Quelling Midlife 'Emergency'
He's happily married to former "Friends" star Courteney Cox, with whom he has a daughter, Coco, 2. And then there's his passel of siblings, including Rosanna, Patricia and Alexis Arquette.
The actor is really stretching, then, for his role in "In Case of Emergency," the ABC Wednesday comedy in which he plays Jason Ventress, a shady financier who finds himself facing an early midlife crisis with no one to turn to.
"We don't have too much in common," Arquette says of Jason. "I think he likes to have fun; hat's one aspect I definitely share with him. He likes to laugh and he's a romantic at heart, which I also am. Those are probably the only main things we have in common."
Series creator Howard J. Morris first conceived the show -- which stars Arquette, Jonathan Silverman, Greg Germann and Kelly Hu as former high-school classmates who reconnect unexpectedly as their lives all go awry -- when Morris, a 40-year-old recently divorced father, was in a doctor's office and, for the first time in his life, realized he had no idea whose name to put down as his contact in case of emergency.
When he shared that moment over lunch with Emile Levisetti, also 40 but a lifelong bachelor, Levisetti volunteered that he had been grappling with the same question for most of his adult life. Both men were struck by the fact that they had reached the same common emotional ground via totally different paths and began developing the concept for the show.
And that's what happens in this show, where Jason, following a botched suicide in the face of a looming criminal indictment, finds himself reconnecting with some old high-school friends: Harry Kennison (Silverman), a neurotic and recently divorced dad who bears a distinct resemblance to series creator Morris; Kelly Lee (Kelly Hu), their class valedictorian, now working in a massage parlor; and Sherman Yablonsky (Germann), a wildly successful diet guru who has just landed in the tabloid headlines after hijacking a bakery truck and bingeing on its high-carb stock after his own marriage collapses.
Arquette says he likes the fact that his sitcom depicts characters who are much less than TV-perfect.
"Most television characters are at least a little bit better than most of us in our real lives,"he says. "On our show, it's funny to see characters who are real and flawed making mistakes and getting into messes. It's not like back in the days of 'Leave It to Beaver' -- OK, I guess Beaver always was making mistakes, too -- but the mistakes these guys make are a little worse, I think."