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Currently starring on NBC's "medium", Arquette has been around the business for over a decade. The youngest daughter in a family of three generations of performers, Patricia Arquette began her professional career as a teenager, appearing in made-for-TV movies and low-budget films. She was soon appearing in major theatrical releases, and seemed poised for superstardom after her leading role in True Romance. The Arquette children grew up in an environment that fostered creativity and freedom of expression. When Patricia was 15, she ran away to live with Rosanna, who had moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career. After several years on the commune, the rest of the family relocated to Southern California, and soon all the children became interested in acting. Patricia studied acting with Milton Katselas, and landed roles in films such as Pretty Smart (1986) and Daddy (1987), a made-for-TV movie in which she played a teenage mother. She gained attention following her appearance in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (also 1987), and guest starred in such TV series as thirtysomething, The Outsiders and Tales from the Crypt. In 1989, Patricia had a son, Enzo, with musician Paul Rossi. In 1990, Patricia starred in The Boy with the Crazy Brother, a CBS Schoolbreak Special directed by Diane Keaton. The following year, she played Viggo Mortensen's girlfriend in Sean Penn's directorial debut, The Indian Runner. For her second made-for-TV movie directed by Keaton, Wildflower (1991), Patricia won the CableAce Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries. 1993 proved to be a breakthrough year for the 25-year-old actress. She appeared in Trouble Bound, Inside Monkey Zetterland, and earned critical praise for her performance in Ethan Frome, opposite Liam Neeson. She also held her own against such acting talents as Christopher Walken, Gary Oldman and Dennis Hopper in True Romance (written by Quentin Tarantino), where she played Alabama Whitman, a high-strung, inexperienced call girl. She also began a brief romance with co-star Christian Slater during this time. More roles followed in 1994, including parts in the TV movie Betrayed by Love, Holy Matrimony and Tim Burton's bio-comedy Ed Wood, in which she portrayed Kathy O'Hara, the tolerant wife of the world's worst director. In 1995, Patricia turned in another fine performance, appearing as an American doctor caught up in the political turmoil of Burma, in John Boorman's Beyond Rangoon. On her 27th birthday that April, she married actor Nicolas Cage. Patricia returned to the silver screen in 1996's Flirting with Disaster, a comedy in which she played Ben Stiller's moody wife. She rounded out the year playing the wife of a Victorian-era anarchist/terrorist in The Secret Agent, and of nuclear physicist Richard Feynman in Infinity, directed by Matthew Broderick. In 1997, Patricia earned praise for her dual role of a murdered wife/femme fatale in David Lynch's twisted Lost Highway, and appeared with Ewan McGregor in the thriller Nightwatch.
She portrayed the unhappily married wife of a ranch hand in The Hi-Lo Country (1998), and starred opposite Gabriel Byrne in the horror flick Stigmata (1999). In Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead, she co-starred with husband Cage (1999). In November 2000, Arquette filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences." While the pair had been seen together in public during their marriage, it was rumored that they had lived separately nine months after they wed. The star couple divorced in May 2001. Patricia returned to comedy, appearing in the Adam Sandler vehicle Little Nicky (2000), which also featured her father Lewis. In 2001, she played a hirsute woman involved in a love triangle with an ape-like man in Human Nature, co-starring Tim Robbins. She starred in The Badge along with Billy Bob Thornton, a crime thriller that premiered on the STARZ! network in September 2002. In August, Patricia became engaged to actor Thomas Jane. The couple is expecting Patricia's second child in February 2003. 2003 will also see her in Tiptoes, alongside Gary Oldman and Matthew McConaughey, and Holes, based on a best-selling children's book, which co-stars Sigourney Weaver and Jon Voight. Patricia Arquette was born on April 8, 1968, in Chicago, Illinois.
''Medium'' starring Patricia Arquette is the first new TV show of 2005
She sees dead people. But you don't need to be a pop culture clairvoyant to know what comes next. She sees crimes as they happened. What you'll see are the fragments of other TV shows already on the air. Plus some that are dead and gone -- because they were bad.
