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March 19, 2018 11:05 AM

To tackle the unusual role of a flesh-eating zombie on Santa Clarita Diet, Drew Barrymore decided she needed to look the part, and dropped 20 lbs. to mirror the body of a woman on a high-protein diet.

Barrymore lost the weight before filming started on the first season of the Netflix series, but talked about it again on the Today show on Friday.

“If a woman was really eating just protein and nothing else she would lose weight,” Barrymore, 43, said of her character Sheila Hammond. “It gave me this intense responsibility that I said I want to fulfill to be Sheila and then there was like no excuses.”

Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet
Courtesy of Saeed Adyani / Netflix

While her weight loss was purely for the role, Barrymore said it made her feel fantastic.

“It’s funny, it’s called Santa Clarita Diet but it is more than that for me with her,” she said. “It is doing her hair and putting on nails and accessorizing. Sheila has reminded me along way that sometimes putting a little into yourself does make you feel a little more alive. Isn’t it ironic?”

Barrymore said in 2017 that her decision to lose weight came at a tough time, shortly after she and ex-husband Will Kopelman split.

“It came sort of in the middle of a moment in my life where I had sort of let myself go, due to personal circumstances,” she said on the Today Show at the time. “I thought, ‘I could come alive with Sheila,’ and it was a really great goal line for me, because I think as much as the weight loss, everything’s just really subtle.”

Drew Barrymore
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

“It’s attitudinal, it’s empowerment, it’s confidence,” she added. “It’s all of these things, that’s she’s lost in her life, that I sort of felt like I had lost in my life, and it’s such a blessing to come alive with her. And it really was so positive for me.”

Barrymore and Kopelman have been co-parenting their daughters Frankie, 4, and Olive, 5, since their amicable split, and spent Christmas together.

The second season of Santa Clarita Diet drops on Netflix on March 23.

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