"They had the cameras rolling and we were supposed to be reading our scenes together," the Ally McBeal actress says, "and we just started talking and hanging out, and I completely forgot why I had gone into the room to begin with. I was laughing so hard I was sweating."
The instant rapport came as a huge relief to Barrymore and Diaz, who had spent months searching for an actress to round out their crime-fighting trio. "Drew and I met with a bunch of girls who were wonderful," says Diaz. "After they would leave, we were like, 'She's such a nice girl. It would be so nice to work with her.' But it just didn't happen. We couldn't say, 'Yeah, that's the girl,' until Lucy came into the room."
Barrymore, who also served as a producer on the big screen update of the '70s TV show (opening Friday), adds: "You want to be able to fight with a primal loyalty and have it be like sisters... without any competitiveness. That just happens with chemistry. It's a very natural thing, and you can't really force it."
As a result, the duo wasted no time informing Liu that she got the part. "I had left and was in the car talking to my manager and my agent. Then they called in on the other line and said, 'We want to offer you the job. Come and play with us,'" Liu recalls. "I was like, 'Yes!'
"It wasn't even about the job opportunity anymore," Liu continues. "It had completely vanished and the emphasis was on friendship and on people that really understood me. [They] saw me the way that I was, and it was so refreshing."