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TalkTalk have created this exclusive biography of Drew Barrymore - we believe it to be the most comprehensive on the web
Talk about pressure. Many actors have had to escape the shadow of famous forebears. Vanessa Redgrave, Daniel Day Lewis, even Ben Stiller have faced that struggle. But none of them have had a pedigree to match that of Drew Barrymore; none have been born into such a long and glorious tradition. For Barrymore continues a line of thespians stretching unbroken back to the 1700s, while her more recent ancestry contains some of Hollywood’s earliest Oscar winners and biggest stars.
The effort to match them might have crushed any prospective performer. Yet Drew Barrymore’s battle would be harder still. Having, by the age of 6, starred in the biggest-grossing film of all time, she then had to face the inevitable withering of the child star’s usefulness, as well as the problems of an addictive personality that saw her hooked on cigarettes, booze and drugs before she hit her teens. The media furore around her was near constant, yet still she managed to clean herself up and reinvent herself as a teen idol, then a romantic lead and finally as a director, producer and award-winning dramatic actress. Against all odds she was set to raise her illustrious family’s stock yet higher.
And what stock it was. Barrymore can track her ancestors' stage performances back as far as 1752. Come the early 1800s her forebear Thomas Lane was an actor of some repute, touring all over England with his singer wife Eliza Trenter. Their daughter, Louisa Lane, born in Lambeth in 1820, would thus appear onstage from the age of one and, at the age of seven, when her father had died, would along with her mother travel to America and join the Cowell/Simpson Company in New York City. Debuting at Philadelphia's Walnut Street Theatre, before the age of ten she'd be described by critics as "an astonishing little creature". Though yellow fever would carry off her theatre manager stepfather, after a tour to Jamaica she'd quickly finding fame as a child actress, she'd meet president Andrew Jackson and, at 18, marry Irish actor Henry Hunt, settling down as resident performer at Walnut Street, often performing in male roles, very unusual for the time. Divorcing Hunt and having a second spouse drink himself to death inside a year, come 1850 she'd marry a third husband, actor John Drew and henceforth she'd be known as Mrs John Drew. Drew would lease Philly's Arch Street Theatre in 1853 but would spend much time touring the US and Australia, leaving his wife to run the show. Once he'd died young, falling down the stairs, his widow would become manager of the Arch Street Theatre, training and directing her own repertory company. In a man's world it was almost unheard of for a woman to achieve such a position. Interestingly, as a child Mrs John Drew had appeared alongside Junius Booth, patriarch of a family with strong connections to Philadelphian theatre. Much later, in 1863, she'd produce and star in an adaptation of the Scottish play where she'd play Lady Macbeth opposite Junius's son, John Wilkes Booth who, just two years later, would shoot to death Abraham Lincoln.
Mrs John Drew's children would continue the thespian tradition, and widen it by marriage. They'd also suffer the concomitant family traditions of tragedy, addiction and early death. One daughter would die young while son John, a drinker and a wastrel and a very talented actor, would die from boozing at the age of 34. Daughter Georgiana, meanwhile, another actress, would be swept off her feet by the flashy young British actor Maurice Barrymore. Born Herbert Blythe at Fort Agra where his father was a surveyor for the British East India Company, Maurice was from farming stock, his family being big landowners around St Osyth near Clacton-On-Sea on England's east coast. Furthermore the Blyths or Blythes of Essex were among the first settlers on Van Diemen's Land, later Tasmania. Herbert was schooled at Harrow then studied law at Oxford, but went against his family's wishes in 1872 by becoming an actor, joining Charles Vandenhoff's Company and appearing alongside Lillie Langtry. To save his father shame, he'd change his name, taking the surname of William Barrymore, a well-known actor in the early 1800s. Also in 1872, Maurice would win the English middleweight boxing championship. Having made a US debut in Boston in 1875 with Augustin Daley's troupe in Under The Gaslight, Barrymore would quickly make a name for himself and just as quickly come into contact with the Drew clan, making his Broadway debut in Pique on a bill with young Georgie Drew, and appearing alongside her brothers John and Sidney and various aunts and cousins. Maurice, a drinker and a gambler, would inevitably befriend John, who'd take him back to Philly where he'd introduce him properly to his sister Georgie, then acting at her mother's Arch Street Theatre. Maurice would court and win Georgie, the couple getting married on New Year's Eve, 1876. They'd set up home in New York City and there'd be three children - Lionel, Ethel and another John. Soon off touring the States with John Drew Jr in the play Diplomacy, in 1878 Maurice would be shot in the shoulder in the Station Hotel in Marshall, Texas, for attempting to protect a lady's ears from the rantings of a drunk - a drunk who was, unfortunately, armed. Come 1880, Maurice would be appearing in The Rivals with his mother-in-law.
Fame and fortune might have followed. A strong and united family might have been built. But that, it seems, was not the Barrymore way. The usual combination of bad luck and self-destructiveness would as ever hold sway.
First Georgie would die of TB, leaving the kids to be raised by their disciplinarian grandma Louisa and their increasingly disturbed dad, who'd quickly remarry to one Mamie Floyd. Eventually, Maurice would be killed by his alcoholism, having already declared insane due to the ravages of syphilis. His kids, though, would all prove successful, in their way. First Lionel would make it as a screen actor in the new cinema industry. Having appeared with Gloria Swanson in Raoul Walsh's Sadie Thompson, he'd gain the first Barrymore Oscar nomination for directing 1929's Madame X. He'd then win an acting Oscar two years later for A Free Soul, being a huge star throughout the 1930s, appearing with Garbo, Crawford, Tracy, Shearer, Gable and Harlow. A fall in 1937 would see him break his hip, an injury that would see him on crutches and then in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Still, though, he'd continue to build his outrageous CV, featuring in a successful string of Dr Kildare movies, starring as the cruel banker in It's A Wonderful Life, then alongside Gregory Peck in Duel In The Sun, Humphrey Bogart and Edward G Robinson in Key Largo and Ava Gardner in Lone Star, the latter film being directed by Vincent Sherman who 28 years later would helm a biopic of Bogart, featuring a very young Drew Barrymore. Lionel, like so many of his family, was a big personality and shared his father's penchant for boxing, even taking on the great John L Sullivan on a couple of occasions. He was also a big drinker and addicted to morphine and cocaine.
Lionel's sister Ethel, meanwhile, was first and foremost a stage actress, enjoying her first Broadway hit in 1901 and, eschewing the fledgling film industry, became the grande dame of American theatre between the wars (though she did appear in a few films during WWI and alongside her brothers in 1932's Rasputin And The Empress). In 1909, having been courted by Winston Churchill and Somerset Maugham, she'd align the Barrymores with the Colt family, including big businessmen and senators, when she married the grandson of Samuel Colt, he of revolver fame. Come 1944 Ethel would be personally invited by Cary Grant to appear as his mother in the London slum-set drama None But The Lonely Heart for which she'd win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. She'd then spend the rest of the decade showing Hollywood what it had been missing, receiving Oscar nominations for The Spiral Staircase, The Paradine Case and Pinky. She'd then return to theatre, though she'd enjoy a cinematic swansong in 1954 when she appeared alongside Frank Sinatra and Doris Day in Young At Heart. She was a tough one, fiercely proud of her family's legacy and, unlike so many of the Barrymore men, she successfully battled alcoholism, using rehab to halt her downward spiral, just as her great-niece would do in the future.
And then there was John, Drew's grandfather. Charming and rebellious, by 14 he was already a drinker and a fighter and had been seduced by his stepmother. Unhappy that his name seemed to demand he enter the theatre, John railed against his destiny but soon succumbed, making his stage debut in 1903 and enjoying a massive Broadway hit with The Dictator. Despite his misgivings, he was a stage sensation, becoming known as The Great Profile and even being lauded by the Brits for his Hamlet. Hollywood naturally came calling and John answered, signing a multi-million-dollar deal that would make him cinema's biggest star, a mighty heart-throb of silent pictures and then, once his Don Juan had introduced synchronized sound, of the talkies. He was big and his characters were big - Raffles, Dr Jekyll, Sherlock Holmes, Beau Brummell, Captain Ahab, Svengali - he was a star where his brother was a character actor. He had many lovers and several wives, he'd live the high life to the full, but drink and divorce would bring him down and he'd die at 60. Helping to carry his coffin would be WC Fields and Louis B Mayer while amongst those attending the funeral would be fellow hellraisers Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable.
It was John's third wife, Dolores Costello, who'd be Drew's grandmother. Dolores' father Maurice Costello had got into films with Thomas Edison back in 1905, he'd brought German blood into the line by marrying Mae Altschuk, and he'd been a success in movies, becoming known (pre John Barrymore) as the "the handsomest man on the screen". As kids, Dolores and her sister Helene had appeared in their father's Vitagraph films, then Dolores had worked as a model and dancer before signing to Warner Brothers. In 1926 she'd appear in an adaptation of Moby Dick called The Sea Beast where she'd meet John Barrymore, the couple marrying two years later, the same year Costello appeared in Noah's Ark where one of the extras was John Wayne. Dolores would be one of the first heroines of talking pictures, a huge star of the late 1920s and early 30s, but would retire from film in 1932 to raise the two children she bore for her husband, John Drew and Diana. Once she'd split from Barrymore she'd return briefly to the screen, appearing in Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons. Beyond her divorce, she'd suffer terrible problems with her family. In 1939, her father Maurice was so broke he sued his daughters for support. Later her own daughter Diana, like so many of the Barrymores, would be destroyed by alcoholism and drugs. A brawler, shoplifter and serial attempter of suicide, with three failed marriages behind her, Diana would die at just 38, but not before writing a famous autobiography, Too Much, Too Soon, covering her crazy early life with her father. The book would become so popular it would be made into a film, John being played by his real-life pal Errol Flynn and Diana by Dorothy Malone. It wouldn't be the last infamous autobiography written by one of the Barrymore clan.
Diana's brother, John Drew Barrymore, was also a damaged child, hurt first by his father's absences (ironically his dad would star in a film called Long Lost Father when John Drew was 2), then more permanently by his parents' divorce the next year. Just like his father he'd prove to be good-looking and wayward. Just like his father, he'd decide against following the family's thespian tradition and yet still be drawn in, making his stage debut at 17. Unfortunately, it seemed he was neither good-looking nor talented enough and was even ridiculed by his aunt Ethel for lacking the right Barrymore stuff. He'd make his film debut in Thunder In The Dust, directed by George Templeton, who'd been assistant director on Barrymore's father's Bulldog Drummond's Revenge. Then he'd grab the odd peachy role - Joseph Losey's The Big Night, Fritz Lang's While The City Sleeps - till his big chance arrived in 1958. In that year he'd star in the funky High School Confidential alongside youngsters Russ Tamblyn, Michael Landon and Mamie Van Doren. He'd also appear next to Clint Eastwood in an episode of Rawhide and star in the gangster film Never Love A Stranger, featuring Steve McQueen's first supporting role. He'd be married to former child star Cara Williams, an actress at the top of her game as she'd in 1958 be Oscar nominated for her part opposite Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in The Defiant Ones.
John Drew's temperament and taste for excess would work against him, though. He'd be briefly jailed after a domestic incident with Williams and get involved in a drunken hit and run. In 1959 Williams, with whom he'd had son John Blyth Barrymore, would divorce him, citing "grievous mental cruelty", and come the Sixties he'd flee Hollywood for a new life in Italy, where he'd star alongside Steve Reeves in The Wooden Horse Of Troy and headline several swashbucklers and historical epics. Again, despite marrying starlet Gabriella Palazzoli and having daughter Blyth,, he couldn't build a solid life, faced further arrests and, having visited India where he became a pious poet and ascetic vegetarian, writing poems and plays, he returned to Hollywood, spending the rest of the decade popping up in the occasional cowboy serial. He'd become hard to work with, untrustworthy. Failing to turn up to shoot an episode of Star Trek, he'd be suspended by SAG for six months. Inevitably he'd find even fewer parts in the Seventies, spending years meditating in the desert before popping up in an episode of Kung Fu. The show's star, David Carradine, a friend of his, would say Barrymore was highly talented but, for most, impossible to deal with. Barrymore would then marry Ildiko Jaid Mako, with whom he'd have Drew. His final onscreen appearance would be in Baby Blue Marine, starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Katherine Helmond and featuring a young Richard Gere in his fourth film performance. The next year Gere would make his name with Looking For Mr Goodbar. Barrymore would be gone for good, a classic model of promise unfulfilled. There'd been several arrests for possession of marijuana. His last wife would be Nina Wayne who'd give him another daughter, Jessica.
Drew's mother was of Hungarian descent. Her name, Ildiko, means "fierce warrior" in that language, though she'd later take for herself the name Jaid. She was born in 1946 in a displaced persons' camp in Brannnenburg, Germany where her artist father and concert pianist mother were WW2 refugees. Her parents would marry to get visas and would move to Pennsylvania, where they'd be unhappy. The father would leave, the mother would work all hours, leaving Jaid often. Jaid would resent her mother and worship her absent father (just as her own daughter would later), and would as soon as possible take off for New York, then LA, trying to make it as an actress while working as a waitress at the Troubadour nightclub on Santa Monica Boulevard. Through the late Sixties and Seventies she'd claim to have had affairs with Jim Morrison, Jackson Browne and James Taylor, and hung out with Stones, John Lennon and Elton John. She'd meet John Drew Barrymore at the Troubadour and marry him soon after. They'd live a bohemian, arty life with little money, crashing at a friend's pad. They'd get a place on the outskirts of West Hollywood where Jaid would try to persuade her new husband into rehab. In turn he'd lash out at her. Violent and obsessive, he even attacked his wife when she was pregnant with Drew, kicking her in the stomach and forcing her to finally leave him.