"Medium," starring Patricia Arquette as "a typical young mother and law student who begins to suspect that she can see dead people, see the future in her dreams and read people's thoughts," according to NBC, is the first entry in television's midseason.
"Medium" is also the first new show of 2005. So much for fresh starts.
It doesn't take a sixth sense to figure out that the series is a hodge- podge of ideas already in play and an ever-so-slight spin on one former middling hit ("Profiler," also from NBC), and a canceled cult classic, "Millennium."
The twist here is that Arquette's character, Allison DuBois, is based on a real person -- Allison DuBois, a "research medium and criminal profiler." DuBois is considered one of the bright lights in the medium business because of a reportedly high success rate and her outspoken belief that there are a lot of charlatans in the field. She's young, good looking and in demand -- exactly the reason NBC was interested in this series from creator Glenn Gordon Caron ("Moonlighting" ).
The idea is a good one, if a familiar one, on paper. With the nonfiction TV success of other famous mediums (John Edward, perhaps the most recognizable of all, and James Van Praagh) waning, fiction is probably a better fit. The whole talking-to-dead-people thing is so much cleaner in a drama. It's all hits and few misses. None of that uncomfortable guesswork:
"I'm getting a feeling he loved driving fast cars."
"Actually, he was blind."
Now, whether or not you believe in all this stuff is unimportant. "Medium, " as a TV series, just isn't very good. The pilot, which establishes Arquette as the mother of two daughters and the wife of one very tolerant husband (Jake Weber, paying penance for his role in "The Mind of the Married Man"), is spotty. We learn that DuBois has been having these visions and assorted connections to the dead for some time. Yes, she's gifted. Special, even. But unfortunately the battle between making something less audience-terrifying than "Millennium" or smarter than "Profiler" proves a bigger challenge than, say, telling the cops where bodies are buried.
This is not Arquette's fault. She's a welcome kind of heroine for television -- more full-bodied than the rest of the Size 2's with guns, but also conflicted and sassy, too. She's trying to become a lawyer but realizes, while interning for the D.A., that she can't hide her talents anymore. Prompted by these relentless and brutal visions of dead people or murderers, her husband finally faxes off some of her recollections to police departments around the country. The Texas Rangers bite, because DuBois knows the name of an underage child molester whose name has never been released.
This first hour of "Medium" is at least intriguing. Arquette has enough appeal to last 60 minutes and overcome some flat spots in the script, but there's never enough originality here to keep viewers enthralled in the long run.
And this point is proven with alarming precision in the second episode. Every free pass given to the pilot is hereby rescinded with the inclusion of the episode, "Night of the Wolf." If NBC felt so strongly this additional episode would flesh out the direction of the series -- critics are always clamoring for more evidence of creative progress -- then woe is you.
Like the pilot, this second episode opens with a dream sequence. Arquette, as DuBois, is dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood and walking through an airport. Swinging a basket and everything. She hears a snarl, turns and sees a wolf. The wolf gives chase (never mind that it's the slowest human versus beast race ever filmed -- it's a dream, so you go with it). She wakes up in her daughters' room, a book of "Little Red Riding Hood" on her lap.
Which is fine, really. Until the episode concludes with a ridiculous doozy. This is a plot spoiler, but worth the laugh and perhaps fair warning of what you're getting into: The story involves a woman whose fiance was murdered in front of her (almost too graphic for its 10 p.m. time slot, by the way). The killer turns out to be a corrupt narcotics cop whom she identifies moments before she's about to board a plane and flee to safety. After she signs the report, she puts on -- you guessed it -- a bright Little Red Riding Hood coat. Who should bust through the airport screener, gun in hand? Yes, the dirty cop. His last name? Wolf.
My, what gigantic visual cliches you have. Granted, there's not much else going on at 10 p.m. Monday night. But they also see dead people on "CSI: Miami," and there's a whole lot less nonsense involved.
