Tragic Details About The Arquette Family

The following article includes references to child abuse, domestic abuse, addiction, sexual misconduct, and issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

They're one of Hollywood's most unusual yet illustrious dynasties, but there are enough tragic details about the Arquette family to suggest they've also suffered their fair share of struggles and heartbreak. Most audiences will be well familiar with the core generation of the family, made up of actors Rosanna, Patricia, Alexis, and David Arquette. However, they have also another lesser-seen sibling by the name of Richmond Arquette.

The latter actor keeps a much lower profile than the rest of his family, but is nonetheless successful in his own right, having enjoyed minor roles in a number of films — including an impressive amount of David Fincher flicks, like "Zodiac," "Fight Club," and "Se7en" (via IMDb). Their father, Lewis Arquette, was also a successful character actor. Just a few years before his death in 2001, he even starred opposite son David in "Scream 2," depicting a police chief working alongside his son's clumsy cop character, Dewey Riley. 

The whole family comes from entertainment royalty in the form of actor and comedian Cliff Arquette, better known for his beloved comedic persona, Charley Weaver (via The New York Times). And by all accounts, some of the Arquette family may have continued some of his legacy — not so much by serving up pure comedy, but in finding light within the darkness. For the tragic details of the Arquette family, be sure to bring and hold your own light — because some of this gets pretty dark.

The Arquettes' poverty-stricken commune background

When David Arquette was still a newborn, his young siblings — Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and Alexis Arquette — grew up within the unconventional confines of the Skymont Subud commune in Virginia. Despite garnering rumors that the hippie collective was a cult, Rosanna assured The Daily Beast that the place was set up as "a way of worshipping God in any way you feel, but it wasn't a cult thing at all." She did, however, acknowledge that having "a lot of dysfunctional human beings ... in one compact place" may have resulted in some unscrupulous behavior by "some yucky adults."

Thankfully, it would appear that the Arquette siblings didn't experience such behavior firsthand. Instead, as described by Richmond in a Virginia Living article, it was a great place to grow up, as the kids on the commune "had a lot of freedom" and everyone "was surrounded by friends, all the time." Still, the commune did have its drawbacks. 

In an interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Patricia admitted that though the goal was "to build this little utopian society," the reality bordered on them living in extreme poverty to achieve it. The "True Romance" star explained that there was "no electricity, no bathroom" and not even "running water" in their accommodation there. As revealed by the actor, the Arquette family moved from the commune to Chicago in 1974. Unfortunately, their adolescence would then be blighted by abuse...

They experienced physical abuse at home

Between Chicago and a later move to Los Angeles, the Arquette family endured a lot of troubles, which often became shockingly violent. On "The Oprah Winfrey Show," Rosanna and Patricia Arquette described how fights between their parents would result in "chairs flying around" and "holes [punched] in walls." Worse still, the two admitted to having endured "terrible physical abuse" as children at the hands of their poet mother. 

While Rosanna explained that her mom "stabbed [her] in the arm with a knife" once, Patricia revealed, "She choked me to the point once where I started blacking out." Somehow, the family found a way to work through their problems and heal their relationships. Female First reported Patricia as explaining how her mom "made amends and accepted responsibility" for her behavior, which was all she needed to forgive her. 

Tragically, her mom had been violent with her own children "just as her mom had been violent with her," Patricia explained. Speaking to Vanity Fair, she further suggested that becoming a parent helped her to forgive "and see the choices [her parents] made and why." But some scars took longer to heal and manifested in different ways. As Rosanna and Patricia explained to Oprah Winfrey, their father, Lewis Arquette, was an addict. Something that they described as "a family disease," and one which only improved once Lewis sought help. Unfortunately, the youngest of the family, David, would suffer the debilitating effects of addiction himself.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

David Arquette's struggles with addiction

In an interview with, David Arquette revealed that his harmful use of alcohol and drugs began when he "stole pot from [his] father" at the age of 8. He then "seriously started drinking" alcohol when he "was about 12." His use of drugs "to numb the feelings" he was experiencing further deepened when his mom was "dying," and he spiraled into addiction.

Having gained a professional reputation for being something of an on-screen clown in movies like "Scream" and "Never Been Kissed," the actor has apparently made a habit of disguising his pain with levity. He told the Independent that just as he would use self-deprecating humor to place a giggle on a grimace, so too would he use drugs and alcohol to do so, as well. However, the endpoint — if not treated — is dire. "When you're addict, one of the goals is to actually kill yourself," he explained. "It's part of your brain."