With her father already gone, Drew Blythe Barrymore would be born just before noon on the 22nd of February, 1975, at the Brotman Memorial Hospital on Delmas Terrace in Culver City. Given the controversy she would later stir up, it was appropriate that she should be delivered by Dr Paul Fleiss, father of Heidi, the notorious Hollywood madam. Nine years later, singer Michael Jackson would be treated at the same hospital for severe burns when his hair caught fire during the filming of a Pepsi advert. Jackson would donate the $1.5 million damages he received from Pepsi to the Brotman to set up a new burns unit.
Baby Drew would first live with her mother in a duplex in a middle-class area of West Hollywood. Jaid, having sworn to give her daughter the best of everything, was still working at the Troubadour while auditioning for film and TV parts which seldom came. Jaid had been pushing hard for success since she left Pennsylvania and now she'd push yet harder. It was a tough and frustrating life and she'd see little of her daughter. When a friend suggested the 11-month-old Drew was cute, blonde and dimpled enough to score advertising work of her own, Jaid wasn't keen. Nevertheless the friend took sly shots of the little girl and sent them to a theatrical agent. A job interview came up and Jaid was persuaded to take Drew along to a Hollywood sound stage teeming with kids and parents hopeful that their spawn would soon be the face of Gainsburger's puppy food.. When it came to her turn, Drew was plonked on a white cloth in a huge room, the crew awaiting her reaction when the starring puppy was sent in. She was delighted, chuckling and burbling while the dog licked and nuzzled her. Suddenly the puppy turned and bit her, causing the Gainsburger people to pale at the inevitable law suit. Drew, however, burst into an impossibly charming gale of laughter. The crew were relieved and wholly taken by this extraordinary little girl. She was hired, taking home a very tasty $2500. Her mother was pleased for the money, quickly setting up an account into which most of Drew's earnings would from henceforth be paid. Still, Jaid could not prevent herself from feelings twinges of jealousy. Not only had Drew been accepted, praised and paid while she herself was regularly rejected, Jaid had also, she later claimed, missed out on one particular audition due to her being unable to find a babysitter one day. The part was for Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Drew would not be hired again till she was two and a half when she scored her first TV role in the class-conscious Suddenly, Love. This was the directorial debut of actor Stuart Margolin, who'd become a small-screen star in The Rockford Files and had appeared in the classic likes of Death Wish, Kelly's Heroes and, very recently, Days Of Heaven. The film would star Cindy Williams who'd featured in George Lucas's American Graffiti and Coppola's The Conversation and had just made a name for herself opposite Penny Marshall in the Happy Days spin-off Laverne & Shirley. Here Williams would play a Brooklyn girl who goes to study architecture in Manhattan where she falls for rich law school professor Paul Shenar, much to the chagrin of Shenar's mother, played by Joan Bennett, who thinks Williams is a gold-digger well aware that Shenar has a dodgy heart. As time passes, bridges are built, Drew playing Williams' child - a boy. Interestingly, Bennett had played the beloved of Drew's grandfather John when he was Ahab in Moby Dick, nearly 50 years earlier. Margolin felt the job would be easier if he used a friend's kid and he knew Jaid. He'd be proven correct when Drew proved a natural, learning her lines, hitting her marks and even impressing in fraught scenes when Williams deals with her husband's heart attack.
Even at this early stage, family life would be often problematic for Drew. She'd seldom see her father and when she did it wasn't an edifying experience. One of her earliest memories, from the age of around 3, was of John appearing while Jaid was doing the washing. Drew began to rail at him for not being normal like the other kids' dads. John, meanwhile, only there out of desperation for another hit, knocked Jaid to the floor and threw Drew across the room (she'd land unhurt on a pile of laundry). He'd then smash some glasses, seize a bottle of tequila and leave. His son John, from his marriage to Cara Williams, would, for now, be a more welcome visitor.
At this stage Jaid was still working on her own career doing ads, working as a day player in movies and on TV, working as a script proof reader when money was short and, though she looked after Drew, she was finding the child-care was getting in the way. Still, she acquiesced when her impressively mature daughter explained that she'd like to be an actress. This was 1979 and Drew was still only 4. Jaid would thus find her daughter an agent, JJ Harris, who'd immediately score her four adverts, including one for Pilsbury chocolate chip cookies where she'd come in from the rain and her ever-lovin' mum would make biscuits to cheer her up. "Bake the magic" ran the ludicrous copy. Though, as said, she was still only 4, Drew had inadvertently made one of the best moves of her life. A former school teacher who'd earlier won a job as accounting secretary at William Morris, the perky, boisterous and hugely enthusiastic JJ Harris would quickly rise up through the company, later moving on to InterTalent and the United Talent Agency, looking after the likes of Kevin Costner and Charlize Theron. Throughout, she'd play a vital part in Barrymore's success and her successful reinventions.
Having proved herself as a serial stealer of advertisers' hearts, Barrymore now took a tilt at the cinematic big-time when she auditioned for Altered States, the latest from the controversial director Ken Russell. To audition for two girls to play William Hurt's daughters in the movie, Russell sat some forty girls in a semi-circle and began to question them. Soon this inquisition became a one-to-one between Russell and Barrymore and she duly won the part of the elder daughter. The film would see Hurt as a Harvard academic who becomes obsessed with human consciousness and race memory, his experiments with Mexican hallucinogenics and sensory deprivation tanks becoming ever more dangerous as he seeks his primal self. His obsession causes problems in his marriage to Blair Brown and she leaves him, taking their two daughters, only to return for the fabulously spacey climax. Barrymore would make her first big screen appearance alongside Hurt (with The Janitor and Body Heat about to be released, he was at the time the hottest actor in Hollywood) taking a pushbike up a hilly street. Later, when Brown returns for a reunion with Hurt, Barrymore would utter her first words. Sitting on an airport desk while her mother's searched bags are re-packed she spies a waiting Hurt and shouts "Are you gonna drive to our new house?" Thankfully for her she's not present when Hurt travels back to the very beginning of mankind, becoming a goat-eating monkey-type then facing the moment of extreme terror at the beginning of life. Writer Paddy Chayefsky, who'd recently won an Oscar for his Network screenplay, hated the film, feeling that Russell was stripping all the science and satire included in his novel, and had his name changed on the credits to Sidney Aaron (Chayefsky had actually suffered a heart attack from the stress of his research). Despite this, the film was truly entertaining bullshit and its 2001-style effects saw it become a cult favourite amongst light drug users.
Altered States would actually be Barrymore's second screen appearance of 1980 as she'd earlier popped up in the TV biopic Bogie, directed by Vincent Sherman who'd earlier helmed her great-uncle Lionel in Lone Star and had actually worked with Humphrey Bogart. The film would follow Bogart's life as he endures a violent relationship with third wife Mayo Methot then meets and marries Lauren Bacall, played by Kathryn Harold, who'd later find fame as Larry Sanders' wife. A CBS production, with Drew appearing as Bogart and Bacall's young daughter Leslie, the film would be first shown on the 4th of March.
Even in pre-school, Drew's success would set her apart. Her mother would be working most of the time. Consequently, though she loved to dance around to Blondie and The Go-Gos she was often lonely. Film sets were where she found attention and comfort and Bogie was a good one, Sherman telling her tales of her tales of Lionel and grandfather John. She'd already gone door to door selling oranges and avocados to (she later discovered) feed the habits of her half-brother John (soon to be banned from the house) , and she never met her half-sisters. She missed her father, or rather her idea of a father and already harboured resentment towards her mother for breaking them apart. She'd obsess over him and demand to be taken over to his flat, where he existed, long-haired and white-bearded, with a bed and a few cardboard boxes. Her father, in turn, was angling for more access. He gave Drew a teddy bear that immediately became her most cherished possession. Finally, Jaid would accede to Drew's wishes and have John babysit. He'd turn up drunk and, having been hanging with his friend David Carradine, would practise kung-fu on his daughter, inexpertly catching her on the arm, in the stomach, on the head. Drew refused to cry but demanded to know why John insisted on hurting the people who loved him. His reply was to ask her what she knew of pain, seize her hand and place it in the flame of a candle. Drew simply could not understand her father's attitude. She did not know that John had met his own father only once and that even then The Great Profile was drunk. She had no concept of damage or history repeating itself. So Vincent Sherman's stories on the set of Bogie for the first time gave her the idea that she was part of a proper family and a tradition.
And what a history it was. Her family had won Oscars and ruled Broadway. They'd acted alongside Lillie Langtry, Lillian Gish and Marys Astor and Pickford: Charles Laughton, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy: Garbo, Gable and Swanson: Jean Harlow, Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford: Jean Arthur, Joseph Cotten and Ida Lupino: James Stewart, Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy: Ava Gardner, Merle Oberon and Loretta Young: Leslie Howard, Tyrone Power and Bela Lugosi: Bogart, Bacall and Edward G Robinson. They'd been directed by Ernst Lubitsch and DW Griffith, William Wyler and Howard Hawks, Fritz Lang and Hitchcock, , John Huston and King Vidor, Raoul Walsh and George Cukor, Fred Zinnemann and Elia Kazan, Orson Welles and Joseph Losey, Frank Capra and Tod Browning. For God's sake, they'd even shagged The Lizard King. The weight of all this might easily have crushed her. Instead, because she was lucky, because she was 6, she topped them all.
Drew was now attending the Fountain Day School at 1128 North Orange Grove Avenue, a private and quite expensive pre-school just off Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. Here she'd just won the part of Sleeping Beauty in her class play. She also continued to score adverts, chatting to Snap, Crackle and Pop in a Rice Krispies spot. More disappointingly, she'd auditioned for the lead in the film version of Annie, but had lost out. She'd also try out for the part of the spooky kid Carol Anne, trapped in the TV in Poltergeist, but again be turned down.
This last setback proved to be a positive career move. Poltergeist's producer, Steven Spielberg, would ask Jaid to bring Drew back in to audition for another movie, a more intimate number that he was directing himself. Spielberg would see over a hundred girls for the part (one of whom was Juliette Lewis who, according to legend, was told by her father to turn the part down), but Barrymore would impress the most, entertaining the director by claiming to be in a punk band. At her second audition she'd improvise alongside her soon-to-be co-stars Henry Thomas (who'd just had a hit with Raggedy Man, starring recent Oscar winner Sissy Spacek) and Robert MacNaughton, a recent success on Broadway in 1980's eerie Depression play The Diviners in which Barrymore's Altered States dad William Hurt had a minor role (when in the Diviners, MacNaughton had flown to LA to audition for The Entity. He was turned down but the casting director was so sorry for him he scored him a late audition for this new Spielberg film). Their mother was intended to be played by Shelley Long, but she had committed to Ron Howard's Night Shift which, by coincidence, would also feature Drew's mother Jaid, who'd play one of the hookers when Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton run an escort agency from a morgue. Dee Wallace would be brought in as the kids' parent. Drew would be tested for her ability to scream, finally leading Spielberg to tell Jaid never to give her daughter acting lessons. "She has the stardust magic", he'd say, "She's the most naturally gifted actress I've ever seen". Later Drew would suffer from sharing her ancestors' addictions. For now she was benefiting from her likeness to that "astonishing little creature" Louisa Lane.
The film concerned was ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. This had originally been titled Watch The Skies and was intended as a low budget follow-up to Spielberg's giant hit Close Encounters. Based on a supposedly true incident in 1955 where a Kentucky family claimed to have been held prisoner in their farmhouse by aliens, the film was to have been a modern thriller with the family threatened with dissection by their unwelcome visitors. As the title changed to Night Skies, John Sayles would write a screenplay influenced by John Ford's classic western Drums Along The Mohawk: artist Ron Cobb, who'd worked on Dark Star as well as Star Wars and Alien, was signed to direct: and SFX master Rick Baker, then working on his awesome effects for An American Werewolf In London, would handle the aliens and their machines. While Spielberg was off filming Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Baker worked on his models while Sayles delivered a script that saw the family include an autistic boy who's befriended by one of the aliens. Still on-set, Spielberg discussed Night Skies with his star Harrison Ford's screenwriter girlfriend Melissa Mathison and, impressed by her suggestions about making the film more family-friendly and based on the relationship between a loveable alien and a boy from a broken home, asked her to come up with a script of her own. Loving her effort, entitled ET And Me, Spielberg shut down the Night Skies project and decided to direct the movie himself, though on a lower budget as his failure with 1941 had taken some of the gloss from his reputation. The original story of Night Skies, meanwhile, would be heavily adapted, the aliens turned into ghosts. It would thus become Poltergeist.
From October to December, 1981, Drew would arrive daily at Laird Studios, along with Thomas studying for three hours in the morning, then shooting from lunch till 6pm. The kids would be encouraged to improvise on-set, Spielberg using the best of their efforts. Drew would contribute much to this ad-lib process. Spielberg would shoot mostly chronologically, so the children would not be confused. Drew grew close to Spielberg, spending time at his Malibu home, and eventually he'd become her godfather. Staying at the top table, she'd also now become the godchild of Anna Strasberg, wife of Lee. While Drew was filming ET, her mother was performing in Playing For Time at the Strasberg Institute. Made into a film in 1980 with Vanessa Redgrave, this saw a group of female prisoners in a Nazi death camp play music for their captors in order to survive. Drew would join the cast on Fridays and Saturdays, playing a little girl who avoids death by becoming the darling of a female German officer.
