Drew Barrymore has been in more than 50 films, but it wasn't until she had the chance to play the role of a socialite-turned-recluse in Grey Gardens that she was willing to put it all on the line.
"I knew this was not a courtesy meeting, but not far from it," Barrymore said of her first sit-down with Grey Gardens producers. "I didnt want to come in there like a hungry freak. But I also felt every second counting."
Barrymore promised to completely transform herself — and get rid of one of her trademark facial quirks — for the role.
"I just put it out there," she said in the May issue of Elle magazine. "I said, Look — I have all of this inside of me, and I promise you that I will change my face to be her. I will learn how to stop talking out of the side of my mouth. I will go to school to relearn body language. I will shut out the world. I will not talk to my friends. I will give up my life for this, because I dont think you can play this character and have a social life and balance the two mentalities. I wont act. Ill become this person.'"
Once Barrymore got the part, she set to work.
"I did what I do when I have a big challenge lying in my path," she said. "I go to school. I shut the windows, the shades come down, the phone gets turned off, I dont go out — I study."
Her much-anticipated portrayal of Little Edie is a departure from her typical romantic comedies, such as this year's He's Just Not That Into You, but that's exactly what Barrymore wanted.
"Im in my thirties now, and I really want to try all the things that I havent gotten to do yet, like directing, and doing a drama," she said. "Ive produced and gotten to do a lot of optimistic love stories, and that was so where I was at for 10 years in my life. And now I feel like, 'Okay, now I know how to do that.' I wanted to get scared again."
Although Barrymore, 34, has been spending more time with her ex-boyfriend Justin Long, she opened about how she wanted to focus on herself when ending her long-term relationship with Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti in January 2007.
"Its hard to be with someone for five years and say, This isn't going to work,'" Barrymore said. "But it was a time in my life where I finally just said, I can't live for anyone else anymore. I have to be on my own.'"