David Arquette (@davidarquette) is an actor, director, producer and professional wrestler and former WCW Champion. He is best known for his roles in movies like the “Scream” franchise, “Ready To Rumble”, “Never Been Kissed”, “Eight Legged Freaks” and many others. He sits down with Chris Van Vliet at his home in Los Angeles, CA to talk about Scream 5, whether his character Dewey Riley was every considered as the killer, the evolution of horror movies, what his first big break in acting was, his marriage to Courteney Cox, winning the WCW Championship to help promote the film “Ready to Rumble”, why he started training to become a professional wrestling almost 20 years later, his documentary “You Cannot Kill David Arquette”, his infamous death match with Nick Gage and much more!
When you look at yourself as an actor, how do you think you have developed from the first Scream to this new Scream?
“Oh man, there’s just so much life experience that happens. At the beginning there is kind of like a naivety. But I don’t know, there is an element of being green, fresh and new, there’s this confidence. But the more you act, the more it is about finding those real, honest moments when you can embody the character and tap in. There were some moments in the last Scream that were so emotional, I feel like it makes people uncomfortable when a man shows and screams emotion. But when the stakes are high, you can get really emotional. They went with a safer take, but I would have liked to challenge the audience with the more emotional one. I have all this experience with my parents dying, all of these things that were playing on my mind.”
Yeah there are a lot of subtle things that you do in your roles.
“I learned a lot about acting from wrestling. Just being in the moment and being real. The thing about wrestling is that it is so over the top, when you can find the real moments and tap into them, you are really angry and the audience feels it, that’s really powerful stuff. It’s a lot harder to do that technique than people think.”
When you first read the script for Scream, did you flip to the last page and go ‘Oh my God! My character is still alive!’?
“No, my character wasn’t supposed to live in the first one. Was Craven brought me back.”
So there is footage out there of Dewey dying?
“Well Dewey sort of gets killed and stabbed in the back in the first one. Wes is like ‘We will put you in a gurney, see if you make it and you put the hand up.’ So thank you Wes. He was amazing and a great mentor in all sorts of ways. There were a few times where we were having discussions on where the script was going. I was always suggesting [dying]. There are a lot of red herring moments, and I always thought it would be one of the biggest ‘What do you mean!’ moments. You always try to look for those moments to surprise and shock the audience.”
You’ve embodied so many characters throughout your career. Do you sometimes forget who David is?
“No, along the journey of life I have made a lot of wrong turns. Luckily I have come back safely, but that’s part of it, figuring it all out. Staying focused, channelling the flow, that is my focus. Drugs, alcohol, pot, I can’t do any of it anymore, because it gets me out of the flow. When you stay in the flow, you start to see magical things happen. I was beating myself up for so long that it was hard to not do that stuff anymore.”
So how do you explain to the people who are not wrestling fans the whole Nick Gage situation?
“So there is this thing called the deathmatch [laughs]. And if you get offered to do it, say no!”
So they ask ‘Like a deathmatch? Do people die? There is ultra violence? What is that?’
“I didn’t know what the ultra violence thing was. They were like ‘This is the ultra violence part.’ I’m like, ok. You should have seen what was supposed to come next. I was supposed to go through a barbed wire wall, there was a bunch of stuff, but I didn’t care. I was asked why I wanted to do this, and I was like well it’s getting pain to numb the pain. What I learned doing the documentary was that I was beating myself up mentally, but why? That negative voice is my biggest enemy. I was drinking beers to quieten it down, but you have to think of other ways.”
With something like WCW it is so fast paced. They write stuff that is for the moment, but we forget that this stuff is going to live on forever. I feel like that was the space you were forced into for 20 years.
“I still stand true to the idea that I was one of the first fan champs. I got to live my dream, but the fact that I was an actor sort of taints it. But I wouldn’t change it for the world, and I respect the wrestlers for what they do. Seeing them do it all the time, when you do it all the time your body is used to it.”
There’s a lot of celebrities that do just one match. What made you decide that you were going to be an indie wrestler and tour around and make this a thing?
“I wanted to find out why the fans got so mad at me. I wanted to figure out what is wrestling. Also, I just wanted to experience it and go to my hotel room and it not be there.”
Were they booking you like an indie wrestler?
