HHS film and drama students visit with famed David and Christina Arquette
After catching wind famous actor, director, screenwriter and filmmaker David Arquette, along with his wife Christina, were working on a documentary series in Jonesboro, Highland High School’s film and radio instructor, AK Barnes reached out to see if the couple would be willing to take some time to speak to her students.
“I saw on Facebook where they were recording in Jonesboro. I sent a message on Instagram to the producer (Christina) and asked if she’d be willing to visit with the students. They wrote back. I never thought they’d do it, but she wrote me back within a day,” Barnes said. “Her assistant was e-mailing me and when they had to change the day at the last minute, she messaged me personally.”
The Arquette family has a long and illustrious history on the big screen. David, a third generation performer along with his four siblings, each making a name for themselves in the entertainment industry.
David’s wife, Christina McLarty Arquette, is an Arkansas native, born in Hope, Ark. Getting her start as a small town reporter, she quickly rose up the ranks and worked as a correspondent for The Insider, Los Angeles-based CBS entertainment and Entertainment Tonight.
The two took an hour to visit with the students who participate in film and drama in grades 9 through 12 at Highland by way of video chat on May 2.
During the call, students were able to ask questions and interact with David and Christina about their careers and varying levels of their professions.
The first question asked of David was what it was like making the transition from film to wrestling.
“It is like anything you get involved with, the more energy you put toward it, study it, spend time with it, the more you embrace it. I did a film called Ready to Rumble (year 2000) and part of the reason I did that was because I love wrestling so much. It had a funny script and there were great actors in it. I did it and they made me the champion when I was promoting it. Before I got too old, I decided to do a documentary about it because I could merge the two worlds. Just like doing any kind of role I studied. I studied the history of wrestling. I studied back yard wrestling, we went to Tijuana and wrestled, I learned from the Luchadors and we went to Hollywood and the south here,” David said. “It’s been a really interesting journey and it was really difficult. There was a lot to learn and I’m still learning. It was a lot more complex then I thought, a lot more painful and a lot more realistic then you might think. People might think it’s fake, but when you get in the ring, you’re opposite a real person that is complicated and has different emotions and a lot of it feels like a real fight.”
Christina took a few minutes to share the thought process behind some of the work she and David have done together and provide backstory leading up to the present projects.
“We did a documentary together called Survivors Guide to Prison and it is about the criminal justice system and it’s a hardcore look at it. We went on a national tour with that show and ended it in Washington D.C., where we screened it with lawmakers,” Christina said. “Documentaries are such a booming business right now, ten years ago it wasn’t, but now because of the bingeworthy streaming services everybody is watching documentaries. We both have a passion for documentaries. I did local news and was on air for 10 years and then I was on Entertainment Tonight and so we merged his Hollywood and acting side with my news roots and this is our second documentary together (she said referring to wrestling), but we’re basically taking a very close look at the Indie scene. You’re probably more familiar with WWE, but the Indie scene has really blown up and it’s wild. It’s hardcore wrestling. We’ve been shooting that along the way. It’s kind of a hero’s story about starting at the bottom and he starts 50 pounds over weight and looks terrible and then he starts losing weight and rising through the ranks.”
David noted the Survivors Guide to Prison was the first opportunity he and Christina had to work together, and the combination of strengths and talents resulted in what will be a series of future projects, some of which, have and will take place in Arkansas.
As the visit with the students rolled on, David and Christina shared their experiences, wisdom and advice about the film industry, upcoming market in Arkansas and insider info about the entertainment industry.
“Arkansas is just at the beginning of this really ripe filmmaking community. We had a kid about your age on set who really wants to get into the industry and we told him to stay in Arkansas, because Arkansas is going to be the next Atlanta in filmmaking and you will have all these great opportunities here,” Christina said.
The couple encouraged the students to begin interning, networking and learning everything they could about the industry if it was an area they intended to further their career in.
Despite his fame, success and family history, David shared with the class that initially, he had no interest in getting into the entertainment industry. In fact, he said he rejected the idea completely until he was presented with the opportunity to ride a motorcycle through his high school auditorium as part of a high school play. Self described as shy, David said he found an inner strength when performing and ultimately fell in love with his career and the wide variety of job types, which when combined create films.
“Jonesboro is really on the upswing. You can just tell it’s really going to have a future. Things are going to get advanced really quickly,” David said.
The two also presented the students with an opportunity to come and work on the set of the next project coming in the fall if everything goes according to plan. The couple also offered to stop and visit in person their next trip through town.