Patricia Arquette Interview: ‘The Act’ and Playing Intense, Challenging Characters

The Act Patricia Arquette and Joey King
Patricia Arquette and Joey King star in ‘The Act’ (Photo by: CZ Post/Hulu)

Hulu’s original series The Act explores the true crime case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Dee Dee was committing Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy on her daughter, Gypsy. Gypsy ultimately met an online boyfriend who killed Dee Dee to help Gypsy escape.

Patricia Arquette plays Dee Dee in season one of The Act opposite Joey King as Gypsy. This comes right after she played the real life Tilly Mitchell in Showtime’s award-winning Escape at Dannemora. Arquette spoke with reporters after the Television Critics Association panel for The Act. New episodes of The Act premiere Wednesdays on Hulu.

Lifetime did a version of this story a few months ago with Marcia Gay Harden.

Patricia Arquette: “I heard. I didn’t get to see it. I really want to see it and I love her as an actress. I want to see it. I think it’s very different from ours. Obviously we have eight hours to explore, they had two hours.”

After these last two roles do you want to play a really glamorous high society role next?

Patricia Arquette: “Well, I did do a little comedy in between that’s not quite so heavy as all of these things. She’s still like a hippie lady but I don’t know. I just have to shake all this out of my mind. These are intense people and kind of depressed and heavy. Their survival mechanisms are really intense, so I just want to take a break for a minute.”

As a mom is it hard to relate to this mindset of someone who loves their child so much they don’t want to ever let them leave??

Patricia Arquette: “Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a natural instinct to worry about your kid and love them. What was great about this was we started this, I guess, in September. That was right when my daughter was going away to school. So I was like I’m going to put all my crazy missing of my daughter, and then I’m going to expand it by 1,000, all my missing of her, all my worry about her, all my everything about her. So it’s taking I think a natural, normal thing to a distorted level. I really deeply believe this in these moments, the stakes were very high for Dee Dee in these moments.”

How necessary is it for you to relate to characters like this?

Patricia Arquette: “That’s a really interesting question. I have in the past felt like oh, we all have human behavior but we have distortions of human behavior in different ways or different ways of explaining it. Now that you say that, I’d like to play one character once that doesn’t believe it, that doesn’t have a commitment to that.”

Have you spoken to Tilly since Escape at Dannamora came out?

Patricia Arquette: “No, no. I wish her well but she’s very upset and so I understand. I understand.”

The Act Patricia Arquette and Joey King
Joey King and Patricia Arquette in a scene from season 1 of ‘The Act’ (Photo by: Brownie Harris/Hulu)

Have you paid a price emotionally or mentally to play these two roles so close together?

Patricia Arquette: “I think it is a little bit heavy to carry around emotionally that stuff. I definitely feel like my mind and heart needs a break. Not that I’m crazy. I can leave it at the end of the day, but there is a little residual because when you go home, then you’re working on tomorrow. So it never exactly goes away but physically more than anything.

It’s very hard. There was a point where I thought I was going to have a heart attack from gaining weight, keeping it all this time. We were up in high altitudes and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t breathe great. This is kind of not good.'”

How are you taking care of yourself physically now that you’re done with these roles?

Patricia Arquette: “We just wrapped two days ago so I’m going to go into this more healthy program of just going back to healthy eating, vegetables.”

If The Act comes back with a different story, would you stay in the company?

Patricia Arquette: “I thought that was a very interesting concept but I really can’t even think of anything right now other than just downloading, figure out who I am, who are they.”

Is this better than network television which you’ve also done?

Patricia Arquette: “I think so. On a network show, 22 episodes, you’re constantly working but you’re also having to tie every story up every episode. With this, you’re doing more in depth discovery of the characters and I do like that.”

What female character on TV really inspires you?

Patricia Arquette: “I’m actually behind. I’m really behind, just trying to catch up on movies and everything.”

How about of the past?

Patricia Arquette: “There’s a lot of them. I’m a Game of Thrones maniac so I’m excited they’re back. Elisabeth Moss in Handmaid’s Tale, that’s obviously a great part. I love Westworld.”

How’s the food at awards shows?

Patricia Arquette: Food? It’s okay but okay, it takes a long time to get through the red carpet. I think it’s the Golden Globes, they take away all the plates if you don’t eat before the show starts. So all the talent gets there and then there’s no food. There’s just a bunch of champagne so that’s why Melissa McCarthy smuggled in a bunch of sandwiches, sent them to everyone’s table.”