Friday, June 24, 2005

Elle January 04 - Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore can do no wrong. At least no one would think of holding it against her if she did. Allison Glock gets a glimpse of the power in the pure of heart as Barrymore, costar of next month's 50 First Dates, opens up about love, life, and, well, loving life.

Drew Barrymore's face is sagging. This is what she believes. “Look, here in the corner, by my mouth.” She tugs at her cheek. “It's crepey.” It is not. “I discovered it in an airplane bathroom. You know how every birthday you look to see if you're getting older? And here it was, nowhere near my birthday, and this change was occurring. I went back to my seat a little shaky. But I'm pushing 30, so okay, this is what happens.”

Barrymore is 28, which technically is pushing 30, but because she looks 16 it's hard to feel the pity. She's just wrapped 50 First Dates, a romantic comedy costarring Adam Sandler, with whom she last paired in 1998's hit The Wedding Singer. In that movie, Barrymore played a girl so adorable she stayed cute even after vomiting in a nightclub bathroom. In the new film, she plays a girl so adorable that her short-term memory loss only adds to her appeal.

Barrymore thinks people will enjoy 50 First Dates because it is “so romantic,” and she believes with all her heart that the world would be much improved if we strived to be a bit less jaded and spent more time “sprinkling a little fairy dust around.” More likely, people will enjoy the movie because it stars Drew Barrymore, and fairy dust or no, Barrymore is the most lovable actress in Hollywood.

1. If anyone else said it, you would groan
“I think happiness is a choice,” Barrymore says, tucked into a booth at Pete's Tavern in New York City. In person, she is barely distinguishable from the characters she often plays: warm, big-hearted next-door girls with a robust sense of humor and a shocking lack of ego (see Never Been Kissed, Everyone Says I Love You, Riding in Cars With Boys, Boys on the Side, Home Fries, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind).

“I believe luck is in your attitude,” she continues. “It sounds like a really annoying bumper sticker. But there is such a great truth in that. You choose how you want to feel about what happens to you.”

Barrymore knows all about choices, having lived in the public eye since age seven, when she played Gertie in E.T. She has made all the requisite stops on the failed-child-star bus tour—dramatic, combustible romances (with Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson and former husbands comedian Tom Green and Welsh bar owner Jeremy Thomas), a distant father, a Playboy pictorial (followed by her estranged mother's own spread), teen rehab (for coke and booze)—and yet by any measure, Barrymore is a success. She is healthy and optimistic. Her movies make money (the Charlie's Angels film franchise has made more than $500 million worldwide). On-screen and off, Barrymore's charm is incontrovertible and stays so regardless of whether she engages in hobby stripping, weds hastily and often, or speaks publicly against the war in Iraq. At the end of the day, nobody doesn't like Drew Barrymore.

“I've seen so much, it would be easy for me to get cynical,” she says. “I've always wanted to be one of those dramatic people who gets so depressed and stays in bed for three weeks and my friends come rescue me—this whole indulgent show. But I can't last two minutes in bed. I always rush to start my day. My friends never get the chance to save me.”

2. I'll have what she's having

Barrymore says beautiful a lot. It is one of her favorite adjectives. Texas is beautiful. So are hermit crabs. And clouds. And her dogs. And girlfriends. And trains. And UGG boots. And kissing. “About a month ago, I had the best kiss of my life,” she says. “I had anticipated this perfect moment where, like the poets say, the stars stream across the sky and the sun comes shining in. I had one of those with my boyfriend, and it was true heaven. I can't believe I'm talking about it.” Her boyfriend of almost two years, 23-year-old Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti, is “beautiful.” He is also, apparently, a “beautiful kisser.” Barrymore continues, “My boyfriend is my best friend. I feel comfortable with him. For the first time, I feel like I don't have to be perfect.” Of her past partners, she says only, “I'm glad I'm not with the wrong people anymore” and “It's such a painful way to live when you let someone else control your happiness.” On her present relationship, there is no stopping her. “I'm a total romantic. I believe you can meet someone who encompasses everything you want, who can actually be the sexiest person and your best friend and take care of you and fart with you and laugh. The two of you become this beautiful island that is so sacred.”

She giggles, lowering her head to her chest. “I so want a family. But I want to make sure I do it with someone amazing. I feel like my boyfriend is the right person. But I don't want to make a mistake. I've been a wanderer so much of my life, and I want a place where I feel like I belong. And I'm approaching my thirties and my face is creping, so I'm definitely starting to think about it.”

At times, listening to Barrymore talk is like trying to do trigonometry in your head. You know it makes sense somehow, but you can get a migraine attempting to connect the dots. The waiter is eavesdropping. He has been working his faux ambivalence so hard one fears a cramp. Barrymore, solicitous and munificent even when asking for another glass of sparkling water, has so captivated him that he nearly trips over a chair when he leaves the table.

