David Arquette has had a remarkable career playing interesting and sometimes off-kilter characters in a range of films and TV shows.
In his latest role in Peacock’s Mrs. Davis, he plays Monty, the magician father to Betty Gilpin’s globetrotting nun searching for the Holy Grail to end a God-like AI.
It’s a perfect role for Arquette, who admits he has always loved magic.
“To be able to play a magician opposite such incredible actors, such amazing writing and producing director, I don’t know. I just felt really honored to be able to play this character,” he shared with TV Fanatic via Zoom.
He continued, “He’s complex; he’s got this confidence on stage, but then he is got this extreme insecurity offstage, and he feels like Mrs. Davis has destroyed magic by giving everyone the secrets to these tricks, so he really wants to eliminate Mrs. Davis.”
Monty and his wife, Celeste, weren’t the best parents, traumatizing their daughter with their own back-and-forth narrative that left her squarely in the middle.
“What’s great about this show is it’s this wild adventure with subtle humor and moments of real sadness and emotional obstacles, and then you just sit back and just go on this adventure, and it takes you places,” Arquette said, adding, “I still am really blown away by how they pulled it all off, to be honest.”
If that seems like high praise, it’s well deserved, as Mrs. Davis surprises viewers at every turn with its outlandish premise buoyed by an incredibly tender emotional throughline.
The show merges science, faith, magic, and everything in between to coexist beautifully in one show. Arquette thinks it works because of how relevant the topic is to our world with the emergence of ChatGPT and questions about AI sentience.
“They didn’t time it, but it just all happened where this show comes out, and AI is all big. So I think it’s interesting that they’re looking at it all, and especially a time in society where religion and science and magic and all of these things are kind of converging.”
It works well with the framework of the show that ChatGPT seems to have come out of nowhere very fast, as Mrs. Davis, too, took the world by storm before everyone in that world was prepared for it.
Arquette thinks it will be amazing to see where the future of AI takes us. “There are certain things where you have to have faith in something. There was faith in humanity, faith in mankind, faith in our better angels sort of guiding us.
“Hopefully, that’ll be the big accomplishment of our society is that we all start treating each other with some more love and respect. That’s my wish.”
Yes, David Arquette just, in a fashion, wished for world peace, and somehow, it doesn’t surprise me at all.
When it comes to AI, he hasn’t had the pleasure. His friends have, but he hasn’t checked it out yet, noting he’s not the most computer-oriented person and worries he might “do something dumb.” He laughed, “I’m always getting into trouble with social media.”
But magic? That’s another story. Arquette loves the surprise of it. “I love that it’s a trick, but you willfully kind of accept it and allow yourself to be fooled. I love when you can’t figure it out, no matter what. I love the skill that it takes these magicians and the years of training.
“Sometimes they can guess what the next card is, practically the whole deck. It’s just an amazing skill, and you have to really practice it. So I am making no excuse like I’m some kind of magician, but I know plenty, and I’ve worked, and I’m a fan of them.”
And to reiterate the fact that I surmised his previous statement to be a wish for world peace, when I asked him what one significant magic trick he’d like to pull off, he said, “World peace.”
If the idea that we’d need a magic trick to pull off world peace seems a little deflating, Arquette sees it differently.
“There will have to be magic involved. You’ll definitely have to accept some things. And I don’t know, hopefully, the magician that’ll help bring that will be a real honorable hero we can all look up to these different leaders that will hopefully guide us into the future. I just love Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Bob Marley.”
Everyone he mentioned is a magician in their own way, much like Arquette’s own work seems to the rest of us.
“Well, it is an honor to be able to present a piece of work that you’re a part of that all these artists came together to allow people to sort of escape and just enjoy this adventure that hopefully just be entertained by.”
That’s what Arquette loves about meeting fans, which he finds himself connecting with more often. “It’s beautiful,” he says of the experience.
“It just means so much to me. And I don’t know, I love people, good, kind people, and I think there’s more of them than the bitter, sad, upset people, which I hope finds some peace in healing so that they don’t have to be so angry and bitter.”
In that way, Arquette is a lot like Mrs. Davis’s Monty. Monty has a big heart and wears it on his sleeve. It’s probably the only thing about him that he doesn’t hide in the name of his craft.
To that end, Arquette has a great time on Mrs. Davis Season 1 Episode 6, which offers more insight into his character and his relationships with Simone and Celeste.
“He’s got a big performance. He’s really upset about Mrs. Davis that she’s ruined magic and that she’s destroyed, given up all the secrets. So he’s trying to outwit her by doing a performance of something called the Lazarus Stroud that no one has been able to accomplish.”
“It’s this fun scene where I got to work with two magician assistants, and we had little routines; this huge monologue I had to learn. It was kind of nerve-racking, but I’m really proud of how it turned out and proud to be part of such a groundbreaking show.”
With all that he’s accomplished in his life and career, I wondered what he’d like his legacy to be 100 years from now. He says he’s kind of given up on that.
“I just really want to bring joy and entertain people. I love performing for people. I love people finding joy and escape from stuff that we do. So I don’t know about a hundred years from now,” he said.
“I more care about all of our kids’ kids and what world we’re leaving for them, and hopefully, I know I always talk about kindness, and I’m working on it myself. It’s hard to even apply every day. You get upset with little things, or people kind of push you, but it is still important to keep going back to it.”
He may not be interested in what his lasting legacy will be 100 years from now, but bringing joy to people seems like the perfect legacy for David Arquette.
Mrs. Davis is currently streaming on Peacock, with new episodes dropping weekly on Thursdays.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.