It has been a sad fall from grace for Australian former film star Yahoo Serious, who is facing eviction from his Sydney home after owing more than $27,500 in rental payments.
In his prime, Serious – born Greg Gomez Pead – achieved widespread acclaim for his role in the 1988 comedy Young Einstein, which cemented his status in Hollywood.
However, the 66-year-old vanished from the spotlight after receiving lukewarm reviews for his third film, Mr Accident, which was released in 2000.
Serious has since navigated through a challenging two decades, in which he unsuccessfully launched a lawsuit against search engine Yahoo! for trademark infringement and split from his wife, Lulu Pinkus, after 20 years of marriage.
In the latest blow for the reclusive comedian, he is now struggling to make ends meet and has been ordered to vacate his three-bedroom rented home in Avalon Beach after failing to pay his rent for five months.
Following the release of Mr Accident, things took a tumultuous turn for Serious when he tried to take the website Yahoo! to court.
The case was dismissed because the actor couldn’t prove he sold products or services under the name Yahoo – and therefore couldn’t demonstrate that his career had suffered harm or confusion due to the popular search engine.
Serious had his final crack at stardom in 2007, when he appeared in the short documentary film In The Cannes.
After vanishing for a decade, Yahoo resurfaced in 2017 when he was pictured strolling through the streets of Sydney.
In 2010, it was reported that Serious had split from wife Lulu three years earlier.
The rarely-seen former actor is now said to be living by himself.
Serious’ reclusive lifestyle is a far cry from the fame and admiration he earned in the late ’80s after starring in Young Einstein, which he also directed, produced and wrote.
At the time of its release, the movie ranked as the second most successful Australian film in box office history, behind Crocodile Dundee, having grossed $33 million worldwide.
Its success also landed Serious, then 34, on the cover of Time and MAD magazines. As his popularity soared in the U.S., he hosted The Yahoo Serious Show on MTV.
Serious followed up Young Einstein with another zany comedy, Reckless Kelly, in 1993, which was a local box office success.
He has now fallen on hard times, with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordering him to pay his landlords $15,000 and vacate his three-bedroom rented home in Avalon Beach.
The landlords, Tanya and Andrew Barlow, sought that their residential tenancy agreement be terminated after Serious fell more than $27,500 behind in rent.
Serious and his production company, Serious Productions Pty Ltd, began renting the property in March 2017 for $1,350 per week.
The tribunal found that he had fallen behind on his payments in November 2019 and had not paid any money since February 25 this year.
Serious argued that his income had been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, like most who work in the artistic and creative industries.
‘With the pandemic reshaping the movie industry towards home entertainment, the project on which the first tenant was working has been impacted,’ the tribunal said in its judgement, published on Thursday.
However, bank statements tendered during the proceedings failed to provide proof he had any income prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘The tenants say that by March their income was already affected, but the simple fact is that the Tribunal has no evidence of pre-pandemic income for the tenants,’ the tribunal said.
Under amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, enacted to protect people whose livelihoods had been affected by coronavirus, tenants are able to apply to re-negotiate rents and are covered under a moratorium on evictions.
However, they are only eligible if they can prove their income has been reduced by 25 per cent or more.
Serious applied to be allowed to stay in the property and begin paying rental arrears with a promise he would be able to catch up on payments by the end of December.
However, he was ordered to hand back the keys by August 13 and pay a $192-per-day occupation rate until then.
When asked whether he had applied for rental assistance, Serious told the hearing he had gone to Centrelink and been advised to apply for the old age pension as he was about to turn 67.