"I'm in my thirties now, and I really want to try all the things that I haven't gotten to do yet, like directing, and doing a drama," the actress, 34, tells the May issue of Elle. "I've produced and gotten to do a lot of optimistic love stories, and that was so where I was at for 10 years in my life. And now I feel like, 'Okay, now I know how to do that. I wanted to get scared again.' "
For her role in the April 18 HBO drama Grey Gardens, in which she plays the reclusive real-life first cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Barrymore says she fully committed in order to win the part. "I said, 'Look – I have all of this inside of me, and I promise you that I will change my face to be her. I will learn how to stop talking out of the side of my mouth. I will go to school to relearn body language. I will shut out the world. I will not talk to my friends. I will give up my life for this, because I don't think you can play this character and have a social life and balance the two mentalities.' "
Looking back, the actress also talks about her 2007 breakup with Strokes musician Fabrizio Moretti.
"It's hard to be with someone for five years and say, 'This isn't going to work.' But it was a time in my life where I finally just said, 'I can't live for anyone else anymore. I have to be on my own.' "