updated 11/07/2011 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/07/2011 AT 2:15 PM ET
“Everything is really good,” the actor told PEOPLE at the Malaria No More International Honors event in New York on Sunday. “It all seems like there’s a bigger picture and everything happens for a reason.”
He adds: “I learned a lot from Dancing with the Stars. It was an amazing experience, a great opportunity for personal and physical growth.”
Arquette also enjoyed the chance to have his daughter Coco, 7, in the audience with her mother, Courteney Cox. “[Coco] was amazing,” Arquette said. “It was so beautiful to have her there. She had such a great time with the whole experience.”
The Scream star, 40, says being voted off the show has one major benefit: “Now that I’m gone, I have a lot more time for myself.”
His first post-Dancing step was a getaway to New York. “I just love New York,” Arquette said. “I went upstate, which was beautiful. I just love the restaurants here in the city – there’s such incredible food, the shopping’s amazing.”
Next, Arquette is turning his attention to opening a theater in Los Angeles – “with singing and dancing and grown-up puppets” – and making his directorial debut on the big screen.
“I’m directing a film called Glutton, which is a thriller about a brother and a sister,” he said of the project, which is in pre-production. “The brother is a 1,000-pound man who’s confined to his bed.”
After a very public split from Cox, Arquette is trying to stay mum on his “adorable” girlfriend Christina McLarty, who joined him at Sunday’s event.
“I’m trying to keep my personal life personal,” he said with a laugh. “It’s very hard for me because I’m a very honest person.”