David Arquette on Returning to ‘Scream,’ Bozo the Clown and the Review That Makes Him Laugh

David Arquette
Courtesy of David Scott Holloway

Though David Arquette is a member of an acting dynasty (his parents and sister Alexis were both actors, as are siblings Patricia, Richmond and Rosanna), he originally didn’t think acting was for him after repeatedly auditioning as a kid and never being cast. It was only through the encouragement of a high school teacher, Ben DeBaldo, that he discovered his love for the craft and the confidence to try again. Now Arquette will reprise his role as lovable Dewey Riley in the fifth “Scream” film in the iconic horror series, hitting theaters Jan. 14.

I’d love to talk to you about “Scream,” but I’m guessing you can’t tell me much.
Well, I could tell you that [directors] Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett did an incredible job. And the writers as well. It’s scary and it’s really funny. They took the world and expanded on it, and it’s got this incredible new cast. That really reminded me of us when we were younger — the way they all got along. And it’s great to see that Woodsboro is more diverse, a reflection of the world we live in.

It’s been more than 10 years since “Scream 4”; did you ever expect to come back?
I mean, I figured. It’s such an iconic brand and series and killer. He’s a horror icon. It would be silly for them not to. But I didn’t know how or when. There was also the series, so I always felt like it was alive in these multiverses.

You’ve done such a wide variety of projects. What do people most want to talk to you about when they see you?
“Scream.” Or wrestling. A lot of wrestling fans recognize me now since my documentary, “You Cannot Kill David Arquette.” I’m not wrestling at the moment; it’s hard on the body. But I’ve learned a lot from wrestling — actually learned about acting, about being in the moment, taking your beats, taking your time. To make sure you’re quick but your actions are purposeful and safe at the same time. It’s an amazing world. I’m studying clowning right now. And I have a teacher who’s pointed out there’s a lot of lessons that they teach that are very similar to to wrestling.

What sparked the interest in clowning?
Well, I’ve loved Bozo the Clown since I was a kid . In fact, it took my 15 years but I’ve secured the rights to his story.  Clowns are sort of a reflection of society. And especially in America right now,  there’s such a focus on the scary clown, which isn’t really a clown. Clowns are designed to sort of make us laugh at ourselves and allow you to laugh at them. So I don’t consider scary clowns really clowns. We’re trying to sort of bring back the kind clown. And, Bozo’s the perfect sort of Ambassador for a mission like that.

Are you going to play him?
I’m not sure. We’ll see. Those are big shoes to fill. (Laughs)

You’ve done your share of dramatic roles, but did you ever worry you were being typecast in comedies?|
To this day, people still don’t necessarily think of me as a dramatic actor, for sure. But I’ve always just tried to do different stuff. A lot of people are more calculated about their choices. But for me, if I like a kids movie, I’ll do a kids movie because I have kids. If somebody trusts me enough to do a dramatic role, I’m happy to. But if you’ve been in Hollywood long enough, you recognize that there’s a roller coaster of sort of highs and lows, so you have to figure out how to withstand the winters. So typecasting is fine when the alternative is your phone’s not ringing at all.

You’ve said you avoid reading reviews. Have you ever read something about yourself that you just had to laugh?
Yeah, it was my favorite review ever. I did “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and I played Frank N. Furter. It was this tough, tough, tough experience. But my favorite review said something like “I couldn’t get past the fact that I feel the wrong Arquette was cast in this role.” They meant Alexis, and honestly, Alexis would have crushed it. It would have been far better. One night, Alexis was doing a show, and she did a performance to “Sweet Transvestite” and just tore the house down. I was like, “That guy was right.”

Things you didn’t know about David Arquette:
Age: 50
Birthplace: Bentonville, Va.
Horror hero: He’s a big fan of Ari Aster’s films “Midsommar” and “Hereditary.”