Definitive proof that the more things change the more they stay the same – almost.
As an actress, producer, director and mother, Rosanna Arquette excels. She also manages to perform each one of these tasks with unbridled fervor. Her roots are buried deep in the arts – her grandfather was a comedian; her father an actor; her mother an actress and poet – and she possesses the intrinsic characteristics of a true entertainer. A trait she shares with siblings Richmond, Alexis, David and Patricia. And quite noticeably – as evidenced by her performance in front of our camera today – with 14-year-old daughter Zoe Bleu, who will undoubtedly soon rock your world.
You’ve appeared in over 100 films and television programs. You’ve grown on film from young starlet to mature woman and actually covered that topic in your documentary Searching for Debra Winger. I’ve heard you are working on a new documentary now about the effects of womens’ hormones on their psychology…
On the hormonal shift, yes. My daughter coming into it on her end and me exiting it on the other end. Not that it’s happened yet, but it’s happening. I can feel my body changing.
And you found that a change of focus toward directing is what will prolong your career?
Well the business has changed so much. I was just reading a book a friend gave me called, What Would Audrey Do, about Audrey Hepburn and you can see that things are so different today. The roles are different. Magazines, the Internet. Today it’s as if they just want to take you down. It’s all about humiliation. It’s all become about celebrity and no longer about art.
But if you want to work…
Exactly. I’ve certainly had my share of roles that I would have preferred not to do. But let’s face it, I’m a single mom and I have to pay the bills. There really isn’t a lot of work out there and I count myself lucky that I constantly have something going on. I do find that I’m leaning more toward directing and really enjoy doing interviews and making documentaries. I just spent four days backstage at Coachella interviewing artists.
Is that something that will be available to the public?
We’ve been collecting this footage for a few years now and it will eventually result in a documentary film. This year we spoke with Paul McCartney, Robert Smith of The Cure, Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine, and John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X. It was just really a great year.
Time management has to be one of your strong points. Single mother, director, and actor…
Well I definitely feel like everything is on my shoulders. It’s challenging for sure. Zoe’s dad just got married and has a new baby and his own personal stuff that he is dealing with, so I carry a lot of the responsibility for sure. This year, I even had Zoe with me at Coachella. Normally her dad takes her and he has since she was about five, but this was the first year that I had the responsibility of watching over her while working.
That had to be a handful.
I’m telling you. I was in the pit for M.I.A. and she had all these kids charging the stage. Immediately I grabbed my blackberry and sent Zoe a message, “where are you!?” I couldn’t concentrate. I knew she was with a friend and I loved having her there but it was just so stressful.
Celebrity, Hollywood, music, drugs, body image… you are raising your daughter in a very precarious world. How do you present that to her? How does all that affect her?
A friend of ours just lost her 16-year-old daughter to drugs. She wasn’t a bad kid and had no history of using drugs. It was just a one-time experimentation and it killed her. Just like that. It’s so sad and I could never imagine what that must feel like. It’s incredibly scary. The problem is most kids – whether in Hollywood or not – feel that they are invincible. So when something like this happens they’re like, “well that’s not going to happen to me.” Zoe has a really good head on her shoulders but she is curious and that scares me.
Enhancing one’s physical appearance is also something teenagers are being exposed to through their parents.
Well… I was always so against all that. I’ve always admired a woman like Audrey Hepburn, who aged so naturally, and was always so beautiful. Yet here I am, an actress in Hollywood, and I’m finding it something I am starting to think about. Sometimes I pull at my face in the mirror wondering, what if…? Right now though, I’m really into Chinese herbs and I actually get acupuncture needles in my face quite often, which act like a natural facelift.
There seems to be a lot of natural things that we can do to prolong our youth.
There is… and talk to me in a couple of years and we’ll see how that’s working out. I really have always been against surgery but I am now going… hmm. Some people are really looking incredible right now and I wonder ‘what did they do?’ and ‘who are they going to?’ It’s just really hard to age on film. I’ve always played younger than I was. When I was 18, I played 14. When I was 20, I played 16.
Body image has become such a huge issue. When out shopping with Zoe how do you deal with it?
Oh God, as much as I try really hard not to say it, I do hear myself saying, “Zoe, does my butt look fat in these pants?” I definitely have asked that question many, many times. Zoe has a fabulously proportioned body and is a really healthy young girl but… do we have a problem with this issue? In America? In this town? In fashion? Yes, and I’ve always sort of had these issues with myself. I don’t want to sound neurotic, but I’ve always had a distorted image of myself.
Ah c’mon… you look fabulous.
My sister Patricia said that her first memories of me as a teenager were me squeezing my thighs and going, “look at this fat right here!” She thought I was crazy because I was really skinny. But I’ve always had this negative image of myself.
Where do you think that originated?
I think it came from my mother. She had gained a lot of weight and got really big for a while. I hated it. I felt sad. It really bothered me that she let this happen. That she had such low self-esteem.
Do you still today have these body image issues?
Well, I am getting older. I will turn 50 this year. But I talk openly with Zoe about it, saying it is so neurotic.
It is so important to keep the lines of communication open with our kids.
Absolutely. Communication, first and foremost. Zoe and I talk a lot. I really want to know what she’s into. What concerns she has. She keeps me in the loop as much as she can I suppose, but sometimes she tells me that I’m too over protective. But I just want to know that she’s safe.
Your mother died of breast cancer. Did you change any lifestyle habits, diet, and exercise, as a result of that?
Growing up, we really didn’t eat so well, but later my mother became macrobiotic and now I’m vegetarian for the most part. Sometimes, I will eat some salmon just because I feel the need for the protein, but I consider myself pretty much a vegetarian. I think there are certainly environmental reasons that cancer has become so predominant a disease. I think plastic is a large contributor, and extremely dangerous. Did you know that there is this huge island of plastic called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch floating out in the Pacific Ocean? It’s twice the size of Texas and weighs about three and a half million tons, and it’s out there floating in the ocean. There are just so many environmental issues.
Like the effects of hormones and pesticides in our food.
It’s terrifying. I’ve had Zoe on an organic diet since she was little. I also had her on soy growing up, as we all believed that was the right thing to do. And now, we’re learning that soy too has it’s own share of problems, and contains a lot of estrogen. The Chinese and Japanese have known about the toxicity of soy for centuries and now we’re finally realizing that here. I thought, “Oh my God, what have I done.”
Immunization has also become a topic of controversy.
Yes… I didn’t immunize Zoe. I felt that it was extremely toxic and dangerous. If she was going to get the chicken pox, she’d get the chicken pox. She got them – friends sent their kids over to get them, and that’s what you want to happen. You want the body to strengthen it’s own defense systems, naturally. There’s actually a book out now called, A Shot in the Dark by Harris Coulter, which details why some of these vaccines can be
hazardous to a child’s health. Jenny McCarthy is also covering a lot of this material in her fight to cure autism. I think that what she is doing is really important as it affects a lot of people. She is doing some fantastic work and the change she is instigating with diet is a miracle.
What’s next for you?
I will be up in Vancouver filming a movie. I just love Vancouver. I was actually planning to move there if McCain won the election. I was outta here. I would have given up my citizenship and moved to Canada. I was done. Out. Vancouver here I come. But thank God that didn’t happen.
Obama really has a tough road ahead.
There are a lot of people doing everything they can to attack him. America had such a bad reputation throughout the world and he has already done so much to repair that. He is doing exactly what he said he would do, exactly.
Story by Craig Knight, Photography by Brie Childers