Rosario Dawson on the dark, personal journey of her harrowing role in ‘Gimme Shelter’

If you’ve seen the trailer for “Gimme Shelter,” you’ll know that Rosario Dawson is practically unrecognizable in the role of a drug-addicted single mother – and as the actress herself tells it, it hit closer to home than she ever could have imagined.

“I sadly grew up in New York in the ’80s and ’90s…sadly meaning that I grew up around a lot of crackheads,” said the fast-talking Dawson while sitting down with me to chat about the upcoming drama, in which she plays June, the mother of a pregnant teenager played by Vanessa Hudgens. “So that seemed really…it felt very real.”

The transformation was so effective, in fact, that even her family could hardly stand the sight of her when she showed up for a visit in full makeup – which among other things required her to wear bright yellow enamel on her teeth to depict the dental ravages of drug abuse.

“My brother, he couldn’t even look at me, he was like ‘take it off,'” said the actress. “My parents were like, ‘this isn’t cute, it’s not funny.’ They were really disturbed by it, you know, because my mom was a teenage mom, I grew up in a squat on the Lower East Side, we had family members who were drug addicted…they didn’t even wanna think about it. They were like, ‘Rosario, we love you. We never, ever wanna see you like this ever again.'”

For more from Dawson, including talk of her breakthrough role in Larry Clark’s “Kids,” click on the video above for the full interview. To check out my chat with her co-star Vanessa Hudgens, click here.

“Gimme Shelter” hits theaters on Friday.