‘It was a terrible mistake,” Trish Van Devere recalled. “We (she and husband George C. Scott) went on a world cruise on the QE2 and at the end, neither of us was speaking to the other. Out of 19 ports we called at, George would get off at only two--and at one of them we had such a terrible row that I wouldn’t come back on board.”

The 12-year marriage between Van Devere and Scott has often been tempestuous. But it was not until they embarked on this ill-fated cruise that they decided to separate for a while.

“And you know what that terrible row was about?” said Van Devere the other afternoon. “Baboons. Whether we should get out of the car or stay in it while trying to photograph them. It’s ridiculous what you can fight about when you set your mind to it.”


At that point, they had actually lived together for 14 years and Van Devere felt in need of a break. So, taking her two horses, she moved to Los Angeles, leaving Scott in their large estate in Greenwich, Conn.

“In the years we were together we’d been lovers, business partners and we worked together constantly,” she said. “And it got to be too much. We found ourselves withdrawing into our own worlds. So, I moved here. And I have to say that it was a wonderful time for me. I’d never lived alone before in my life (Scott is her second husband). I found I enjoyed it. And a year later, when George and I did get back together again, we were much more relaxed about it.”

But they still remain a continent apart. She lives in Beverly Hills with a 130-pound mastiff, Guinevere, for company; Scott remains in Connecticut. But, when he was recently in Yugoslavia, making “Mussolini” for NBC, she visited him twice.

“I enjoyed that,” she said. “It was romantic, again. That had tended to suffer when we were never apart.”

Having worked together so much (10 projects, including the films “The Day of the Dolphin,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Movie Movie,”) they have now decided that enough is enough.

“I was beginning to feel overshadowed by George,” she said, “so now I’m just doing things on my own.” (She recently completed a Western spoof, “Uphill All the Way.”)


And what does Scott think of this new turn of events?

“He calls me the strangest lady he’s ever met,” Van Devere said, with a laugh.

NO OFFENSE: Wendy Hughes, the talented Australian actress who can now be seen in Paul Cox’s highly praised film, “My First Wife” (a winner of three Australian academy awards), was in Los Angeles the other day on her way home to Sydney.

Did she get any offers to stay while she was here?


“I’d like to come here,” she said over breakfast, “because there’s great prestige involved in working here. But I won’t come just to hang around. I don’t need to.”

That she doesn’t. In the last six months she has made three Australian films--and has another one lined up.

And it’s doubtful, anyway, whether Hollywood could come up with better roles than the ones she’s tackled in Australia--”Lonely Hearts,” “Careful, He Might Hear You” (for which she won the best-actress award of the Australian Film Institute) and now “My First Wife.”

“I’ve really been lucky with my Australian films,” she said. “Fortunately, the industry there is picking up again after its recent slump; now we’re making between 15 and 20 films a year, and some are very good. We’re even making some big-budget ones--Mel Gibson just finished ‘Mad Max III,’ which cost $25 million.”

But given the right offer, she would come to Hollywood?

“Like a shot,” she said.

WALK ON: When Kate O’Toole appeared in “The Hostage” at the Irish Arts Center in New York the other night, the role of the secret policeman in the drama was played by an unbilled stranger who walked on stage without rehearsal, delivered his lines and then walked off.

It was Kate’s father, Peter O’Toole, who had dropped by to watch her and, knowing the play from his Dublin theater days, decided to surprise her.

QUOTE--FROM GLENDA JACKSON: “I actually admire people who can do things like ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty.’ How they suspend belief for so long is to me quite extraordinary. I know it sounds snide, but I actually mean that. I would die of boredom.”