His partying lifestyle became a cause for concern, and his then-wife, Courtney Cox, joined forces with David's sister, Patricia Arquette, to stage an intervention at the start of 2010, as he told Oprah Winfrey (via Today). However, in 2020, David expressed to IndieWire that his complicated journey with sobriety means that while he no longer drinks "hard liquor," alcohol isn't completely ruled out for him and he uses pot for his "moodiness." He explained, "I'm trying to live my life the best I can. I've just never been a full-on sober person."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Inside his painful divorce from Courtney Cox

Tragically, David Arquette's struggle with addiction became a major factor in his divorce from Courtney Cox. In an interview with, the "Scream" star explained that during the couple's 11th wedding anniversary, Cox had told him, "I don't want to be your mother anymore" — something that he "didn't understand ... at the time." By 2010, the couple had officially separated, releasing a shared statement that they had split to "better understand" themselves and "the qualities [they] need in a partner," per the New York Daily News

Sadly, this led Arquette to better understand himself by going "bananas," as he told Yahoo! Entertainment. Describing his post-split period as a "midlife crisis," the actor noted, "I started nightclubs and just blew up, so it got crazy for a while." Tabloids such as the Daily News lapped up his "Guy gone wild" moment, and published reports of him partying while "surrounded by women." Arquette's drinking came to a head when he began to overshare in several interviews with Howard Stern. 

In one episode of "The Howard Stern Show," Arquette shared intimate details about how he and Cox hadn't enjoyed sexual intimacy for "a few months," which led him to "start crawling up the walls." In another, he confessed to "drinking a lot" because of his heartbreak, and suggested he was having "a nervous breakdown" (via Daily News). The two have since had time for wounds to close, with Arquette calling their "Scream 5" reunion "cathartic" to The New York Times

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

David Arquette had a near-death experience while wrestling

For a while, David Arquette found peace by leaning on his lifelong love of wrestling. The actor delved into the industry as a sideline to his main Hollywood hustle, though it too came with complications. Speaking to the Independent, the actor — a former WCW World Heavyweight Champion — noted that his decision to return to the ring "was about wrestling" with himself, more so than others ... particularly the parts involving "self-abuse" or "being critical" of himself. "Through all of this, I've discovered how to be kinder to myself," he countered.

Which is just as well considering the extremities to which his body suffered for his performance. In 2018, the actor sustained serious injuries when a stunt involving a light tube being smashed over Arquette's head went awry, severely injuring the wrestler's neck, per TMZ. He downplayed the injury at the time, but in 2020 he revealed to People that he thought he was going to die. "I got out of the ring and I was totally lost," Arquette said. "I couldn't see and I couldn't hear."

The near-death experience gave him a wake-up call: "Feeling pain to numb pain" wasn't the solution, just as drugs and alcohol weren't either. "I learned to love myself," Arquette told the publication. "I had to stop being self-destructive and making choices that were throwing bombs." 

Alexis Arquette struggled with her gender identity

In 2006, Alexis Arquette began a male-to-female gender transition which she explained to Newsweek wasn't quite as simple as society may have wanted. "I am transgendered but I also am a cross-dresser," she noted, "it's not that I just want to be seen as a female in our society." As she got older, the actor and drag performer found her gender identity to be even more complex and difficult to express within "all the boxes one has to fit into," as she put it to the publication.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the cult actor "began presenting herself as a man again" in 2013 "amid increasing health complications," and reportedly told a friend that "gender is bulls***." On an episode of "Kocktails With Khloe," David Arquette further elaborated that his sister had told him she was "gender suspicious" and could feel like both a man and a woman. Tragically, Alexis appeared to be way ahead of her time. 

As noted by Rosanna Arquette in an interview with The Daily Beast, conversations about gender fluidity were less common when her sister was alive. She mused that today, Alexis may have adopted "they/them" pronouns to better express herself. Still, the late actor knew who she was. Speaking to The Guardian, Rosanna recalled that when questioned about what type of outfit Alexis "want[ed] to be buried in" — "a beautiful dress" or otherwise — her sister responded, "'It doesn't matter. Male or female, I'm just me.'"