Patricia Arquette Finds 'Medium' Cool
Under normal circumstances, it's easy to ignore false bravado from the people involved in a new television show. Allison DuBois, however, can read minds and communicate with the dead and when she has feelings, they often turn out to be correct, so when Allison DuBois says with some confidence that "Medium," an NBC drama based on her life, will be a hit, it's probably best to believe her.
Of course, much of the success of "Medium" will ride on whether viewers at home are willing to accept the idea of a suburban soccer mom who fights crime with the help of her special gifts. Certainly Patricia Arquette, who plays DuBois on the show, is convinced.
"Between rolling and cut, I have to believe 100 percent," Arquette says. "I do believe in this 100 percent. I do believe that certain people have the capacity to do this. I also believe 100 percent there's a lot of charlatans out there."
DuBois is quick to agree with her on-screen alter ego. Growing up aware that she could communicate with the Great Beyond, DuBois was always sure of her own sanity, but when she told her father about her powers, his advice was "Tell no one." She hopes that people watching the show won't think that her character is crazy, but she insists that absolute belief shouldn't be a requirement.
"I actually encourage people to be skeptical and I think you can be skeptical and watch this," DuBois says. "I just hope that people who are skeptical and watch it can keep somewhat of an open mind even if they're not a firm believer in it, that they can entertain the idea that it's possible."
"Medium" is created by Glenn Gordon Caron ("Moonlighting") and the series comes from Kelsey Grammer's shingle Grammnet Productions. Grammer's team came across DuBois when casting psychics for a pilot titled "The Oracles." Almost a year and a half after that show failed to go forward, the company approached DuBois, who assists police departments and works as a jury consultant (without accepting payment) when she isn't raising her three daughters, about basing a show around her life. DuBois, about to lose all semblance of anonymity, is a consultant on the show, but she admits that her role in the actual production may be minimal.
"My phone rings from them and I just answer it," she says, summing up her duties. "Maybe they call and say 'What does it look like when you look through the killer's eyes?' or 'What do children who have passed look like?' 'How do they feel?'"
She adds, "I get to see the scripts, but I have really no say and no power."
One person who does have power is Arquette, as the "True Romance" and "Stigmata" star is making her first extended foray into series television.
"I was reading a lot of movies and I just thought they were written so terribly," she admits. "It's always been material that's driven my choices anyway. I don't like the concept that I'm not supposed to do TV because it's not as elite as film or something."
Although Arquette is very open about the ways she's changed Allison's character for the small screen, what mostly drew her to "Medium" was DuBois' real-life relationship with husband Joe (played by Jake Weber), a dynamic that keeps the show from becoming "Law & Order: Psychic Division."
"It's kinda a sexy, but boring relationship," she laughs. "It's a good formula to watch to figure out how to have a successful marriage, because they really are partners and they want to be good parents. That's an important dynamic to me. I didn't want to do a procedural show per se."
While early criticisms about the pilot have centered on just how infallibly omniscient the character of Allison seems to be, DuBois maintains that she's never been wrong while working on a case, nothing that "the things you would think couldn't be true, happened."
She points out, "I don't think anybody's ever going to agree on anything in this world, so I don't feel too badly that not everybody can agree on me."
"Medium" premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 3 on NBC.
Patricia Arquette plays real-life psychic detective in new NBC series ''Medium''
In 1987's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Patricia Arquette played someone with psychic powers. Now, she'll do it on a weekly basis.
In Medium, which premieres next month (check local listings), Arquette plays Allison Dubois, a real-life Arizona woman known for her apparent ability to communicate with dead people. Married to an aerospace engineer and the mother of three, Dubois was studying law when she discovered her psychic abilities could provide research in solving murders and missing-person cases.
Arquette says she asked many questions of Dubois to try to fully grasp the mystery of her powers, learning the information "doesn't come to her in a linear fashion . . . you are just getting snippets of images of something in the future and something in the past . . . That is part of what the show's episodes are about - her trying to piece together the whole picture and figure out, 'What does this really mean?' "
Easier to grasp was Dubois' family life.
"She has a funny relationship with her husband (played by Jake Weber)," Arquette explained. "They are flirty and funny together - they kind of mess with each other and enjoy each other's funkiness and sense of humour. They are good friends and great partners."
