Spree Star David Arquette Details the Bizarre World of Influencer Culture

With social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram becoming so prominent over the past decade, the world of celebrity has changed drastically. Not only do these services allow fans to connect with their favorite celebrities in ways previously impossible without the internet being so widespread, but these services have also birthed the culture of the "influencer," who largely consist of people who become famous on these platforms thanks to the content they deliver their followers. Actor David Arquette has his own social media presence, which he uses to sporadically interact with fans or to promote his upcoming projects, the most recent of which being the horror-satire Spree, a film that sets its sights on influencer culture.

In Spree, we meet Kurt (Joe Keery), a 23-year-old rideshare driver for Spree, who is so desperate for social media attention that he'll stop at nothing to go viral. He comes up with a plan to livestream a rampage as a shortcut to infamy - coining his evil scheme "#thelesson", he installs a set of cameras in his car and begins streaming his rides. Wildly miscalculating the popularity that would come from his lethal scheme, Kurt’s desperation grows as he tries to find a way to overcome the plan's flaws. In the middle of all this madness, a stand-up comedian (Sasheer Zamata) with her own viral agenda crosses Kurt's path and becomes the only hope to put a stop to his misguided carnage.

ComicBook.com recently caught up with Arquette, who plays Kurt's self-obsessed father, to talk about the world of social media, influencer culture, and the difficulties of self-promotion.

spree movie red band trailer joe keery david arquette
(Photo: RLJE Films)

ComicBook.com: In Spree, there's a tendency for characters to express their admiration towards anyone who has more fame than they do. Given your own accomplished career, you've earned fans for a number of projects. Of all the movies and TV shows you've done, what's the project fans most recognize you for?

David Arquette: It's interesting. When you go to the different places you meet fans, either, for me, wrestling shows or horror conventions. A lot of the time, I get Scream. At wrestling events, I get Ready to Rumble. When you're at a horror convention, though, they'll bring up obscure films like Ravenous or Bone Tomahawk. They'll bring up some of the deeper films that are more independent or serious films I've done, like Dream with the Fishes or The Grey Zone.

What I love about fans at different conventions is they really love movies, and they understand, unlike Hollywood ... Hollywood will typically try to put you in a box. If you're The Rock, you can only do action movies. Whatever they try to do, it's really hard to get out of those boxes. I was really impressed by Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems, the way he was able to do a really great dramatic performance. I love that performance he did in that. So you can do it. It's a little hard to get out of the box, but yeah, I think I most get recognized for Scream, and then you always have obscure references.

I'm definitely one of the horror fans that would want to bring up Ravenous, I love that movie. And you're also awesome in Airheads.

Airheads was really fun to shoot. I got to work with so many talented comedians in that film.

With Spree tackling the world of influencer culture, is that something that you can appreciate and admire the hustle of those who made a career out of or is it something you feel totally detached from and don't comprehend?

I feel detached and don't comprehend, really, the extent of it. It's a very narcissistic world on social media and especially in that world. A lot of the time, it's very much pictures of yourself, pictures of what you have. I don't know. It's a strange world. I don't understand it completely. I know I have to have [social media] for promoting films that I'm in, staying in touch with fans, but it's odd. The whole influencer world is very foreign to me, and I don't understand it completely.

I just did a film, called "Ghosts of the Ozarks," and we got all of these brands to send us some food, like snacks, because we were doing COVID safety, so everything had to be individual. And we're a low budget movie, so every part of the budget has to go on the screen. So I called up a few of my friends that promote these different products, and they were able to get them out to us. And I had to take pictures and post them and write about them. And some of the fans were like, "Why are you doing this? It's like somebody's invaded your stream because you're just doing all this product placement."

I explained to them that we're doing an independent film. We really wanted the crew to have extra things to eat and it gets really tight on those super-tight budgets. So I had no sort of ego about doing it, but it's interesting the way people took it as like paid advertisements or something. And I get that. I get when people do that, and I understand it's also part of their business, and I don't want to knock anyone for making a living. You have to do what you can, but it's all foreign to me. It's a strange world.

Especially as an actor, I'm sure it's tough to feel forced to promote your projects, even though you genuinely want to.

I know, right? But I get it. Fans are being inundated with all of these things. There's sponsored posts on your feed, and there's advertisements you have to watch before a video. In the wrestling community, as far as the pandemic, when all of the shows, unless you're in two of the big companies, were all cancelled. So a lot of these wrestlers survived on selling their t-shirts or getting a YouTube channel, that if they put up an advertisement before and you get enough clicks on it, you can make a little money off of it. So I do see how it helps people make a living. And I've always supported that, even at an autograph convention, where you're signing a bunch of things, and you clearly see someone come up that they have you sign something so that they resell them. And some people frown at that, but I've always seen it as, "Well, that's their business, that's what they're doing. So why wouldn't you want to help them?"

Now, sometimes they show up at a place where they catch you at an airport or something. But even there, if you look at it from a place of, "Well, they waited out here. This is what they do for a living. All you have to do is sign it, and then hopefully they can make some money for their family." I try to always look at it in a bigger picture.

Speaking of pulling double duty, Spree saw you guys using your own cellphones to shoot things or having GoPros set up in cars, detaching you from the director and the rest of the crew. What was that experience like?

It was really interesting. The whole car was equipped with all these GoPros, so as soon as you get in the car, you're being filmed. Everything's being filmed from every angle. So there's no real working a certain camera and the angle and how the light works with you. It's all being seen. It's really revealing in a way, but it's also very freeing. You have an ability to run the scene, go drive the car back to the starting place. Go do it again, run back to the starting place. Do it again, without ever cutting. You just get a few notes on a walkie talkie. You try it again. And after you've done it a few times, they're like, "We got it."

It just seems so bizarre. Like you've covered all your angles. You've covered the whole scene. You can cut around and cut in, and you can find the performances you like without having to reset anything, so that was really interesting.

Since you mentioned Scream earlier and you've been cast in the new film, did you approach this project as one last opportunity to play Dewey Riley or is he a character where you'll be happy to play 10 more times, as long as they'll have you?

I loved playing the character Dewey. That's such an important role in my life. As an actor, you try to do films that work, that entertain people, that audiences get a kick out of. You seldom do something just for a small audience, just to talk to a very niche group. The horror fan base is huge, so when you really connect with them and then it even goes beyond that, it's a really special thing. So I love playing the character. When they approached me, I was in first, I think. Now we've got Courtney [Cox] on board. Hopefully, Neve [Campbell] will join the team, and then we can shoot this thing.

And hopefully we get 10 more sequels after that with Dewey.

That would be amazing. Oh, and check out @kurtsworld96 on Instagram. It's Kurt's Instagram page, and [director/co-writer] Eugene [Kotlyarenko] built it out. It's really incredible, what he's done there.

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Spree is out now in select theaters, On Demand, and Digital HD.