Arrivals at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills CA

Celeb Interview: Delightful Drew Barrymore

30 Jan 2017

In her new TV show, she plays a man-eating zombie, but Drew Barrymore tells us she feels more alive than ever

It seems 2017 is already shaping up to be Drew Barrymore’s year. After dropping 20lb and stealing the show at this year’s Golden Globes in her stunning Monique Lhuillier gown, she’s now set to light up the small screen in her new Netflix show, Santa Clarita Diet. A stalwart of the movie industry since the tender age of seven, when she played Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s ET (the legendary director is also her godfather), Santa Clarita Diet is one of 41-year-old Drew’s few ventures into TV land. The premise of the series is baffling, yet intriguing. Drew plays Sheila Hammond, who along with husband Joel and teenage daughter Abby, lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita. Her mundane life as a real estate agent is turned upside down when she becomes a zombie, but instead of it ruining her life, it actually makes it far better. Yes, you read that right. 

Ahead of the series kicking off on Netflix from 3 February, we sat down with Hollywood’s cool chick…

How did you get involved in the show?

When I read the script, it sounds like a cliché, but I was just blown away by the writing.

What stood out to you the most with Santa Clarita Diet?

I love that it’s a story about a marriage. Marriage is hard. And I was like, I love that. I think I’m also keen on suburban human stories that can go anywhere, but they’re also just grounded and relatable issues. You can have aliens or time travel or the undead and it’s believable because you’re hooked into sort of a human family dynamic because everyone understands what that is. We’re all going through that. And I think in a time of special effects, we seem to go further and further into the distance of unreality. So, I like something that’s really set in the backyard. I think you can actually go a lot further when it’s set just in a home.

Is there any particular thing in the series that made it a must for you to get involved in?

I think timing is everything in life and I just so happened to be going through something in my personal life that I really related to with my character Sheila. The creator, Victor Fresco, and I talked about where she had the potential to go and he had some ideas and I had some ideas. I thought this woman, who is undead, is really going through a re-birth and I was excited about what that could be and how it could really be a physical, emotional and a behavioural transformation.

Santa Clarita is a town in California. Why was it the ideal location for the series?

I grew up in the ET world, and we shot in places and landscapes just like Santa Clarita, so it has this very familiar and nostalgic place in my heart. Visually and aesthetically, I feel very comfortable in these places. I’m a California girl and I think the proximity of these neighbourhoods is so interesting, and it does play a part in our story.

How did you create your character, Sheila?

I wanted to use an evolutionary tactic. I wanted Sheila to look hunched over at the beginning and have soft make-up and hair, but by the end of the series, she’s standing more erect and is a very different person. We subtly wove that in with hair, make-up, wardrobe, attitude, looks in the eyes, body language and her posture.

What exactly is the Santa Clarita Diet?

It’s a high protein diet and if you predominantly ate protein, your body would change, along with your energy. I think your senses would get clearer, too. And, I can attest that, after losing 20lb, it works. In the show, Sheila is undead and she must feed on people because the only way that she can survive is by eating human flesh. 

How did you get into the mindset of just eating fresh meat?

I had this idea to sort of transform Sheila, which is really just, in turn, benefiting myself because I’m physically transforming too, and it just makes it more fun.

What was Sheila and Joel’s relationship like before we meet them in episode one?

They say: “We’re Joel and Sheila and we have been together since high school.” And I thought, that’s it. How many words was that, seven? They met in high school, got through college, had a child and decided to become real estate agents. I think after 25 years of marriage, they are just kind of going through the motions. They don’t love each other any less, but it’s that daily life thing and then everything gets shaken up. And, instead of caving, they just grab onto each other’s hands and start running.

What are the types of things you go through as a couple that make you good characters?

The fact that they’re always dealing with things in a way that’s not mean-spirited or no matter how frustrated they become. They don’t fight with each other. They don’t take it out on each other. I respect that the most in any couple.

What do you think the reaction to Santa Clarita Diet will be?

I think people are going to like it because it has a relationship in it that everybody can relate to, but it’s not just a relationship story. People want something that has bite and an edginess and a sense of humour that is very fresh. I just giggle. I love it. It’s fun and it’s just not your normal fun. 

INFO: Santa Clarita Diet is available to watch on Netflix from 3 Feb, sign up at, Dhs30-Dhs45 per month, depending on chosen package, first month is free.