ET would see Henry Thomas discover abandoned alien ET in a gazebo, and he's forced to let older brother MacNaughton and younger sister Barrymore in on his secret. Upon her first contact with the creature, Drew would let out a mighty comedy scream that would set off a scene of chaotic destruction in the bedroom. She'd then, very reasonably, ask "What is it?", swearing to keep silent when her brothers threaten to dismember her doll. Smart and straightforward, she then teaches ET to speak, also dressing him in a dress and a wig. She cannot, however, keep a secret and, under pressure from her mother and government agent Peter Coyote, she cutely gives the game away, her film ending in a tearful farewell as she kisses ET goodbye and is told to be good. It was an outrageously impressive performance for such a youngster, Barrymore seeming so calm and self-possessed, so knowing and confident in her work, that she appeared to be an adult trapped in a child's body. Hers was a disturbing excellence.
Drew would be paid some $75,000 for ET, allowing Jaid to pack in the waitressing job and spend more time acting and with her daughter. While she shot Night Shift, Drew would be left with babysitters, but also spend a lot of time on-set, lurking in the dressing-room, messing with the make-up, wandering the byways, generally getting in the way. She wasn't wanted and, catching pneumonia, raged at her mother for her neglect, finally forcing Jaid to give up her own career and become Drew's manager. Drew would now take lessons in ballet and tap, karate and guitar, plus singing. All was geared towards her professional life and Drew was clearly enthused by cinema. Here were all her new friends, here was where she was appreciated, here was where her family had always existed. Beginning First Grade at the Fountain Day School, she became known for her impressions of Chaplin, Judy Garland and, perhaps tellingly, Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest.
Come June, 1982, Spielberg's intimate, low-budget ET would be released. Originally it had been intended as a back-up to Poltergeist but a frenzied audience reaction at Cannes persuaded producers to roll out a giant promotion. It worked. Though Poltergeist was a success, ET was a phenomenon, taking nearly $800 million at the box office and beating Star Wars to become the highest grossing film of all time. Drew would be flown to New York for screenings and was now recognised in the street. Reporters would ask her about ET the alien but she'd not be fazed by their foolish blurring of reality. Once the press discovered she was a member of the notoriously drunken Barrymore clan they besieged her West Hollywood bungalow, raining questions about her father and grandparents down upon her. More positively, she'd attend a ceremony honouring the Barrymores at New York's Shubert Theatre. Here she'd meet Lillian Gish, who'd appeared alongside both Lionel and Ethel Barrymore, and hear a rush of family stories, finally realising that, as a Barrymore, she was someone special. George Cukor would announce to the audience that there was a new generation of Barrymore stars in the auditorium and Drew's half-brother John would lift her up onto her seat to receive the applause. At the age of 7, as one of the stars of the greatest cinematic moneyspinner of all time, she had already stepped up to join her illustrious ancestors in the Hollywood pantheon. It could very easily have been downhill all the way from here.
That summer would be a crazy rush of interviews, parties and personal appearances. She'd deal with it all politely and maturely, then reluctantly return to her studies at Westland School at 16200 Mulholland Drive, out of town past Sherman Oaks. It was a private establishment, giving an all-round education and catering for the children of film industry types. Thus many of her peers had appeared in films and ads. But Drew was now a star, zipping off to promote ET in Europe for a month, meeting Princess Diana, swapping funnies with Johnny Carson, surrounded by armies of photographers the world over. November would see her as the youngest ever host of Saturday Night Live, then featuring Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Drew was too nervous to attempt the traditional opening monologue so instead took questions from the audience. For moral support, Steven Spielberg was sat in the front row, alongside Robin Williams, both laughing as Drew and the crew spoofed ET. Also featuring in the show was the famous phone-in where Andy Kaufman risked it all by asking the TV audience to call in and vote on whether he should ever to return to SNL. Shockingly for Kaufman, they voted him off.
Now school was difficult. At first they all wanted to know about ET then, when that subject was exhausted, only jealousy remained. At home there'd be further chaos when Jaid tried to divorce John. There were meetings that became screaming matches, Drew railing at her father for his drinking and brutality.
Having been nominated for a BAFTA for her work in ET, Drew would move on to Irreconcilable Differences, now taking a lead role. Written by Nancy Meyers who'd just enjoyed success with Private Benjamin and would later score with Baby Boom and The Holiday, this would see Ryan O'Neal as a film professor who dreams of making it as a director. With help from his wife Shelley Long (playing Drew's mum at last), he makes it but then his career hits the skids and he has an affair with starlet Sharon Stone (Stone had just had her first shot at stardom in King Solomon's Mines), just as Long's life as a writer becomes rosier. Their daughter Drew, meanwhile, is caught in the middle, only happy when she's being cared for by the Mexican maid. Consequently, she sues her parents for divorce, much to the delight of the press. The film was naturally about family, but also about the nature of failure and success in Hollywood, and it was based loosely on the marriage of director Peter Bogdanovich and his wife and collaborator Polly Platt (Bogdanovich's affair had been with Cybill Shepherd). Barrymore would face the role with great maturity, appearing wearied by her parents antics and squabbling, dealing well with her climactic court address, and she'd glean her first Golden Globe nomination.
Having been paid half a million for her efforts, she and Jaid would now buy a 2-bedroom ranch-style house in Sherman Oaks. Her mother and agent were now thinking big for her, aiming at a prestigious film career rather than TV work. Next up would be the lead in another big budget picture, Firestarter, one of a current spate of Stephen King films that included Christine, The Dead Zone, Cujo and Children Of The Corn. Here David Keith and Heather Locklear (recently a hit on TV in Dynasty and TJ Hooker) would play a couple who've been involved in shady government experiments. Both now manifest psychic powers, Keith being able to hypnotise people, and their daughter Drew conjures fire (and an invisible wind machine) at will. When an undercover government group called The Shop decide to exploit these powers the family try to run, Locklear is killed and Keith and Barrymore are captured and struggle against abuse, manipulation and, in Drew's case, the thoroughly unwelcome attentions of George C Scott's truly creepy assassin.
Barrymore would feature in most scenes and thus was busy for three and a half months while filming took place at the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Film Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, De Laurentiis being Firestarter's producer. Back in the day he'd co-produced Fellini's La Strada with Carlo Ponti and made many films with his wife Silvana Mangano and Ponti's, Sophia Loren. Moving to America, he'd produce the likes of Serpico, Death Wish and Three Days Of The Condor, and suffered disaster with Dune and a remake of King Kong. Having made Stephen King's The Dead Zone, he'd move on to Cat's Eye, then several other King adaptations. Ponti would also now live stateside, and Loren would become another of Drew's godparents.
Drew and Jaid had taken a 2-bedroom place in Echo Park, NC. Drew would sleep late, study for three hours in the afternoon and commence filming at dusk. She'd spend a lot of time with the family of her film double Jennifer Ward, eating, playing and attending church. Leaving this secure family unit would be hard to do, but she'd soon join another when spending several weeks at Stephen King's place in Bangor, Maine, sharing stories and French toast with his kids. Firestarter would also bring signs of pain yet to come when, at the wrap party at De Laurentiis beach house she'd try champagne for the first time and, immediately going overboard, drink it till she passed out.
September, 1983, would see Drew enrol at yet another school, this time the Country School at 5243 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in north Hollywood, just east of her Sherman Oaks home. Starting school late she'd once again be the oddball. She'd dislike studying from 9 till 3 and, bored, found it harder to apply herself than she did on film sets. Thus she quickly settled as a C student. Her one real joy was the Hollywood parties she was invited to with great regularity, and to which her mother would take her twice a month. There, of course, she was a welcome oddity, she'd be applauded and appreciated, and not teased and bullied as she was at school. She'd be delighted when the next summer saw her return to Echo Park, North Carolina and the Ward family to film Stephen King's Cat's Eye, a three-part horror compendium. In the first part James Woods would have to give up smoking or have his family, including daughter Drew, killed. Then Robert Hays would have to walk a narrow ledge around a building in order to win the wife of a rich man, Drew appearing as a mannequin at one point. Then she'd star in the final part, specially written for her by King, where she'd be ignored when she tells mother Candy Clark that there's a troll behind her bedroom wall plotting to steal her breath
Back in Los Angeles she was bored and took to hanging out with other girls from single parent homes, precocious girls, advanced for their age and looking for kicks. Now 9 she'd be extra keen to attend parties and Jaid, herself keen to network, would often oblige. Bedtime was 9 during the week and midnight at weekends, so they might attend a party or function once or maybe five times a week. They'd visit the Hard Rock Cafe and other nightspots but usually it'd be Helena's on West Temple Street in Silver Lake. A large grey stucco building on an industrial strip, this was a private supper club for the stars. The site of Walt Disney's first large studio it was also where you'd find the municipal staircase used in Laurel and Hardy's The Music Box. The club was run by Helena Kallianiotes, resident belly-dancer at Greek restaurant the Intersection in north Hollywood in the Seventies. She'd appeared in Jack Nicholson's Head and Five Easy Pieces (where she'd played a neurotic lesbian, travelling with Toni Basil and tearing strips off Nicholson) and, as a friend of his, had lived in a guest house on his property and acted as his property manager for years. She'd also turned up in Stay Hungry and Nic Roeg's Eureka! and had been Golden Globe nominated for her performance as roller derby skater Jackie Burdette in The Kansas City Bomber. Kallianiotes had then run a dance studio which her famous friends had persuaded her to turn into a club they could frequent without fear of the press or paps. She'd be there to greet her guests and lead them past the bar and giant dance floor to a dining room with some 20 tables, with a canopy open to the sky. It would quickly prove to be immensely popular. Nicholson would be a regular here, and would present Anjelica Huston with an elephant on her birthday. Later he'd hook up with one of the waitresses, Rebecca Broussard. At Goldie Hawn's 40th everyone would wear Goldie masks. Susan Sarandon would come to Helena's, as would Cher, Harry Dean Stanton and the new Hollywood Brat Pack. Madonna and Sean Penn would get into an inevitable scuffle at the club, Tuesdays saw tango lessons for the stars. Membership was $1000, and the club was so hip that Kallianiotes found herself refusing entry to people offering ten times that much.
It was a great place to make connections and Jaid, a friend of Helena's, was very happy to frequent the place. Drew loved it, too, being nicknamed The Badger by Gary Busey because she was forever snuffling around, low to the ground. She and her friend were supposed to be restricted to an upstairs room with a view over the action, but they simply used this as a look-out post, watching out for drinks left unattended and stealing down to snatch them. They'd smoke up there, too. At Rob Lowe's 20th birthday party, to which he'd invited Drew because he'd heard she had a crush on him, she and a friend got wasted on purloined ales. She'd slow dance with Emilio Estevez, basically being carried around the dancefloor, and get into trouble for an inappropriately adult kiss with Lowe's 12-year-old step-brother Micah. She'd begun to break every rule her mother laid down and her mother, unfortunately, proposed no lasting system of discipline. Soon Drew was secretly smoking while staying at friends' houses, and sneaking out to attend clubs. It was, she found, the only way to escape the excruciating sense of boredom, emptiness and loneliness she experienced every time a film wrapped and another temporary family disbanded. School was turning nasty, too. Drew was being teased for putting on weight and suffering spots, and once required stitches in her chin after being kicked in the back and falling over face-first. One bright spot was a relationship with school-mate Breckin Meyer. Meyer would score an agent via Barrymore and begin to appear in ads and TV shows, later appearing in such movies as Clueless and Go.
Nothing was happening to steer Barrymore from this dangerous course. She and her mother were now making regular trips to New York, staying at the Mayflower and seeing friends and partying. Drew would begin to hang with a 17-year-old model who lived with her older sister in SoHo. Her 10th birthday, a surprise, was held at the Limelight, with guests including rock star Billy Idol. Barrymore would recall hating the experience as it lent her no opportunity to get surreptitiously drunk. Soon pictures of Drew partying at 2am would appear in the press, Jaid being lambasted as a showbiz mother from hell. She countered that she simply wanted her daughter to enjoy her success, to experience all that life had to offer. No mention was made of her own enjoyment of this fast-lane lifestyle. Beyond this, Jaid was not yet aware of the extent of Drew's drinking and smoking.
Even if Jaid had been a good influence, Drew was still being led astray by the parents of her friends. One mother, a divorced musician, was driving her daughter and Drew home from a club for a sleepover when she parked up and sparked up some hash in a little golden pipe. Drew, sure that she'd be refused, asked to try it and the pipe was duly handed over. Back at the house, the toking went on till, at 5am, the kids were sent off to a local 7-11 for munchies and some juice. From now on Drew would visit this house regularly, often smoking pot with the musicians who gathered there.
