson (drug overdose), Jeremy Piven (mercury poisoning), Robert Blake (supposedly framed on a murder charge), Chris Penn (heart failure), and Mel Gibson (general failure).The cabal itself apparently includes, but may not be restricted to, the Santa Barbara Police Department, the San Ysidro Ranch hotel, City National Bank, Quaid’s former agent, and some of Hollywood’s most powerful people, who see Evi as a Yoko Ono-like figure who entranced and then ruined the once sweet, creative actor.Though Quaid is best known for his charming, goofy roles–Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Russell Casse in Independence Day--he’s an undeniable acting talent, shining in roles that weren’t written as comic relief or two-dimensional foils to other characters. His Oscar and Emmy nominations for The Last Detail and Elvis were well-deserved, and one wonders what he could do with a challenging lead written with him in mind. His brilliant supporting turn in Brokeback Mountain might have been a career changer had his financial and legal troubles and his paparazzi-baiting lifestyle not caught up with him.After a string of legal issues in 2009 and 2010, the Quaids’ troubles came to a head when they were busted for vandalizing a house they used to own (and insist they still do) in Montecito, California. Playing the “murderous cabal” card, the couple packed up their Armani and their noisy Australian cattle dog, Doji, and plopped themselves down in Vancouver’s immigration waiting room, requesting asylum from the star whackers. “They’re hunting us,” Evi has said in the press. “It’s really happening.”Once it was discovered that Evi is technically Canadian on her father’s side (he taught Russian at Middlebury College in Vermont), the asylum request devolved into a morass of legal proceedings regarding Randy Quaid’s ability to remain in Canada while facing legal action in California. (Canada Border Services believes the outstanding charges against him make him ineligible to remain in the country.)The Quaids’ Vancouver attorney says their notoriety isn’t going to speed things up. “There are two separate processes happening here,” explains Catherine Sas, an immigration lawyer with Miller-Thompson. “One is the refugee process, and one is the admissibility hearing process. It’s similar to having two different trains on two separate sets of tracks. The refugee train will proceed down its set of tracks in accordance with the timeline it faces. I anticipate that we will not have a hearing for 12 to 18 months.”As the locomotives chug along their respective rails, the Quaids have gone to ground. According to various reports and sightings, they’re living with Doji in their Toyota Prius, holing up in a luxury hotel room downtown, or crashing at Sas’s bayside cabin on Vancouver Island. (For a recent Vanity Fair article, they were photographed in a room at the Tigh-Na-Mara resort in Parksville.) The one sentence I got from Quaid himself mentioned their favourite local bistro, but Sas asked me to redact it so the couple could have a quiet place to eat.The glacial pace of the legal process suggests the Quaids could remain in Vancouver into 2012 and beyond, by which point-barring assassination by ninjas, or the revelation that Evi is mentioned by name in the Mayan calendar-they surely will have released a memoir, launched a line of leatherware, and moved to a Sunshine Coast hideaway.According to the Vanity Fair article, the couple originally tried to drive to Siberia, but “couldn’t figure out how to get there.” Why Vancouver instead? What makes them think Hollywood North is any safer than Hollywood proper?”Because we were there,” explained Evi, “and that’s where strong ties are. And I think Canadians are generally, more recently, very…well… I only know good things here, let’s put it that way.”