The actor David Arquette has appeared in nearly 140 titles. The wrestler David Arquette had one big win: the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000. Almost two decades later, Arquette hoped to change the narrative that swirled around him, one focused on his lack of experience and care for wrestling, and his lack of seriousness in Hollywood. A new documentary from David Darg and Price James, You Cannot Kill David Arquette (review), explores Arquette’s journey on the independent wrestling circuit, which he attempted to take by storm around the age of 45 a few years ago.
AwardsWatch chatted with Arquette about seeing his life and near-death play out for audiences, his chance at redemption, and his place in popular culture.
Michael Frank: Have you watched the documentary recently?
David Arquette: Yeah, I watched a couple times. It’s pretty hard for me to watch. But the first time I saw a rough cut, I couldn’t even do it. So it’s tough to watch.
Why is it so tough to watch?
I see myself at different times, [and] that really captured a time in my life where a lot of things were kind of coming together. Years of therapy, diction issues, mental health issues. So it was all coming to this place where I do feel like I came out better on the other side. But it was a challenging journey for sure.
How do you want or think people will react? Do you want them to look at you differently?
I try not to think too much about that. Because I did want to open myself up. You know, I know that movies come from good places with this having a subject that’s really open and vulnerable and honest. So I knew I wanted that and they’re friends of mine, so it’s easy for them to get really comfortable and for everybody to just get to know each other. The first day we were shooting we got into a bar fight, which, like, how is that? How’s that possible? It was bananas. So I don’t know. It’s a little scary about how people are gonna see me after this. I do get social anxiety anyway, but it’s the good thing is that now that I’m also an actor and a wrestler, I can dress any way I want. There’s no holds barred under my fashion choices now.
Is there a certain way that you want people to see you in 10 to 20 years? In your place in pop culture?
I hope I just make people smile. That’s really my goal in life. To entertain people, to make them smile and laugh. I like doing emotional parts and things that go deeper and can get you to feel as well, but my main focus is laughter. It’s what I like to do in my life and what I like to do with my friends. What I like to try to set up, projects that I enjoy, have fun and love the people I’m doing it with. So there’s a little bit of a love halo around that.
There’s a big theme of redemption in the film. Do you feel like you’ve achieved some of that redemption?
Yeah, I do feel like I achieved what I set out to do. Strange, I was doing it for others, you know, to prove myself to the wrestling community. But what I learned and it’s a common lesson in general, but it’s that you got to love yourself. Like, that’s what life’s about, even in breakups or whatever it’s like, you have to find it. You have to fully love yourself or you can never really make it work. That was a big lesson for me to have that self confidence, believe in myself. Just keep going. You achieve what you set out to do, then what’s kind of the next goal. With this, it’s to continue making people happier. I don’t know If I will wrestle that much more or anything, I’d love to still be involved in the wrestling world. I’d like to be a bridge with wrestling in Hollywood and try to set up some films. That’s the dream after this, or to get a show on TV, cast “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, you know what I mean? I just think these guys have such incredible talent. I’d love to see Hollywood and the wrestling world get even more embedded together.
Are there certain special moments that didn’t make it into the documentary?
It was a lot of me and RJ City doing tag team stuff. We toured a bunch and there weren’t really a lot of cameras for that stuff. There were some moments with some real legends. I got to wrestle with the Honky Tonk Man, Jimmy Hart, and Greg Valentine. So that that wasn’t in it. Like there’s things like that, that were pretty incredible.
Is it nice that those moments aren’t in the doc for the world to see?
A little bit. I mean, part of the idea behind it, was to put a spotlight on a guy like RJ City. I think he’s such a talent and just an amazing person. A really talented wrestler. And Jack Perry, I think he’s just a movie star and he’ll be a really incredible actor in the future. I think it’s interesting when someone captures, at least parts of this journey that you kind of went through or had over the last few years. It’s hard for it not to get morphed in with how people react to it.
Have people’s reactions changed the way you’ve thought about the experience?
I’m trying not to listen to too many people. Trying to live more in the moment, do projects I really believe in, and kind of try to focus my energy on those. But it does [change it]. The fact that my daughter wasn’t hugely embarrassed by it was a huge thing for me. You go through the times of you feeling so alone, and nothing’s happening, and then it’s those people that are really there for you. So all this stuff is icing on the cake. It’s really great to be in a movie that people seem to be enjoying. That alone is a huge thing for me. I’ve done a bunch of stuff, which I’m proud of and I love them, but they just don’t crack through the noise. There’s a lot of things out there. Yeah, it’s good to just have something.
And how do you feel now? With everything that has happened over the last few years?
I feel good, I feel I’m in a much better place. It calmed me down a lot. Strangely. It got me to be able to sit with myself a lot easier. Not beat myself up as much. But it still happens in life, sort of like that roller coaster, so you have to be careful of it all. But I don’t know. I’m happy. I’m really enjoying time with my family. I realize too that’s the most important thing: your friends and family. So I just hope to keep doing fun stuff and hopefully entertaining people and having a smile and laugh. That’s my favorite. Laughing and smiling.
You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a Super LTD release currently on demand where streaming is available.