Arquette did change one aspect of Dubois' character: "She seems very self-confident. I wanted my Allison to be a little more affected by the judgments she makes."
She reasons this will provide viewers with more insight because some people "still feel like it's evil and devil work or whatever, so you want to be as open as you can, so people can empathize with you and feel like they can come along with you on this journey."
Executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron, whose previous credits include the romantic private-eye series Moonlighting, says he's less interested in capturing "the extraordinary part" of Dubois' life than "the ordinary part of it."
He says the show probably skews 60-40 in favour of "how to be a functional human being when you realize your perception of reality is different from everyone else's."
But this is mainstream television, so there will, of course, be crime-solving action each week.
Caron believes Arquette is perfect for the version of Dubois he has created, whose "incredible intuitive powers lie in her incredible lack of vanity. You have the sense this is a person who doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time looking in the mirror, because so much of her energy goes outward, and that's something you instantly feel with Patricia. She's not a vain person at all."
Arquette won a CableACE award playing an epileptic girl in the 1991 TV movie Wildflower, directed by Diane Keaton, but this is her first starring role in a network series.
Now 36, she continues to carry on a family legacy. Grandfather Cliff Arquette (best known as Charlie Weaver) and father Lewis were both actors. Siblings Rosanna, Alexis, Richmond and David all act.
Born in Chicago, she was 18 when she gave herself a year to find work in movies.
"I was really shy and one of the hardest things to deal with in acting is rejection," she recalled. "So I had to create a way for myself to get rejected all the time and yet feel all right about it. So I told myself I was going to try hard every day for a year, even if I fell flat on my face each day."
She made it, of course, starring in an eclectic variety of films for innovative directors such as Tim Burton in Ed Wood, David Lynch in Lost Highway, Sean Penn in The Indian Runner and John Madden in Ethan Frome.
Formerly married to Nicolas Cage, Arquette is engaged to actor Thomas Jane, and they have a daughter, Harlow, who will be two in February. She also has a 16-year-old son, Enzo, from her relationship with musician Paul Rossi.
And, no, she can't see into the future.
Her joke is: "I'm not psychic. I dreamed John Kerry won the election!"
''Medium'' starring Patricia Arquette picked by SCI FI channel in the UK
SCI FI Channel in the U.K. has picked two new Paramount series–Medical Investigation and Medium–for its 2005 primetime slate, as well as seasons four and five of Fireworks International's Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.
"SCI FI's latest acquisitions are clear evidence of our commitment to compelling mainstream entertainment that widens the appeal of the channel while continuing to serve our core viewers," commented Dan Marks, the president of SCI FI U.K. "We have built up a considerable momentum in the last quarter and we're confident that these shows will further sustain that success."
Medical Investigation, airing on NBC on Friday nights, follows an elite team of medical experts as they investigate rare disease outbreaks. The mid-season replacement Medium, also for NBC, stars Patricia Arquette as a psychic enlisted to solve a series of crimes. It is expected to launch on SCI FI later in 2005.
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, meanwhile, charting the adventures of Captain Dylan Hunt and his crew, launches on January 5.
The channel has also scooped up the Steven King mini-series Salem's Lot from Warner Bros. Starring Rob Lowe and Donald Sutherland, the 2x90-minute production first aired on TNT. Also coming to the network are From Earth to the Moon and two British science-fiction classics, The Last Train and The Uninvited.
New Series Instant Star and Medium Lead CTV's 2005 Additions in Canada
Instant Star, CTV's newest Canadian dramatic series, is one of two new series joining the network's top-ranked, prime-time schedule in January, 2005. The other is U.S. import Medium, and together they are joined by four returning hit series: American Idol, Alias, W-FIVE and The Simple Life.
