With Terry Gilliam’s new short film, The Legend of Hallowdega, premiering on LegendofHallowdega.com tomorrow after the AMP Energy Juice 500 race (the first chapter will be sneaked on ESPN just prior to the race at 1pm), I was able to get on the phone with David Arquette the other day. In the short film, Arquette plays a techno-geek paranormal expert who teams up with an investigative news show (Justin Kirk) to explore the mysteries around the Talladega Superspeedway. They’re trying to figure out if the race track was built on an old Indian burial ground and that’s the reason for the spectacular car crashes.
During the interview we talked about how happy he was to work with Terry Gilliam and how he’s been a fan his entire life. Of course with Arquette also starring in Wes Craven’s Scream 4, we also talked about what it was like to return to Woodsboro and what can fans expect. In addition, Arquette talked about how he’s going to be directing an episode of CSI: Miami and Cougar Town and some of his other films projects. Hit the jump to either read the transcript or listen to the audio:
If you’d like to listen to my interview with David Arquette, click here. Otherwise, the transcript is below. Remember to check out Terry Gilliam’s The Legend of Hallowdega on LegendofHallowdega.com tomorrow!
Collider: So where exactly are you right now?
David Arquette: New York City – down in Soho.
I like that area of the city.
Arquette: Yeah I love it here.
So, I definitely have to ask you – what’s the last year sort of been like for you? You get to revisit a character that you haven’t played in a very long time that a lot of people are looking forward to and you also work with Terry Gilliam.
Arquette: I know. It’s wild. I mean to go back to Scream after not being that character for ten years was really interesting. It came back really easy. And still that character’s got a lot of… that character and myself have a lot of things in common. And there’s an aspect of my human nature and comedy that blend pretty perfectly together. So it was really fun to get back to that set and get back in that uniform and you know I’m Sheriff Reilly now, I’m not Deputy Dewey. But there’s some growth there and we sort of return to Woodsboro where the original film took place so that was interesting too cause I was returning to the beginning of the film that changed my life. My first real big smash hit and a character that people really enjoy watching and it was a blast. And working with Courtney again as an actor and Wes Craven and Neve and not to mention the first A.D., and the wardrobe and the props guy and the D.P. These are all guys we worked with for 16 years, you know. We’ve all grown up together and experienced lives. I met my wife on the first one and now I’m married. But that was just a fucking thrill and then I get a call way towards the end of it ‘Do you wanna do a short film with Terry Gilliam’ and it was a dream come true for me because he’s one of my favorite directors. I love his artistic eye and his style and sort of everything that he brings to the table is just so unique and it’s a thing of its own.
I have a bunch of questions about working with Terry because I’m also a huge fan of his. What did you, obviously you’ve been in a number of projects. Did you do anything different preparing for this role? Did he give you any advice? I know you play like a techno geek kind of guy.
Arquette: I play a redneck scientist so you know all my little contraptions and stuff are very Gilliam-esque and I just did the first day and I felt kind of… I wasn’t really sure of my character yet. Felt like I might have been a little over the top at moments so I decided to take a long walk toward Talladega and I hitchhiked a couple times and I ended up walking this big stretch like a forty minute walk down the side of a highway just trying to get in the head of this guy. But you know a lot of things are different when you’re working with Terry Gilliam – like we we’re doing a wardrobe fitting and there’s this tattoo artist whose putting a fake tattoo on me and he’s wearing these punk rock pants, patches on them and everything, and Terry’s like ‘Hey can he wear your pants’ so he puts me in this guys pants and then he give me a vest and he says ‘Take this vest home and research Robert Flood’s Art and Alchemy. And then draw all over it and just leave these markers and shit.’ Covered the whole thing. So just things like that that you don’t ever think of. It’s really just great and he also cast the movie with locales and with people on the set and everyone. Just a really light fun vibe and he’s got a great child like heart and sense of humor so he’d come up right after a take that he’d loved and he’d just giggle and he was just like ‘Ha when you did that part’ and just keeps it really loose, free and fun.
Well could you talk a little bit about…I don’t know the technical aspects of this — how long was your shoot? Could you talk a little bit about how long were you were making the short film for?
Arquette: I think it was a two-day shoot, if I’m not wrong.
So we’re talking this is an in and out type of experience.
Arquette: Yeah, you just fly in and it’s run and gun. There’s a lot of dialogue and one of the scenes I wasn’t really nailing it but he was really helpful in finding me little ways to get there. So yeah, it was super cool but very quick.
Arquette: I was totally geeking out but I didn’t hit him with any real questions about any of his films. I did tell him though that I watched Time Bandits like twenty five times when I was a kid. Got obsessed with that movie and would go back and watch it all day long and then come back the next day and watch all day long again. And I just couldn’t tell him how much of an impression he made on me as a filmmaker and as an artist.
You’ve also obviously worked with Justin Kirk. I’m a big fan of his on Weeds. Could you talk a little bit about working with him? What was it like just working with Terry and the two of you?