Workwise, Barrymore would continue to work during her summers. After Cat's Eye, 1985 would see her on TV in a Weekend Special Mississippi-set rewrite of Mark Twain titled The Adventures Of Con Sawyer And Hucklemary Finn. This was a double episode screened on consecutive Saturday mornings, where Drew and her friend Brandy Ward try to foil a gang's attempt to replace a stock of jewels with fakes. M Emmet Walsh would also feature, as would a very young Melissa Joan Hart, later to play teenage witch Sabrina, as Drew's younger sister. The role would see Drew nominated for a Daytime Emmy. She'd also pop up in a tiny part in the first episode of godfather Spielberg's new TV series, Amazing Stories. Titled Ghost Train, it would be directed by Spielberg himself and feature Lukas Haas, with Drew playing a passenger on the titular spooky vehicle. Her last release of 1985 would be the animated Star Fairies where the fairy whose job it is to grant kids the wishes they make upon a star is over-run with work and calls for new recruits. Drew meanwhile voices a sullen, bored child who can't think of a wish to make herself happy and is visited by a fairy called Spice, played by Didi Conn (earlier Frenchie in Grease), and enjoys adventures with naughty goblins. With the fairies riding in a chariot drawn by a winged unicorn, there was plenty of scope for product sales and, indeed, Star Fairies was made to promote a range of toys.
September, 1985, would see her back at Country for one more year of bullying, jealousy, truancy, unhappiness and out-of-school self-medication. Come the summer of the next year she'd be back at work at fast as she could. She'd star in the fifth episode of the Ray Bradbury Theatre, titled The Screaming Woman, where she'd play a kid fascinated by Tales From The Crypt-style comics, who hears a woman shrieking underground while walking in the woods. Due to her ordinarily fevered imagination, no one believes her, so she sneaks out at night to investigate. Her main project of 1986, though, was a remake of Babes In Toyland, directed by Clive Donner, who'd earlier shot The Caretaker and Rogue Male. Based on Victor Herbert's 1903 operetta, filmed by Laurel and Hardy in 1934, this would see most of Herbert's music replaced by the songs of Leslie Bricusse. Barrymore would play a jaded young girl overburdened with responsibility. When her sister's boyfriend crashes the 4x4, Drew hits her head on a tree and is transported to Toyland, where cookies are currency, teddy bears police the population and her friends and family have become fairy tale characters. Evil Richard Mulligan hopes to take over this world with a flask of concentrated wickedness and to steal Mary Contrary away from her lover Jack-Be -Nimble. Only if Barrymore rediscovers her belief in magic can he be stopped. Mary would be played by Jill Schoelen, an up-and-coming actress soon to date Brad Pitt, while Jack would be played by Keanu Reeves. Drew would be nominated for a Young Artist Award for her efforts, her fifth nomination. This 3-hour TV movie would be shot in Munich over four months. At one point Drew would hang with a touring Rod Stewart and his band, unbeknownst to her mother getting utterly drunk from a minibar. Stewart would invite her on to his show in Vienna, and Drew would go ballistic when her mother refused. This was another step in the breakdown of their relationship, Drew coming to believing that Jaid's role was to get in the way and ruin her fun.
Come the end of summer, Barrymore would be enrolled at a new school, Cal Prep in the valley. A private school for celebrities and the children of celebrities, its alumni included Michael Jackson, Danny Bonaduce and Christian Brando. At last Barrymore would be surrounded by teachers and pupils who understood her position. Unfortunately, it was also the first time she'd been at a school where there were older pupils. Inevitably, she graduated towards these older kids and they accepted her for her status and an attitude and worldview that was way beyond her years. They loved that she could blow smoke-rings and so fiercely rant against authority figures. As they all had cars, Drew was now mobile. When parents were away, drinks cabinets were raided. Drugs were easily available. They'd skip classes and spend the weekend cruising town, getting wasted and singing and dancing along at late screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Drew would now consider herself to be truly sophisticated, but in fact she was begin to fall apart. Her hangovers combined with depression to make much of her life unbearable. Only more hits could help. She'd now battled constantly with her mother, blaming her for everything, accusing her of exploitation, of only being there for the money and contacts. Hurtful stuff, indeed.
Drew's summer of 1987 would be spent shooting the TV movie A Conspiracy Of Love, written by Barry Morrow who provided the story for the next year's Rain Man. Here she and her mother Glynnis O'Connor would be abandoned and left to live with O'Connor's parents, played by Robert Young and Elizabeth Wilson, who'd been Rain Man star Dustin Hoffman's mum in The Graduate. Barrymore's a troubled kid but perks up when Young tells her stories from his life, encouraging her to make the most of life, like he did. Problems ensue when she discovers that many of his tales are downright lies.
Still Barrymore's problems increased. Told by agents that she was too heavy, she tried dieting, but this extra pressure became just another reason to get off her head. Spending a few weeks with Carlo Ponti and godmother Sophia Loren at their Thousand Oaks ranch some 40 miles to the west of Sherman Oaks as Drew and Jaid often did, didn't really help, Drew simply getting caned with Carlo Jr.
1988 would bring the crunch. Drew had been cast in See You In The Morning, a prestigious drama starring Jeff Bridges, Farrah Fawcett and Alice Krige, and directed by Alan J Pakula, who'd made such classics as Klute, The Parallax View, All The President's Men and Sophie's Choice. The film would see Bridges as a psychiatrist who leaves wife Fawcett and his two kids, one of whom is a pre-Home Alone Macauley Culkin. He then falls for widow Krige who herself has two kids, Barrymore and Lukas Haas, who'd recently has a hit with Witness and starred in Barrymore's episode of Spielberg's Amazing Stories. When Fawcett's mother falls ill and Bridges feels he must be with his ex, there's plenty of soul-searching and self-analysis to be done.
The film did not ring true and didn't enjoy the confidence of its producers, not being released till 1989. This mattered little to Drew who was now far more concerned with her social life than her work. At first, she'd refused to move to New York for the four-month shoot, beginning in January, 1988, realising that it would mean separation from her friends, and especially their booze and pot. Persuaded that it would be a good career move, she relented and, once in New York and about to turn 13, quickly took up again with the older model friend she'd hung with several years earlier. Her drinking and clubbing became extravagant, they'd buy pot on the street, she got tattooed. She came to resent the three hours tuition she had to undertake on weekdays and once vomited while being lectured by her mother on professionalism. She began seeing a preppie boyfriend already accepted into college, so now keg parties were also on the agenda. Staying when possible with her friend or boyfriend, she hid her excesses from her mother where she could, but her rampant misbehaviour was becoming obvious for all to see.
Returning to LA in April, 1988, she reunited with her older friends, continuing the drinking and smoking. Now, though, the drugs were changing. Cocaine was now on the scene and the kids were now snorting lines or getting high on coco-puffs (coke sprinkled on the end of a cigarette). This kind of hit was what Drew had been waiting for and she went for it. Her grades were now awful, her relationship with her mother disastrous. In July she was due to start filming Far From Home in Nevada but on June 28th she got smashed at the drive-in, phoned her mother at home and told her to vacate the premises immediately. Returning home to find her disobedient parent still there, she flipped out, smashed some stuff and retired to her room with another beer. Now Jaid, well-schooled in addiction and violence by Drew's father, had had enough. She called the mother of one of Drew's friends, a waster-girl who'd recently seen the error of her ways and gone sober. They came round and, along with Jaid, took Drew to ASAP, the Adolescent Substance Abuse Programme Centre in nearby Van Nuys.
Founded by Dr David Lewis (known as Doctor Dave) in 1979, ASAP was based at Van Nuys Community Hospital, occupying the hospital's east wing as well as six bungalows on the grounds. From 1985 they'd had an arrangement with the National Basketball Association to treat any players who went off the rails, and had already dealt with famous case Roy Tarpley of the Dallas Mavericks. ASAP attempted to deal with the body, mind and social situation. It was a friendly, laidback environment of plants and murals, the staff casual in blue jeans, but discipline was strict. There were specific times for meals, showers and lessons. Patients would be in bed by 10 on weekdays and 11 at weekends. Drew would see therapist Betty Wyman and psychiatrist Dr George Blair, and have as her individual counsellor an ex-patient Lori Cerasoli. There'd be group therapy, and family therapy with Jaid.
It didn't start well. Drew refused to co-operate in group therapy and, in family therapy, screamed at Jaid. Her mother, she claimed, had spent years belittling her and was really a manager, not a parent. Beyond this, she was only there for 12 days, Jaid having informed ASAP that Drew had to leave by July 10th in order to film Far From Home. ASAP sent an ex-patient along with her, to act as friend, confidante and advisor. Filming in the small town of Gerlach, Nevada, this set-up would work well. Drew would avoid the bars and hang at the hotel and at the laundromat, concentrating fully on her work for the first time in several years. It would be harder when the production moved to Carson City. Unable to believe she could have a good time without intoxicants, Drew haunted the bars and casinos, sober but bored senseless. The movie wrapped on September 5th. On the 6th she was back at ASAP.
Unfortunately, after just six days she had to leave again, this time flying to New York to loop dialogue for See You In The Morning, and to audition for a play. The idea - which did not meet with ASAP's approval - was for Drew, who'd now been sober for 76 days, to return to ASAP, clean up completely, and be ready to make a stage debut in the autumn. On September 15th, she'd hook up again with her model friend and go clubbing. Everyone was snorting in the toilets. Drew refused then cracked. Bitterly disappointed in herself, she snorted more to take the edge off her pain, continuing till dawn. Back home she convinced her mother that she'd been at her friend's home all night then, later in the day, stole her mum's credit card and, along with her friend, took off for LaGuardia and booked flights to LA and then on to Hawaii. In LA they'd drive around with lines of coke on the dashboards, sleep in the car, return to Drew's, then go out looking for more coke. Attempting to park, Drew would bash two cars, right in front of 30 people attending a yard sale. There'd be more coke, and more. A trip to a mall on Ventura revealed that Jaid's card had been reported stolen, so they went back to Drew's to dress for their imminent departure for Hawaii. Back at the house, a man and a woman walked into Drew's room while she was changing. They were private agents hired by Jaid to take Drew back to ASAP. They handcuffed her and took her to Van Nuys. When she was safely secured in the hospital, they took off her cuffs and asked for her autograph.
Back inside she'd knuckle down to the casually strict regime. She share a room with two others and rise at 7.30am. There'd be lessons from 9 till 12, then lunch. Then there'd be Therapy Group, then Doctor's Group with the staff psychiatrist, then Step Study focusing on one of the AA's 12 steps. There'd be stress management, anger reduction, biofeedback, physical training. After dinner there'd be Recovery Group then a substance abuse programme to suit one's addiction. Once a week there'd be Multiple Family Group with Jaid and others. The emotional confrontations here were bruising and ongoing. At first Drew refused to accept any responsibility for her situation and would not join in. But gradually she came to see that she was not the worst girl in the world, that teen addiction was commonplace. She began to face her relationships with her mother, father and booze, began to see how she wanted so much to appear older to impress both boys and her cinematic associates, that she'd drink more and do more drugs than the rest to appear bigger and badder, to be accepted and appreciated.
She'd have set-backs, at one point falling for a criminal inmate and playing up in class to impress him. For this she'd be put on Male Communication Freeze where she could not talk to boys. Still rebelling she'd be put on Intensive Treatment Programme, being grounded in her room during free periods. In her first 6 weeks she'd get ITP over fifteen times, a new hospital record. She'd be busted for smoking in her room and leaving it untidy. But her revolt would end when her boyfriend dumped her and she heard that her grandfather, Jaid's father, had died. She'd not seen enough of him, she realised, and she knew why. Gradually her hostility towards her mother lessened, and she came to accept that her father was not going to sober up and re-enter her life like a shining knight. Her mother, too, had lessons to learn. At one point, too late for official visiting hours, she persuaded staff to let her through to Drew's room. Here she presented her with a script to read. Drew, naturally, protested wildly, demanding to know why even in hospital Jaid behaved as a manager and not a mother.
As she grew stronger, Drew would be allowed into the Growth Group where patients would be released at weekends into the company of former patients and recovering adults. Drew would be allotted to Jan Dance, wife of musician David Crosby, another former reprobate who used to socialise with her father. One of Crosby's friends was drummer Dallas Taylor, husband of Drew's therapist Betty Wyman. Taylor had also known John Drew Barrymore and would pretend to be him in role-playing therapy sessions with Drew. Coincidentally, at this stage her father made contact with her again. She'd call him at his hotel, they'd get on fine, and then he'd hit on her for money, before asking her to call back in ten minutes. When she did, he was obviously out of his tree.
Things would get worse for Drew when, one week before her planned discharge in December, 1988, a journalist sneaked into ASAP. The story, so far secret, was out. ASAP offered Barrymore an early release so she could hide out, but she completed the course, also spending some seven hours with a People journalist, telling her side of the story. She went home to the condo in Sherman Oaks on December 21st and waited for the story to explode when the National Enquirer was issued on January 3rd. The 13-year-old star of ET was in rehab for booze and cocaine addiction. The media went mental. Reporters were everywhere. Drew could only escape the house via the back door and neighbours' cars.
Despite the furore, Barrymore would be straight back to work, coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally) in a TV movie called 15 And Getting Straight and set in the ASAP centre she'd just left. This was a CBS Schoolbreak Special, a late afternoon show aimed at High and Junior High School pupils and highlighting teen problems. Co-starring Tatum O'Neal and Corey Feldman, this would see Drew as bolshy, bitter and angry youngster, who wars with her mother and stepfather, and is not just bulimic but addicted to booze and cocaine. Taken into therapy when she begins to haemorrhage, she's mocked by the other patients for looking for excusing and failing to take responsibility, but is gradually brought around by counsellor and ex-addict O'Neal. Barrymore would briefly date Feldman after filming ended and would learn some important lessons. Feldman, like Barrymore, had been a child star (in the likes of Mork And Mindy) but his parents had wasted his earnings so, at 15, he'd gone to court and legally emancipated himself. She'd later be able to follow his example. Around this time, before her 14th birthday, it's claimed, she lost her virginity.
