As a young, single mother, Arquette knew the agony of not earning enough money to buy both food and diapers for her son, Enzo, now 26. Her plea for equal pay for women during her Oscar acceptance speech was personal and heartfelt. As executive producer of the upcoming documentary "Equal Means Equal," Arquette is working with the film's director-writer, Kamala Lopez, to examine the state of women in America.
You recently deleted thousands of emails. How did that make you feel?
Great! It was liberating. I have to do it again. ... Our devices are much more hackable than we imagined. To everyone else's frustration, I've been moving away from email. Now my phone only is a telephone. It's great to turn everything off and just live. ... I don't think that most people's lives are balanced anymore. We put busyness above other things and forget to make space to hang out with friends and do something.
For a career in show business many people would do almost anything, but you refused to change your appearance to land parts.
I was in a good position when I was asked to lose weight for [the TV series] "Medium." I was already a celebrity. A lot of people weren't going from movies to TV shows [a decade ago], so they wanted me. Losing weight didn't make sense for that part. I wanted to push boundaries and have the conversation socially.
You are writing a memoir. What's it like looking back at your life and would you change anything?
Writing a memoir is a lot of different things: It's illuminating, painful, interesting, and strange. ... It's very personal and a big challenge. ... One thing I am trying to change is getting comfortable saying, "No." I am failing at it, but it is something I have to learn to do.
How much sleep do you get and do you ever nap? Are you satisfied with what you accomplish each day?
I don't get enough sleep. We might shoot until midnight or 1 a.m. and I still want to get up with my [12-year-old] daughter, Harlow, and get her to school. This is the time in her life that she will remember. I feel like I am burning the candle at both ends. ... Sometimes I nap at lunchtime. I can sleep anywhere at any time. ... But I don't know how to do all the things society [dictates]: We're supposed to take vitamins and be on a juice fast, do yoga and meditate. We're supposed to track our finances and be better parents. Spend time with our kids but not hover over them.
Growing up, laughter and the art of conversation were prized in your family. Do you still value them?
My boyfriend, Eric [White, an artist], and I laugh all the time. We have a similar sense of humor. The way we see the world is funny to each other. Laughter is an important part of our relationship. ... [And] therapy is amazing with the right therapist. If you are not listening to each other or are talking over each other, Harville Hendrix's Imago therapy is very useful. It's different than [traditional] therapy. His book "Getting the Love You Want" provides helpful tools.