Patricia Arquette On Working With “Incredibly Generous” Scorsese, Shooting “Weird” Nude Scenes With David Lynch & Why She Embraced TV: “There Was A Lull In Film” — Series Mania

Oscar-winning actress Patricia Arquette chaired a career masterclass this afternoon at Series Mania in Lille, France, where she served as this year’s guest of honor.

Topics up for discussion during the session ranged from Arquette’s childhood growing up on a “hippie” commune with her parents in rural Virginia alongside her career as an actress, working with filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, and David Lynch.

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“He gives you a lot of freedom,” Arquette said of Lynch, whom she worked with on his 1997 surrealist feature Lost Highway.

Lynch’s Lost Highway, like many of his films of the 90s, is a project focused on gender, sexuality, and sensuality. In the pic — which also stars Bill Pullman — Arquette’s character is involved in a prolonged nude scene. Arquette said that at the time, she had been “really uncomfortable with nudity.” However, she pushed on with the scene to challenge herself as an artist, but she ended up being uncomfortable on set due to the behavior of some crew members.

“It was weird. It was hard for my own hang-ups. But also the guys were saying some crude things. I told David that I wasn’t comfortable,” she said, adding that Lynch asked her to leave the set and then proceed to lay into the crew members.

“By the time I came back in, they were all looking at their feet and apologizing. He made sure there were some boundaries for different things,” Arquette said.

Arquette added that Lynch acted as her “intimacy coordinator” along with her co-stars, adding a layer of protection during vulnerable moments.

Moving on to Martin Scorsese’s 1999 feature Bringing Out the Dead, Arquette described Scorsese as an “incredibly generous” filmmaker, citing one moment on set where the Mean Streets filmmaker offered to halt the entire production to re-shoot a scene after Arquette had minor concerns about her performance.

Arquette added that she found Scorsese to be deeply involved in the filmmaking process, and shared one example of the legendary filmmaker’s almost intuitive filmmaking prowess.

“I remember one time the monitors went off when he was watching [a scene], and he said, ‘That’s good we’ve got it.’ And I said, how do you know Marty? The monitors went off. And he said: I can hear it. You can hear it when it’s right,” Arquette shared.

In the early 2000s, Arquette, who had been a rising star in Hollywood, segued into working on network TV shows like Glenn Gordon Caron’s Medium and, later, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and CBS’s long-running CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

When quizzed on why she decided to transition to the small screen — a move that was unthinkable for a bankable Hollywood performer at the time, Arquette said: “I thought, what if you go from super art movies to TV? Nobody wants to do that, but why can’t we do good work on TV? The poorest people who have a television have network TV. So I thought, how do I entertain old people in an old folks home or people in a trailer park? You do network TV.”

“There was a lull in film,” Arquette continued, discussing the early period when she moved to television.

“And then Glenn Gordon Caron, who wrote this [Medium], had done Moonlighting, which was also groundbreaking. I just really believed in his voice.”

Arquette later added that as an actor on network TV, you have to master a “different kind of skill set.”

“You have to memorize really fast. You get your lines the night before, and the next day, you do 10 pages. You have to be in the moment. Sometimes you don’t even know the end of the show,” she said.

Naturally, the session concluded on the feature that gave Arquette her Best Actress Oscar: Richard Linklater’s experimental yet profoundly human 2014 feature Boyhood, which follows one family over several decades. Anyone familiar with the feature will know that it was also shot over many years, “one week every year for 12 years,” Arquette explained.

“So much happened during this movie. We had kids, we got divorced during this movie. There were new relationships,” she said. “There were people who started off as a PA. And by the time we’d come back 12 years later, they were 1st AD on movies but they’re PAing for us because they started as that. So it was like summer camp. We’d all come back together every year.”

Arquette said that one year, the film’s financiers “forgot to give Rick money for the movie.” But fortuitously, that same year Linklater’s house burned down, and he received an insurance check.

Recounting the story, Arquette joked: “He said, thank god my house burned down, and I got an insurance check so you can pay me back.”

Arquette ended the session by discussing her breakout Hollywood role, 1993’s True Romance, and the film’s director, the late Tony Scott, who she credited for handing her a fierce sense of artistic confidence.

“He was kinda like that idealistic girl dad,” Arquette said of Scott.

“What he taught me as an actor that changed my life is that I had good ideas and could insert myself. Because he was so consistent in that support, I really started to trust myself.”

Arquette was last seen on screen in Apple’s Severance. Her latest feature as a director, Gonzo Girl, starred Willem Dafoe and debuted at TIFF 2023. Series Mania ends this evening.

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