Drew Bar­ry­more I don’t pre­tend to be per­fect

From child star and teen rebel to suc­cess­ful pro­ducer and busi­ness­woman – ac­tress Drew Bar­ry­more talks with Re­becca Ni­chol­son about the ups and downs she’s faced – and how her daugh­ters have changed her life.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - Hollywood -

Drew Bar­ry­more walks into the ho­tel room in Ber­lin flanked by as­sis­tants, caked in heavy tele­vi­sion make-up and wrapped in a brown fluffy jacket that makes her look like a very glam­orous teddy bear. Within sec­onds, the en­tourage has dis­ap­peared, she’s wiped ev­ery scrap of foun­da­tion from her face and is rum­mag­ing around un­der­neath her dress, a kind of earth mother hippy smock, re­gret­ting her de­ci­sion to wear tights on this sub-freez­ing day. “Why does any­one wear panty­hose?” she ex­claims, barefaced, faux ex­as­per­ated, shift­ing in her arm­chair, try­ing to get com­fort­able. “They’re so f***ing sadis­tic! They’re not even con­trol pants,” she says, con­spir­a­to­ri­ally,

“but I’m forc­ing them to be.”

For many women, es­pe­cially those who grew up be­tween 1982 and the early 2000s, Drew is a par­tic­u­lar type of icon. She’s the ac­ces­si­ble rebel we wanted to be or be friends with.

She’s the child star of E.T. The Ex­tra

Ter­res­trial who hit the skids early and hard, and not only sur­vived, but went on to be one of the most pop­u­lar (and bank­able) fe­male stars of the past three decades. Drew has ap­peared in – and of­ten pro­duced – movies that are vi­tal view­ing for teens, from the taboo­bust­ing Poi­son Ivy to the triumphant high-school rom­com Never Been Kissed, to the moody angst of Don­nie Darko.

In her 20s, Drew seemed to hang out with the best bands and go to the best par­ties. She was the manic pixie dream girl be­fore it be­came an in­die film stereo­type. The mem­oir she wrote in 2015 is fit­tingly called Wild­flower.

Drew looks gen­uinely pleased she holds such a place in peo­ple’s minds and de­cides that “if any­one has any good­will to­wards me”, care­ful not to sound ar­ro­gant, it’s be­cause she ex­tends good­will to other peo­ple. “Not in an an­noy­ing way, but just, like, be­ing in peo­ple’s f**king cor­ners.”

It’s this com­bi­na­tion of soft and sharp, wrapped in that Val­ley Girl lilt, that has car­ried her through life. “I want peo­ple to be happy, but hap­pi­ness has to be fought for. It’s a warrior tro­phy. It’s not hippy,” she in­sists. “I’m like, fight, fight to the death to be happy and don’t kill any­one along the way.”

We’re in Ger­many to talk about

Santa Clarita Diet, the new Net­flix se­ries which has brought Drew back into the spot­light at 42. It’s a warm and oc­ca­sion­ally gross com­edy about Sheila and Joel, estate agents who have been to­gether since school and whose mar­riage is tested when the ami­able Sheila de­vel­ops a sud­den taste for hu­man flesh.

“I stopped work­ing to have kids, take care of them and raise them, so I was ner­vous about work­ing again,” Drew says. “I was go­ing through a dark time in my own life. And then I read [the script] and I liked it. Now what am I sup­posed to do? I can’t do this right now, it’s ter­ri­ble tim­ing, my whole life is fall­ing apart.” She ended up ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ing and star­ring in the se­ries.

That her life was fall­ing apart out of the spot­light was a new thing for Drew, who had played out most of her life in a very pub­lic sphere.

I was ner­vous about work­ing again. I was go­ing through a dark time in my own life.

“No one’s talk­ing about my life,” she says. “I mean, yes, I had a di­vorce, but even that was real quiet.”

Drew broke up with ac­tor Will Kopel­man, the fa­ther of her two chil­dren, Olive, four, and Frankie, two, at the be­gin­ning of 2016, but re­cently posted an In­sta­gram of him run­ning the New York marathon and her there, with their daugh­ters, to sup­port him. “It was like, ‘Oh, they didn’t work out, I won­der why? Oh, my God, they seem like such good friends and so am­i­ca­ble, I guess we’ll stop giv­ing a s***.’ I was so happy about that,” she says, breezily.

In the midst of Drew’s di­vorce, Santa Clarita Diet was a trans­for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. “Iron­i­cally, it wasn’t the worst tim­ing,” she says. “It was great. It was re­ally happy. My daugh­ters and I got to go out to Cal­i­for­nia and I got three days off a week.”