In Medium, Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette) sees dead people. In fact, she hears them too. She's not crazy, though her rocket scientist husband Joe (Jake Weber) thought she was at first. So did Allison herself, until she realized that her "gift" could not only change fate, but provide justice for those who no longer had a voice. Don't think Allison is totally comfortable with all of this; in fact, she's as creeped out as everyone else. Plus, there are the jarring slices of disturbing crime scenes that pepper Allison's thoughts, adding to her ability to know exactly what those around her (dead or alive) are thinking. Luckily, Allison has a great sense of humour along with her sixth sense. The real challenge is convincing law enforcement agencies around the country that Allison is the "real deal."
Patricia Arquette headlines NBC's latest 'high concept' show
The success this season of Desperate Housewives and Lost may have opened some doors for less conventional programs at the networks. The latest entry in this line comes Jan. 3 on NBC (WSMV, Ch. 4) with the debut of Medium at 9 p.m.
Patricia Arquette plays Allison Dubois, a reluctant crime fighter with a special gift. She sees and hears dead people, often encountering them at the worst possible times. Of course, almost no one believes this except her husband Joe (Jake Weber), and even he has to be convinced. Dubois must also get highly skeptical law enforcement agencies to acknowledge that she's the genuine article and not a fraud.
Medium lands in an extremely tough time slot. LAX opened well there, then was quickly obliterated when CSI:Miami (currently either the second or third rated show most weeks) returned. Secondly, given the inferior quality of USA network's The Dead Zone, it remains to be seen how much audience NBC can attract for the program. One plus for the show is its creative team. Glenn Gordon Caron (Moonlighting) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier are among the executive producers, so hopefully the plots may be a bit better than the usual crime drama fare. Arquette has previously been seen in the films Stigmata and Flirting With Disaster, while Weber recently appeared in U-571. Others in the cast include April Grace, Maria Lark, Miguel Sandoval and Sofia Vassillieva. The program has an initial 13-episode order.
Though not yet as busy as other super producer types like Dick Wolf or Jerry Bruckheimer, J.J. Abrams may soon approach their status. Besides having two shows on ABC in 2005 with Lost and Alias, Abrams is directing Mission: Impossible 3 and working with Cheri Oteri to develop a situation comedy. He was also supposed to have a new bounty hunter show The Catch ready for ABC in January, but that project has been pushed to the back burner. John Eisendrath, who previously worked with Abrams on such shows as Felicity and Alias, is now teaming with him on The Catch, serving as an executive producer and also co-writing the pilot script. No new date for the start of the series has yet been given.
Human Nature of Patricia Arquette
Two observations come to mind after watching Human Nature: Either Patricia Arquette was raised in a hippie commune or she's just very comfortable in the nude. Wandering through the Central Park Zoo, the 34-year-old actress is demurely dressed in an I heart New York T-shirt, jeans and a long tan coat. She smokes clove cigarillos, which, because they're so long and she's so small, lend her the appearance of someone who's familiar with South American politics. But for the benefit of the pandas and penguins, she sticks to topics like unwanted hair, puberty gone haywire and how you can't always get what you want.
"Do you think he's molting for the winter?" Arquette asks, watching a brownish polar bear laze on a rock. "Those kinds of bears travel for miles. They do a good job here, but it's sort of depressing." The Zoo's a strange place to talk about relationships, but it's in keeping with the theme of Arquette's new film. A satire on the concept of humanity's purity in nature -- which is why, on a balmy spring day, we're conversing at a kind of wildlife preserve in the middle of Manhattan -
- Human Nature is about how you can escape the city but how you can't escape yourself,
especially if you're covered in fur. That's a stance the monkeys seem comfortable enough with, but it's something Arquette's character has to learn the hard way.
She's played women with problems before, but none of them have ever
presented problems quite so hairy. In the new comedy, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), Arquette stars as Lila Jute, a woman whose name sounds as Nordic as her hormones are unbalanced.
Afflicted with a disorder that causes hair to grow all over her body, Lila endures a nightmare adolescence strangled by conventional notions of beauty, and she's convinced she'll be unlucky in love. (This isn't the sort of hair she can simply shave off, though she tries -- we're talking pelt.)
