In the film, Barrymore plays Nancy, who, along with husband Alex (Ben Stiller), gets the dream home. Then, their elderly upstairs tenant, Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essell), puts the couple through a crash course of bizarre and lunatic landlord obligations.
What is great about the woman who plays her neighbor from hell, Barrymore notes, is that American movie audiences generally are not familiar with her work, because she is a British theater actress.
Says Barrymore, "I thought that was so cool because you don't know her as a film actress, let alone in America, so you will believe her as this character so much more because there's nothing to contradict your mind. She is Mrs. Connelly."
The film has several scenes with Ben Stiller where it is easy to tell his frustration has been improvised, notes The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Barrymore agrees, "He is so funny. I ruined so many of his takes. When the camera was on his side, he would do a lots of improv. Ruining them because he would come up with the weirdest, funniest things. He's truly so funny. He can just look at you and make you laugh."
Of director Danny DeVito, Barrymore says, "He has become sort of a master of that genre and master of that tone, so that's why we looked at him to direct this film. It was particularly 'War of the Roses' that really spoke to me because any filmmaker who takes a film about a couple doing the most sick, outrageous, horrifying things to each other and still remains entertaining is a really tough thing to pull off."
The story for "Duplex" sprang from the mind of screenwriter Larry Doyle, and it was initially inspired by a true event that happened in France. In 1965, a 47-year-old lawyer agreed to pay the $500 monthly rent on a beautiful apartment occupied by a 90-year-old woman, Jeanne Calment, until her death. At that time, the lawyer would inherit her home.
Unfortunately for him, Calment went on to become the oldest woman in the world, living until the age of 122. She died in 1997, one year after the lawyer's death at age 77.
Barrymore sums the film up: "In the end, Mrs. Connelly teaches us about our own happiness. It isn't about the extra floor, the nice furniture and the big promotion. We have to learn that the love we have for one another is actually plenty enough. It's just that simple."
About Drew Barrymore:
- Born Drew Blythe Barrymore in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 22, 1975, she acted in television commercials as a baby.
- In 1980, made her TV-movie debut in "Bogie" (CBS), playing Leslie Bogart as a child. Also made her first film appearance in a bit part in "Altered States."
- In 1982, she played Gertie, the younger sister, in "E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial."
- In 1984, when she was just 9 years old, she started drinking (date approximate). She played the title character in the sci-fi thriller "Firestarter;" and starred as a young girl divorcing her parents in "Irreconcilable Differences."
- In 1985, started smoking marijuana (date approximate).
- In 1986, starred in a TV remake of "Babes in Toyland."
- In 1987, began abusing cocaine (date approximate).
- In 1989, was institutionalized in a rehab center-cum-mental institution after a failed suicide attempt (date approximate). She lived with musician and recovering addict David Crosby and his wife, Jan, for close to a year after her treatment.
- In 1990, at age 15, filed papers to become legally emancipated from her parents in order to work the same hours as 18-year-olds (date approximate).
- In 1991, she lived with film director Tamra Davis and her husband briefly.
- In 1992, she had her first starring film role, in "Poison Ivy"; she also had her TV series debut as regular, had featured role in the short-lived summer serial "2000 Malibu Road" (CBS). She was also directed by Davis in "Guncrazy" (shown at film festivals before airing on Showtime prior to its 1993 theatrical release).
- In 1993, Played 'Long Island Lolita' Amy Fisher in the TV movie, "The Amy Fisher Story."
- In 1994, she founded the production company, Flower Films, Inc.
- In 1995, she was cast as the flirtatious Holly in "Boys on the Side," also featuring Whoopi Goldberg and Mary-Louise Parker. Barrymore also starred opposite Chris O'Donnell as his free-spirited, mentally ill romantic interest in "Mad Love."
- The following year, she made a cameo appearance as a high school student targeted by the killer in "Scream;" played featured role as Edward Norton's fiancee in Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You" and had singing voice dubbed.
- In 1998, she starred opposite Adam Sandler in the popular romantic comedy "The Wedding Singer" and she played a character based on Cinderella in the romance "Ever After."
- In 1999, she starred as an awkward twenty-something reporter who returns to high school for an undercover assignment in the romantic comedy "Never Been Kissed." It is the first film produced by her production company Flower Films
- In 2000, she co-starred with Cameron Diaz in big screen version of the 1970s TV series "Charlie's Angels." Also produced by her production company Flower Films
- In 2001, she executive produced and played supporting role of an English teacher in the critically acclaimed film "Donnie Darko," screened at Sundance. She also had the leading role of a woman who got pregnant as a teenager and then raised her son as a single mom in "Riding in Cars With Boys," directed by Penny Marshall.
- The following year, she played the female lead in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," directed by George Clooney.
- And in 2003, she reprised role in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." The movie was produced by Barrymore's company, Flower Films, with her partner Nancy Juvonen, and has grossed over $250 million in worldwide box office.
- Next is "Fifty First Kisses," in which Adam Sandler plays a man who falls in love with Lucy (Drew Barrymore), a woman with short-term memory loss. Therefore, Lucy never remembers Sandler and this proves to be a pain for him as he always has to gain her back every day. The film is due for release in 2004.