Just as be­com­ing a proto-zom­bie saves Sheila from the numb­ing bore­dom of do­mes­tic life, Drew went through her own kind of re­ju­ve­na­tion.

“I feel like Sheila. I feel like maybe I was dead in­side,” she says, cheer­fully, blow­ing her nose. “I was in a place in my life where I’d gained a lot of weight and been in a place of fear and sad­ness, and I felt stuck. I don’t think that’s so much un­like the char­ac­ter.”

Un­til she took time away from act­ing to have kids, Drew had never not worked. She be­gan her ca­reer at 11 months in an ad for dog food, be­com­ing the main bread­win­ner for her­self and her mother, Jaid, who raised her alone. Her fa­ther, John Bar­ry­more, of the famed act­ing dy­nasty – “The great line of loonies from which I come,” as Drew puts it – wasn’t around much.

Her ex­tra­or­di­nary youth was pub­lic and well-doc­u­mented. Her break­out role in E.T., at six, was fol­lowed by an out­landish few years of booz­ing and drug-tak­ing, re­hab and in­sti­tu­tions, and the sense that, at 14, she was washed up, ca­reer over.

Yet it wasn’t. Drew moved into an apart­ment by her­self, got a job in a cof­fee shop, learned how to do her own laun­dry and, even­tu­ally, clawed her way back into the busi­ness, de­feat­ing the curse of the child ac­tor. She has said her 20s were a kind of de­layed ado­les­cence. Now, in her 40s, she’s had a life­time’s worth of par­ties and says she doesn’t miss it at all.

“I don’t worry about who the hottest band is or that I’m not at that show,” Drew says. “I don’t care if the lat­est trend is pass­ing me by.”

Her idea of a good time is tak­ing the girls to Dis­ney World, or “set­ting up movie nights for the kids in my daugh­ter’s class. I just watched Home Alone and all the moms and I were cry­ing at the end. Oh, my God, it’s so good! I ap­pre­ci­ate it now much more than I did when I was younger.”

She is too classy to be drawn into any child ac­tor com­par­isons – it would be “pa­tro­n­is­ing, an­noy­ing, no thanks,” she says, nicely but firmly – but we talk more broadly about celebrity scan­dals.

“Ev­ery­one goes up and goes down. That’s life. No­body wants all of it probed. How­ever, if you put your­self out there, then be pre­pared for that to be ex­am­ined,” she says. “So for peo­ple who are like, ‘Don’t look at me’ – you

put your­self out there!”

Is there any way to avoid be­ing ex­am­ined? “Not in this day and age. You just try to man­age things in the health­i­est way you can. And, by the way, you won’t all the time. So f*** up, then pick your­self back up. But be nice and kind, hum­ble and gra­cious, and have a sense of hu­mour. And don’t pre­tend to be per­fect.”

Lit­tle girl lost

Drew dealt with her own mess-ups in a mem­oir, Lit­tle Girl Lost, which she calls, “The mea culpa book I wrote when I was 14.” She ap­peared on Oprah with her mother to pro­mote it and to go over what went wrong. You can watch the clip on YouTube; Drew’s 15 go­ing on 35.

Yet the book has a cult fol­low­ing be­cause it makes the par­ty­ing she did as a child sound ad­ven­tur­ous. “Yeah! It’s like an 80s cult tragedy book, which is su­per-cool and wrong and fun all at the same time,” she says. “It’s a lit­tle ‘riot gr­rrl’, you know?”

There’s a sec­tion of the book in which Drew de­scribes be­ing hauled off to an in­sti­tu­tion at her mother’s be­hest and she is fu­ri­ous at the star-struck guards. “‘God, you’ve just yanked me out of my house with cuffs on,’ I thought, and now you’re ask­ing me what it was like to meet E.T. What jerks,” she writes. Even at 14, she had a dis­dain for celebrity. “Still do,” Drew says now.

To­day, she says, she’s sim­ply “dull”. “I’m just so quiet and bor­ing,” she de­clares, not en­tirely con­vinc­ingly.

This is Drew Bar­ry­more, af­ter all, who talks with the hunger of some­one al­ways on the look­out for some­thing new, whether that’s be­ing a mum, a busi­ness­woman, or play­ing an estate agent who eats bad peo­ple.

“I’m pretty bor­ing,” Drew in­sists. I tell her I don’t be­lieve it. She smiles slyly and leans in. There’s a rebel in her still. “I’m not sure I be­lieve it ei­ther.”

In 2010, Drew won her first Golden Globe Best Ac­tress award for Grey Gar­dens.

With daugh­ters Olive (left) and Frankie Kopel­man in 2014.

Drew stars in Santa Clarita Diet with Ti­mothy Olyphant.

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