Maybe this won’t come as a surprise to many, but Drew Barrymore found it pretty easy to get into the mind of the Greenpeace crusader she plays in Big Miracle. “I spent a lot of time — a lot of time — with Cindy Lowery, the woman I play in the film,” Barrymore says of her preparation for the part. (The character on screen goes by the name Rachel Kramer, though.) “And she’s just rad and a total badass and super-cool and fun, and we really actually connected, which is the way you hope it will be, but maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But we were like two peas in a pod. It was great.”

 

Big Miracle tells a true tale about all types of people — feuding news anchors, Inuit natives, oil tycoons, even the Russian navy — coming together to help three gray whales trapped under the arctic ice off northern Alaska, cutting off their migration and threatening their lives. It wasn’t just the natural drama of the story but also the amazing camaraderie involved in the rescue that attracted Barrymore to the project. “I just think seeing this story and living in it, you just appreciate that everybody put their agendas aside for a second to work on the same thing, and it’s sort of peeling away the layers,” she says. “I liked when I got to say to [Ted Danson’s oil executive] character in the film, ‘You’re not as hard to hate as I thought.’ I just liked that moment and thought what it would be like if you actually were stuck and got to know the people that you thought you were so different from.”

 

While the Greenpeace crusader Barrymore plays in the film starts off shouting through a megaphone at a city council meeting, she doesn’t want Big Miracle to have that level of preachiness. The goal, she says, was “making it personal rather than, like, soapbox-y — which I hope this film achieves or is good at. It’s amazing how it touches on so many things that could be different today if they were different back then, but it doesn’t do it in like a preachy, in-your-face kind of way. So I think the more you do speak from the heart rather than thumping the agenda... I just think that that’s where people listen.”