Patricia Arquette ‘Struggled’ with ‘True Romance’ Character Being ‘So Supportive’ of Murder

The actress initially objected to her iconic role because "her boyfriend murders someone and she’s still like… yeah!"
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Even after a three-decade Hollywood career that won her an Oscar and two Emmys, Patricia Arquette is still synonymous with “True Romance.” Her role as Alabama Whitman, a call girl who marries a client and ends up tangled in a web of crime after the newlyweds steal a shipment of cocaine, launched Arquette into the mainstream. The cult film’s pop culture status has only grown in the 29 years since its release, as it is now seen as an essential 1990s movie and a perennial inspiration for Instagram Halloween costumes.

The film’s content was shocking to some viewers at the time of its release, particularly due to its excessive violence and abundant pop culture references. Both are trademarks of screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, who was a new filmmaker at the time, having only directed “Reservoir Dogs” when “True Romance was released. While the film was directed by Tony Scott and therefore does not count towards the 10 films that Tarantino plans to make, it helped introduce the world to his style before the massive success of “Pulp Fiction” a year later.

In a new interview with The Independent to promote her role on the Apple TV+ series “Severance,” Arquette revealed she initially had some concerns about the “True Romance” script. Her objection was not the violence, but her character’s unconditional support of it. While much of the film’s violence is committed by Christian Slater’s Clarence Worley, his wife Alabama never strays from his side no matter how dark things get. Arquette says that the character’s apparent lack of a conscience concerned her at first, but an acting teacher encouraged her to look at the script with more nuance.

“I struggled with playing her,” Arquette said of Alabama. “She’s so supportive, even of things that are kind of shocking. Her boyfriend murders someone and she’s still like… yeah! My acting coach told me, well, what are you going to say? ‘Don’t do that?’ ‘How dare you?’ So I treated it like it was a survival mechanism. I think her capacity to totally love without judgment is what people respond to. But it was really difficult to play that.”

Patricia Arquette can currently be seen in Ben Stiller’s science fiction drama “Severance,” with episodes streaming on Apple TV+.

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