David Arquette is likely best known as the star of the Scream franchise as officer Dewey. But Arquette is a man who has worn, and continues to wear, many hats. He’s a producer, part-time club owner, has dabbled in wrestling and even co-owns a live of vases. But Arquette still finds time for acting these days and his latest project, Mob Town, sees him playing a real-life cop who helped expose the Mafia in the 50s.
Mob Town centers on local trooper Ed Croswell (David Arquette) as he foils mobsters Vito Genovese (Robert Davi) and Joseph Barbara’s (David A. Abeckaser) mafia summit in the rural town of Apalachin, New York. Croswell’s actions exposed the mob to the American public and helped change the face of law enforcement for decades to come.
I recently had the chance to speak with David Arquette in honor of the movie’s upcoming release. We discussed, not just his latest movie, but about his career and what it’s like balancing his other ventures with acting. So, without further adieu, here’s our chat.
So Mob Town is why we’re talking today. Now how would you, in your own words, as one of the main players in this movie, explain it to people?
David Arquette: Mob Town is a really sweet film it sort details a really important event in mob history. There was a gathering of all the main mobsters throughout the country. And up until this point, they didn’t know that there was an actual organized crime syndicate. They didn’t know that the Mafia existed. They knew that there was sort of criminal behavior in Chicago, in New York and starting in Las Vegas, but they weren’t really aware of the extent of it. It’s about a small town state trooper, Ed Croswell, the character I play, getting wind of this and just this one man made a huge difference. Through it they enacted the Rico laws and they established that there is an actual Mafia that it links all the way back to Italy and throughout the country, and throughout the world.
As you mentioned, you play Edgar Croswell, who was a real guy. He had an extraordinary part to play in this. What can you tell us about him as a person, as a guy who’s been in his shoes a little bit? And how did he even get involved in all this?
David Arquette: Well, he was really a law enforcement officer. He’s a true good guy and that’s truly what appealed to me about the character. I mean, a lot of the times you see these mob movies and they center on the mob, the killings. And even though it’s interesting to watch these characters, they’re not really lovable, in a sense, and he really is. He’s a true good guy. He believes in law and order and justice, and he doesn’t fall for the glitz and glamour of what these guys represented. But he also has a love for cars in the film, and it sort of is what leads him to discovering that something’s going down because he sees all these incredible cars in this small town in upstate New York, and he’s like, “What is going on here?” He Starts putting the pieces together. It takes a lot of time for him to convince his superiors that that there really is something happening.
I’m not an actor, but I would assume that playing someone who actually lived and was a real person requires a bit of a different preparation than just playing a fictional character. So how did you prepare for playing this guy? Since he unfortunately passed away a while ago, you probably didn’t get the chance to actually speak with them.
David Arquette: Yeah, I would have been great to be able to speak to him and even find footage of him. I couldn’t find that much. I mean, we found some photos, we found some articles written on him, but aside from that, it really was just more of a portrayal of what was in the script rather than an actual character. And it’s me playing him, so I’m sure he comes off a little goofier than he may have been in real life. In the pictures and the articles I read, was very buttoned up, just a good guy. And that’s what I really tried to emulate that he was one of the incredible people in our country that stand up for a law order and really keep us safe and respect the laws of our country so that we have a civilized society.
You’ve been you’ve been in the business for quite some time now, and I imagine things have changed for you. But how do you choose a project these days when something comes across your desk? How do you decide, “This is the thing I want to do.”
David Arquette: Yeah it’s always different. It’s funny. Hollywood is like a roller coaster. When you get a hot movie that does well at the box office, it’s really good to pick and choose and easy to pick and choose what you want to do. At other points in time, your career is sort of on a lull and you just have to look for what you can get and then sort of balance that with, is this something I want to play or not? You try to put the pieces together. Who’s producing this? But in this case, it was Danny [A. Abeckaser], the director, who I’ve known for 20 years, more than 20 years, and it was just really easy. He gave me the script, I loved the script and the character I was playing. Then he said, it’s a small independent movie, but it’s got a lot of heart. We’re gonna make it great. To add to the equation you’re trying to do a period piece because it takes place in 1957 and I was like, “That’s so difficult on a budget.” But he pulled it off in a great way, and it’s really impressive what he did. He’s a great director and a really dear friend.
People who may not understand the production process may not really understand a period piece is incredibly difficult to do because everything has to fit. The cars, the houses, the clothes, it all has to fit that time. So on a budget that could be extremely difficult to do.
David Arquette: Absolutely. You have to really pick your angles on your locations. You have to really understand the mannerisms of the time as an actor and dialogue, the words. A lot of Googling. Because around in the fifties, it was a lot of hiding air conditioners, for instance, and different things on different sets, or making sure a current car doesn’t drive by in the background of shots. Stuff like that, you have to be really aware. But it was a different time, and I have studied that time period quite a bit, and I love it. And I love the music of that time period. So it makes it easier to be in character and believe what you’re doing. Try to find the reality, because for me, as an actor, I was just trying to make it real despite the situation going on.
If I can switch gears just a little bit, I’m not sure everybody knows this, but you’re a part club owner. You own Bootsy Bellows in L.A. and, if I’m not mistaken, that was named after your mom. But that’s a completely different type of thing. How do you balance something like that versus your wrestling. You’ve done these other things with acting. How do you find a balance between all the things you want to do creatively?
David Arquette: I mean a lot of it is time management, but I have great partners at Bootsy Bellows… It’s important, as an actor working actor in California, where it’s just very expensive to live in general, just to put yourself on tape and if you have acting coaches or whatever it is, it’s just an expensive business to be a part of. So you have to have other avenues of income along the way. So whatever sort of things you’re working on, if it’s producing, if it’s writing, directing or, for instance, a night club. Whatever it is, you just have to try to find other revenue streams because during those lows, I mean some people might think actors get paid a lot of money, and obviously the top of the food chain does. But on the lower scale films for instance, it’s more of a little budget situation. So a lot of the times it’ll cost you just doing a film to go away for a month. And you still have your bills back in California
So it just takes a lot of understanding of what to expect. It takes a lot of preparation. It takes a lot of work. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been working on for years now. It just takes a lot of dedication and focus and follow through. A really good team of people. I have a a and vase line called Vunder that I’ve invested in and worked on. And it’s just the different pots and different fires that you get going, so hopefully some of them are providing you with the revenue stream so that you could continue acting, or hopefully a job comes through. But my dad was an actor for 45 years as a character actor, doing commercials and industrial films and films and television, whatever he could… I learned early on that if there’s a strike, you’re having to go to food banks to get food and it’s a tough time. So you have to be prepared for stuff like that. Just be ready for whatever comes your way.
Circling back to Mob Town, is there anything else you’d like to say about the movie?
David Arquette: I got to work with some incredible actors, like Robert Davi, Danny, the director. he’s amazing in the film. It’s just a ton of fun. It has everything. It has the mob hits that you’d expect. But it’s also got a sweet love story. It’s kind of a great combo for people who like those films, when some people may be scared of those kind of mob movies. It has everything. The violence isn’t too gratuitous or too overbearing, and throughout the whole thing is a story about a really wonderful law enforcement officer who accomplished a huge thing in unveiling this Mafia summit.
Well, David, again, thank you so much for talking to me today. It was a genuine pleasure. I always swore that if I got to speak with you for some reason I would just let you know that I absolutely, genuinely love Eight Legged Freaks.
David Arquette: [laughs] Thank you man!
Mob Town arrives from Saban Films on December 13.