Two weeks into filming 15 And Getting Straight, the People story came out, putting Drew back on the front pages, this time with a mixed response rather than outright condemnation. In order to clear up the situation for good, Drew would begin another series of interviews with People journalist Todd Gold, which would soon become her autobiography, Little Girl Lost. An autobiography, at 14. And it's not dull reading.
Returning to school, Drew would have a new boyfriend, a 16-year-old from Beverly Hills High. She'd then see a 22-year-old actor. Six months sober, she'd smoke pot with a friend, go out driving and be knocked out when a car hit them coming from the opposite direction. This she'd cover up by lying to her mother and she'd continue as an outpatient at ASAP, with weekly AA meetings. Then, in the eighth month of her once-broken sobriety, she'd get stoned again before picking up tickets to see The Bangles. Continued to puff, she'd miss the gig and, guilty over her behaviour, would fight with her mother, fights that grew worse due to Jaid's friendship with Drew's (now ex) actor boyfriend.
In July, Drew's father would make contact again, once more asking for money. Drew would refuse him, but be torn by guilt, getting high with her friend. Then Jaid would take a trip to New York to sell their apartment there. Drew's ex would go along to help. Now sharing a flat with her pot-smoking pal, Drew would be wracked by jealousy, by body issues and deep insecurities. Screaming to her friend that she was a bad person, she tried to illustrate her point by drawing a kitchen knife across her wrist several times. Barrymore would later claim that this was not an attempt to cut herself, that the knife slipped, but the blade entered her flesh, blood poured out and she fainted, her friend taking her to the Cedars Sinai Medical Centre for stitches. Now she'd have to admit to her mother about her pot-smoking and re-entered ASAP, having to add a couple of salutary chapters to her just-completed autobiography, a book that had previously boasted a happy ending. It was now decided - and not before time - that Drew was not the only problem in her relationship with her mother. Jaid would now attend The Meadows, a rehab establishment in Wickenburg, Arizona, dealing with issues of co-dependency. Jaid would bail out after six days then, faced with her daughter's fury, would return for 6 weeks, Drew now being the one to visit for Family Therapy.
Leaving ASAP in September, 1989, Barrymore would spend the next three months living with Jan Dance and David Crosby. They'd take her on holiday to Hawaii. There'd be no clubbing, no parties, rules at last. There'd even be a reconciliatory meeting with her father. 15 And Getting Straight would be aired and, finally, See You In The Morning. Far From Home would be released, too. Here a reluctant Drew, providing a stream of consciousness narration, would be on holiday with her divorced journalist dad Matt Frewer, checking out America's National Parks. She's keen to return to LA for her birthday, but they run out of gas and are trapped in a small Nevada town. Bored senseless, Barrymore takes up with some trailer-park boys and, with braces on her teeth but slim, sexy and already big-breasted, she flirts with the wrong guy, jumping fully clothed into a small lake with Andras Jones and nearly being raped on the muddy bank. With a murderer haunting the park, it was a reasonably tense thriller crossed with an oddball comedy. It was also Barrymore's first step from child star to teen temptress.
The new decade would see Drew back with her mother. Her autobiography would be released, garnering real sympathy for her from the American public. Her actress friend Ele Keats, two years older and about to score roles in Frankie And Johnny and Newsies, would throw a 15th birthday party for her at the trendy Grotto and Drew would begin to date actor Balthazar Getty, then a big star after his turn in Lord Of The Flies. The couple would plan to appear together in the sci-fi movie Ectopia, a post-apocalyptic love story where the ozone layer is burned away and people must hide from the sun. The film would be made once Barrymore and Getty had split, Getty now starring alongside Laura Harris, as well as Tcheky Karyo and Drew's former screen mum Alice Krige.
The Grotto would be a favourite hang-out for Barrymore as she sought to build a life separate from her mother. Co-run by actor Donovan Leitch (son of singer Donovan), it was a cool venue upstairs at French restaurant Cassis. Leitch would hang there with his girlfriend, Bangles' singer Susanna Hoffs, plus the likes of River Phoenix, Molly Ringwald and Keanu Reeves. There'd be musical performances from the Beastie Boys, Belinda Carlisle and Mazzy Star. Drew would become a regular denizen of LA's new coffee-house scene, particularly favouring PikMe-Up on 6th off La Brea, which would be packed with artists and musicians, regularly hosting concerts, exhibitions and poetry readings by such artists as Beck, Viggo Mortensen and Exene Cervenka.
At home, Drew was still having problems with Jaid, who was still trying to be a partner and friend rather than a parent. Like her former boyfriend Corey Feldman and like her character in Irreconcilable Differences, as she was now 15 she went to court to seek legal emancipation. Though the case took months to come to court, she won, moved out into a small apartment and, with no roles coming her way, worked at the Music Plus store and at PikMe-Up, where she'd wash dishes, clean the toilets and take early morning deliveries.
Barrymore's problem was that she was no longer trusted within the industry. She was the rehab girl, America's sweetheart turned sour, a risk. This opinion had been held for some time and had cost her dearly already. She'd been turned down for Heathers and Great Balls Of Fire (both 1989 and both staring Winona Ryder) and would now miss out on Edward Scissorhands and Dracula, again both taken by Ryder. Beyond this she had a terrible audition for Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. Though she'd been advised by godfather Spielberg to just be the character, to let the outstanding natural actress within her do her work, she'd tried to act and bombed badly. The transition to teen and then adult actress was not going to be easy.
This was proven by the next role she'd receive, in No Place To Hide. Here a ballerina would be killed onstage, but not before asking little sister Barrymore to conceal a videotape of evidence. Tough cop Kris Kristofferson (like Drew a star presently on the wane) would try to place the girl in an orphanage but wind up looking after her and trying to save her from her sister's killer. He's lost his wife and kid in a car crash and she becomes a daughter to him, a daughter that he must teach to not be selfish, petulant and dress like a whore. Failing to win company confidence, the film would not be released till 1993, probably all for the best for Drew as, in pig-tails and with her breasts bound, this was not the adult part she craved. She'd move straight on to a cameo in Motorama, where kid Jordan Christopher Michael, tiring of his screaming parents, would fix up a device so he can reach the pedals and steal a car, crossing the country as he plays the game of the title, collecting cards from gas stations and hoping to win a $500 million prize. Along the way he meets a series of misfits, including Mary Woronov, Michael J Pollard and Jack Nance from Eraserhead, and arm-wrestles with angry biker Meat Loaf. Barrymore would appear for some five seconds in the boy's dreams. Beside palm trees and a sparkling sea, and clad in a pink bra, see-through hula skirt and a garland of flowers, she beckons him with her finger and enticingly calls "Come on in". Still only 16, she was certainly sufficiently developed to convince as a male fantasy.
Her next role would also be a cameo, in Waxwork II: Lost In Time. Following on from 1988's minor hit Waxwork, this would see Monika Schnarre accused of a murder committed by a disembodied hand and, with her boyfriend Zach Galligan, pass through a door into different time zones and, indeed, different horror film pastiches. The Haunting, Frankenstein, Alien and Roger Corman's Poe flicks would be sent up, with Drew and Hadria Lawner in a black and white film with the film, playing two virgins cowering on a bed in a take on Nosferatu. Back in the real world she'd briefly date apprentice sound engineer Leland Hayward, another child of controversial Hollywood royalty in that his grandmother was Margaret Sullavan, the talented actress who starred with James Stewart in Shopworn Angel where she sang Pack up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag. Briefly married to Henry Fonda and William Wyler she was also the mother-in-law of Dennis Hopper.
Now Barrymore would receive a script that would begin to change things. This was Poison Ivy, which began filming in May, 1991. Featuring Tom Skerritt, Cheryl Ladd (who'd replaced Drew's former co-star Farrah Fawcett in Charlie's Angels) and Sara Gilbert (half-sister of Little House On The Prairie star Melissa Gilbert), who'd found fame in 1988 with Roseanne, this would be the one to finally lay cute little Gertie from ET to rest. The film would open with Barrymore on a swing out over a ravine. With long, wavy hair, a short skirt and a fake tattoo on her upper thigh, she's clearly a teenager with attitude. Watching her is Gilbert, the lonely child of TV personality Skerritt and his dying beauty of a wife Ladd. Befriending the malleable Gilbert, Barrymore than sets about inveigling her way into Gilbert's family, even stealing the affections of Gilbert's dog. She begins to seduce Skerritt by masturbating him with her foot as Ladd lies sleeping beside them, then pushes Ladd from a balcony and seduces Skerritt for real by draping herself over the bonnet of his car in the rain, being caught by Gilbert as Skerritt takes her from behind by a piano. It could easily have been pure trash but it was actually well-played by all concerned. Skerritt was already grieving for a still-living wife, while Ladd was bitter at a death that had not happened and, refusing to let Skerritt near her, thus primed him for temptation. Gilbert would be confused and hurt, while Barrymore was damaged, too, by past events. Drinking, smoking, lying and cajoling, she could be both adult and little girl. she was resourceful in her plotting and far more sophisticated than Gilbert and, in a way, her father, too. Charismatic and sexy, she no longer a mere child star struggling to remain afloat.
This new persona would expose Barrymore to yet more controversy, her scenes with Skerritt, some 40 years her senior, causing much tabloid discussion. There was nothing untoward here, Drew's legal emancipation meant that she was viewed by a law as 2 years older than she was, and a double was used for breast shots, but still the talk continued. It would be inflamed, too, by Barrymore's actions when she had a much-publicized breast reduction operation, cutting down from DD due to back pain, and by a breast-to-breast magazine pose with model Rochelle Hunt. Furthermore there'd be a mighty furore when Jaid took her to a strip club where Drew was dragged up onstage and had her head pulled to the chest of transvestite Pippi La Rouge. Due to Barrymore's still tender age there was a huge rumpus about this and the club was closed the next day. For Barrymore, though, it would all be good publicity, changing the way she was seen by the American public and also making Poison Ivy a big hit on video. Now, it seemed, she was a wild child onscreen and off.
She'd next film Sketch Artist for Showtime TV, a thriller where Jeff Fahey, about to hit big with The Lawnmower Man, played the ID technician of the title. While following instructions to draw a murderess, he fears that his wife Sean Young may be the perp and decides to keep that secret till he does his own investigation, gradually becoming the main suspect himself. Directed by Phedon Papamichael, who'd been cinematographer on Poison Ivy and would later film Sideways and Walk The Line, the movie was a downbeat noir, Barrymore appearing as a witness to the original murder of a rich man, then a victim herself due to Fahey's subterfuge. As her career came back on track so her love life followed. Drew was now seeing Jamie Walters, an actor from Marblehead with a guidance counsellor mother, then hot after appearing in ads for Levi and also in Shout, set in the Fifties, where he was a teen rebel saved by John Travolta and rock and roll. The couple would get engaged in 1992, the same year Walters starred in TV show The Heights. He also sang the show's theme song, How Do You Talk To An Angel, which went to Number One and was nominated for an Emmy. Sadly Walters and Barrymore would split in 1993, Walters going on to sell a million of his debut album and star as Tori Spelling's musician boyfriend Ray Pruitt in Beverly Hills 90210. An example to all wannabe performers who chase their dreams for too long, he'd later become a paramedic and firefighter in Los Angeles.
Near the end of 1991, Drew had been offered the lead in the low-budget Gen X road thriller Guncrazy. Here she'd play an abused daughter in a trailer park, an unloved outsider. Having to find a pen pal for a school course, she decides to annoy everyone by writing to Chino inmate James LeGros. When he's released she tries to help him go straight but it all goes wrong and soon they're on the run. Barrymore uses sex as a way to attract love, but LeGros is impotent, so gunfire becomes a turn-on. Much deeper than the 1949 film on which it was loosely based, Guncrazy was less exploitation than sexy New Wave and saw Barrymore, who'd challenged the producers by hacking her hair off to play the part (and also drove herself to work despite being offered a chauffeur to ensure she got there on time), begin to garner good reviews. She'd also be nominated for a Golden Globe. The film would screen first on HBO then, due to a great reception, earn a limited cinema release.
With her fiance Jamie Walters doing so well in The Heights, Barrymore consider a move into TV and took Aaron Spelling's offer of a part in 2000 Malibu Road, intended as his follow-up to Beverly Hills 90210. Produced by Joel Schumacher, director of The Lost Boys and Flatliners, this would see four young women share a beach-front property owned by Lisa Hartman who's just quit as a call girl and needs to rent out rooms. Moving in are alcoholic criminal lawyer Jennifer Beals, sweet wannabe actress Barrymore and Tuesday Knight as Barrymore's scheming, tarot-reading, psychotic sister who'll do absolutely anything to make Drew a star. There'd be murder charges, rapes and beatings, Drew would sleep with Brian Bloom and Knight would be hit by lightning. Directed by Schumacher and created by Terry Louise Fisher who'd earlier come up with hit series LA Law, 2000 Malibu Road would receive good reviews for its double-episode premiere, and four more episodes would be ordered. Unfortunately, the producers could not agree on licensing and the series was too expensive for CBS to continue with it.
