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!

1 Comment

  1. I was told right after filming of the HBO film wrapped up in the fall of 2007, that I would be blown away at the last scene, where Edie sings Tea For Two at Reno Sweeny, and I was ! I had supplied the film company with the only recording in existence of Edie singing the tune, only this wasn’t from her actual performance at the club, but rather her singing it just for me at one of my many visits to Grey Gardens. Drew sang it exactly, phrase for phrase as I have it on tape. Edie and I actually met that night at Reno Sweeny, and my relationship with Grey Gardens has now spanned over 3 decades. For our complete review, check out our blog at MyGreyGardens.com (HBO film review by Robb Brawn & Lee Arboreen), and be sure to check our Youtube video uploaded 4/18/09 the same day as the HBO film release. Click
    GREY GARDENS PROMO to view the video

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