Drew Barrymore "terrified" of "Grey Gardens" role

Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:04pm EDT
 
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She comes from a famous Hollywood family, began acting as a kid and has worked with many top directors, but Drew Barrymore was never as terrified of a role as she was for her latest part in "Grey Gardens."

The television movie, which debuts on HBO on Saturday, stars the 34-year-old Barrymore as Edith "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale, the eccentric cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who lived a reclusive life of wealth and extreme poverty before her death in 2002.

To take on the role, Barrymore, who made her name as the child in "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" in 1982, had to age herself with makeup and costumes from a college-age ingenue to an elderly woman, and she had to master the accent of upper-crust New York society. She says she had to campaign for the role, which only added to the stress when it came time to perform.

"This had a challenge in every freakin' corner, it was terrifying," Barrymore told Reuters. "But I just fell in love with her, who she was and who she became."

Beale and her mother Edith "Big Edie" Bouvier Beale, were members of New York City society, but after her father, Phelan Beale, abandoned the family in the early days of the Great Depression, they slowly began to fall on hard times.

Mother and daughter took up residence in their sprawling manor, Grey Gardens, on Long Island, New York and as the years went by they lived on a smaller allowance from Phelan Beale.

The house fell into disrepair, and was overrun by cats and rodents. It became such a nuisances that local officials threatened to raze the mansion until Jackie O stepped-in to aid her cousin and aunt.

Documentary makers Albert and David Maysles ventured out to Long Island in the early 1970s and made a documentary movie about the Beales called "Grey Gardens."   Continued...

 
<p>Actresses Drew Barrymore (L) and Jessica Lange arrive at the premiere of "Grey Gardens" in New York April 14, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>