David Arquette has had a very impressive career. Ranging from playing police sheriff Dewey in the iconic horror franchise Scream to becoming WCW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000 and Jed Wagman spoke to David Arquette to talk about his role as cult leader Xavier in his latest film Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets which is out now on digital.
What’s your favourite scary movie?
Oh, man. I loved The Shining. Jack Nicholson’s performance in that movie is just so incredible.
How’s lockdown been for you, have you been keeping busy?
Yeah, I’ve been keeping busy trying to just get projects off the ground. When you’re an actor in Hollywood for as long as I’ve been, you have to figure out all these different businesses and jobs to do so you don’t go crazy either waiting for the next one or seeing how they felt about an audition.
Anything exciting that you can talk about?
I have a movie called Domino: Battle of The Bones that just came out last Friday, which was really fun. It’s with Snoop Dogg and Baron Davis directed it. It’s a really fun movie.
In Dr Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, your character Xavier is so funny. Is that what attracted you to the character?
It was really fun! I’m so honoured to be part of such a creative, beautiful film with such wonderful actors. I was born on a commune in Virginia, like a hippie commune, so the role of Xavier and this cult feeling was really kind of funny to me. And even, some of my movements is real hippie style, which is just sort of a nod to that kind of life and to the sort of people who believe these sorts of extreme things.
You certainly look like you’re having a lot of fun playing here and I guess that must have been the case?
It was. It’s funny because I was playing the sort of sex symbol, and that was before I started wrestling and doing my documentary about wrestling and getting in shape so I’m not in the best shape. And I’m kind of acting as if I am. It’s really fun!
Was there any opportunity to improvise anything? Or was it all scripted?
It was mainly all in the script. I mean, it was really great and a lot of the improvisation came from the movements and the reactions and stuff like that.
So is that what you tried to then bring to the character because the film is full of so many eccentric characters?
Yeah, totally. The whole world is such a rich world of imagination and creativity and some insight into someone’s mind, and the beauties of it and the darkness of it too. So I love that this film takes a look at mental health. And I have a 17-year-old daughter and the kids today, there’s such anxiety. It’s such a world, even I feel tonnes of anxiety still, so I understand that. And it’s a beautiful film that starts looking at some of that. And there’s a beautiful adventure they go on and a love story.
We don’t learn a lot about your character in the film, did you make up any wild backstories in your head about who he might be?
Yeah, throughout life, you run into charlatans and con men, people that talk a good game but are the purest of souls. So that’s sort of where I went for my inspiration, just remembering certain creepy people and remembering times that feel like and show you these types of adventures and crazy situations. Like, a lot of the time when I’m watching people or if I’m friends with people, I watch how people behave and it’s funny to just find humour in human behaviour, because all the time, that’s some of the funniest stuff.
Do you have any funny moments or stories from being on set?
They filmed it in this really weird community outside of Atlanta. And it was almost like a Stepford kind of community, everything’s so perfect. And they had just built it and not all the houses were moved into so it felt kind of empty. It was really beautiful. But it was lonely too. I was alone in this little Airbnb, and I didn’t know where the rest of the cast were or any of the people so I just kind of wandered around. And it’s not like they had 7-Elevens or even a supermarket. I couldn’t find anything. And we’d walk a couple miles to a really nice hotel that’s in the community and that had a restaurant, but I had to discover all this. So it’s kind of a weird world, just walking around and I was very much in my head the whole time.
In the film, you’re working with young actors and as an experienced actor, did you help the young actor with their performances or give them any guidance?
No, not at all. If somebody asks for your thought on something, you have to be a little careful about that on set. Even if you’re directing something, you have direct- I’ll just explain it this way. I directed a film called The Tripper where I got to work with one of my best friends and an incredible actor Paul Reubens who played Pee-wee Herman and he was playing this bad concert promoter. And then he came in and it was my first time working with him when I was a first-time director. And then he did this really silly, fun take. And I was still at a point where I was trying to discover the tone of the film. And I said, alright, that was fun, why don’t you try it this way. Try it, you know, like he’s this bad guy’s coming in and blah, blah, blah. And I saw the second take, I totally deflated any confidence or any silliness or any joy in his performance. He was just cold. And he did it great, he did it mean, but it wasn’t fun at all. It really wasn’t. So I learned in that moment that different actors react differently. And I told him for the next take forget anything I said last take just go back to the first time and do what you did, but then go further. And that’s how we discovered the character throughout the film. We kept going further and further and it led to incredible improvisation. He ended up cursing all throughout the movie because of it. It was pretty fun!
Moving forward, what’s next for your career? Are you focusing more on the wrestling or the acting or something else?
No, not much wrestling anymore. For me that was in that movie, in that world and that time period. But I don’t know exactly. I have a bunch of stuff with my wife and the company we started called XTR, it’s a really amazing documentary film studio. And we’re producing the Magic Johnson documentary and we’re really excited about that. And also there’s Documentary+ we started which is a free streaming service. So if you go to iTunes or you could go to Docplus.com and it’s a free streaming service. We curated some of the greatest directors and documentaries for people to enjoy just like a library for documentary films.
There are quite a few wrestlers who have become actors but there aren’t many actors that then went into wrestling, what’s it like being one of few actors that made the transition in that direction?
Actually Freddie Prinze Jr. went way further into the wrestling business than I did. He was a writer at WWE for years and he knows the business in a whole different way. So hats off to Freddie Prinze Jr. but Andy Kaufman also did, he loved wrestling and if you watch my movie [You Cannot Kill David Arquette] knowing I’m a huge Andy Kaufman fan, there’s definitely some tributes and honouring him.
We’ll be seeing you again next year in Scream 5, what sort of thing can we expect from the sequel and what was it like being back after such a long time and without Wes Craven?
Oh man it was great! I can’t really talk about it too much. I love playing the role of Dewey. It’s so fun. And there’s some incredible- Matt and Tyler, the directors are just brilliant. So it was sad doing it without Wes, but I think people are really going to love it. It’s a really fun film and it’s just an iconic horror franchise that I love being a part of.
Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets is out now on digital.