She had privately lived with HIV for years

According to a close friend of the late star, part of what made presenting as woman "too much of a struggle" for Alexis Arquette in her later years was her deteriorating health. "Being able to get up and put that dress on and the wig," suggested drag performer Sham Ibrahim to The Hollywood Reporter, "it was too much for her."  

Documents published by the Los Angeles Times suggested Alexis had lived with HIV for 29 years, with the Independent reporting that the actor had died of cardiac arrest after suffering a heart infection called bacterial endocarditis. In her final years, her health had put additional strain on a career that had hit further obstacles due to her out and proud identity. Ibrahim described his close friend as being "rightfully angry" that she didn't receive "the success and notoriety" she deserved. "Directors and producers avoided her," he told The Hollywood Reporter. The publication reported that just prior to her death, Alexis was living in low-income housing for people with HIV who receive "an annual income [of] between $17,400 and $29,000 per year."

To add insult to injury, Alexis was missing from the In Memoriam segment of the 2017 Oscar ceremony. Sister Patricia Arquette aired her disappointment to Vanity Fair, stating that it was "really unfortunate" that the Oscars decided not to celebrate such a pivotal transgender Hollywood star, "Because — trans kids — it could have meant a lot to them."

Alexis Arquette's tragic death

On top of leaving "a huge, gaping wound" in the Arquette family, as Rosanna Arquette put it to The Daily Beast, Alexis Arquette's death in 2016 also left the siblings with PTSD. On "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," Rosanna Arquette expressed that the two years since her sister died had been understandably "fractured and hard ... and really painful for all of us," leaving them in a state of traumatic shock. 

However, the family used their pain to help advocate for better treatment of the transgender community, and of LGBTQ+ people overall. In 2017, the family launched The Alexis Arquette Family Foundation to celebrate the legacy of their late sibling with a focus on supporting LGBTQ+ "grassroots groups that don't get the support they need," according to Patricia Arquette (via Out). Alongside community support efforts, Patricia also lent her platform to advocating for stronger support and inclusion of the transgender community. 

In her emotional Emmy Awards speech in 2019, Patricia expressed her desire to "change the world so that trans people are not persecuted," and urged the audience to "give them jobs." She backed up her statements in an interview with People, where she highlighted the low life expectancy of transgender people, and how their exclusion from opportunities can result in "deep poverty." She told the magazine, "When I look at my sister's life, I'm infuriated and heartbroken that she had to face this wall of discrimination." 

The death of Luke Perry was hard on the family

In 2019, the Arquette family was hit by another deep loss when their close friend, Luke Perry, died suddenly of a "massive stroke" at the age of 52 (via TMZ). In an interview with NME, David Arquette explained that he and his siblings considered the "Riverdale" star "part of the family," with the late actor renting a room from their mom and living in their family home when he first got cast in "Beverley Hills, 90210."

"He would always do really sweet things in the house for her," he said. "Even after he became a big star he'd still come over and help her with certain things." Speaking to People, David recalled that Perry was also there in 2018 on the night he had his near-death experience in the wrestling ring. "He came with me to the hospital," he explained. "He was an amazing, good guy."

For her part, Patricia Arquette recalled to ET that Perry also had a close friendship with Alexis Arquette and explained that he was "way ahead of his time" in his public support of his friend. When there were rumors that he was also gay and dating Alexis, Patricia suggested that Perry would refuse to deny such rumors, because to do so "would be saying there is something wrong with it." Perry accepted his friend completely and without judgement, telling ET in 2017, "I loved Lex and Lex loved me, and I don't need to explain that to anybody." 

Rosanna Arquette accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct

When Ronan Farrow's damning exposé of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct was printed in The New Yorker, Rosanna Arquette was one of the first of four women to accuse him of sexual harassment and assault. Speaking of her "fight-or-flight" experience in a hotel room with the Miramax producer, Arquette accused Weinstein of "grabb[ing] [her] hand" and attempting to place it on his visibly erect penis. When she rejected his advances, he reportedly "told her ... she was making a huge mistake," as the outlet put it.

"He made things very difficult for me for years," she told the publication about her career after the incident. Speaking to The Daily Beast, Rosanna raised her suspicions that the ripple effect of her experience with Weinstein was "like a spiderweb, and there are a lot of spiders in that web." The actor suggested she lost work because of Weinstein poisoning her name — but that she also felt professionally "penalize[d]" after sharing her story "for being outspoken [and] telling the truth." 