“Are you okay?” Barrymore asks.


“Is the soup any good? I know you'll tell me the truth.”


She says his name, drawing out the syllables, then smiles and tilts her head.

“No. Not. It's okay.”

“How about the shrimp?”

He exhales, his face brightens. “They're fresh. Really fresh.”

“Oooh, yeah! I'll have the shrimp cocktail. Thank you so, so much.”

“No problem. I'll be right back with, uh—I'll be right back.” When made aware of the waiter's crush, Barrymore is skeptical.

“Really? I never notice that stuff.

I'm too much of a dork.” She takes a bite of cracker.

“Are there poppy seeds in my teeth?” she asks. There are not. “I have a big policy with my friends of checking my teeth. I even get in there and do the side action.” She demonstrates, looping in her index finger and fanning out her cheeks with dental aggression. “Anyone who leaves you hanging with food in your teeth, don't trust them. Either they're pussyfooters or they're not going out of their way to help you, and that's a little evil.”

3. The name of the game is Death Is Not an Option
Barrymore suggests a game. You're given two choices and you must pick one, like selecting between Brad Pitt and Steve McQueen, or between being able to fly and breathe underwater.

Barrymore prefers monogamy over swinging. “If you really love someone, it would be heartbreaking to imagine them with someone else.”

Therapy over religion. “But I could never go to a therapist who is a yes-man. 'Oh, you're great, you're fine.' F--- that. I have an hour, I want to hear what the f--- is wrong with me so I can fix it. I like a nice Western whipping.”

She'd prefer to be a gifted singer over an amazing dancer. “I'd rather be fat, sitting on a stool, singing my heart out.”

Deaf instead of blind. Blurry over focused. “I don't need to see everyone's zits. The world could use a little lack of focus.”

Reconciliation instead of pouting. “Anyone who goes to bed angry is a f---ing prick.”

She'd choose to suffer from Tourette's rather than agoraphobia. “I like the total lack of control. If you're agoraphobic, you could have Tourette's and nobody would know. Better to get out there and mingle.”

No teeth over no hair.

The beach over the mountains.

Kissing over sex. Even if that's it for life? Barrymore doesn't hesitate. “Absolutely. I would rather be deaf and kissing at the beach with no teeth and a great updo.”

She prefers sunsets over sunrises, spring over fall, color over black-and-white, cheese over ice cream, books over magazines, pants over skirts (“I have legs like a corgi”), and her breasts over her bum. “It seems men are really ass-oriented, but if I have to choose, I'd say boobs.” She smiles. “But I have both. I have the T and the A.” And then: “You have a nice rack. I'm sorry, but I noticed it right away.” At this point the waiter arrives with the shrimp and nearly collapses onto the table.

Later, Barrymore explains what she thinks are the key differences between men and women. “Men don't nitpick; they're much freer. I like how when men leave for the evening, they never have to take anything with them. When they get a pimple, it's like, Yeah, I have a pimple, deal with it. Boys have fun. They're more unruly. But then I like how thoughtful and intricate women are. Girls talk. They put their shit out there.”

So would you rather be complicated and tortured or simple and happy? “I would always choose complicated and tortured, yet I'm pissed off when people just won't be happy. A sulker is such a downer. They're a prick in the balloon every time. Just be happy!”

4. The Hollywood ending
In her car on the way home, Barrymore smokes a cigarette with the window down. She's talking about George W. Bush. “I feel like if we could see him right now, he'd be frying ants with a magnifying glass.” It hurts her heart, all the vitriol in the world. “I saw this commercial the other night for weed killer, and there were these of dying dandelions, and it was like the ad was saying these flowers don't belong on this planet. It made me so sad.” When it was over, Barrymore knocked wood. “I do it whenever I have a dark thought. I was in a gym the other night, and there was no wood. I had to knock a sign, but it was laminated, so I was concerned that I wasn't getting to the core.” She smiles. “This is really sickly revealing of my OCD. I get out of bed in the middle of the night to do it. It's out of control. I just want to make sure everyone is safe and happy as I go quietly crazy.” She is laughing now, the angst gone as quickly as the cigarette.

“I could have been a miserable failure,” she says gleefully. “I haven't had anybody looking over me, and I've found my own way through optimistic exploration and fire-burning mistakes. I am a very happy person with an extraordinary life, so I must be doing a lot of things right. I really believe when you peel away the layers, the world is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people.”

Barrymore exhales the last of the smoke into the wet city air. Outside, pedestrians are gawking into the open window, nudging and pointing at the car and the girl sitting inside, her hair mussed and damp, eyes gazing upward, elsewhere, oblivious to their attention.