Patricia Arquette was tired, shivering and didn’t know how to love a murderer. It was a cold Detroit winter in 1992, and the then 24-year-old actor had already begun filming what would become her key role: the imaginary girl as hard as Alabama’s nails in Tony Scott’s film. True romance, a thorny love story with a smoking gun where the first kiss should be. As the wife of fugitive killer Christian Slater, Arquette at least put Alabama down: a cow print miniskirt, leopard-spotted coat, Farrah Fawcett’ feather dress made for a price cheap. Everything else? Not much.
“I struggled with playing her,” she recalls, 30 years later, sitting serenely in a Los Angeles hotel room. “She was very supportive, even in the slightly shocking things. Her boyfriend kills someone and she’s still like… yeah! My acting coach said to me, well, what are you going to say? ‘Do not do that?’ ‘How lucky?’ So I treated it as if it were a survival mechanism. I think her ability to love completely without judgment is what people respond to. But it’s really hard to play that.” You’ll never guess, I told her. She breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad you didn’t see my struggle.”
This role embodies the essence of Arquette’s on-screen presence: no one loves her quite as completely as she does, fearlessly or unconditionally. In Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, she’s a conservative 50-year-old Hollywood housewife who doesn’t care that her film director husband is transgender. Like a charming woman in David Lynch‘S Lost highway, she is the love you know first, the love you want to run away from even if it could kill you. In Childhood — who brought her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2015 — she embodies one of cinema’s most genuine, multifaceted, non-idealistic mothers.
She had to restrain those instincts because Quit, a new Apple TV+ series so believable that it might feel wrong to call it science fiction. It’s set in the quaint hallways of a tech company called Lumon Industries, which apparently specializes in “theme sales” and “macro data fine-tuning.” Arquette plays Harmony, Lumon’s all-round manager and a woman as warm and cuddly as an HR handbook. The company has innovated a horrible solution to the task of work/life balance: employees’ minds are wiped clean as they enter and leave the workplace, effectively splitting their existence in half. . When they go to work, they don’t know what to do other than work and vice versa. It’s a bit tantalizing in theory, but it’s enough for exploitation and moral horror.
Arquette finds the premise of revelation. The 53-year-old has spent most of her career balancing motherhood with acting – it’s her toddler, Enzo, now 33, stomping at the beach at the end. True romance, and she has an 18-year-old daughter named Harlow. Sometimes she’s desperate to turn off one or the other. “As a mother growing up as an actress, I always felt guilty that I wasn’t at home,” she said. “But when I’m at home, I feel like: do I know my lines for tomorrow? Work and home always bleed each other. Candlestick [Lumon] The idea sounds – conceptually – like a relief. But in reality, as an actor, I need a lifetime of experiencing and observing people when I’m not working. I need what I feel: my life and my loss. As an actor, that would be a horrible thing.”
Over Zoom, Arquette spoke softly and melodiously; she squinted from behind her dark glasses, which peeked out from the icy yellow edges. She has the air of a politician, a puzzling seriousness that only comes out when she talks about her family or past work. Then she becomes looser, funnier, a bit nostalgic. I told her it was unusual to see her descending and isolated in Quit, when she is often tactile on the screen. She always hugs, smirks, feels.
“Everything was restricted,” she recalls her time on set. Quit was filmed at the center of the pandemic, and Arquette continued to be placed in quarantine, both because of Covid rules on set and when people she knew tested positive. “I will go from this [rigid] structure at work this apartment where i live alone, and far from my family. It is a mystery that never runs out of pressure cookers. We can’t joke with the crew the way we used to. Even as actors, we couldn’t really bond that way. I feel a kind of hunger. ”
Coincidentally, the show is reminiscent of David Lynch. Not in the way that “Lynchian” gets thrown around whenever anything is made slightly out of form, but because it almost makes you dare. Quit is cramped and unconventional, a trickle-feed of unsettling horror that feels distant yet terrifyingly familiar. Arquette loves that space or the work that doesn’t take the audience is idiots. She felt a symbiosis with Lynch when guided by him, both artists attracted to originality.