1993 would see the release of No Place To Hide and also of another picture she'd filmed some time ago. This was Doppelganger which opened with Drew in a black head scarf and shades stabbing her real-life mother Jaid to death in a posh New York apartment, sending her crashing through a pricey glass coffee table. Drew would then show up in LA where she'd sub-let a room from aspiring writer George Newbern (who'd just enjoyed a hit playing Steve Martin's soon-to-be son-in-law in Father Of The Bride). She'd seem edgy, suspicious and fearful and would gradually tell all about the violent deaths of her mother and father and about her traumatized and institutionalised brother. Her problem, she says, is the black-scarfed Drew, her murderous doppelganger. She forms a sexual relationship with Newburn, revealing much in bed and in the shower, but he's not sure about her story, oddly becoming more convinced after a brief and thoroughly unbelievable explanation of doppelgangers by ex-nun Sally Kellerman. He tries to protect Barrymore, who's being advised by her creepily tactile lawyer and doctor and suffering terrible flashbacks of sex and violence. As it reached its climax the film would change from psychological thriller to sci-fi horror as Barrymore fought Barrymore and some terrible monster FX were revealed, crossing Hellraiser with Drew's own ET. It had been far more impressive earlier, as a thriller, with Barrymore particularly effective as the doppelganger, very sexy in seducing Newbern and also affectingly strange as she draws him around the city with her weird, scuttling, child-like walk.
While Drew had been reinventing herself as a seductive teen, another troubled teenager had been hitting the headlines in the States. This was Amy Fisher, a High School student who, after an affair with auto body shop owner Joey Buttafuoco, went to her lover's house and shot his wife. Fisher would earn 5 to 15 years in jail, with Buttafuoco going down for four months for statutory rape. The multiple crimes involved in the story sent prurient American minds into overdrive and the Long Island Lolita story was everywhere. The mix of underage sex and violence, of course, seized Hollywood's imagination, too, and no fewer than three biopics went into production. Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco on May 19th, 1992 and the race was on. NBC would film from Fisher's point of view, making Amy Fisher: My Story, with Noelle Parker as Fisher. Then CBS's Casualties Of Love, with Alyssa Milano, would cover the Buttafuoco side of it, with ABC's The Amy Fisher Story, featuring Barrymore, taking a journalistic attitude. NBC would reach the screen first, on December 28th, 1992, and would have the highest-rating TV movie of the season so far. Then, for the first time ever, movies on the same subject would go head-to-head, ABC and CBS screening their offerings at the same time on January 3rd. Barrymore's version would win out, but both would score big ratings. NBC had screened interviews with Fisher on Dateline NBC for weeks beforehand, so the story had remained relevant.
This was the peak of what is referred to as Barrymore's "bad girl" period. Being Drew Barrymore, the ET girl in rehab, had meant that no one would dare cast her as anything else. Her real-life reputation precluded her from playing characters manifesting innocence, decency or even normality. Now that Poison Ivy and The Amy Fisher Story had taken her back into the public eye, she could begin to spread her wings. She was, after all, just 18.
Her next appearance, a cameo, would reveal a strong comic ability. In Wayne's World 2, Mike Myers' Wayne would dream of holding a rock festival, in Illinois - Waynestock. Publicity duties would take him and Dana Carvey's Garth to the studio of Harry Shearer's fabulously insincere DJ Handsome Dan. They'd meet Barrymore in reception as she was Bjergen Kjergen, the station secretary. Mystifyingly taken by Myers' telling her details of the annual rainfall in her home town and confessing he once got diarrhoea on a mini-trampoline, she huskily informs him that "I hope to make love to you in the near future". Next would come another cameo, this time in Inside The Goldmine. Inspired by the dark psychodramas of John Cassavetes, this starred and was directed by Josh Evans, like Drew a member of Hollywood royalty in that he was the son of Ali MacGraw and uber-producer Robert Evans. The film, like Less Than Zero, would explore the aimless lives of the youthful rich, Evans, who'd earlier played Tom Cruise's younger brother in Born On The 4th Of July, being a psychotic, womanising nutter. Evans' real-life girlfriend, Natasha Gregson Wagner, would appear as a waitress, with Barrymore popping up momentarily in shades and a stripey top as a New Age friend who tries to persuade Evans to take off to some spa, get off drugs and cleanse his aura.
In the spring of 1993, Barrymore had taken over from Anna Nicole Smith as the model for Guess jeans and would thus headline a massive campaign that would stretch into the next year, when she'd also model for Prada. In the late summer she'd be offered a chance to do something a little different when Tamra Davis, who'd directed her in Guncrazy, offered her a part in Bad Girls, a new female-fronted western, alongside Madeleine Stowe, Andie MacDowell, Mary Stuart Masterson and Guncrazy's James LeGros. As it was intended as a low-budget indie flick with New Line, Davis had control over casting but, when Fox bought the film and introduced a bigger budget, Drew's reputation would be called into question once again, and she'd have to audition. Having already spent three weeks in cowboy camp and ten days filming, the actors would now have to wait when Davis was sacked, the script was rewritten and Jonathan Kaplan, who'd directed The Accused and Stowe's recent hit Unlawful Entry, was brought onboard.
The movie saw the four female stars as prostitutes in the Old West. When Stowe shoots a drunken colonel molesting Masterson, the others rescue her from a lynch mob and they're on the run, chased by the law. Then they're involved in a bank robbery with violent crook James Russo who turns them over, the rest of the film seeing them try to retrieve their money. Barrymore would play the daughter of a circus trick rider and she duly chases a runaway wagon and leaps onto and calms the horses. An outsider, she hides her emotions, particularly her feelings for MacDowell. Later she's captured by the bad guys and shows cold-eyed defiance at their jibes. When she's forced to put on a slinky red dress to please an amorous Russo, she spits in his face. Rescued by Dermot Mulroney she rejoins her gang and they bargain with the crooks, swapping a Gatling gun for their money. While leaving, though, Barrymore is incensed by yet more jibes and shoots a crim, sparking a final gun-battle wherein she uses her riding tricks to good effect. With Davis gone and the budget raised the film had changed from a study of female relationships and become an action flick, a silly, cliched, horribly put-together and deeply unexciting action flick.
Now in control of her intakes, Barrymore was allowing herself the occasional beer or glass of wine. She was still seeing ASAP's Dr George Blair, more as a chance to vent her feelings rather than full-blown therapy, but had stopped attending AA meetings. She was ready for her next adventure. In February, 1994, as she turned 19, she began dating Jeremy Thomas, a 31-year-old Welsh ex-merchant navy man who owned hip bar The Room. Set in a back alley in a sketchy neighbourhood at 1626 North Cahuenga Boulevard, this was no celebrity hang-out and Barrymore loved it. She also no doubt loved her return to intoxicants. Five weeks into the relationship, at 2am of March 20th, 1994, Barrymore and Thomas called the wedding hotline and a minister was dispatched to the basement bar, marrying them at 5am. Drew Barrymore marries in a bar - the press went crazy. Fortunately, she would leave town for Tucson the very next day to continue filming her next picture, Boys On The Side.
This was directed by Herbert Ross, who'd helmed such hits as California Suite, The Goodbye Girl, The Turning Point and the smart mystery The Last Of Sheila. It would co-star Whoopi Goldberg, who Barrymore had met when visiting godfather Spielberg on the set of The Colour Purple, and Mary-Louise Parker. Concerning three women and their bonds and secrets, it would see AIDS victim Parker and sacked lesbian singer Goldberg drive across country to LA. Coming along too is Barrymore, once Goldberg's girlfriend and now pregnant by her abusive stoner boyfriend, Billy Wirth, who she biffs with a baseball bat. With the women believing they're on the run for murder, Thelma and Louise-style, Barrymore's the catalyst for the action and the revelations. Buzzing with energy, sweet and witty, she has an affair with Matthew McConaughey, playing a Tucson cop named Abraham Lincoln (the original Lincoln having, of course, been shot by a member of Drew's ancestor's theatre group).
Returning to LA, Barrymore would inform her new husband that she'd made a mistake. She'd only married him because she liked him so much and wanted him to get a green card. Just six weeks after their bar-room wedding she'd file for divorce. Deeply unhappy, Thomas would sue her and, after a year of wrangling, receive a substantial pay-off. Meanwhile, Bad Girls would be released to terrible reviews. With true Barrymore spirit, Drew decided that she needed more control over her future and so formed her own production company, Flower Films, with her assistant Kim Greitzer.
Barrymore's next film would take her straight to the heart of America's latest controversy. In April, 1994, rock star Kurt Cobain had committed shotgun suicide at his home in Seattle, the city where Drew was now filming Mad Love with director Antonia Bird. She'd also now begin a relationship with Eric Erlandson, guitarist with the band Hole whose leader, Courtney Love, was Cobain's widow. Featuring what was perhaps Barrymore's finest performance to date, the film would see her as a new kid at a Seattle high school, attracting the attention of schoolmate and neighbour Chris O'Donnell. He watches her through his telescope across the lake between their homes and they strike up a relationship. He's forced to take on the responsibilities of his dead mother and loves Barrymore's freedom as she wildly jet-skis and bounds around to 7 Year Bitch. So he's distressed when, after a bitter argument, her father has her placed in an institution. From here, O'Donnell breaks her out and they take off for Mexico, but her hitherto exciting games become evermore dangerous and she wrecks the car by covering his eyes as he drives and attempting to guide him down a mountain road. She's clearly manic and needs drugs, frightening O'Donnell and forcing him to accept that he can't deal with this situation at all. Barrymore would be highly praised for her efforts and rightly so. She made her Casey sexy, affectionate and independent, but also scared, vulnerable and paranoid. Never overplaying her moods, she was excellent when disappearing into depression and when fraught, clad in a nightdress and threatening O'Donnell with a revolver in the desert. The part would take much from her and she'd take a break by accompanying Erlandson and Hole as they supported Nine Inch Nails on their Self-Destruct tour.
Barrymore would then follow co-star Chris O'Donnell on to Batman Forever, the third in the franchise, with Michael Keaton being replaced as the Dark Knight by Val Kilmer and director Tim Burton by Drew's 2000 Malibu Road cohort Joel Schumacher. Aided by O'Donnell's Robin, Kilmer would be faced by the villainous team of Tommy Lee Jones' horribly scarred Two-Face and Jim Carrey's thoroughly loopy Riddler. Barrymore and Debi Mazar would feature as Two-Face's girlfriends (one for each face), Sugar and Spice, Mazar playing Spice in black with Barrymore being Sugar, dressed in fluffy pink and white, with curly blonde hair. She looked cute but proved a pest to the authorities, flirting with Bruce Wayne at a ball and tricking him into entering the Riddler's deadly mind machine. Critics would paste Schumacher for turning away from Tim Burton's gloomy vision, but the film would score the second highest gross of the year behind Toy Story, giving Schumacher licence to annoy his detractors further with Batman And Robin. After the shoot, Barrymore would take a three-week drive across country with her new associate in Flower films, Nancy Juvonen. Less positively, there'd be longstanding rumours that an on-set affair with Barrymore would lead to Kilmer's divorce from British actress Joanne Whalley.
Her infamy would grow further when she posed for photographer Ellen von Unwerth in the January, 1995 edition of Playboy, floating on a pool, lying in bed and lounging by an expensive car in white silk panties, showing her breasts. Barrymore brushed it off, saying the pictures would serve as a nice reminder of when she looked good, but godfather Spielberg resolutely disagreed, for her 20th birthday sending her a quilt and a note saying "Cover yourself up". Unrepentant, she'd soon be in the papers again for performing an impromptu strip at burlesque club The Blue Angel and would then, on the Letterman Show, demand music, climb onto the interviewer's desk and perform a little dance, culminating in her turning towards Letterman (and away from the cameras) and revealing her breasts. Though she'd accept such behaviour from herself, she'd be less keen when, that same year, her mother Jaid released the book Secrets Of World Class Lovers and then went full frontal in Playboy.
With Mad Love and Batman Forever released and Barrymore flashing the flesh with such abandon, she was certainly enjoying wide exposure (ho ho). There'd have been more, too, had she not turned down the lead in Showgirls. Barrymore was planning another picture with Tamra Davis, a road movie featuring recovering addicts called Sorrow Floats, but it came to nothing. Next she'd be asked to audition for Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You which she did several times, but Allen had trouble picturing her as a New York debutante. Producer Harvey Weinstein would then tell her she'd stand a better chance of getting the Allen movie if she appeared in Wishful Thinking, another Miramax picture. He proved to be correct.
Woody Allen was at the time on a strong run, his last four releases being Husbands And Wives, Manhattan Murder Mystery, Bullets Over Broadway and Mighty Aphrodite, films that had brought Oscar nominations to Judy Davis, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly and wins to Mira Sorvino and Dianne Wiest. It had to end sometime and it did with Everyone Says I Love You. The movie would concern the failed and successful romances of New York lawyer Alan Alda, his reformer wife Goldie Hawn, their kids and Hawn's ex, played by Allen himself. Barrymore would play the eldest daughter, being romanced by Edward Norton, a favoured young worker at Alda's firm. Norton struggles to come to grips with her sudden changes of life and career plans but proposes anyway, Barrymore proceeding to swallow the ring he has cunningly placed on her dessert. Later, when Hawn successfully campaigns to have Tim Roth released from jail, he comes to a party at her house, letches over all the women, young and old, and then, catching Barrymore alone on the terrace, chats her up in song and moves in on her, prompting her shocked "I've never been kissed by a sociopath". Leaving Norton, she moves on to Roth but is immediately involved in a jailbreak and armed robbery and is dumped in a wood, then returning to her former beloved.
