The fourth of five children of actor Lewis Arquette had a rather prolific acting career that extended throughout the 1990s and 2000s, including such memorable films as Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Pulp Fiction, The Wedding Singer and Bride of Chucky — while also becoming one of the first prominent actors to undergo a public gender transition.
Alexis Arquette, whose acting siblings included brothers Richmond and David and sisters Rosanna and Patricia, appeared on screen for the first time in 1986’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills, acting in more than 50 films until the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy Blended in 2014. Arquette appeared in many indie films, often — but not always — portraying characters who were androgynous or otherwise not in line with the traditional gender binary. She chronicled her transition in the acclaimed 2007 documentary Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother.
Alexis Arquette died Sunday at the age of 47, according to a Facebook message posted by her brother Richmond, as cited by Deadline. No cause of death was given; Arquette, according to the statement, died while surrounded by all four siblings as, in accordance with her wishes, David Bowie’s “Starman” was played.
Born in Los Angeles in 1969, Arquette began acting in the 1980s, first in a video for The Tubes and later in Down and Out. She appeared in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie and in Threesome in 1994. Perhaps the two most prominent movies of Arquette’s career were Pulp Fiction — portraying the guy with the gun in the bathroom whose bullets go right through Vincent and Jules — and her part as a Boy George impersonator in the 1998 comedy The Wedding Singer, also starring Sandler and Barrymore. (Boy George himself eulogized Arquette on Twitter Sunday.)
Arquette, who for years performed in nightclubs using a drag persona known as “Eva Destruction,” came out publicly as trans in the early 2000s, and the documentary, directed by Matthew Barbato and featuring all of her brothers and sisters, covered a year-and-a-half in the life of Arquette’s transition, nearly a decade before Caitlyn Jenner would star in a reality series doing the same.
In her later years, Arquette was a prominent activist for transgender rights and appeared on the reality show The Surreal Life in 2006. Multiple media reports described Arquette as having suffered a long illness.
R.I.P. Alexis Arquette: July 28, 1969 — September 11, 2016