- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2002

NEW YORK — You'll get to see a lot of Patricia Arquette in her new film. For large chunks of "Human Nature," Miss Arquette is naked as a jaybird.

There's a catch, though, which will come as no surprise to fans of her quirky career.

Miss Arquette is covered in downy whirls of hair in the film. It's everywhere on her 5-foot-1 frame, stretching from a stubbly mustache to the curly clumps sprouting on her toes.

It's a brave and itchy role.

"Welcome to my life," she says with a laugh of resignation.

Written by Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich"), the film spoofs society's view of beauty and nature. Dark, comical and uneasy, it's a typical Arquette movie. The film also stars Tim Robbins, Rosie Perez and Rhys Ifans.

Miss Arquette, 34, plays an abnormally hirsute author who is happiest when skipping through the forest, surrounded by ferns. When she falls in love with a repressed scientist played by Mr. Robbins, she must leave the forest and come to terms with a hairless notion of beauty.

To get into character, Miss Arquette endured having cut-up human hair glued to her skin, making it impossible for her to sit down during filming. She also suffered from poison ivy and poison oak during the shoot around Los Angeles, but mostly she had to get used to being in the altogether for hours.

"There's a risk in doing that for your career," she admits, showing her jagged-toothed smile. "I know that. A lot of people wouldn't, I guess, do that."

Risk seems to come easily to Miss Arquette, whether it's in roles such as "Bringing Out the Dead," "Stigmata," "Beyond Rangoon," "True Romance" or "Lost Highway," in which she clinically strips for a gangster.

Her great-grandfather, grandfather and father were actors, as are her siblings Rosanna, Alexis, Richmond and David. Her son, Enzo Rossi, appeared in 1991's "The Indian Runner," starring Miss Arquette and directed by Sean Penn, and as a baby Elvis in 1993's "True Romance."

"I think it may just be a gene," she says.

Q: So, how weird was it to be naked for so long?

A: It was a really low-budget movie, and there were a lot of young kids working on it. So I'd be running through the woods nude, and all of a sudden I'd see nature walkers walking by. I'd be like, "You guys. You have to lock up the set. What are you doing? I'm nude here." People were taking pictures of ferns and then "Oh, look, there's Patricia Arquette nude running by."


Q: Was the crew nice at least?

A: The crew was so sweet. I would be all hairy, and I would sort of hang my head and walk by them shyly after the day's work, but they'd say, "You know, I never thought I'd think a girl was pretty with hair, but you know what? You look pretty." I'd say, "Well, do I at least look a little like Brad Pitt?" They'd go, "You look prettier than Brad Pitt." So they were really trying hard.

Q: How difficult was it to have hair glued to you?

A: I started to have a psychological meltdown at one point. I said, "Whose hair is this? How many peoples' hair is this? Whose hair is on my breasts? I want it off. I don't want anyone touching me. Why did they sell their hair? What is their sad story? Oh my God, what if it's prisoners' hair?" It wasn't pretty.


Q: Couldn't you do safer roles?

A: Yeah, it's a little scary for people, I think. They go, "Where are you going to take me? I don't want to go there. Stop it." It's safe when you're just smiling and supporting the man, but, then again, I've never felt like much of a businessperson. That's not my job.


Q: What's the secret of the Arquette acting clan?

A: Artistically, we respect each other. We're pretty different, but if you knew us all, you would see these same, core similarities. Our umbilical cords are all tied up together.


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