Allen would surprise his cast by informing them late in the day that it was a musical. He wanted to pepper the movie with 1930s-style song and dance set-pieces and persuaded his actors that their non-professional voices would lend charm to the sequences. Barrymore was not convinced and, believing her singing voice to be beyond the pale, was the only character to be dubbed. She looked good in silk, though, and was spirited in joining in the many loud family discussions. Though diverting in places, it was a pretty poor film, with a weak storyline made less credible by a whining and unamusing Allen's successful romancing of the glamorous Hawn and Julia Roberts. Perhaps this movie might've been better titled Wishful Thinking, too, but that would be Barrymore's next picture. Reuniting her with James LeGros and Jennifer Beals, this would see LeGros as a cinema projectionist who won't commit to Beals but is nevertheless insanely jealous. Barrymore would appear as his quirky blonde co-worker who seeks tarot advice in trying to steal his heart and strips sexily in one black and white section. Writer and director Adam Park would tell the story from three different viewpoints and attempt to add strangeness and charm by having movies become real and inanimate objects talk to LeGros, but the film still fell quite flat. Barrymore was not pleased by the result, telling Harper's Bazaar that she felt manipulated by Harvey Weinstein. Well, at least she wouldn't be lonely.
More impressive would be Barrymore's turn in Scream, an effort by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson to update the horror genre. Drew was intended to be the star but, being unsure of the project's chances, decided instead to die first. How rebellious it would be to off the film's biggest name right at the start. So began a rather arduous two-week shoot where Barrymore would have the camera on her for most of the 12-minute sequence, eating popcorn by the TV, answering the phone, realising she's being stalked, getting angry then scared then attacked. Due to her performance, it became one of the great horror openings, the film becoming the highest grossing slasher pic ever and launching a major franchise.
Having split from Eric Erlandson, Barrymore would now at last reunite with director Tamra Davis, back on the up having made Billy Madison with Adam Sandler. The film would be Best Men where four friends would come to pick up Luke Wilson on his release from jail and take him to his wedding to Barrymore. Unfortunately for the happy couple, Sean Patrick Flanery asks to stop at the bank and raids it, involving all the others in a police stand-off. In white dress and bovver boots, Barrymore kicks two cops in the nuts and runs into the bank to join her fiance. Happily different from the usual Hollywood fare, the film would be released in October, 1997, and gradually win a release in other countries over the next couple of years. Keeping up her connection with the world of music, Barrymore would appear in videos by Bonnie Raitt and The Posies.
Secretly, Barrymore would now begin seeing Wilson, still building his career on from 1993's indie hit Bottle Rocket. Over the summer of 1996, she'd care for her rock pal Courtney Love, then just out of rehab. She'd also concentrate more on her work with Flower Films, the company now comprising just her and Nancy Jovonen. Having moved into production for the long haul, they'd turn down a vanity deal with Fox and hold out for something more substantial. She'd also gain some excellent publicity when, as president Bill Clinton turned 50, John Kennedy Jr had her pose as Marilyn Monroe on the cover of his magazine George, the strap-line reading "Happy birthday, Mr President". Interestingly, where that cover would see Barrymore as a sex symbol, the next year would see her on the cover of the first issue of Jane magazine whose editor, Jane Pratt, Barrymore had apparently dated. Thus she was clearly also seen as a go-getting, fun-loving role model for young girls. Now she had the best of both worlds, and Gertie was gone forever.
Barrymore's position within the industry would be strengthened by her next picture, The Wedding Singer, starring Adam Sandler. Here Sandler would play the crooner of the title, dumped at the altar by Angela Featherstone and deeply depressed. Meeting waitress Barrymore, he agrees to help her arrange her marriage to Matthew Glave, but comes to realise Glave is a braying, adulterous pig and Barrymore deserves someone who really cares. Set in the mid-Eighties, it was crammed with cultural references, but was basically a cute romance, a genre in which the immensely likeable Barrymore would excel for years to come. She was not classically beautiful, no Great Profile, but she was unmistakeably lovely, with luminous skin and true charisma. She could be graceful but also gratifyingly clumsy. She was easy to believe as a gorgeous girl-next-door, and very, very easy to like.
Featuring a cameo from Billy Idol, who'd attended her 10th birthday party in the Limelight 13 years before, The Wedding Singer would be the feel-good hit of summer 1998. Barrymore's next move would be to join her boyfriend Luke Wilson in the black comedy Home Fries. Here Wilson and Jake Busey would scare an unfaithful middle-aged man to death with a helicopter, under orders from his angry wife Catherine O'Hara. Thinking that the man's young mistress, a pregnant Barrymore, may know of the plot, Wilson gets a job in the drive-through burger joint where she works. She's sweet, straight and, naturally, he falls for her. It was comically convoluted indie fare and great fun.
Still seeing Wilson and spending time at his family's home in Fredericksburg, Texas, Barrymore would begin to use her fame to back her favourite causes, including PETA and the Female Health Foundation. Back in contact with her father, she'd set him up in a guest house in the grounds of her home in Coldwater Canyon. Signing Flower Films to a 2-year first-look deal with Fox 2000 Pictures, she'd have ten projects on the go at her new offices on Sunset Boulevard. She'd consider playing Brandon Teena in All She Wanted, later to be mortally disappointed when the movie was snapped up by Fox Searchlight, and made as Boys Don't Cry for which Hilary Swank would win an Oscar. Barrymore had told everyone the part was hers. There was also the possibility of Beyond The Sea, with Johnny Depp to play singer Bobby Darin and Barrymore Sandra Dee. Instead, Barrymore decided to appear in the fairy story Ever After for Fox, taking $3 million to play the lead. This would mean missing out on a reunion with Woody Allen in Celebrity, her part being taken, as it always used to be, by Winona Ryder.
Ever After, set in 16th Century Europe, would claim to be the true story of Cinderella, before it was rewritten by the brothers Grimm. Directed by Andy Tennant, who'd earlier helmed Drew's Amy Fisher Story, it would see Barrymore's father Jeroen Krabbe marry Anjelica Huston and promptly die, Barrymore being relegated to the position of family maid. Through a series of accidents and coincidences, she meets and falls for Dougray Scott's prince and a relationship grows. Unlike other versions, Ever After would not be a straight case of good versus evil, more a social fable of snobbery, manners and love. Its settings would be magnificent, and it would more than double its $26 million budget at the US box office, cementing Barrymore's fledgling relationship with Fox.
Now would come her first production with Flower Films, the rom-com Never Been Kissed. Here she'd play a mousey copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times who's so young-looking she's assigned to write an undercover report on High School life. Having failed badly at school first time around, this also gives her a chance to get it right. Occasionally flashing back to titter at her disastrous original schooldays, when she was spotty, unpopular and known as Josie Grossie, the film would concentrate on her efforts to win widespread popularity and also her forbidden love for English teacher Michael Vartan. With Barrymore dominating the posters, this was very much her movie, and it won out at the box office, again more than doubling its budget in US ticket sales, thereby launching Flower Films in fine style. Her next release would also be a Flower Film, this being Olive, The Other Reindeer, an animation made in conjunction with The Simpsons' Matt Groening. Also featuring Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer, this would see Barrymore voice a dog who mishears a call for help when Santa's reindeer Dasher is injured and takes off for the North Pole with a con-man penguin voiced by Joe Pantoliano. It was eccentric fun with clever jokes and catchy tunes, airing at Christmas, 1999. Barrymore was evidently not the best of singers, as she had earlier explained to Woody Allen, but the show nevertheless was Emmy-nominated.
Barrymore's following appearance was due to be in another cartoon, an episode of the TV series spin-off from Disney's Hercules, featuring James Woods as Hades. However, the number of episodes to be filmed was cut and so she missed out, instead lending her voice to the far more prestigious Titan AE. This was set in 3028AD, years after the Earth has been destroyed by an evil empire. Matt Damon would voice a colony bum drawn into a mission to search for the Titan of the title, a long-lost spaceship in which the earthling survivors fled. Leading the crew would be Bill Pullman, with the gang also featuring Barrymore as a perky, beautiful girl who collects artefacts from Earth and wants to save its heritage. Mixing CG effects with hand-drawn animation, the film looked superb, but its half-baked plot caused it to lose a fortune at the tills.
Barrymore would also make a cameo appearance in 2000 when she reunited once again with Tamra Davis for Skipped Parts, a Sixties-set comedy drama co-produced by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Here Leigh is the single mother of teenage Sam Callahan and is shipped off to a provincial town to avoid embarrassment for her politician father. While she forms another bad relationship, Callahan enters a union with Mischa Barton, the young couple attempting to have emotion-free sex for the sake of experience. It was a quirky morality tale that became more interesting as it turned darker. Barrymore, once again, would play a young lad's fantasy, as she had in Motorama. Here she'd appear in Callahan's dreams, once lying on a heavenly couch in black lace and saying "My man won't be home for another 20 minutes. Do you wanna do me again?" and then by the pool with a bunch of other babes telling him "I wanna have your baby".
Barrymore's big release of 2000, though, would be Charlie's Angels, her latest Flower Films release and her first with a genuinely eye-watering budget. Barrymore would play sexy action-girl Dylan and bring in her friend Cameron Diaz, whom she'd met back in the early Nineties when she was working in the coffee shop and Diaz was a model, as the nerdy Natalie. Thandie Newton would be signed as the classy, techie third Angel but, when Mission: Impossible 2 was delayed, Newton was forced to drop out and Lucy Liu was brought in. Barrymore would attempt to persuade the original Angels to take part but that deal would crumble when Farrah Fawcett, Barrymore's co-star in See You In The Morning, was over-demanding. John Forsythe's voice, though, would be used for Charlie. Barrymore had, of course, also earlier co-starred with Fawcett's angel replacement Cheryl Ladd.
It was a tough production for novice Barrymore. She'd split from Luke Wilson (he'd already been cast in the movie as Diaz's boyfriend) and had moved on to Jeremy Davies, earlier her co-star in Guncrazy. Meanwhile, her mother was still causing problems, this time by putting a cache of memorabilia up for sale, including Drew's baby clothes and Christmas cards from Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner. There was intense physical training to be done, six to eight hours a day, and there were script problems to be dealt with, with many different writers involved and changes still being made as filming began. Beyond this there was the question of the three stars' fees, and the tension between Liu and Bill Murray, who played Bosley. Liu was seriously unhappy with Murray's improvisational style. The pressure would build as the production crept over budget but Barrymore managed, somehow, to keep it together.
The movie would begin, in truly unlikely style, with an African prince tackling a bomber on a plane. Leaping out into fresh air, he lands safely and pulls off a rubber mask to reveal . . . Drew Barrymore. It was utterly absurd as the African prince was infinitely larger than the petite Barrymore, but this set the tone for the movie. It was deliberately OTT and tongue-in-cheek, its playful attitude keeping it in line with the camp TV series on which it was loosely based. Thus Barrymore would find herself dressed as an Austrian fraulein and as a man with beard, 'tache and specs. She'd also play the cutesy sex symbol, grabbing one man's attention by revealing cleavage and delivering a shocked "I've come undone!" and later hanging naked from a cliffside apartment then falling and rolling naked down a hill, covering herself with just a rubber ring as she knocks on a patio door, disturbing some delighted young lads. Fact fans would be interested to note that this was the very same house used to shoot ET. Of course, there'd also be action as the girls took on Crispin Glover's silent assassin and Barrymore would commit her fair share of battery, at one point beating the hell out of five tough guys.
Charlie's Angels, with its jokey line and wild pyrotechnics, would be a big hit worldwide, putting Barrymore on the map as a Hollywood player. She was also now involved in a new relationship. Having quickly split from Jeremy Davies, she'd taken up with Canadian comedian and actor Tom Green. Having begun a stand-up career at 15, he'd soon have his own show on public access TV, often playing pranks on his own unamused parents. In 1997 the show would be picked up by the Comedy Network and then, in 1999, by MTV. Now he'd often aim his tricks at foreigners and the elderly as pretty much everyone else knew who he was. Green would appear at the beginning of Charlie's Angels as Barrymore's boyfriend, the pair having spent the night on his boat, and he would improvise by falling into the water. To add yet more stress to Barrymore during this difficult production, he'd also be diagnosed with testicular cancer. This trauma would drag the couple together faster than usual (though Barrymore was clearly very, very fast on the draw anyway) and, in July, 2000, Green would have his proposal of marriage accepted.
Back onscreen, Barrymore would work once more with her Olive, The Other Reindeer co-producer Matt Groening on an episode of The Simpsons. Here Bart and Homer wreck Lisa's room with fireworks and, in recompense, take her to a book fair featuring John Updike and Drew's old mucker Stephen King. Also signing books is Krusty the clown and in his queue is a girl voiced by Barrymore who claims to be Krusty's long-lost daughter. Thus Krusty tries to bond with her at the beach and seeks parenting advice from Homer, only to lose Barrymore's violin in a poker game and have to steal it back from the mafia. There'd furthermore be another Flower Film, one of the finest films of 2001. This was Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko, set in a small town in Iowa, where schizo student Jake Gyllenhaal hears terrible warnings of destruction from a giant rabbit-creature while trying to deal with first love, family, bullying, medication censorship and death. Barrymore would appear as a progressive teacher, questioning her class on the meaning of Graham Greene's The Destructors for which she gets into trouble when there's a copycat flood at the school. She's earnest and curious and also mischievous. When new girl Jena Malone enters the classroom and asks where she should sit, Barrymore tells her to sit beside the boy she considers the cutest.
