'Summerland' gets guest star
Rosanna Arquette plays an estranged mother of a local surfer.
By KATE O'HARE
"There are no accidents," says Rosanna Arquette, referring to her role in tonight's episode of The WB's "Summerland." The freshman hit stars Lori Loughlin as a fashion designer raising her orphaned nephews and niece in a Southern California beach house.
In the episode, "Skipping School," written by former "Boomtown" executive producer Graham Yost, Arquette plays Ronnie, the estranged mother of local surfer Erika (Taylor Cole), whose late father was a champion surfer.
Ronnie shows up unannounced and upsets Erika's new relationship with Aussie surf-shop owner Jay (Ryan Kwanten) by wanting Erika to live with her -- for as long as she lives, that is.
"She's got a liver disease, hepatitis C," Arquette says during a break in filming on the show's Hollywood sets (which include a fairly realistic faux "beach").
According to Arquette, the character originally was to have terminal cancer, which is why the actress brought along a beautiful multicolored shawl to wear.
"This was my mother's," she says. "I thought, 'OK, my mother did die of cancer, so I'll take her shawl.' Now they changed it to liver disease, which my dad had. With liver disease, like hepatitis C, you can have it for 10 years and live with it. Some people are in worse stages -- it depends.
Obviously they're setting it up so she's not on her deathbed.
"It's a terrible thing, really sad. There isn't anything they can do about it. You still have it in your blood even if you get the transplant, so the transplant only lasts about three or four years. Even if you survive the transplant, you die young. That's what happened with my dad. There were complications."
Turned it down
Even before she knew the full story of Ronnie, Arquette was reluctant to take the role.
"I did turn it down twice," she says, "but then [producer] Aaron Spelling called my agents and asked for me to do it. I'm also directing a documentary about musicians right now, so for eight months, I've been focusing on that, and two other movies that I'm shooting. So I'm squeezing this in in two days. It's fun. There's this great atmosphere. I want to be living on the beach in a house. It's fantastic."
Asked what Ronnie's story is, Arquette says, "Her sad story probably is that, with the lifestyle that she led -- which was the surfing, pot smoking, partying, hippie mom -- she ended up losing herself in her husband's world, which a lot of women do.
"I feel that she just kept going off to workshops at Esalen, finding herself, abandoned her daughter in the process and was being selfish. Ronnie sinned a lot, and now she's at a place where her life may be ending. She wants to make things right with Erika, make a healing and a connection, not only for herself but her daughter.
"I like playing people that have flaws, who are just doing the best they can and figuring it out and discovering that in the piece."