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Cinema: Too Good To Be Drew?

3 minute read
Jeffrey Ressner

You can tell a new generation is due in Hollywood when actresses who used to play kooky nymphets start portraying earnest newspaper reporters. That’s what will happen in Never Been Kissed, a comedy shooting in Los Angeles that stars Drew Barrymore as an aspiring journalist who goes undercover to write about–you guessed it–high school students. “I’m at an interesting place,” explains Barrymore, 23. “I’m numerically and biologically young, but I feel so much older because I’ve lived a fast life. I’ve been in the working rat race my whole life too, and that always ages you in a great way.”

Barrymore made her first movie splash as the wide-eyed little girl who befriended E.T. 16 years ago, which qualifies her as a sort of cool elder sister for the new group of Hollywood teens. With a stream of increasingly grownup movie parts, she’s not a bad role model. After a 1996 cameo in Scream and a perky co-starring role in The Wedding Singer, she stars in Ever After, a sweet feminist remake of Cinderella that opens this weekend, and plays a pregnant fast-food clerk in the quirky black comedy Home Fries, coming later this year. She makes a reported $3 million a picture, has her own production deal at Fox, and is being courted for dramatic roles, including the part of tormented actress Sandra Dee in a Bobby Darin biopic.

Barrymore has done some maturing offscreen as well. “I’m becoming that dork I couldn’t stand when I was a kid,” she says, while diving into a Korean dinner of barbecued mushrooms. “One Saturday night I found myself watching The Capital Gang on CNN. I was like, ‘Oh my God! What is going on, and who have I become?'” Anyone who’s ever read a tabloid knows how Drew–granddaughter of acting legend John Barrymore–bounced back from prepubescent drug and alcohol problems to become a sober-but-still-free-spirited teenage wild child. She doesn’t regret much, certainly not baring her breasts to David Letterman or showing off her butterfly tattoos in Playboy. “When I’m 40, I’m going to get the biggest kick out of looking at that,” she laughs. If any scars from her childhood remain, they lie in the self-imposed estrangement from her mother. “Some days it hurts and I’ll feel kind of lonely, but 99% of the time I’m routinely, mechanically, monotonously into the routine of not having a family life.”

For now, home life means spending time with a menagerie of pets and her steady boyfriend, actor Luke Wilson (Bottle Rocket), at her newly converted barn tucked away in a Los Angeles canyon. She has managed to turn her movie teams into cozy families as well: during the filming of Ever After, in an isolated village in France, she endeared herself to the crew by supplementing the set’s meager craft-services table with fresh fruits and sandwiches. A strict vegetarian who objects to harming animals, Barrymore also believes in the spiritual power of auras, karma, energy fields and the like. Maybe that’s why she has lately veered away from bad-girl roles and is looking for new projects that inspire her. “Upsetting movies scratch my psyche the wrong way,” she says. “I want to laugh and escape and see love and romance. That’s where I’m at.” Doesn’t sound dorky to us.

–By Jeffrey Ressner

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