Watch Drew Barrymore vs. Drew Barrymore in wild Stand-In trailer
Director Jamie Babbit tells EW how the actress transformed into dual roles.
If a daily dose of America's Sweetheart on The Drew Barrymore Show isn't enough, EW's exclusive trailer (above) for the upcoming comedy The Stand-In (out Dec. 11 on VOD and digital services) doubles down — literally — on the iconic actress and her signature charm. While the film is a showcase for the free-spirited charisma synonymous with the beloved actress' name, But I'm a Cheerleader filmmaker Jamie Babbit says fans can expect a classic Drew Barrymore performance mixed with tinges of refreshing darkness unlike anything we've seen from her before.
"The great thing about Drew is she really is a spontaneous, magical creature," Babbit explains of working with Barrymore on the project, which she pitched to the actress while directing an episode of their Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, eventually courting the 45-year-old as both a producer and star. "She got to go to a darker place [to] show her range. It was fun to see the two Drews battle each other out."
When Babbit says "battle," she means battle. Sure, metaphorical tussles of the soul abound, but Barrymore also dukes it out with herself in dual roles, both as a burned-out Hollywood star, Candy, and her bubbly, wide-eyed stand-in, Paula, who temporarily trade places beyond the set when the former is ordered to rehab and ends up clinging to more than just her doppelgänger's stint in treatment. Boyfriends? Fair game. Celebrity lifestyle? Paula's for the taking.
The film marks Barrymore's first feature in five years, and Babbit feels the script (sent to her by British Peep Show writer Sam Bain) spoke to both industry veterans beyond its spectacular surface.
"As a director who’s been working for the last 30 years, I’ve seen both sides of the coin, so I was intrigued by both of these characters," Babbit says of Paula's desperation and Candy's disillusion. "Drew was really excited because she has a lot of feelings about the business over time, and felt she could understand the excitement and enthusiasm of the stand-in, but she can also understand feeling really over it and just wanting to have a normal life. So, it was a really fun playground."
But as much as Barrymore's talent pushed her to new places as an actor, the transformation also had to be physical, and the team worked with Oscar-winning makeup artist Vivian Baker to paint the star into an entirely new identity while in character as Paula. Before filming the stand-in's scenes, Barrymore spent two hours in the makeup chair, where she received a prosthetic nose, false teeth, fake eye bags, and a blonde wig. The result is a striking, double-take creation that, as Babbit describes, "looks like someone who wishes they looked like Drew Barrymore."
The biggest challenge? "Her nose is so iconic. Her profile is truly the Barrymore generational profile. When you take that away, she really looks like a different person," the filmmaker remembers, adding that, as a rehearsal exercise, she asked Barrymore (and her fake nose) to do things like attend a real open-call audition at a major Manhattan casting agency and stroll the streets of New York to see if anyone would recognize her.
Beyond the physical, Babbit remembers Barrymore taking a method approach to playing Candy and Paula. Babbit says she'd then process direction through both women. Days with Paula meant Barrymore being "eager to stand on her mark" or tinging her interactions with crew with saccharine flair. When the production got Candy, however, the vibe was "much more laissez-faire," Babbit says with a laugh.
Also along for the ride are a revolving door of actors Babbit has amassed over her expansive career in film and television, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's Michael Zegen, Girls' Andrew Rannels and Lena Dunham, Russian Doll's Charlie Barnett, T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley), as well as Ellie Kemper and Holland Taylor. But the centerpiece, Babbit maintains, is Barrymore's masterclass in tonal range. And, near the end of production, it started feel like the Barrymores had multiplied beyond borders of the screen.
"It was complicated to produce," Babbit recalls. "But we had a fabulous acting double who played the other character in the scenes with Drew [and], absolutely, she had a stand-in, a stunt double, an acting double... there were multiple Drews all over the set!"
Fingers (on more than two hands) crossed for that sequel.
The Stand-In is set for digital release on Dec. 11. Watch EW's exclusive trailer above.