How David Arquette Fought for the Role of a Lifetime

You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Courtesy of SUPER LTD
The 'Scream' actor tackles his past — and his demons — in the new documentary 'You Cannot Kill David Arquette.'

Decades in Hollywood has taught David Arquette to roll with the punches — and he's taken his fair share during a career that has had its ups and downs. Yet for the Scream star, one of the bigger disappointments of his life has nothing to do with the roles he's missed out on or the movies that didn't get the reviews he hoped for. Twenty years ago, Arquette was crowned champion of World Championship Wrestling. The publicity stunt for his 2000 movie Ready to Rumble earned him the ire of the wrestling community, which saw him as a Hollywood interloper taking the crown without putting in the work.

Years later, Arquette decided he'd put in the work, after all, and started on a path toward redemption. He built a wrestling ring in his backyard and worked to get in shape and to stay sober. He overcame a heart attack. And he captured much of it on film in the new NEON documentary You Cannot Kill David Arquette.

"I wanted to clear my name and do a love letter to wrestling," Arquette says of the impetus behind the doc, which has earned positive reviews and is on VOD now. Making the film came at a time in which Arquette had been auditioning for a decade with little luck landing the roles he wanted. Mentally, he was telling himself he just wasn't' good enough.

"[Hollywood] is a business that's really filled with rejection a lot of the times," says Arquette. "You kind of beat yourself up a lot."

Working with therapists, getting in fighting shape, and traveling the country doing indie wrestling matches helped him regain his confidence.

"Through this process, I learned, 'Oh, that's all in my head.' You can retrain your brain to think more positive thoughts," Arquette says.

Arquette has signed on for a fifth Scream film, the first since the 2015 death of filmmaker Wes Craven, who directed the first four installments. The 1996 original helped make Arquette a star and introduced him to his former Courtney Cox. It was Craven who encouraged Arquette to work up the courage to tell her how he felt about her, and the actor still misses the late filmmaker dearly.

In Craven's place will be Ready or Not filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who have recruited Arquette, Cox and franchise newcomer Jack Quaid to star. They are working to woo original star Neve Campbell, as well.

"They are huge Wes Craven fans. He inspired them and they love horror films, so I think we are in really good hands that way," says Arquette of speaking with the filmmakers. "But it's going to be sad. I miss Wes. I think about him a lot."

You Cannot Kill David Arquette has a strong arc for the actor, but he notes it was not planned, as he insisted on being kept in the dark about the directors' intentions. Even the doc's most memorable scene nearly didn't get captured on film. Co-director David Darg happened to chat with Arquette ahead of a key wrestling match, and decided to come check it out, camera in hand. The actor ended up getting seriously injured and was taken to the ER by the late Luke Perry, who died in 2019 and was a close friend of the Arquette family.

Despite the pain, it was a special memory the actor keeps of his late friend. Says Arquette: "It took us forever to find the place. We finally did and it was a surreal moment."

You Cannot Kill David Arquette, from directors David Darg and Price James, is on VOD now.