Andra Day has revealed that to become Billie Holiday for Hulu’s The United States vs. Billie Holiday she dived deep into the singer’s life.
“There’s still a lot that I am working out in me from playing Billie,” the 36-year-old singer and actress shared in an interview about the movie. “She gets in, you know what I mean? She gets ahold.”
Andra explained that while diving in psychologically, she also did physically as well.
“It was a commitment,” she shared. “I think it’s one I’m recovering from still. I’d never smoked cigarettes before. Just starting out smoking, I was practicing with my acting coach … I was like, ‘I want some of your American Spirits. That first day I was drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes, and I went home and threw up, like, five times!”
Andra added that she was able to quit after they “finished the last pickup shots last year. But what I expected to be a four-, five- or six-month habit ended up turning into about a year and a half.”
On top of the smoking, Andra also started to drink as well. Billie actually died in 1959 of complications from cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse.
“I drank a lot of gin, I drank bourbon,” she recalled. “I hadn’t drank in so long, and it was never really a big part of my life, even when I did when I was younger.”
Andra also says that she was losing a lot of weight for the role too: “I was losing it healthily throughout that [period], and then once it got closer to shooting, that’s when I let everyone know, ‘OK, I’m gonna just kinda starve myself at this point!’”
Now though, she’s starting to gain it back.
“I’ve actually just recently started to gain back a little bit of weight. I’m up to, like, 140, which is good, ’cause I was 124 on set.”
Andra‘s “Tigress & Tweed” from the soundtrack is nominated for her first Golden Globe for Best Original Song.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday is streaming NOW on Hulu.
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