Over two decades ago, David Arquette starred as a wrestling-obsessed fan in ‘Ready to Rumble.’ The film, now gaining ground as a cult classic, was promoted through World Championship Wrestling during the height of the legendary ‘Monday Night Wars’ era of professional wrestling. During the run, Arquette would be crowned WCW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000 as a marketing stunt in an effort to promote the film. Unfortunately, it was a move that was poorly received by die-hard fans of sports entertainment. Ultimately, blood-thirsty wrestling fans turned on the rising star and deemed him the most hated man in professional wrestling. It’s a moment in Arquette’s life that haunted him and effectively stalled his career in Hollywood.
Determined to redeem his reputation and reclaim his self-respect, Arquette set out on an epic quest to earn his rightful place inside the squared circle. To document the journey, he enlisted the help of two seasoned veterans of documentary filmmaking — Price James and David Darg. This dynamic duo were granted unprecedented access to Arquette’s world to witness the resurrection of one of Hollywood’s greatest talents firsthand. The resulting film is one of the most powerful pieces of documentary filmmaking ever brought to screen about the world of independent wrestling. Most importantly, ‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’ is eye-opening look at the power of one man’s determination to achieve his goals and rise to glory!
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with David Arquette to discuss his passion for professional wrestling, his inspiring quest to find redemption inside the squared circle and the lessons learned along the way.
Thanks for sitting down with me today, David. This film came into my life at a unique time, inspiring me to make significant changes in my life. I want to thank you for that inspiration.
Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that! It came at a really unique time for me too and sort of captured a lot of my struggles on camera!
“You Cannot Kill David Arquette” focuses on your passion for professional wrestling. What captured your imagination about the art form early on in life?
When I was young, I went to a “Macho Man” Randy Savage versus Andre The Giant match. I saw Andre The Giant in person and there was just something about seeing a real giant right in front of me that blew my mind and had a profound effect on me! Then there was everything that followed! As a kid, I fell in love with Miss Elizabeth and, of course, was a Macho Man fan although I felt he never treated Miss Elizabeth right! [laughs] He was such a great heel! I loved when Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka jumped off the top rope and that’s sorta why I jump off the top rope myself. I loved the spectacle of it all! The outfits are insane and the characters are larger than life. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper used to get me so worked up and to the point where I would hate him so much and be so angry at him! [laughs] To elicit that kind of emotion from doing the promos in wrestling is truly amazing! He was such an inspiration both inside and outside of the ring.
Documenting this journey was your idea. What reservations, if any, did you have about opening up and putting yourself out there to the world by granting the filmmakers unprecedented access?
I’ve really always been an open book. I was really worried that my daughter would be embarrassed. When I came out of surgery for two stents in my heart and I told my wife [Christina McLarty], “I can’t stop thinking about wrestling and I have some unfinished business there.” She didn’t get it at first but she really came around. She is the true champion at the end of this whole thing; she produced this movie and dealt with all the hospital stuff and me! I can’t thank her enough for it. The fact that my daughter didn’t get embarrassed by me was a huge part of setting me at ease. I don’t know. I wasn’t really scared of letting people in, but I guess we’ll see how it reverberates and their takeaway at the end of the day! [laughs] I do like being honest and putting things out there so if someone is going through similar stuff, they can feel like they are not alone. That’s a big part of what I do.
You enlisted filmmakers David Darg and Price James to capture your journey. What spoke to you about their work and made them the right team for the job?
David Darg and Price James have been friends since they were kids. They liked wrestling when they were younger, so they kinda knew about that world. They have this really funny relationship where there is a lot of humor. Darg has a really great eye for cinematography and shooting. He’s just such an artist! So, I knew the combo would be really great. I loved working with them. They set everything up and I said, “I don’t want to know anything.” I just wanted to start from the bottom and work my way up. A lot of the stuff, like me going around to the independent circuit, wasn’t even filmed with our crew. It was either little clips we shot or stuff from the places we traveled to. My wife really did produce this from the ground up. She worked with these amazing directors, David and James, to really put a great movie together. They had to kick me out of the editing room at one point because I was too close to it and had so many feelings about it all. The film is really hard for me to watch to this day.
What went into transforming yourself physically and mentally for this journey?
