Patricia Arquettehas an impressive and celebrated career in a slew of acclaimed films, and over the past several years, she’s been garnering critical acclaim for her impressive TV roles. The Academy Award winner has racked up an Emmy win and several nominations for her work inEscape at Dannemora,The Act and Severance,and now she’s tackling a whole new role in Apple TV+’sHigh DesertalongsideMatt Dillon,Bernadette Peters, Brad Garrett and many more.
The streamer’s latest offering features Arquette flexing her comedic talent as Peggy Newman,an on-again, off-again addict who decides to make a new start after the death of her beloved mother (Peters), with whom she lived in the small desert town of Yucca Valley, California, and makes a life-changing decision to become a private investigator.
Dillon plays Peggy’s equally eccentric and rough-around-the-edges husband, Denny, who’s currently in prison.Peggy’s siblings (Keir O’Donnell and Christine Taylor) are preparing to sell the house Peggy has been living in, leaving her with nowhere to go. In desperate need of a job, Peggy browbeats PI Bruce (Garrett) into taking her on as his unpaid associate while she juggles various side jobs that do nothing but bring more chaos into her world.
Rupert Friend plays Guru Bob, a local ex-anchorman, who, after a trauma, rebrands himself as a mystic desert personality, alongsideWeruche Opia as Carol, Peggy’s closest friend and the bored fiancée of an ER doctor who has a secret of her own.
Arquette, who also serves as an executive producer forHigh Desert, revealed to ET that she has more in common with her character than fans might suspect. The mother of two admitted she’s had her fair share of odd jobs before becoming the beloved character actress viewers know and love.
Sharing her previous work experience before fame, Arquette shared: “I’ve worked for Planned Parenthood — I was a peer counselor so I went around and taught kids about different options for birth control and abstinence. I worked at a parade, I sold horns and popcorn and cotton candy, I worked for a caterer, I was a babysitter, I [swept] up hair and [made] appointments at a hair salon.”
She’s even had her day as a private investigator, though it didn’t last very long.
“I worked one day for a PI and my mic fell out,” she recalled, laughing. “I actually enjoyed all the jobs becauseI wanted to make money, I wanted to be in the world of adults. I liked learning things, it was almost like playing. I liked it, every day was different.”
Dillon, who has essentially been in the industry since he was young, conceded that he’d worked odd jobsonscreenwhile Friend and Opia recalled working as a fishmonger and in telesales, respectively.
Series director Jay Roach shared that he once worked as an oyster shucker, which he noted “was a dangerous job. I don’t eat oysters anymore.”
Still, the cast admitted thatHigh Desert’s Peggy takes the cake when it comes to odd jobs and making the best of unusual circumstances.
Arquette explained that she was “very involved” with the project, attributing the show’s brilliance to the writers. “That voice was there and that love was there and the concept was there and all of that, but then over the years we tweaked with different ideas,” she told ET. “What they wrote was so full of love and it was inspired by [show co-creator] Nancy Fichman’ssister, Margaery, who was an addict and a bit of a hustler. And at one point she said to Nancy, ‘I wanna be a PI,’ and Nancy said, ‘That’s the one sane thing you’ve said, you’d be a great PI.'”
Dillon, who revealed that he’d always wanted to work with Arquette and jumped at the role when it was offered, added that the timing forHigh Desertwas perfect because “if we had done something [20, 25 years ago] it would have been different.”
“I think one of the good things about getting a little older is that there’s more complexity, you can handle complexity more and the characters are more complex,” he shared. “The other thing I loved about this show when I came on was the characters’ backgrounds are so well defined so the characters sort of have their own autonomy. It’s like the writers created such good characters that we just step in and they come to life. And I love the character of Denny, he was like so dynamic, he’s like very contradictory in the way he behaves.”
“Our casting director was like, ‘Hey, what about Matt Dillon?’ And we all screamed like, ‘Oh my god, it would be incredible,'” Arquette revealed to her co-star. “…We kind of couldn’t imagine anyone else really as soon as that name came out. It was like, ‘Ugh, that would be a dream.'”
“Well, it was a lot of fun,” Dillon responded, humbly. “We can admit we have a pretty good job being actors and such, but sometimes it’s work if the material’s not great. But this was really good so coming to work was fun because the writing was there. And then we could just jump into these characters and they were so rich and it was like these characters where really alive with us.”
Friend echoed Dillon’s sentiment, telling ET, “It’s the best to get to dance with Patricia Arquette, who is just a living legend.I think that character she’s made in High Desert is just an icon, I really do, and she would just throw down and Jay just would [hype us] up and let us go. It was a hell of a lot of fun.”
Opia enjoyed herself so much, she’s already angling for a second season that delves deeper into her character, Carol.
“We can see in season 1 that she has a secret and a past and we don’t get to delve into it because we’re all in Peggy’s world, which is what it’s all about. But I think it’d be really nice to see why Carol is the way she is,” she said. “We see little glimpses of it…she has these outbursts and you realize that there’s something underneath the surface. She comes across as this completely zen, cool, chilled-out woman, but there is something bubbling underneath. I would love to explore it more and to figure out how she and Peggy actually came to be who they are and be in each other’s lives the way they are. Something to explain the way they ride or die for each other — I think we need to know more!”
The first three episodes of High Desertare now streaming on Apple TV+, with new episodes airing weekly on Wednesdays.