TONI COLLETTE AND DREW BARRYMORE ARE BFFS ON SCREENS AND OFF THANKS TO NEW FILM MISS YOU ALREADY
One minute she’s wildly cackling along with her costar Toni Collette about a night out they shared in London, and the next Drew Barrymore is choking up.
“Goddamn it, I’m crying again,” the Hollywood veteran whispers, wiping a tear from her cheek.
Such is the intense emotional investment that Barrymore, 40, made in the film Miss You Already, in which she plays Jess, the ever-present and incredibly patient best friend of Milly (Collette).
The heart string-tugger, directed by Catherine Hardwick, has been dubbed this generation’s Beaches –a story about a powerful friendship, an horrific illness and two interwoven lives thrown into total upheaval.
“The relationship is so intrinsic to who they are and it’s so important to them,” Collette says. “The lunacy of growing up, the fun things and the confronting things and the many, many challenges – it’s all of that.”
While describing one of the most defining scenes of the film, in which Jess sees Milly following her double mastectomy surgery – a remarkable portrayal by Collette, critics agree – Barrymore’s voice wavers: “That and Jess giving birth, those are my two favourite scenes,” she says.
Barrymore says this movie is one of the most special and memorable she’s ever undertaken. It could be her last for a while – the mother-of-two recently announced she’s taking a break from acting to focus on family.
“I didn’t want to do this film in the first place,” she reveals.
“It was a very confusing and inconvenient time for me. I had a newborn. But I read the script and was like, oh (expletive) – damn it. It was so good. I was crying while reading it.”
And then Collette, who had been attached to the project for several years, penned a letter begging Barrymore to star alongside her.
“It was a lengthy love note saying I wanted to work with her and that I adored her.”
It sealed the deal and Barrymore wrote an equally long reply, agreeing to play Jess on the condition that she and Collette bring everything they had to the characters.
“I was very clear about my agenda. I was there to be with Toni, like Jess was with Milly. I wanted to support, help and challenge when needed, but most of all, just be there for her.
“That was the partnership I was seeking.”
When she first read that, Collette admits to being confused about what her costar really meant. As the days turned to weeks on set in London, she discovered that this was more than just another film role for Barrymore.
“Everything you promised in that letter, you delivered,” Collette gushes.
Barrymore breaks out in a loud cheer, screaming “all right!” and causing her army of assistants and publicists to suddenly peer through the door of the plush hotel suite.
“Go me,” she proudly declares. “Consistency is such a good (expletive) trait. It’s so underrated.”
Most people will be touched by cancer in some way. It’s for that reason that Collette was determined to not deliver “some glossy Hollywood version” of the disease.
Tireless research and interviews with sufferers and their families gave an insight into what it’s like to fight for your life, she says.
“There was a great responsibility in telling this story as honestly as possible. Cancer is everywhere – it’s such a bastard of a thing. So I wanted to make it real and honest on a very basic level.”
In the course of playing best friends, the pair themselves have sparked an extraordinarily close bond and special connection.
They’d met a handful of times through mutual friends over the years, but that was it.
“If there were two actors playing these parents who were totally open to the journey they needed to take, I don’t know whether they could walk away and not be great friends,” Collette says.
“But yes, we’re very lucky, because there are some pretty shocking actors out there who’d throw their weight around and be total nightmares.” At that, the two exchange a knowing glance and break out in hysterics for the fourth time in 10 minutes, clutching at each other and almost flopping off the couch.
“Drew is so easy going,” Collette continues.
“She’s open and warm. She’s all those beautiful things that Jess is. I know Drew has been many things in her life ... but she gives her all. She’s altruistic and always thinks of other people first.”
Jess (played by Drew Barrymore), Milly (Toni Collette) and Kit (Dominic Cooper) in a scene from the film
Miss You Already.