Robert Kojder chats with David Arquette about the new documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette…
On April 26, 2000, actor David Arquette got inside of a professional wrestling ring for real (while promoting the film Ready to Rumble) where questionable writing booked him to win the WCW Championship. Ever since David Arquette has been seen as a joke by an industry he loves through no fault of his own. You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a documentary that chronicles his return to the ring to learn the ropes and become a legitimate wrestler, frequently pushing himself beyond the limit into extremes. For wrestling fans, it’s definitely an easy and emotionally powerful watch, but the documentary also has universal appeal when it comes to fighting for acceptance and earning redemption. I highly recommend watching it, and especially checking out my interview with David Arquette below:
So what encouraged you or was the driving motivation to document all of this?
I came out surgery for two stents in my heart and I told my wife I can’t stop thinking about wrestling, and I have some unfinished business there. She just had no idea what I was talking about. She didn’t really believe in it, to begin with. So I went to Bryn Mooser and he really thought it would be a great idea. So then we just kinda did it. I knew it would take a lot. I knew I had to lose weight, so I knew I was going to be getting in shape. And I knew that the clock was running out on the time I could do this. Like my body wouldn’t be able to do it when I get older. So that’s why I wanted to do it. And also back in the time, when I went into WCW, they never let me train. They’d never let me do anything. I was always really frustrated about it. So it was a way to sort of address that too.
Did they give you any lessons at all? Or did they just throw you in there with no experience?
Very few lessons. Chris Kanyon was really helpful and DDP was really helpful, but ultimately I didn’t get that much training.
This might sound controversial, but as a lifelong wrestling fan, I’ve never felt that you disrespected the business. I think WCW had bigger problems than making you the heavyweight champion. I never felt you had to do any of this to redeem yourself. I found out about your redemption run while browsing Twitter, and it was the clip of the deathmatch. I remember thinking to myself two things: you’re fucking hardcore, and I hope to hell people stop harassing you over fictional events that happened 20 years ago. What would you say to someone like me that genuinely believes you never had to redeem yourself in the first place?
Thank you. I appreciate it. I’d say thank you for sure. I’d also say I had to redeem myself for myself. I had to redeem myself in my own eyes. If people are saying mean things to you on the Internet, it only really hurts if you believe them. If you’re listening to these things and it makes you angry inside, there’s something inside you that is causing that. So then you have to kind of go to the root of it, figure out what that is and try to address that pain and understand where it’s coming from. So that’s really sort of why I did it. And I kind of learned at the end that I had to do it for myself. And I learned that my wife (Christina Arquette) really is the one that deserves the belt. She’s the true champion through making this film and everything she had to put up with. It wouldn’t have got done without her. She really is a champion.
She’s awesome! To expand on that question, do you think you can be compared to someone like Ahmed Best who almost committed suicide over the vitriol he got for voicing Jar Jar Binks the Star Wars character?
Wow. That is so sad. I feel bad for him. You’d be surprised how sort of…
Toxic the internet can be?
Yeah; how toxic the internet could be, how mean people can be. Half the time they aren’t even thinking about it.
Have you ever received death threats over winning the WCW championship?
I’m not sure if I received death threats directly, I have received certain threats for sure throughout my life.
I did not know street wrestling was a thing before watching this. Now I’m curious, what’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen in the world of street wrestling?
Well I’d never seen it before either. So that’s a lot of the stuff you saw there. The craziest thing I’ve ever seen is having me go out there.
[Laughter from both of us]
I didn’t know I was supposed to go out there. I was not prepared for it, but those guys are just so talented at what they do and they do this during the day and then at night they’re in the biggest arena in Tijuana fighting in the biggest Lucha matches there are. So it was very cool to see.
One thing I found fascinating was your wizard robe and the theatrics of your entrance. Can you talk about how that evolved over time and maybe some ideas for the entrance that never came to fruition?
I did find this wizard robe years ago and I just knew I had it. I don’t know what I got it for. So I thought it would be funny to wear out there in a Ric Flair robe kind of way, but I never really got it too down, and my streamers are all from magic stores. I love magic and streamers and I always like surprising people. My gimmick’s kinda evolved. It’s my favorite aspect of wrestling. Especially when I get to tag team with RJ City, cause we have a real Laurel and Hardy kind of relationship; he’s really mean to me. And I’m just trying to entertain the people so it becomes this funny little dynamic.
You’re certainly a good entertainer.
What’s the one wrestling move you would love to learn, but will probably never be able to?
Oh man. I have tried a few of them. What’s the move? I’m just blanking right now.
Would you rather prefer to learn high-flying moves or submissions?
How about a corkscrew moonsault?
Yes, of course! I do love a corkscrew and moonsaults in general. I always wanted to try it because it’s just such a really spectacular move that if you get it down, you can do it for a long time.
So a large part of your drive comes from wanting to correct the perception that you are a joke in both wrestling and Hollywood, and it makes me wonder what kind of thoughts you’ve had or if it took a mental toll seeing your most recognized character Dewey from the Scream movies parodied in Scary Movie. Is that an honor or does it contribute to the negative thoughts?
It’s always kind an honor in a weird way, but what happened is people ended up calling me Doofy for years. Everyone is like “oh that’s Doofy!” That stuck with me for a while. I don’t know if it had a negative effect. Scream has been a real blessing in general, and gave me a lot of opportunity and was a film that people really love. It’s more of a setup for what we’re telling in this documentary but not necessarily. There’s a way of having a really calculated specific career where you only do really quality things and take your time, but you might not work for two years and I just don’t have that luxury. I’m a working actor who does it for a living. So sometimes stuff is stuff I love and believe in it. Sometimes it’s stuff I just have to do for work.
What it’s like crafting the first Scream film without Wes Craven directing?
It’ll be challenging for sure. I think we have really great directors with the Radio Silence guys.
I’m excited to be acting opposite Courteney again. That’ll be really fun to do, but without Wes it’ll be sad, but it will be also heartwarming to see his legacy continue. And I feel like he’ll be in spirit there on the set quite a bit.
It was an honor talking to you being a wrestling fan growing up and a film critic. It was great to watch this movie and do this interview with you. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Robert. That really touches me.
Many thanks to David Arquette for taking the time for this interview.
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, friend me on Facebook, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, check out my personal non-Flickering Myth affiliated Patreon, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com