Patricia Arquette recalls time her late mother laid down in front of a bus: 'Oh my God, mom!'

Is the bus still running? It certainly wasn't after Patricia Arquette's mother laid down in front of it.

The Oscar-winning Boyhood actress and Gonzo Girl director shared a story about her late mother, Brenda Denaut, while accepting the Share Her Journey Groundbreaker Award Sunday night at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival's TIFF Tribute ceremony.

"My mom was an activist and when I think of the women that inspired this evening, I think of my mom and her work with civil rights," Arquette said at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York hotel, referencing the work of Canadian civil rights activists Viola Desmond and Wanda Robson. "Once, when there was a man in a wheelchair who wanted to get on the bus and the bus driver wouldn't stop and let them on and my mom laid her body in front of the bus. [She said,] 'So then you'll have to drive over me,' and we're her kids and we're like, 'Oh my God, mom!' But she demonstrated activism and these women demonstrated authenticity and they also demonstrated love of self and worth."

Patricia Arquette and their mother Brenda Denaut
Patricia Arquette and their mother Brenda Denaut

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Patricia Arquette and mother Brenda Denaut in 1993

Arquette, who accepted the award from her Gonzo Girl collaborators Willem Dafoe and Camila Morrone in front of an audience that included her Boyhood costar Ethan Hawke as well as fellow honorees Shawn Levy, Vicky Krieps, and Spike Lee, also praised TIFF's initiatives in uplifting and financially supporting women directors — including a recent initiative aimed at raising $2 million in support of advancing works by Black women.

"I think when you give people a chance to make their dreams come true, like you're making possible tonight, such beautiful gifts can come out of that," Arquette continued. "I'm very excited to see that happen."

Patricia Arquette
Patricia Arquette

Jeremy Chan/Getty Patricia Arquette attends the TIFF Tribute Gala during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

In addition to her mother, who worked as a therapist before her death in 1997, Arquette's famous family also includes her late father, actor Lewis Arquette, who died in 2001, as well as siblings Rosanna Arquette, David Arquette, Richmond Arquette, and Alexis Arquette, who died in 2016.

Watch Arquette speak about her mother in the video above.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content: