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Los Angeles(Reuters): Actor Randy Quaid has sued the studio and producers behind ''Brokeback Mountain'' for 10 million dollars, saying he was underpaid for his supporting role in the acclaimed film about two cowboys who fall in love. According to the lawsuit, filed on Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, producers tricked Quaid into appearing in the movie for what was ''effectively a donation of his time'' by ''falsely representing it as a low-budget, art-house film, with no prospect of making any money.''
Quaid, 55, played the no-nonsense rancher who hires Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) to tend his sheep on a Wyoming mountain, where the two men end up in a secret love affair. The lawsuit names Focus Features, a specialty studio of General Electric Co-controlled Universal Pictures, as well as Focus co-presidents James Schamus and David Linde. A Focus spokeswoman yesterday declined comment on the suit. The movie, which cost about 14 million dollars to make, has grossed roughly 160 million dollars at the box office worldwide.
Although ''Brokeback'' drew critical raves, many believed its box-office potential was limited because of its subject matter but the film gained numerous honors, including eight Oscar nominations, as it crossed over to a mainstream audience. Ultimately, it earned Academy Awards for director Ang Lee, as well as its screenwriters and musical composer. The lawsuit says Quaid, an Oscar nominee for a supporting role in the 1973 film ''The Last Detail,'' has a history of working at reduced rates in ''experimental, non-mainstream'' movies for the sake of art.
Quaid said he agreed to appear in ''Brokeback'' for a nominal sum - rather than his customary seven-figure fee plus a percentage of the box office gross -- because the filmmakers convinced him it was a low-budget picture with no commercial potential. The director himself, who is not named as a defendant in the suit, told the actor: ''We have very little money, everyone is making a sacrifice to make this film,'' the suit says.
However, the suit claims that ''from day one, defendants fully intended the film would not be made on a low budget, would be given a worldwide release and would be supported as the studio picture it always was secretly intended to be.'' Moreover, the suit says, Linde obtained Universal's backing for ''Brokeback'' by presenting it to his studio bosses as a film ''that was going to make money.''