When you think of Drew Barrymore, you often remember her roles in such feel-good romantic comedies as "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates." Turns out the bubbly actress has a dark side. In the April issue of W magazine, Drew reveals the need she had to break out of her happy-go-lucky persona. That's why the 34-year-old fought so hard for the part of Little Edie Beale in HBO's "Grey Gardens." If you haven't seen the 1975 documentary that the HBO film is based on, Little Edie was the eccentric cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who lived alone with her mother, Edie Bouvier Beale, in a dilapidated 28-room mansion in East Hampton filled with cats and raccoons. Quite a departure from Barrymore's role in "He's Just Not That Into You," eh?
"I was excited to bring my own pain to something," Drew reveals. "I mean, contrary to my happy-go-luckiness, I have so much darkness in there. Playing Edie, I felt like s---. I thought, I'm afraid beyond anything I've ever known. I'm miserable; I'm scared; I feel sick all the time. And I was like, Good! At least I have somewhere to put it. You know what? I'm not f---in' happy all the time. I like making people feel good, but it was great not to have to please anybody. I was out there for myself and for her."
To prepare for the dramatic role, Drew cut herself off from the outside world, which reminded her of when she went to rehab at the age of 13. "I got institutionalized as a kid, and I felt like I was back there," she shares. "A lot of times I found myself unhappy and isolated, and the only other time I felt that way was when I was in there. It was absolutely trying to relearn to live. You are learning to become someone else."
Although Little Edie's decision to live in seclusion with her overbearing mother may seem odd to most, Drew views their relationship as a love story. That's not how she would describe the relationship she has with her own mom. "My mother and I split when I was very young and have never really reconciled," she shares. (Drew has lived on her own since legally emancipating herself the age of 15.)
Fortunately, Barrymore has managed to create her own family over the years, which consists of such close friends as Cameron Diaz and her producing partner Nancy Juvonen. She's also had no shortage of romances. Drew's been married twice, and dated New York rocker Fabrizio Moretti (of the Strokes) for five years, which was "one of the most, if not the most, important relationships I've had in my life," she notes. "We're still very close. I'm just learning who I am and how relationships work and how to make them function. No different from anyone else."