Instead of self-destructing or bathing in Nair, Lila heads for the woods, lives naked and free, and becomes the best-selling author of non-fiction nature books, only to realize that a life without love isn't worth living. She returns to the city, depilates and is introduced by her electrolysist (Rosie Perez) to an incredibly repressed behavioral scientist named Nathan Bronfman (Tim Robbins) who's teaching table manners to mice. They fall in love -- or what passes for it in Charlie
Kaufman's universe -- and, during a romantic walk in the woods, encounter Puff (Rhys Ifans), a wildman of the forest.
Nathan seizes the opportunity to civilize Puff. He enlists Lila's help. Hijinx ensue. The film spoofs our need for companionship and desire for control. It also calls for a courageous amount of nudity. Although Arquette's appeared naked onscreen before (see David Lynch's droning desert meditation, Lost Highway), she makes it clear that disrobing for the camera isn't exactly her favorite activity.
"I understand what's beautiful about being naked in this movie," she explains, sitting in the Zoo's Leaping Frog Café. "Even though it's a comedy and all of that, it's to show Lila's naturalness, to show her attempt to be comfortable with herself. That she ought to be able to be comfortable with herself. That we ought to be able to be comfortable being naked, and it doesn't have to be about sex. I would resent it if someone told me I had to be naked, or forced me. Making that choice [to take the role] agreed with my values."
With her snaggle-toothed beauty and winsome vulnerability -- the same qualities she's imbued with in any number of her characters, like Alabama Whitman, the ass-kicking blond of 1993's True Romance -- Arquette evokes a warm, sympathetic response from the audience, even if Lila's problems are so outlandish most post-pubescent people will find it difficult to relate. She's also a joker, evinced by her cry of "Anaconda!" as we're walking through the Zoo's rainforest area.
"She's exactly what we needed for Lila," says Kaufman, phoning in from his Los Angeles home,
where he writes his magical scripts. "We didn't want Lila to be a joke, and we wanted people to be with her and it was always an issue as to whether we were going to have that because of her physical appearance."
Inspiring compassion for disabused heroines is one of Arquette's strengths. In Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead, appearing opposite her then-husband, Nicolas Cage, she played a hard-bitten woman recovering from drug addiction; in 1999's Stigmata, she was possessed by
ancient Christian demons while living in a stylish loft; and in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, one of her first roles, she played Kristen Parker, the teen who vanquishes Freddy Krueger to purgatory between sequels. "I was regurgitated by a snake," she says,
laughing. "It wasn't all that scary, actually. I mainly had to lie in the snake's mouth for hours while they fixed its makeup."
(When I admit that I've long thought that her portrayal of Kristen made the film the
best in the Freddy franchise, she jokes, "Oh yeah, you're a Dream Warrior. I bet you like to do kicks and flips in your dreams.") She says she likes scary movies because they're good for dates.
"There's something really fun about being scared," she says of her favorite fare, like The Exorcist and Dawn of the Dead, noting the lack of solid fright films in the theaters. "Yeah, we need some more horror movies. But I love Scream 2. I mean, my sister-in-law's in it, my brother, my dad was in it -- what's not to like? Come on! That's my whole family!"
The daughter of actor Lewis Arquette, and sister of famous film siblings Rosanna, Richmond, Alexis and David (husband of Courteney Cox), she's part of a Hollywood dynasty with credits that include everything from Crash to the 1-800-CALL-ATT guy. Born in Chicago but raised in a commune in Virginia, Arquette says she was an "introverted extrovert" from a colorful, close-knit family that, by anyone's standards, made for an interesting childhood.
Her parents, both deceased, subscribed to two different faiths -- her mom was Jewish and her father converted to Islam.
And as much as her brother David's known for his onscreen antics, her brother Alexis (also known as Eva Destruction) is benefiting from a successful drag career.
After bouncing around from school to school, Arquette left home when she was 15 to live with her older sister Rosanna in Los Angeles.
"I don't like authority in general," she says. "We weren't supposed to question authority, and teachers could be sort of rude to you and that was acceptable.
I didn't like that sort of double-standard. And I'm still not good with authority -- I've kind of accepted that about myself. This little dog isn't going to learn any new tricks any time soon."
