Also Credited As:Patricia T Arquette
|Patricia T Arquette on April 8, 1968 in Chicago, Illinois, USA|
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Patricia Arquette was born on April 8, 1968, though she first gained attention while she was still in the womb. Family lore stated that while participating in a Civil Rights march that spring, Martin Luther King Jr. spotted weighty mom-to-be Mardi Arquette and insisted she ride on the bus with him. Mardi made it back home to Chicago in time for Arquette's birth, and there she joined siblings Rosanna, Richmond, and Robert (future transgender performer Alexis). Dad Lewis was a player with the Second City improv group and had earlier been a member of the influential San Francisco comedy group The Committee. His father Cliff Arquette was popularly known as Charley Weaver on dozens of TV shows during the 1950s and 1960s. In 1970, the peace-loving Arquette family moved to a spiritual-based commune near Arlington, VA, where youngest brother David was added to the family and all the kids could live surrounded by nature and far from materialism and mass media.
The hippie kids were in for a bit of culture shock in 1974 when the Utopian experiment ended and the Arquettes relocated to Los Angeles. Dad Lewis began a steady career on TV including a long-running role on "The Waltons" (CBS, 1972-1981) and mom Mardi ran a children's theater workshop. Her own children were beginning to show a flair for performing, with Rosanna training on stages in San Francisco before landing film roles, and brother Robert embarking on a small screen career of his own. Arquette attended arts-oriented magnet schools in Los Angeles, running away from home at age 14 to live with older sister Rosanna, but honing in on acting and training with renowned drama coach Milton Katselas. At 18, she landed her first role in the teen genre picture, "Pretty Smart" (1986), and by the following year, she was pregnant with a son.
Arquette certainly had a lot of perspective to bring to the role of a teenage mother in the TV movie "Daddy" (ABC, 1987), following that up with a solid run of appearances that belied her busy schedule as a single mom. She landed a starring role in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" (1987) and a string of credits as "offbeat" teens in "Time Out" (1988) and Sam Shepard's "Far North" (1988), as well as various TV spots. She had the distinction of starring in two small screen projects directed by Diane Keaton: a CBS Schoolbreak Special entitled "The Boy With the Crazy Brother" (1990) and the long form, "Wildflower" (Lifetime, 1991). In the latter, the actress essayed the demanding role of a young girl with epilepsy, whose stepfather keeps her locked up and believing she is possessed by demons. The newcomer earned a CableACE award for the performance, which tapped the actress' flair for fragile vulnerability and the honest quality that was soon in demand by distinguished film directors.
It was just these qualities that inspired first time director Sean Penn to cast Arquette as the tender girlfriend of Viggo Mortensen in "The Indian Runner" (1991). She likewise delivered a heartrending Mattie Silver, the life force in the otherwise bleak Wharton adaptation "Ethan Frome" (1993). Arquette's breakout performance came later that year when she more than held her own alongside heavy-hitters Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper in the Quentin Tarantino-scripted "True Romance." The much-hyped film also showcased another side of the actress - that she could convincingly beat a man to death in her underwear. Tim Burton tread lightly on the potential for jarring weirdness by casting her as the tolerant wife of eccentric filmmaker "Ed Wood" (1994) in his black & white biopic on the deficient film director. The following year, Arquette was a surprising but effective choice to play the lead of an American doctor caught up in the political turmoil of Burma in John Boorman's "Beyond Rangoon" (1995).
Arquette's growing status in the independent film world seemed complete with her marriage that year to actor Nicholas Cage, who himself had traversed art house territory on his way to becoming a box office star. The pair had initially met in 1989, with Cage reportedly proposing to Arquette the first time they crossed paths at a Los Angeles deli. The coy actress sent him away with a treasure hunt of items she would require in order to entertain his proposal, including a black orchid, J.D. Salinger's autograph, and a statue from a Big Boy restaurant. Cage fulfilled the conditions, but the pair barely lasted a few dates before going their separate ways. A decade later, they met again by accident - supposedly at the same deli - and decided it had to be fate, tying the knot not long after.
The dramatic actress jumped at the chance to do her first straight-up comedy, starring opposite Ben Stiller as the moody spouse of an adopted man seeking his birth parents in "Flirting With Disaster" (1996). She gave a much subtler dramatic performance opposite Matthew Broderick in "Infinity" (1996), a biopic about Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman. While she earned some praise from reviewers for her dual turn as the murdered wife of a jazz musician and a blonde femme fatale in David Lynch's "Lost Highway" (1997), the overall film was generally critiqued for being overly confusing and pretentious. Arquette undertook a similar vixenish type in Stephen Frears' "The Hi-Lo Country" (1998), playing the unhappily married ranch wife who embarks on an affair with a rival cattleman. Taking a darker turn, she starred in the supernatural thriller "Stigmata" (1999), which debuted at number one at the box office but stirred controversy for its depiction of the Catholic Church.
Arquette had clearly made a successful transition from independent film to box office notable, next appearing in Martin Scorsese's well-received New York City ambulance drama "Bringing Out the Dead" (1999) with Cage. The working partnership may have put the final strain on the pair's on-again/off-again relationship. They officially split the following year. Not one to lick her wounds, Arquette cut loose in another broad comedy and box office hit, Adam Sandler's son-of-Satan send-up, "Little Nicky" (2000). She rebounded to regain her indie street cred with Michel Gondry's "Human Nature" (2001), tackling a challenging role that required her to appear completely nude but accessorized with piles of fake hair. After appearing as school teacher-turned-outlaw Kissin' Kate Barlow in the offbeat Disney drama, "Holes" (2003), Arquette gave birth to daughter Harlow and settled into family life with fiancé, actor Thomas Jane, who had romantically proposed at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles.
In 2004, Arquette made a surprising and highly successful shift to series television when she signed on to star as real-life psychic and criminal profiler Allison DuBois in "Medium" (NBC/CBS, 2005-2011). The series proved popular right out of the gate, with Arquette imbuing an appealing earthiness to her characterization of a wife and mother struggling to balance family and crime-solving psychic visions. After less than a dozen episodes of the mid-season replacement had aired, Arquette found herself nominated for Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, subsequently taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2006, she received a second Golden Globe nomination and the following year Arquette was again honored with both Golden Globe and Emmy nods for her role on the supernatural hit. After the series left NBC for CBS, Arquette continued to receive acclaim, earning a nomination at the Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
By Susan Clarke