September 22, 2019

“Scre4m’s” David Arquette on Courtney Cox

Ghostface is back with “Scre4m,” and with it Courtney Cox and David Arquette, who met on the set of the first “Scream,” in 1996, married three years later, had a daughter but after 11 years of marriage are now in the midst of a trial separation.  In interviews with Oprah and Howard Stern, the two have explained their marital woes; and Arquette has been candid about his struggles in the aftermath of the split, which have included a car accident, substance abuse, and a fling with a cocktail waitress that gossip rags described as cheating, even though it took place after the separation. The actor has also discussed his stint in rehab, his more than 100 days of sobriety, his continuing therapy and his desire to reconcile with his wife.

Arquette’s strong feelings about family and fidelity were apparent when I spoke to him last year about his role in the play “The Female of the Species,” at the Geffen Playhouse; during the conversation, he twisted off his gold wedding ring to reveal the inscription he shares with Cox: “A deal’s a deal. 6-12-1999.”  The ornate script recalls the couple’s marriage in a multifaith ceremony in which Arquette broke a glass to honor his late Jewish mother, Mardi (nee Brenda Nowak), the daughter of a refugee from Nazi-occupied Poland.  (The actor’s late father, Lewis Arquette, was not Jewish).

The Journal story from 2010 was titled “David Arquette:  The Females in My Life;” appropriately, the actor arrived at the theater with his 6-year-old daughter, Coco, whom he conceived with Cox after grueling fertility treatments.  He proceeded to show Coco around the stage, and the French glass doors on the set where he would make his flamboyant entrance on opening night.  “Coco, this is my first line,” he demonstrated, as she happily ran around back stage.

Arquette came across as funny and sweet — he even hugged me — but also vulnerable and self-effacing as he spoke about the females in his life.  Here are some excerpts from our February 2010 interview:

NPM:  Tell me about the inscription on your wedding ring.

DA: Yes, it does say, “A deal’s a deal,” inscribed on the inside.  I love that I get to wear it in this play; for most roles I usually have to take my wedding ring off, and it’s always a bummer.

NPM:  Do you see any similarities between Coco and yourself as a child?

DA:  I can see in my daughter that she’s a little bit of a joker; she has fun, she’s a little silly…Maybe I was a lot more sensitive as a kid.  I fought through a lot of insecurities, and I still do (laughs). I get social anxiety at parties, just any kind of bigwig Hollywood function (sighs); it just drives me crazy.

NPM:  You did marry someone who is prominent in Hollywood.

DA:  But Courtney is great; she is awesome, and she actually is so real and confident.  I mean, she’s got her insecurities, too, but she’s very much at a place where she doesn’t really care about [celebrity]; she takes people for how they are and what they’re doing—their actions speak for themselves—and she’ll call anybody on being full of it.

NPM:  Including you?

DA:  Oh, all the time.  She totally balances me.

NPM: In an interview with Barbara Walters, [Cox] said that she had felt a bit insecure, early in your relationship, about all the beautiful women you were known to have had on your arm before you met.

DA: I guess I would be nervous around girls sometimes, but I’d find a way to sort of charm them, or try to charm, and I could see if somebody was sort of interested.  That always seems odd to me now; it just seems so foreign, like another person back then.

NPM:  How do you handle being married to someone who is much more successful than you are as an actor?

DA:  That really does bug me.  It’s not jealousy as much as I just have a drive to be successful; it’s ingrained in men to be, like, the breadwinner, and the type of success you get on a show like ‘Friends’ [Cox’s NBC hit] is a very rare opportunity.  But I’m getting less and less concerned with it and more and more accepting.”

NPM:  How do you remember your own parents’ marriage?

DA:  It was difficult; we were struggling a lot with money. [Arquette was born on a Virginia religious commune his parents co-founded that embraced aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, but later moved to Los Angeles.] And my parents had a very tumultuous relationship.  They loved each other deeply but they also were very different and they separated when I was around 18, but never got a divorce.  And then on my dad’s deathbed [while Arquette was shooting the action comedy, “Eight Legged Freaks”] he said, “Your mother was always the love of my life.”  That was so sad. It’s one of my big philosophies in life that, for men, if you’re going to be married and have kids, you have to make it work. Obviously if you’re in a bad relationship, it’s one thing, but some of the time, it’s you, and there’s a lot of work to be done on both sides. And I think men often have like a ‘grass is greener’ outlook on life and can easily be tempted into running off or just not wanting to be held down.  But it’s really important to work through things, to understand each other and try to be the best person you can be.

NPM:  How do you regard your family life?

DA: I’m unavailable to other people. My heart is closed, reserved for Courtney, my family and Coco, on a relationship level.

David, you are a sweetheart.  Good luck with your continuing sobriety and self-reflection—and may you create the family life that you most desire.