Patricia Arquette Says Her 'Dannemora' Character Has a 'Healthier' View of Sex Than She Does (Exclusive)

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Patricia Arquette pushed herself outside of her comfort zone to play Tilly Mitchell on Escape at Dannemora. 

ET's Kevin Frazier and guest co-host Sharon Osbourne spoke with Arquette on the red carpet at the 2019 Emmys on Sunday, where she's a double nominee. While the actress underwent a total-body transformation to play Tilly in the Showtime drama, she said her character differed from herself mostly in her view of sex and sexuality. 

"That was part of what terrified me about the part and was interesting about the part to me, because I think in our culture and in our industry, certainly, we have a certain type of person or woman that we allow to be a sexual being, and I really wanted to have the conversation about a middle-aged woman who doesn't have your typical body type, but actually really enjoys sex and their sexuality," Arquette shared. 

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John Shearer/Getty Images

Throughout the series, Tilly is seen in "very intense" sex scenes with multiple inmates in a back room at the prison where she works. 

"She's very different from me," Arquette said of the character, which is based on the real Joyce "Tilly" Mitchell, who was convicted for helping two inmates escape prison in 2015. "I'm incredibly modest as a person, but it was interesting to play someone who is so different from me and in a way, has a healthier view of sexuality, maybe in some ways, than I do."

"The crazy thing is -- we went to that sewing room in the prison, they showed us around. We met the lady who took over for Tilly. And then a couple weeks later, she got arrested for having an affair in the same back room!" Arquette added. 

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Showtime

The 51-year-old actress is up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for Dannemora, as well as Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role as Dee Dee Blanchard on Hulu's true-crime series, The Act. 

"I'm kind of actually a very judgmental person, so I was judging these characters also before I started breaking them down as human beings," Arquette said of jumping into each character. "[I was] looking at them [to see] why they were the way they were, and how they wanted to be seen or loved or they were afraid of being alone. Starting to tap into those human emotions, I started to have more empathy for them."


"Especially in the case of Dee Dee Blanchard, [I had empathy]," she continued. "I think what she did was inexcusable and terrifying, but I also think she's mentally ill, and I don't think we know that much about Munchausen by proxy. And I do hope that doctors look at this and examine things, they don't just take parents' word for things." 

The Act is another story inspired by real events, as Dee Dee's teenage daughter, Gypsy Rose (Joey King), helped murder Dee Dee -- with the help of a boyfriend -- after learning that her mother had been convincing the world that she was wheelchair-bound and suffered from a variety of illnesses. King is also nominated for her role in the series, and while Arquette said she was "nervous" for the awards show, she was looking forward to meeting up with some friends. 

"I am enjoying it and I love a lot of people here," she said. 

See more on Arquette in the video below. 

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