Drew Barrymore says a dreary Winter shoot in Toronto helped her get into character for the HBO drama Grey Gardens (premiering tonight on HBO Canada, 9 p.m.). "I had to change everything about myself," says Barrymore, who plays real life socialite-turned pauper Little Edie Beale opposite Jessica Lange's "Big Edie."
The mother-daughter duo made headlines in the '70s when the Maysles brothers, Albert and David (Gimmie Shelter), exposed their riches to rags story in their groundbreaking documentary. Barrymore, who stood for 30 minutes and took question from a group of us last January on press tour, watched it every day to stay in character on the set.
Barrymore plays Little Edie from when she was an 18-year-old debutante in the '30s through the '70s when Grey Gardens, the East Hampton, N.Y. mansion she shared with her eccentric mother, was overrun with cats and raccoons.
The 34-year-old actress says shooting in Toronto in the winter helped her completely cut herself off from her friends and family. She ditched her cell phone, gave up newspapers and TV, anything Little Edie did not have access to when she was alive. "I didn't speak to one friend for three months which was hard to come out of," says Barrymore. "I went a little insane."
Barrymore says she didn't even speak with best friend and business partner Nancy Juvonen, who she says she's spoken to every day for 14 years. When Juvonen finally had to reach Barrymore to tell her she was getting married (to Jimmy Fallon), she sent her a letter addressed to "Little Edie."
She only allowed herself to step out of character on Saturday nights in Toronto, when she snuck out to "have a couple of cocktails to ease the pain," she says. "Just to be in somebody's head head all that time was like living in some crazy monastery."
Grey Gardens is directed by Michael Sucsy, who co-authored the script with Canadian director Patricia Rozema. Several Canadians, including Justin Louis, are in the cast.
I've written more about Barrymore and Grey Gardens in the cover story of today's Starweek magazine in the Saturday Star. I'd link to it here but I can't, so buy a newspaper!