Inspired by the incredible true story that touched the world, the rescue adventure Big Miracle tells the amazing tale of an animal-loving volunteer (DREW BARRYMORE) and a small-town news reporter (JOHN KRASINSKI) to rally an entire community–and eventually rival world superpowers–to save a family of majestic gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. Drew’s character is based on real life activist Cindy Lowry. Rolemommy sat down with Drew to discuss her latest role, insisting on doing her own stunts and how with just a little makeup, her beauty always shines through.
RM: Your character, Rachel Kramer, is so amazing. She really puts herself on the line and in the same way, from the bullhorn to that amazing scene, jumping in the water with the whales. And I was just wondering, is there anything you feel that passionately about where you could see really putting yourself on the line?
DREW: I think a lot of things. I feel that way about film making or work. And then, I’ve tried to become more philanthropically aware and I think when you’re trying to do your job and it’s very meaningful to you, it really is meaningful. You want to learn and grow up and get outside of yourself and do things that are meaningful to other people, whether that’s very private or in a very small capacity or the bigger you can try to be.
RM: How did you research your role in the film portraying real life environmentalist Cindy Lowry?
DREW: We met up in New York and spent some time. I started interviewing her and putting the microphone down and just recording hours and hours of her talking. And then, she came out to LA and stayed with me, and we stayed together for a while. And then, she came out to Alaska for the whole beginning of filming.
We would hike and we would eat and we would wake up and talk, and we just really got to know each other. And definitely, the recording devices went by the wayside because I just really enjoyed being with her, and it just all started to resonate. And I was glad that we really genuinely got along versus that sort of faux connection. I thought, all right, all right, I like you so much, this is gonna be so great. Okay, I want to do this justice. And she’s a really feisty woman, too, which I like.
RM: We were wondering if it harder to play someone, a real person as opposed to a fictional character?
DREW: In some senses, it’s hard. If you’re playing somebody people know, then the imitation is so excruciatingly intimidating because I would wish that I just didn’t exist and I could just be that person. And I sort of get really angry at myself that I’m even in the way of just the best imitation I can try to study. But then, you think, no, I can’t get rid of myself, so how can I add to this.
And then, playing someone who you want everybody to know about and who was such an important person in this whole movement, you just want to sort of do right by it and get it right and do it well, which is a little bit different than imitation.
RM: At one pivotal point in the movie, Drew’s character gets on here scuba gear and goes down to check on the baby whale when she knows something just isn’t right. Rolemommy asked “Can you talk about jumping in the cold water in Alaska?
DREW: (Who shivered while recalling the filming) It was so cold, but–Freezing, freezing, but just wonderful. Again, it’s that sort of conviction where you’re like I just want to do it, please let me do it. I think they were afraid the conditions were too bad…Ken, our director, wanted us to be in Alaska, and he wanted to make sure that the whales looked and felt real. I mean, it’s in the room. And I know that that makes a difference for us, and I think it makes a difference when you’re watching it because it is in the room and not painted in later in another location…They were talking about a (body) double, and I thought, no, no, please no. So, I think you end up sort of begging to do something just because you really want to be the person that gets to do it.
RM: Filming on location in Alaska allowed Drew to take a breathier from Hollywood’s fast pace and she says she loved it.
DREW: We all lived on the same floor, so it was very dormitory, and I got a lot of letters from my friends because I tend to shut down when I’m doing parts as an actor and just want to not email and not be on the cell phone. And it’s a great excuse for me to say, I’ll see you in three months. But, if we want to write letters, here’s the address. And it’s a full tilt snail mail campaign.
RM: Since Drew portrays Greenpeace environmentalist Rachel Kramer, who leads the effort to free three trapped whales in the Arctic Circle –in the movie, it looked like she wasn’t wearing any makeup. At one point, her character pulled out a lipstick, and it was the one time that she was wearing makeup. We asked Drew if they put makeup on her in the movie because if they didn’t, she looked beautiful. She is the face of Cover Girl this year.
DREW: Oh, gosh. Thank you. I did wear a little tiny, tiny bit. I think that if you’re happy on the inside with a little concealer is amazing.
RM: Do you feel more comfortable with that kind of granola girl image, which you had in the movie, or in person, when you look very glamorous and better than ever.
DREW: Thank you! I like to play dress up. Sometimes, I want to wear all pink and put on a lot of makeup and then, sometimes, it’s sweat pants. I don’t think there’s anything more that I value than my sweatpants. I just like being at home and being cozy.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES’ BIG MIRACLE is in theaters February 3rd.
January 29, 2012