Actor Sues Brokeback Producers Over Low Pay
US actor Randy Quaid has sued the makers of Brokeback Mountain for $10 million, claiming he was hoodwinked into accepting a low-ball salary for his role in the Oscar-winning movie.
The star of Midnight Express and Independence Day — and the brother of actor Dennis Quaid — claimed in his suit filed in Los Angeles that producers falsely told him the movie would be "a low-budget, art house film, with no prospect of making any money".
But Taiwanese director Ang Lee's gay cowboy tale, that cost around $14 million to make and stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, has become an Oscar-winning sensation, raking in 160 million dollars in global ticket sales.
Quaid, who played tough sheep rancher Joe Aguirre, said that by Hollywood standards, a low-budget movie budget cost beteen $500,000 dollars and $7 million.
But producers, including James Schamus, David Linde and Focus Features, had deliberately misled him into taking a low salary by falsely claiming that "everyone was making sacrifices" to get the controversial movie made.
"By virtue of the misrepresentations, (producers) have enriched themselves to the tune of approximately $160 million in worldwide gross box office receipts on the back of actors who were convinced to cut their fees purportedly to ensure that the film reached the screen" the suit stated.
Quaid claimed that in 2004 he met Lee, who offered him a role, saying: "We can't pay anything, we have very little money, everyone is making a sacrifice to make this film," according to the suit.
Lee is not targeted by the action that seeks $10 million dollars in damages as well as punitive damages from Focus Features and other producers.
Quaid, 55, did not state how much he was paid to play Aguirre, who hires the pair of amorous cowboys, played by Ledger and Gyllenhaal, in the movie.
But he alleged that he had suffered a loss of at least $10 million as a result of the producers alleged antics and that he "would never have agreed to allow (producers) to enrich themselves at his expense".
The suit also claims that producers "were engaged in a 'movie laundering' scheme designed to obtain the services of talent such as Randy Quaid on economically unfavorable art film terms".
Focus Features did not immediately return calls for comment on the legal challenge over the film that won three Oscars including best director on March 5.