“He had an amazing openness to mistakes,” she recalls. “He told me that people think all movies have a beginning and an end, but that doesn’t have to be. A crew member would come in and say, ‘Oh, I’ve got this weird idea,’ and he’d be like, ‘Oh, let’s check it out!’ “At one point, Arquette’s character in Lost highway seems to fade and out of focus in a shot, like a seductive ghost. She said it was not intentional. “He was like, ‘Is she blurred? Oh great!’ He has great respect for the audience and believes that we don’t have to tell the exact stories we’ve always told them. ”
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That sense of artistic discontinuity made a lasting mark on Arquette. But she was always allergic to typical things, even from her earliest years. She called her late parents – actor Lewis and artist turned mentor Mardi – “activists and radicals” who were drawn to different faiths and creative vocations. “My mother is Jewish and my father converted to Islam – they were never supposed to be married. They question everything, and raise us that way.”
It would be a strange and disappointing turn if she and her siblings – actors Rosanna, David, Alexis and Richmond Arquette – the result wasn’t so exciting. Today, David is a professional actor, wrestler and clown. In addition to acting, Rosanna is a leading voice against sexual misconduct in Hollywood. Richmond is a regular David Fincher. Alexis, who passed away in 2016, was a pioneering transgender artist who packed performances with incredible weight and complexity into her brief career. Patricia, meanwhile, is shy and quieter than her siblings, and initially considered becoming a midwife. Even so, rebellion was already in her blood. As a child, she always wore a badge that read “authority to question”. Today, she describes herself as a “troublemaker”. In her Instagram bio, it boasts of its position alongside “actor” and “activist”. “I have always been a bit anti-establishment,” she explains. “There’s an opposite side to me.”
When she won an Oscar for Childhood, she used her speech to campaign for wage equality in the United States. Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez can be seen pointing and cheering from the audience, in a quick response that found second life as an internet meme. Seven years on from her win, she’s still not sure if the speech will affect salaries in the film industry. “Most of the big movies these days are huge superhero action, sci-fi movies, with fewer female protagonists,” she said. “So I’m not sure how that conversation went.”
Arquette’s uncertainty may be because she hasn’t made many movies since then Childhood – or even in previous years. Instead, she spent seven seasons on the underrated mystical drama mediumand in recent years has appeared in an enviable hit limited series, playing a claustrophobic mother in the true crime drama Starz Lawand a lonely warden at Sky Atlantic’s Escape from Dannemora. Television has been a hit, but she aspires to make more movies and has the pleasure of watching movies on the big screen. “I miss the community [feel] see art together,” she said. “To laugh together, or cry together, or fear together. There is a common energy in that room. Kids grow up today, some of them never knowing what it’s like to even watch a big Disney movie with other kids. It was a very surreal time. We are living in science fiction”.
The new rhythms of the world – exacerbated by the pandemic – only reinforced her values of community and solidarity. Likewise, she begins to open up to ways of thinking that she may have balked at years ago. “I really enjoy getting older,” she said. “I see this tenderness beginning to grow. [I’m] see the bigger picture of everything. ” It didn’t turn out like that. Her parents used to tell her about a ‘ritual celebration party’ they took her to when she was a toddler – these were their hippie years. – in which various objects will be placed in a circle. The children will be asked to choose one from the circle – a guitar, police badge, a legal brief, etc. – with the story followed by the chosen object which correlates with where each child will end up. Young Arquette is bound to a specific object. She laughed. more gray.” Alabama would be proud.
‘The Quit’ is now streaming on Apple TV+
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/patricia-arquette-interview-severance-b2016486.html Patricia Arquette interview: ‘I struggled with True Romance – her boyfriend killed someone and she’s still very supportive’