Richard Kelly had been turned down by everyone due to his lack of experience. In desperation he'd taken his project to Jason Schwartzman, the star of Rushmore, thinking he'd make a great Donnie and might help get the film made. Schwartzman's agent then sent it to Flower Films who decided to produce it independently. Barrymore's name would lend enough weight for Kelly to be allowed to direct. Then Schwartzman dropped out due to other commitments so Gyllenhaal was brought in. The strange and utterly compelling movie was taken to Sundance in January, 2001, where it was nominated for a Grand Jury prize. However, its full release in the autumn was wrecked by the September 11th attack on the World Trade Centre, its apocalyptic theme and jet engine falling from the sky not suiting the present mood of the nation. It would, though, become a major cult hit, launching the career of Gyllenhaal and boosting Flower Films' reputation for classy productions. With this one movie Barrymore had justified her company's existence, making up for the disappointment of missing out in auditions for the lead role of Satine in Moulin Rouge.
In November, 2000, Barrymore had appeared uncredited on Saturday Night Live alongside Tom Green. They'd proceed to tease the audience, claiming that they were going to get married at the end of the show. Barrymore seemed to get cold feet and left Green to finish the show on his own. No one was sure if it was real, perhaps not even Barrymore herself. Green had, after all, made a Tom Green Cancer Special, where he filmed himself right up to and including his testicular operation. He knew few bounds. This would be proven in 2001 with the release of his movie Freddy Got Fingered, where he came on like an angry, depraved Andy Kaufman, playing a cartoonist warring with father Rip Torn, dressing in a bloody stag skin, waving a newborn baby over his head, accusing his father of abuse and showing many, many animal penises. Some reviewers considered it a dadaist masterpiece, most though hated it for its gross-out excess. It was certainly right on the edge, asking questions, and would make a big profit on rental and DVD sales. Barrymore would appear in cameo as the receptionist at Dave Davidson's cartoon company. Though wild onscreen and despite often publicly announcing that they were already married and that Barrymore was pregnant, Green would prove a calming influence in Drew's life, even engineering a (brief) reconciliation with her mother, Jaid. Thus Barrymore and Green would marry on July 7th, 2001.
Barrymore's final release of 2001 would be Penny Marshall's Riding In Cars With Boys, Drew having to undergo a lengthy audition process to win the role. Joined by her former co-stars James Woods (Cat's Eye), Sara Gilbert (Poison Ivy) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko), here she'd play author Beverly Donofrio from 15 to 36. As a youngster she'd get pregnant by slacker substance abuser Steve Zahn, much to the displeasure of her police chief dad Woods, and would blame her son for her own misfortune. Then she'd embark on a harsh academic regime in order to give her son a start in life, but would still fail to give him real love, just as her parents had failed with her. It was a deceptively tough movie, dealing not simply with women struggling to survive the effects of men, but with the way life damages us and the way we let it.
To promote the movie, Barrymore would be set to host Saturday Night Live on October 19th, 2001. This would coincide with anthrax attacks on American citizens, one such package being opened in 30 Rock, the very building where SNL was filmed. At first Barrymore freaked out but was persuaded to continue with the show. The New York premiere of Riding In Cars With Boys would be cancelled, though, causing Barrymore to be severely criticized by popular shock jock Howard Stern. The film was intended to launch Barrymore as a serious dramatic actress, as Erin Brokovich had done for Julia Roberts. Sadly, it was too bleak to achieve that kind of popularity. By the end of the year her troubles would multiply when she quietly separated from husband Tom Green. Now a busy actress and producer, Barrymore was aiming for a more sedate existence while Green, a newcomer to Hollywood success, was out to party. Their desires and schedules formed too much of a separation. Soon Barrymore would be in a relationship with Fabrizio Moretti, drummer with The Strokes, a melodic garage rock band who'd just hit big with their album Is This It? Though he was five years her junior they'd stay together for the next five years.
Barrymore's next picture, filmed in Montreal, would be George Clooney's directorial debut, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind. Based on the memoirs of TV producer and personality Chuck Barris, this would see Sam Rockwell from Charlie's Angels inventing The Dating Game and The Gong Show and being accused of dumbing down the nation while simultaneously working as an assassin for the CIA. Early on, he'd sleep with TV assistant Maggie Gyllenhaal (another former Barrymore co-star) and, going to the fridge in her apartment, would meet her roomie, Drew. Sunny and funny, she says she's a sexual collector of nationalities and religions and they can ball if he likes. He does like, and they form an ongoing relationship in which her dreams of marriage are secondary to his career and his infidelities. In his other, possibly unreal, life as an operative, he has an affair with the glamorous and enigmatic Julia Roberts, who'd appeared in Drew's Everyone Says I Love You. Barrymore would be a sweet girl, becoming a hippie as time moves on and, though she's deeply hurt by Rockwell, it's she who comes to the hotel room where he's falling apart, trying to help him.
With most of Barrymore's acting roles now coming in films she also produced, her output would now fall. Her next picture would be a Charlie's Angels sequel, Full Throttle, where former Angel Demi Moore is out to sell a list of all the names and addresses from the Witness Protection Programme. There'd be many more explosions and an appearance by original Angel Jaclyn Smith, but the charm levels had dropped somewhat. The giant salaries paid to the three actresses to reprise their roles meant that the movie did not recover its budget at the US box office and therefore was not as profitable as the first movie. Even less successful would be Duplex, where Barrymore and Ben Stiller would play a young professional couple taking an apartment in Manhattan and being so disturbed by the antics of the old lady upstairs that they come to consider murder. Director Greg Mottola would be replaced with Danny DeVito during production. Mottola would later return with the pleasingly more successful Superbad, while Barrymore would find herself Razzie-nominated for Duplex, her second nomination after rather unfairly being given some of the blame for her former husband's Freddy Got Fingered.
Barrymore would move quickly on to a reunion with her Wedding Singer co-star Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates. Here Sandler would play a marine biologist at a sea world centre on Hawaii, who looks after dolphins but treats his lovers badly, keeping to one-nighters with holidaymakers. Meeting Barrymore he's charmed, then shocked when she forgets him by the very next day, much as he does to the women in his life. It turns out she has a memory problem and Sandler must be prepared to prove his love to her over and over again, and convince her father and friends that he's prepared to do so. It was smart, sincere and kind, Sandler leaving his usual rage behind and Barrymore being her usual winning self. The combination would deliver a $100 million hit. The same year, 2004, would see Barrymore receive an honour that would at last place her alongside her illustrious forebears, joining Lionel, Ethel and John on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. She'd also have a film made about her, Brian Herzlinger documenting his efforts to meet her in My Date With Drew.
Next would come Fever Pitch, a remake of the 1997 Colin Firth-starring take on Nick Hornby's book. Directed by the notorious Farrelly brothers, this would see Jimmy Fallon as a manic Red Sox fan trying to keep a relationship with business executive Drew going during the Sox's classic 2004 season. In turn, Barrymore would have to work to understand her new man, and would wonder if he was worth the bother. Again the combination would work. Barrymore would also now begin a run of occasional appearances on the hit cartoon show Family Guy, playing a dopey bulimic who enjoys a mostly sexual relationship with Brian and believes lemons are killed to make lemonade.
Barrymore's only appearance of 2006 would be vocal when she lent her voice to the popular cartoon Curious George. Here she'd play the teacher girlfriend of Will Ferrell's Man In the Yellow Hat, who befriends the child-like monkey of the title and tries to save a New York museum. The next year would bring two releases, first the Flower film Music And Lyrics, then Curtis Hanson's Lucky You. The first of these would see Hugh Grant as a washed-up Eighties popstar, on the treadmill of state fairs and High School reunions, who's asked to provide songs for an up-and-coming starlet. He hasn't much time and begins to panic, but is helped by Barrymore, a writer who's filling in for a friend and watering his plants. As they work together , the roguish Grant recognises the ability of the cheerful but insecure Barrymore and, of course, a bond forms between them. It would be a minor hit, with Barrymore paying herself some $15 million, slightly more than she'd awarded herself for Charlie's Angels 2. As star wages across the industry had been falling dramatically, self-production was making more and more sense.
Lucky You, on the other hand, was a mid-budget failure. Here Barrymore would play a young girl just into Vegas from Bakersfield, following her dream of being a singer. Scoring her first pro job at Dino's, she'd live with sister Debra Messing till she got her own place. Now she meets obsessive gambler Eric Bana who's trying to win enough to join in the World Championship of Poker where he hopes to meet and defeat his father, Robert Duvall. Barrymore backs him in his rash enterprises, even returning to him after he steals from her, and generally acts as the movie's moral heart. Duvall has taught Bana how to survive at the table, but Barrymore shows him how to live in the world. Once again, she manifested that sexy girl-next-door appeal and sang most appealingly given her past fears, but the movie, overly keen to teach us about the game of poker, failed to excite. Back in the real world, Barrymore would begin a relationship with actor Justin Long
Still, Barrymore was on the up, most of her films scoring highly at the box office. Her next, Disney's Beverly Hills Chihuahua would see her voice a pampered pooch in diamonds and booties, owned by cosmetics entrepreneur Jamie Lee Curtis. Left with Curtis's niece Piper Perabo, she's kidnapped on a trip to Mexico and winds up in the world of dog-fighting, learning humility as she's introduced to the real world. Following this would come another Flower Film, the ensemble piece He's Just Not That Into You, where Barrymore, Ginnifer Goodwin, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Connelly would all be looking for love and commitment, Aniston's sick father being played by Barrymore's No Place To Hide co-star Kris Kristofferson. Justin Long would also feature. Barrymore would work in ad sales at a newspaper, in one excellent monologue bemoaning the confusion caused by different forms of communication. Constantly surrounded by gay guys, she has little chance of success with men and, sweet, free-spirited and trusting, she only ever attracts smoothies. As with Beverly hill Chihuahua, the film would approach the $100 million mark at the US box office, swelling the coffers at Flower Films, widening Barrymore's choices.
Though Flower Films was proving a success, Barrymore would obtain her finest role yet outside the company and, indeed, outside of cinema. This was in HBO's Grey Gardens, based on a famous 1975 documentary about an aunt and cousin of Jackie Kennedy who lived bizarre lives of loneliness and nostalgia in a derelict mansion in East Hampton. Both named Edith Beale, Jessica Lange would play the older, Barrymore the younger. The film would flashback to when a young Barrymore rebelled against family convention and escaped to New York to seek fame, being caught and sent home by her father after a heart-breaking affair with a married Daniel Baldwin. Now she lives in squalor with her mother in a beautiful house, a bald, weird woman-child, dressed in mink and rags, reliving over and over the golden days gone by when she, and not Jackie, might have been First Lady. The production would be gloriously well-received, with Barrymore winning a Golden Globe and Lange being nominated, and their positions being reversed at the Emmys. Coincidentally, she'd receive her Golden Globe at the same time as Jeff Bridges, her co-star some 20 years before, won for Crazy Heart. Finally, Barrymore had been recognised for her dramatic work in an adult role.
Now Barrymore would add yet another string to her bow, both producing and directing Whip It, featuring Ellen Page, Marcia Gay harden, Kristen Wiig and Juliette Lewis, who'd lost out to Barrymore for ET but beat her to Cape Fear. Here Page would play a small-town Texas girl pushed towards beauty pageants by her mother Harden. Instead, she runs off to join the Roller Derby, joining Barrymore's team in Austin, finding excitement, a rocker boyfriend and a new family. Barrymore would pack a lot in, this light-hearted comedy covering both sport and romance, as well as dealing, quite reasonably given Barrymore's past, with the mother/daughter relationship. Over 150 years before, at Philadelphia's Arch Street Theatre, Barrymore's ancestor Mrs John Drew had created and run one of America's finest ensembles. Now Drew, by producing, directing and acting in her own movies, was building a similar position for herself in modern Hollywood. She was living up to her name, and no mistake.
2009 would also see Barrymore act as executive producer of the TV reality show Tough Love, attempting to help women with their issues with men. And she'd appear in Everybody's Fine, a remake of Tornatore's 1990 classic Stanno Tutti Bene. Here recent widower Robert De Niro would come to recognise that the only contact he had with his children was through his dead wife, and so he sets off to visit them all - high-flying advertising exec Kate Beckinsale, classical musician Sam Rockwell (from Charlie's Angels and Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind) and Vegas dancer Drew. Barrymore's role would be central as she'd be the one to confront De Niro over his parenting (possibly this drew her to the role in the first place), and push him to change his ideas about their lives and his own.
Come 2010, she'd appear in Going The Distance where she and former boyfriend Justin Long would play a young couple enjoying a summer fling in New York. He should stay in town for his job, she should leave for San Francisco. His slacker friends tell him to break it up, her married and overprotective sister, Christina Applegate, is scared Barrymore's found another bad one. Can they resolve their problems and find true love?
Given her early tumultuous years, there was every chance that Drew Barrymore would squander the chance she was given by Steven Spielberg at the age of 6. However, she exhibited true talent and bravery in reinventing herself as a teen star, an adult comedienne then a dramatic actress, as well as a producer, director and industry mover and shaker. She's a sex symbol, a feminist role model, intensely likeable. We've not seen the best of her yet.