Patricia Arquette just won a Golden Globe for her role in the miniseries Escape At Dannemora. Her performance may have been award-winning, but the actress was also thrilled to represent women who don’t fit the Hollywood mould, and to feel free of the appearance police who’ve plagued her throughout her career.
Arquette plays Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell, the real-life married prison worker who had an affair with two convicts, and helped them escape. “It was so exciting to work with Showtime on this,” she told press backstage at the Golden Globes, “because I never once heard the refrain that I’ve heard throughout my career, which is, ‘Is she attractive enough?’ Or, ‘That’s what she really looks like, but let’s make her look like this.’ I felt so free.”
Arquette also said one of her friends made a point of thanking her for making the show and representing Mitchell as someone attractive and sexual. “I got to play a woman without a typical [Hollywood body type], who’s a sexual person—unapologetically sexual—[who’s] complicated, wants love. I have friends who don’t have the typical body type, bigger women, and one of them said to me, ‘Hey, I really want to thank you for this project because it’s the first time, I as a big woman, felt like I’m allowed to be a sexual being, not in a fetishized or joke way, and I think that’s important.”
A few years on from her groundbreaking 2015 Oscar acceptance speech, in which she called for equal pay, Arquette says things are still a long way from being fixed—but some progress has been made.
“I think diversity is definitely starting to pay off in Hollywood,” she said, “so I’m hoping to see more of a trend towards that. But it’s not just Hollywood. When I was talking about equal pay, I was talking about 98 percent of all industries. We have a lot of moms out there that are sole breadwinners, or the primary breadwinners for families, so we have to look at equal pay and opportunity and being in managerial and decision-making positions.”
But Arquette says she does feel hopeful about the turn things are slowly taking. “I’m excited about how many women we have coming into the House and coming into more positions of power,” she said. “When I was growing up, I would always assume that a doctor was a man. So I’m hoping the world’s changing, so that we see directors and DPs as women as well.”
Finally, she apologized for dropping an accidental F-bomb onstage during her acceptance speech. “I’m so sorry!” she said, looking genuinely mortified. “I can’t take it back. But it was an unplanned F-Bomb. This is a very elegant occasion.”