“It was a little bit different because I was shooting the documentary. If I am using the footage then I wouldn’t be paid, sometimes I would. There were a few places that treated me right. Even though I am a former champion I was a green wrestler, I took a different approach to it. If you come in with all these demands, it just takes away from it all.”
I heard that when you were training to be a wrestler you had a ring in your backyard. Do you still have it?
“No, I gave it to Jungle Boy. He’s such an incredible dude. He and his dad and the family came over and we hung out in the ring.”
But you got trained in your own backyard by Peter Avalon?
“Yeah he’s just amazing. In the first training session I puked my guts up. That was just from bumps and being out of shape, he was giving me real wrestling training. In one of my first matches I cracked my ribs and then I had do a match with RJ City. With cracked ribs, just coughing or sneezing is painful, never mind taking bumps! I had to get an MRI because it was so painful.”
A lot of people in their 40s would start training, feel it hurt and go ‘I don’t need to do this.’
“Yeah but I had already started it though. The lesson I learned from the deathmatch was to not beat myself up so much. I had started drinking at that time too, but it was like a therapy for me, I learned a lot.”
I feel like people didn’t really understand this. When you said on talk shows that you were training to be a pro-wrestler, it was almost like you were the butt of the joke.
“Yeah and I see that a lot. It’s like I am Bozo the Clown making people laugh. Even my wife was cringing at it. But you have to know where you are going and what the point is. Once you go on the journey, you have to redirect and go after what you believe in. But I know that the people will catch up and think that it was cool. I was trying to get Cody Rhodes in the film too, it was right after all the AEW stuff was coming together. I wanted to have a match with him, I thought it would be funny to be like [as Cody] ‘You disrespected the belt to my dad and I’m gonna pay you back.’ That was my pitch to him. But we had started this documentary way before [AEW] and then this explosion in wrestling happened. I still don’t think that Hollywood takes wrestling as seriously as they should. Look at what The Rock is doing.”
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to move out to LA and become an actor?
“Well right now there are so many avenues. On our phones we can shoot a movie with cinematic mode. You can edit it and everything. But if you want to get involved in acting, there are some great coaches and plays. Or put on your own play, rent the theater. If you are determined and won’t let anything stop you, then start. Do what you love and post what you love, it will resonate and people will understand. Everyone has a story and everyone wants to tell it, but unless you tell it then no one will hear it.”
How do those knives work in Scream? They look so authentic.
“Well sometimes they have just the handels, sometimes they are spring loaded. The worst is when you get stabbed with the retractable one and it doesn’t go, that hurts. Sometimes it can be CGI and sometimes it’s rubber and they make it look better.”
26 years later you are still getting royalty cheques?
“I guess so but they are not as big as they used to be.”
As a former WCW Champion, what is your favorite match?
“I’m not great with that stuff. But it might be the Hogan one at Bash at the Beach or the one with all the motorcycles. I was an old school wrestling fan, I liked Junkyard Dog, Andre The Giant and The Macho Man. But my favorite is probably Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man from WrestleMania 3.”
What was it like trying to get footage from WWE for the documentary?
“I went to them really early on, because I wanted to do it with them, no deathmatches involved. But they were not interested and did not want to do it. I had a really bad experience where there were general managers of Raw and Scream 4 was coming out. I contacted Triple H and was like ‘This could be cool.’ I went out there and I don’t know, I was in a bad place and going through the divorce. It was in New Orleans and I ended up staying out all night. My voice had gone, I went out and tried to get heel heat, but I was off script and I’m pretty sure I p*ssed off Vince. I didn’t mean to, I have the upmost respect. But no one smartened me up to not do this, I was thinking it was like a house show, but it was Raw. It was a bad move.”
Did you approach AEW?
“That was the upsetting thing with AEW because a lot of the guys in AEW were in the movie. I wanted to do a match or something to promote the movie. They were like no, but I think it was TNT. They were trying to charge me.”
TNT was going to charge you to wrestle?
“No but it went through to the publicity department and it was like it costs this much to promote. We were looking to advertise on the shows or something within AEW, but they looked at it as ‘We charge this much to promote something in the ring.’ That was depressing because I knew how much it meant to the guys.”
I end every interview talking about gratitude. What are 3 things in your life that you are grateful for?
“My children, my wife and my health.”
Embedded images: Instagram
Featured image: IMDB