A transgender activist and character actress, Alexis Arquette was a member of the famed Arquette dynasty that also included Rosanna, Patricia and David. She earned critical acclaim as a drag queen living in the slums in "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1989) and scored small roles in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), "Threesome" (1994) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994). After lead roles in the gay-themed indies "Never Met Picasso" (1996) and "I Think I Do" (1997), she stole scenes in the mainstream hits "The Wedding Singer" (1997) and "Bride of Chucky" (1998). Recurring on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (syndicated, 1995-2001) and "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004), Arquette also performed as the drag character "Eva Destruction" and produced and starred in "Killer Drag Queens on Dope" (2003). She spoke eloquently on her gender reassignment journey on "The Surreal Life" (The WB, 2003-04; VH1, 2004-06) and in the documentary "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother" (2007). Capable of strong performances in roles that were male, female and everything in between, Alexis Arquette carved out an impressive career as a character actress with a powerful, unique point of view. Alexis Arquette died on September 11, 2016 while surrounded by family at her home. She was 47.
Born July 28, 1969 in Los Angeles, Robert Arquette hailed from an acting dynasty, including father Lewis, sisters Rosanna and Patricia, and brother David. Arquette would eventually adopt the name "Alexis" and transition from male to female. Her screen debut came as a young boy on an amusement park ride in the music video "She's a Beauty" by The Tubes, but her first real acting role arrived in the form of resilient, tormented drag queen Georgette in the dark literary adaptation of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1989). Impressing critics for her fearless turn, Arquette went on to impress as a troubled Depression-era teenager in "The Hollow Boy" installment of "American Playhouse" (PBS, 1982-1993) as well as the drug-addicted brother of Tim Roth in "Jumpin' at the Boneyard" (1992).
After an uncredited cameo in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992), Arquette essayed supporting turns in "Of Mice and Men" (1992), "Threesome" (1994) and "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Increasingly out with her sexuality, Arquette appeared in the groundbreaking same-sex marriage episode of "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997) where Leon (Martin Mull) and Scott (Fred Willard) tie the knot. She won an Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film from Outfest for her work as a gay painter searching for inspiration in the indie "Never Met Picasso" (1996), and charmed as a gay soap opera writer who reunites with college chums in the genial "I Think I Do" (1997). On a roll like most of her siblings at that time, she stole scenes with her two highest-profile film roles - as Adam Sandler's Boy George-inspired bandmate in "The Wedding Singer" (1997) and as Damien, the Goth boyfriend of Jennifer Tilly in the horror hit "Bride of Chucky" (1998).
Although she most frequently appeared in cult and genre projects, Arquette booked a small role in the mainstream smash "She's All That" (1999), recurred on "The Strip" (UPN, 1999-2000) and guested on "Felicity" (The WB, 1998-2002). She was featured in the "Inside Out" segment of the gay anthology "Boys Life 3" (2000) and notched two deliciously campy performances as the Roman emperor Caligula on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (syndicated, 1995-2001). Related by marriage to actress Courteney Cox who had married brother David in 1999, Arquette appeared on her sister-in-law's hit sitcom "Friends" (NBC, 1994-2004) twice and increasingly turned her focus to drag performances, creating and performing as the character "Eva Destruction." Under that name, she produced and starred in the schlocky but fun exploitation spoof "Killer Drag Queens on Dope" (2003), and went on to book character roles in "Wasabi Tuna" (2003) and "Lords of Dogtown" (2005). After appearing on a season of "The Surreal Life" (The WB, 2003-04; VH1, 2004-06), she detailed her transgender journey in the touching documentary "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother" (2007), which also featured her friends and family. She continued to book guest spots on series like "Wanted" (TNT, 2005) and "Californication" (Showtime, 2007-14) as well as roles in such indie flicks as "Hard Breakers" (2010) and "Getting Back to Zero" (2011). Her final roles came in the Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler comedy "Blended" (2014) and in the indie drama "Citizens" (2017), which also included performances by Warhol superstars Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, and Mary Woronov. Having reportedly been living with HIV for 29 years, Alexis Arquette died of cardiac arrest at her home on September 11, 2016. She was 47.
By Jonathan Riggs
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
First supporting role, "Last Exit to Brooklyn"
TV acting debut, "The Hollow Boy" (PBS)
Had featured role in "Pulp Fiction"
Starred in the comedy "I Think I Do"
Had recurring role on the Showtime series "Beggars and Choosers"
Appeared in the comedy "Wasabi Tuna"
Appeared in the film "Here & Now"
Appeared in the film "Blended"