The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - SHAN­NON MOL­LOY

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.

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