The main thing that got me on the road was DDPY which is Diamond Dallas Page’s workout program. He’s such an inspirational character! You can download the app on your phone and just stay on it. That’s what really initiated my workout training. I completely cut out all carbs, started eating healthy and didn’t eat any big meals at night. From there, I just got into real workout training. For example, I trained jiu jitsu with Rigan Machado. I tried boxing with Ricky Quiles. I got a wrestling coach, Peter Avalon, who is also an amazing wrestler in his own right. I attacked it. You really can’t give up. It’s that kinda thing. I equate it a lot with cleaning up your garage. If you look at your garage and it can be so overwhelming but if you just start in one little corner and keep chipping away at it, it will be done quicker than you think. You really just have to stick to it. That happens with wrestling a lot! You’ll get injured and then drive to another place. You’ll get back in the ring and probably get injured again before heading out to the next place! [laugh] You get back in the car and get back on the road! You have to keep fighting!
This film was shot a few years ago. Looking back on that time, your experiences during shooting and the process of bringing it to the masses — what does this film mean to you?
This film means a lot to me. It captured a time in my life when I was doing a lot of therapy and doing a lot of work on myself. A lot of things were coming together at the same time. There were a lot of personal issues that I had to come to terms with. I think this film really captures all of that. The biggest lesson in the whole thing was that I was looking for people to stop being mean to me for self-worth but it’s literally within myself. The things people say on the internet aren’t as painful if you don’t believe them. You have to kind of go to the root of your problem, figure out what that is and try to address that pain and understand where it’s coming from. Then you have to reinforce yourself with positive affirmations, start living a healthy life and stop doing things that beat you up, put you in compromising situations or expose you to things that aren’t true to your heart. That’s what I really learned through this whole process.
Clearing your name in the world of wrestling was a big part of this story and a goal you achieved. What’s next for David Arquette? What do you look for in the material you are taking on at this point in your career?
Well, “Scream 5” will be really fun! Courtney Cox has signed on and we are waiting to see if Neve signs on as well. It will be a little bittersweet because of Wes [Craven] not being there with us but we have some tremendous filmmakers involved. So, it’ll be great to get back in there and carry on Wes Craven’s mission. I also have a BUNCH of films coming out! It’s going to seem like an onslaught! [laughs] I have “The Jackie Ryan Story,” “Heartland,” “The MisEducation of Bindu,” “Dr. Bird’s Advice For Sad Poets,” “Domino: Battle of The Bones,” “12 Hour Shift” and “Spree” is out now. It’s going to be an onslaught and I’m sorry! I apologize! [laughs] Ya know, I’ve been working this whole time. There is a line in the documentary that I haven’t worked in 10 years. The full thing that they say there is that I haven’t gotten a job from an audition in 10 years. They go on to say, “It’s not like he hasn’t worked, blah, blah, blah … ,” but they only use a certain part in the movie. So, I’m really excited about what lies ahead. When you’re a working actor like me, typically, you are just trying to work and stay active. You don’t want to do things that are against what you want to be a part of but, a lot of the time, some of the stuff you end up doing for different reasons. Sometimes you do it to help out a first time director or you do it because you are friends with the people or you believe in the script. There are a lot of different reasons why you do something.
How do you view your evolution as an actor?
I don’t know. Some of the stuff I did when I was younger I can’t look at. My voice sounds weird! [laughs] It’s certain things, I don’t know. [laughs] It’s all been a journey to love and understanding. I know that being vulnerable, being open, and being honest is where you get the best art from. Personal love, love of self and love to others. Then it’s things that you love within characters in the films that you play and films about things you love. That’s why I think this film works because I love wrestling and filmmaking. When you combine things that you love, there is real magic sauce that you can’t really create any other way!
Your creativity levels are at an all-time high. Where do you look for inspiration?
I find inspiration in art, happiness and doing things from a loving place. I love getting out and walking in nature. That’s been really inspirational to me. I also found out that I need to workout every day, just to keep my anxiety level down. It really does help!
What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?
Be kind to yourself! I know it sounds kind of corny but it’s really important, especially in these crazy times!
David, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. Most importantly, thank you for sharing this journey with us. I hope our paths cross again very soon!
Me too! Thanks, Jason!
Stay out of trouble, my friend!
I will! [laughs] All the best, bro!
‘You Cannot Kill David Arquette’ is now playing in Drive-In Theaters and hits Digital and On Demand August 28th, 2020. Follow the continuing adventures of David Arquette on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.