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Why Patricia Arquette's Role In Severance Is One Of Her Most Challenging Yet - Exclusive

Patricia Arquette has certainly taken on some challenging roles during her 35-year career — see Richard Linklater's epic 2014 film "Boyhood," which was shot over the course of 12 years and won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. But when Looper conducted an exclusive interview with the veteran actor, she revealed that she found her latest role on "Severance" to be one of the most challenging of her life.

"Severance" is a science fiction-based psychological thriller series that follows a Lumon Industries employee named Mark (Adam Scott) who agrees to a "severance" program in which his work memories are permanently separated from his non-work memories. Arquette portrays Harmony Cobel, Mark's cold-hearted boss who secretly masquerades as his next-door neighbor, Mrs. Selvig. Directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle and co-starring John Turturro and Christopher Walken, the critically acclaimed "Severance" streams on Apple TV+.

During our exclusive interview, Arquette explained exactly why playing a character like Harmony is "so challenging."

It's 'very hard' to play such a mysterious character

Harmony Cobel on "Severance" is a more stoic character than fans are used to seeing Arquette portray. From "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" and "True Romance" to "Medium" and "Boardwalk Empire," Arquette is often tasked with infusing raw emotion and humanity into roles. Even in real life, she is very impassioned, which was on display at the 2015 Academy Awards during her stirring acceptance speech that included comments about pay equity for women in Hollywood and beyond.

So, to play someone as cryptic and stony-eyed as Harmony has proven puzzling to Arquette. "Even when I read the first episode, I was like, 'Ben, I don't know who this person is,'" she says. "She was so ... nebulous, and that remains the case the whole time, honestly. She's a very mysterious person, and that is very hard to play ... It was very hard to understand what the tone was. But Ben always knew what it was. I really have to trust him, and Aoife also, our other director. I have to put my faith in them."

Another thing that helps Arquette bring Harmony to life is finding sympathy for a character that is unsympathetic. "I have sympathy for Harmony, but I don't know that anyone else should," she says. "Harmony sees the corporation as her family, her religion, and her whole self-worth is attached. I don't know if we have to have sympathy for her, but I do. As an actor, think I kind of have to when you're playing somebody like that. She really thinks she's doing the right thing for this corporation, which is beyond a corporation and her commitment to them. It's a very weird world. Let's put it that way."

"Severance" streams exclusively on Apple TV+, where new episodes are available every Friday.