“Sometimes when you think something is the worst timing and the worst idea, it can actually become the thing that saves you"
Drew Barrymore may go to some pretty dark places in her Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, where she plays a mom-turned-zombie, but the actress says the show helped her get through a dark time of her own.
“I was not looking for a job,” Barrymore, 43, said in a preview of her upcoming Sunday Today with Willie Geist interview, shared exclusively with PEOPLE.
“I had actually stopped acting for several years because I wanted to raise my kids. But then a shift happened in my life and I was separating from their father and it was just a very difficult time,” she added, referencing her split from ex-husband Will Kopelman.
“I definitely personally was in a very dark and fearful place and then this script came along and I was like, Yeah I dont think this is a good time and ironically, I think it taught me a valuable life lesson,” she said.
“Sometimes when you think something is the worst timing and the worst idea, it can actually become the thing that saves you and pulls you out and gives you a new focus, and empowerment, and switches your constant stuck way of thinking and feeling and put[s] it into something else that might actually get you to a healthier place faster,” she added
Speaking about the diet she undertakes every season to look like a woman on a high-protein (aka human flesh) diet, Barrymore admitted restricting herself isnt her favorite part of doing the show.
“Lets face it, I hate it,” she said during an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden on Wednesday night. “I would much rather eat fettuccine alfredo all day long.”
When she started filming the show, Barrymore said she “was 145 lbs. and my life was kind of falling apart,” but just like her character Sheila Hammond, Barrymore was committed to transforming herself over the course of the season.
“I said, Victor [Fresco, the shows executive producer], can I lose 20 lbs. over the course of the show, and change my eyebrows and the height of my shoes and the body language and attitude and go from someone whos kind of naïve and unhappy to someone whos empowered and alive? And he said yes, and so I got to make that transformation,” she added.
Barrymore went on to explain that during filming shes on a strict diet but once the cameras stop rolling she lets herself indulge.
“When Im doing the show Im a vegan and I barely eat anything, and I workout every day, and its so healthy,” she said. “It gets to be euphoric, and then its like food poisoning, you feel like youll never eat again, and then before you know it youre pigging out with the feed bag strapped to your face. And Im a foodie, and love food and I travel the world for food, so I get heavy again between the show.”
Barrymores full interview airs March 25 on NBCs Sunday Today with Willie Geist.