By the end of 2017, there were a total of 87 women sharing allegations against Weinstein, according to USA Today. In 2020, he was found guilty "of felony sex crime and rape," according to The New York Times. Weinstein has maintained a firm denial of all accusations.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Patricia Arquette's allegations against Oliver Stone

Soon after Rosanna Arquette's allegations against Harvey Weinstein had been published, Patricia Arquette came forward with accusations of sexual misconduct against "Platoon" filmmaker Oliver Stone. The Oscar-winning actor made the allegations on Twitter, where Patricia alleged inappropriate behavior from Stone during talks for her to star in one of his films. Detailing how the two had a "professional" meeting about the "very sexual" material involved in the flick, Patricia went on to allege that Stone followed up by sending her "long stem jungle roses." 

While "not uncommon" to receive from a director, she argued "something about them felt weird." Feeling uncomfortable with the gesture, Patricia asked her boyfriend to join her in attending a screening of "Natural Born Killers" — something that Stone allegedly accosted her about and chastised her for. She pushed back, writing in the Twitter thread, "I said, 'Why is it a problem I brought him? It shouldn't be a problem. Think about THAT Oliver." She apparently "never heard about the movie again" after the incident and added that she "didn't care to." 

Patricia's story came shortly after actor Carrie Stevens accused Stone of groping her without her consent at a party in the early '90s, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Meanwhile, on an episode of "Radio Andy," actor Melissa Gilbert alleged that Stone purposefully "humiliated" her with provocative demands during auditions for his film "The Doors." Stone argued against the accusation, per USA Today

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She once unknowingly dated a murderer

Patricia Arquette continued to serve up tragic yet fascinating life anecdotes on Twitter in 2021, when she shared a story in response to a tweet asking, "What's the most awkward date y'all ever been on?" In response, she wrote about a "second date" she went on with a "pro skateboarder," who she described as "really cute" and "friends with my friends." However, of making out with the skate star, she stated, "Something about how he kissed me freaked me out." Arquette subsequently "gave him a fake [phone] number" to swerve him. She finished the tweet with the bombshell, "Years later he killed his girlfriend."

It didn't take long for Twitter sleuths to realize that Arquette was talking about Mark "Gator" Rogowski, a pro-skateboarder who confessed to the rape and murder of 21-year-old Jessica Bergsten in 1991, per the Los Angeles Times. Contrary to Arquette's statements, the victim wasn't Rogowski's girlfriend, but the best friend of his ex-girlfriend. According to the publication, a San Diego County prosecutor described the skate superstar as being "a jilted lover" performing "a twisted act of revenge."

Arquette confirmed the subject of her tweet was Rogowski and shared a couple of final details about her close call with a future killer. Describing what felt off-putting about how he kissed, she wrote, "It felt aggressive. Like pushing me back hard with his jaw and it felt like it was angry." She added, "Moral of the story — Trust your instincts."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

These Arquette siblings have struggled for fair pay

On top of their respective career challenges, Patricia and Rosanna Arquette have also been open about their struggles with receiving fair pay. Speaking to The Guardian, Rosanna alleged that her run-in against Harvey Weinstein resulted in her missing out on a decent payday for her role in "Pulp Fiction." She explained that of the cast, "I'm the only famous actor who didn't have a back-end deal [share of the profits]. And this was a time when I should have."

The "Desperately Seeking Susan" actor further elaborated to the newspaper that during her difficult career, she's been willing to take on any "bad television movie" because "you have to pay the bills when you're a single mum." While Patricia has had an arguably far more successful and consistent career, she's also struggled with pay disparity issues. Though she won an Oscar for her performance in "Boyhood," her involvement "meant financial sacrifice," as described by The Guardian. She told the publication, "I paid more money to my babysitter and my dog walker than I made on 'Boyhood.'" 

In another interview with The Guardian, Patricia explained that the statement wasn't hyperbole, but that the reality is "doing a really tiny budget movie doesn't pay your bills." Indie flicks aside, Patricia has remained an outspoken advocate regarding fair pay for women in every industry, even teaming up with UN Women to kick off an initiative in 2017, "championing the need to support women's economic empowerment," according to Mashable