Patricia Arquette: Why I'm Going to the Women's March on Washington (Q&A)

Patricia Arquette - H - 2017

"This is not a normal presidency. We’ve had Republican presidents, we’ve had Democratic presidents — this is neither of those," says the Oscar-winning actress.

A day after Donald Trump becomes president, Patricia Arquette will be at the National Mall for what's being billed as a massive Women's March on Washington. 

The acrimonious election season convinced the Oscar-winning Boyhood actress to head to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 21 event to make her voice heard, especially in light of the rightward changes that Trump administration appointees are likely to implement. 

As Arquette preps for her trip, she spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about why there's a need to take a stand against Trump right now. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)

You're one of several Hollywood figures headlining the Women's March on Washington. Can you share more about what's being planned?

I think what’s really significant about this, this is being organized, but it's also a grassroots response to what’s happening in Washington, D.C., and with our government. And, while there have been protests at presidential elections in the past, I don’t think we’ll have ever seen anything on this scale.

Are you bringing or making any signs for the protest?

I have some friends making signs, yeah, a bunch of artist friends are making a bunch of different signs.

What are the messages being shared?

You’re going to have to wait and see.

What message do you hope will be sent to the president-elect from the march?

That there’s a giant chunk of the United States that’s willing to be very active for this whole next four years. And that we want to make sure that our voice is heard and that is part of what democracy is and that we don’t want to see any rollbacks of any kind: for civil rights, for women, for equal pay, for prison reform. It’s very concerning.

I’m just speaking for myself, I’m not speaking for what we want on a larger scale, I’m not a spokesperson for this event. I can only speak for my own self. But I know that I feel very strongly that we’re at a time right now that we’ve never been in before, as far as the environment. It’s very troubling to me that Donald Trump has such an anti-environmental policy as does the head of his EPA [Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic].

This is very problematic because we’re in a critical crossroads right now with the environment. And if we don’t take it seriously, if we don’t move forward on alternative energies, we’re going to pay the price for generations. 

So, I think there are a lot of conversations to be had. But the main one is to look at all of this and to recognize that a large portion, and, in fact, probably a majority of America, is really going to resist any rollback on basic civil rights and also call into question every choice that is being made, because we know that these will have big impacts.

There's been talk about Hollywood figures boycotting the inauguration or refusing to perform. What's your read on that?

I don’t have a particular read on that because I haven’t directly spoken to anyone who’s been asked to go. I think that’s just, again, a personal statement that people are making saying, “We don’t like what he’s been saying. We don’t like how this is rolling out. We don’t like how this is looking."

Yes, people are entertainers but they’re also Americans. And caring about your country and caring about civil rights kind of comes before everything at the end of the day for a lot of people.

Today, the Trump Inaugural Committee announced several performers for the official concert. Do you think that accepting an invitation like that, to perform, is a political statement?

I don’t know, as an artist, how you’d separate yourself from the artist that you are and being a person that cares about human beings. That’s what makes great artists, great artists. How can an actor portray a character that they have no connection to, no emotional concern for and no awareness of?

Is it a political statement? Yes, it’s a political statement. They’re choosing to do that with their time, they’re not getting paid anything. They’re doing that because it matters a lot to them.

This is not a normal presidency. We’ve had Republican presidents, we’ve had Democratic presidents — this is neither of those. This a whole different thing, and I think people are responding to that. 

As Trump takes office, in what ways do you plan to stay politically engaged or encourage others to do so?

I think there'll be a lot more community building with advocacy groups. There are a few groups that I know that are going to present new policy concepts to government officials to make those changes clear.

I think people are going to start really economically making their voices heard a lot more. You’re seeing that happening with the Standing Rock movement. You’re seeing people taking their money out of banks that are funding pipelines. People are starting to put their money into environmentally forward banks that are more funding green energies and green infrastructure for our country.

I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more of the economic pressure that can come from a giant portion of America that is not willing to go along and just let this happen.