Life with Rosanna was fun: She met Madonna on the set of Desperately Seeking Susan,
enjoyed West Coast independence and built a film career from scratch. "I felt like I was too shy to do it, so I had to psyche myself into acting," she says.
"I said I was going to give myself one year, from when I turned 18 to 19, and really try. Even if I failed every day, I'd still get back up and try again for one whole year.
So I'd have tried one of my dreams, and if it didn't work, I'd go back to school and try another dream. But I got work." She also got pregnant (by musician Paul Rossi), and in 1989 gave birth to her son Enzo.
Arquette's protective of her privacy, a quality to be expected from a woman who's lived very much in public. But after wedding Nicolas Cage in secret in 1995, she says the media attention became destructive and the marriage collapsed in 2000. Their courtship was a fairytale --
Arquette asked Cage to prove his love by obtaining one of pop culture's last holy relics,
reclusive author J.D. Salinger's autograph (Cage bought it at an autograph store) -- but the ending, though amicable, was rough. "It's always hard to make that decision to get divorced," she says quietly.
"We've both moved on with our lives, and I think it's important to honor the people we're with now,
and concentrate on the future." She refuses to complain about the dirty side of fame, but it's clear that Arquette wants to keep her private life private. "I have this strict sense of honor, and sometimes it feels like I can't defend what's sacred to me from the world."
That, more than running naked through the forest, singing to woodland creatures or falling in love with a man so constrained by the rules of polite society he shocks mice into learning the difference between salad and dinner forks, is what Arquette found appealing about Human Nature. At its base, the film is a story about how people change -- willingly or not -- when they enter relationships.
"It's about how you'll alter yourself to get what you want," Arquette says, referring to Lila's shaving mishaps while she struggles to keep her relationship with Nathan viable.
"But it's also about how you don't want it once you get it -- you want something else.
At the end of the day, you're screwed because you're left with yourself. And there's no perfect person who's going to distract you long enough. You can be in love and be lonely being in love because you're still there."
The film is the feature-length debut from French director Michel Gondry (who, coincidentally, also shot Björk's "Human Behavior" video), and is awash with near-human mice and a shimmering, hyper-real wilderness; the fantasy touches help smooth out the film's rougher, less-believable edges.
"There are not so many actresses who would agree to do this role," Gondry says. "When we started talking about this, Patricia said that she'd have to get into better shape, but she was so beautiful I didn't want her to change that." Kaufman agrees.
"We were all amazed how beautiful Patricia looked with the hair on her," the writer says.
"When we got the first test photographs of the make-up, it was like, 'Wow.' It's really kind of lovely, I thought, if you can get past the preconceptions of it."
For her part, Arquette says that she had little trouble staying in character. Between manufacturing herself a merkin from one of Puff's thicker beards ("Everybody was like, 'What is up with your pubes? You've got a lot of pubes!' and I was like, 'Look, I'm not going to show my own pubes here!'") and contracting poison oak, she became the set's resident healer. Her naturopathic remedies both soothed and amused the cast and crew.
"Sometimes characters come into your reality in a very strange way," she says.
"Suddenly it was like, 'I need a driver! Who can go to this store in Long Beach? I need 64 pounds of Mugwort! I need 26 gallons of white vinegar! I need fresh lavender! They were all like,
'What the hell is she making?'"
Like Lila, Arquette's an earthy, grounded person with an appreciation for the natural world.
In real life, she owned a flower shop "for a minute," has two dogs and a salamander named Sally.
She's a devoted Malibu mom who gets up at 6 a.m. to make her son breakfast before school.
And when she's not acting, Arquette jokes she "puts on a corset and cleans the damn house like every other American woman."
She's involved in a variety of private projects, and is happy to be able to do public work she's proud of. "I identify with Lila," Arquette says from behind blonde bangs.
"She has this aspect about herself where she feels like there's something that she needs to change or apologize for to deserve love. I've certainly felt like if I was different -- in this or that way -- my whole life would be different."