Arquette: Justin is great. He’s just such a pro. He just comes on. He’s got a really natural vibe to him. So he’s very… he had a lot of fun with it. But he’s always grounded and he always comes from a place of character. His humor’s very subtle but he’s played this larger than life character as I did – so together we just get into this whole conspiracy. It’s just really fun to feed off him and sort of try to help capture what Terry wanted from us.
I know you’re in a movie called Conception by Josh Stuhlberg.
Arquette: Oh yeah, yeah. Forgot I was in that.
Do you mind talking a little bit about that. Who you play, what it’s about?
Arquette: Yeah, I’m sort of a bookend in that and I play a teacher in a school, in a kindergarten, so the kids are kind of going crazy and I’m trying to wrangle them and it just bookends all these stories of couples trying to conceive.
You worked with an interesting cast.
Arquette: Yea, but I only really worked with a bunch of five and six-year olds. So it was fun, but having a kid made it really easy to be able to communicate with them, and joke with them, and have a good time. Keep it light. That was fun having them scream at me and jump on my feet.
Arquette: Yea, totally. But they were pretty cool. These kids, they kept their cool and they did the whole day and were manageable.
I definitely want to ask another Scream 4 question. I recently spoke to Wes Craven on a red carpet for the Scream awards. We talked about the challenges of trying to tell a movie, and keep things under wraps, while there is a million paparazzi around and fans taking photos, seeing all the actors that are on set, and trying to learn as much as they can. Can you talk about the vibe and energy on set when you have everyone watching while trying to maintain secrecy on the movie?
Arquette: We have to sign our life away about story plots, and we’re not allowed to talk about certain things. One of the scripts got public on one of the other Screams on the internet, so that took some of the steam out of it which wasn’t cool. Everyone’s really protective of the story, so everybody who ever asked us questions, we were not allowed to say if we live or die or who the killer is, or killers are. There is a lot of excitement about it. It’s a really fun franchise and I truly believe that this is going to be the best sequel of the bunch because it does return to Woodsboro and I’m the sheriff now. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun for people and there’s a lot of history to play with since 10 years have passed from the last movie. It’s sort of a self-referential horror film, so they can draw on some of the success of more current films.
Wes told me that the last 10 years play a big part of the film. He used this term, meta.
Arquette: Yes! The meta word came up quite a bit. It was really interesting coming back to a set that you worked with for so long. Bringing these characters to life again. The first Scream was an important film for my career and my life, meeting my wife and everything. Just returning to it was really interesting.
A show that I really loved was Pushing Daisies, and you were in a few episodes of that. Could you talk about being on that show and did you also enjoy it as a fan?
Arquette: I did. I loved it as a fan and it was a really amazing show to be a part of. There were so many talented actors, actresses, writers, and filmmakers involved in it. Yea, I had a blast. It was kind of weird because I came in towards the end but everyone was really cool and embracing. I had a lot of fun. It was a big of a quirky character and I didn’t really know how far it was going to go or where they were going to take it. I just loved being a part of that world; it was such a unique vision for television.
Something that a lot of people might not know about you is that you have directed before. You’ve done Medium and a few other TV things. Do you have any plans for doing any more directing in the future?
Arquette: Yea, at the moment I’m prepping for CSI: Miami. So I’m doing one of those, which is really exciting. They’re just the greatest crew and cast, and they’ve been really helpful. So we’re here for one day doing my prep and go back tomorrow and nail it all down.
When you’re stepping into the CSI franchise, they sort of have a machine where it’s very set up and they have that formula. How much of yourself can you bring, or are you hoping not to crash the car?
Arquette: That’s exactly the point. It’s like each set has been doing it for nine years, they know their characters better than I ever will, and they know their camera look and moves and rules better than I ever will. So it’s really important to stay in tune with them, so you don’t do something that doesn’t represent the show. Where it does allow you to have some fun is finding bits of humor. You can also find interesting shots or ways to tell the story in a unique way that they may have not tried before. I personally feel it’s also my job to kind of keep the energy light, keep it moving, and make sure people are having a good time. Hopefully you’re not ruffling anybody’s feathers because this is their home and you’re just coming in and helping decorate it.
I know I have to wrap up with you, but are there other things that are floating around for you that might be coming up in the future? I know that according to IMDB, you might be in a movie called Sold.
Arquette: Yea, that’s an amazing movie that’s also a work of philanthropy. It’s based on a book about human trafficking in India of young kids. That’s a very serious one that I’d love to get going so that we could donate some of the proceeds of the film and help save some kids lives.
Is there anything else that is floating around or after CSI is it sort of a see what happens approach?
Arquette: I’m going to direct an episode of Cougar Town down the line. I’m also supposed to direct a Medium but I believe they’re being canceled, so that’s a bummer.
Yea, I heard that through the grapevine as well. I would imagine that you might have some fun working on Cougar Town.
Arquette: It’ll be a lot of fun. I love the cast and Courtney and the writers, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. I love doing comedies. It’s a truly loose and light, and you just keep it moving through the last day on and off the set.
I really want to thank you so much for your time today. Congratulations on getting to work with Terry Gilliam. I’m sure there are a lot of people that are very envious.