- Once worked as a janitor and considered going into stand-up comedy.
- Was a student at the University of Houston when Peter Bogdanovich cast him in the 1968 film Targets. He went on to work with the director on The Last Picture Show (1971), What's Up, Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973).
- Met his wife, a production assistant and former model, while filming the 1989 flick Bloodhounds of Broadway.
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003.
- Provided the voice of the animated Colonel in KFC commercials.
- Was arrested twice–once in 2009 for allegedly defrauding an innkeeper and again in 2010 on burglary charges–and has sought asylum status in Canada with his wife.
- 2005, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie: Nominee
- 2006, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Nominee
- 1988, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television: Winner
- 1974, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 1973, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Nominee
- 1984, Emmy — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special: Nominee
- 1975, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Nominee
- 2005, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
- 1990, Independent Spirit Awards — Best Male Lead: Nominee
- 1987, Emmy — Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special: Nominee
- Ella Jolly — Ex-wife
- William Quaid — Father
- Nita Quaid — Mother
- Evi Quaid — Wife
- Dennis Quaid — Brother
- Amanda Quaid — Daughter
- Attended University of Houston, Houston, Texas, United States