By Bethany Minelle, arts and entertainment reporter

When Patricia Arquette was a child she wanted to be a nun.

As it turned out, the fourth-generation actress ended up following the family tradition, but her desire to take the road less travelled has sometimes led to problems in her career.

Image: The Act is based on a true story of a mother with Munchausen by proxy. Pic: Brownie Harris/Hulu
The Act: Dee Dee Blanchard (Patricia Arquette), Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King) Photo by: Brownie Harris / Hulu

When she took on the role of Tilly Mitchell in Sky Atlantic's Escape at Dannemora, Arquette tells Sky News that eyebrows were raised in Hollywood.

"A lot of business people said to me before I did it, 'No, no, no, you can't gain weight. No, you can't look like that.'"

The role was that of a middle-aged prison officer, confident in her sexuality without fitting into the Hollywood concept of a "sexy woman".


Arquette ignored their advice and the role went on to win her critical acclaim, as well as a Golden Globe, a Critics Choice award and a Screen Actors Guild gong.

It's a formula Arquette looks set to repeat in her latest role, playing overprotective mother Dee Dee Blanchard in true crime drama The Act – based on the descriptively titled Buzzfeed article "Dee Dee Wanted Her Daughter To Be Sick, Gypsy Wanted Her Mom To Be Murdered".

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This time it was her children trying to persuade her not to take the role.

Arquette admits: "I'd never had heard this specific story but my kids had heard of it. And so I said 'Hey you guys, I've got offered this thing. I might play this lady with Munchausen by proxy'.

"They said: 'Oh no, don't play that lady. We know that story. Don't play that lady.'"

True to form, Arquette went her own way and accepted.

Patricia Arquette as Tilly in Escape at Dannemora (Episode 4). -Photo: Chris Saunders/SHOWTIME -Photo ID: DANNEMORA_104_1186
Image: The actress recently played Tilly in Escape at Dannemora. Pic: Chris Saunders/SHOWTIME/Sky Atlantic

The eight-part TV drama tells the stranger-than-fiction story of Gypsy Blanchard, a girl trying to escape the toxic relationship she has with her mother.

The teenager appears to suffer from multiple illnesses and has to be cared for around the clock by her attentive mother, but all is not as it seems.

As Arquette puts it, it's "a lie that spirals out of control".

Minor celebrities in their own right, thanks to TV appearances on local news after being gifted a home in a Missouri, the pair quickly switch from being heroes to villains in the public eye.

While Gypsy's supposed disabilities are very visible, it seems her mother Dee Dee's own undiagnosed illness – Munchausen by proxy – remains under the radar with devastating results.

The mental health syndrome, which leads a caregiver to make up or cause an illness or injury in someone under their care, has always fascinated Arquette.

Patricia Arquette poses with her Oscar for best supporting actress for Boyhood in the press room during the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 22, 2015
Image: Arquette won the best supporting actress Oscar for Boyhood

"It's the opposite of every maternal instinct I can imagine.

"As a mom I think most moms would die for their kids. They would do anything, they can't stand when their kids have pain and would protect them from anything dangerous.

"For a mother to put her child in a position that's actually putting them in danger and that is physically harming them and that is having lasting impact is such a nightmare."

The fear of empty nest syndrome is one Arquette can relate to, albeit on a Read More – Source

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Sky News

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