From child star to wild child to movie mogul, Drew Barrymore has done it all. Part of an American acting dynasty, she was a star at the age of six and was in and out of rehab before her thirteenth birthday. But unlike a lot of child stars, she pulled herself out of the spiral of addiction, legally emancipated herself from her parents at fifteen and struck out on her own. She’s achieved a near-impossible feat: a thirty-year career that’s only getting stronger. Her production company, Flower Films, has taken in roughly $900 million from the ten hit films she has produced. Now she’s adding director to her resume, with her girl-power film Whip It! We’ve dug up a few facts you didn’t know about America’s Sweetheart, but beware—you’ll fall more in love with her than ever before. After all, who wouldn’t want Drew to be their best friend?
1. She says she isn’t competitive.
Drew may be an incredibly successful actress and producer (and possibly director—see Whip It! to find out), but she claims a competitive edge has nothing to do with it: “I like teams—I like buddies. I don’t understand women who are competitive, apart from positive forums like athletics. One person is a powerful thing, but a tribe is unstoppable.”
2. She’s thirty-four, but is only just starting to feel like an adult.
Drew began working when she was just eleven months old, and her career kicked into high gear with 1982’s E.T., when she was only six. Despite a thirty-year career and a mega-roller-coaster ride of an adolescence, she hardly feels like a grown-up.
“My twenties were about exploring love and being a wildflower and trying to figure everything out,” she told Glamour in 2007. “I still don’t feel like a woman. I wonder when that moment’s going to hit. Am I going to be making eggs in my kitchen and all of a sudden it’s going to dawn on me that I’m a woman?”
Apparently, it has. She says she feels like she’s finally growing up. “I’ve always wondered what it felt like to be an adult, because I’ve always had to mother myself,” she said in a September issue of Parade. “I think I finally am one.”
3. Her sunny disposition doesn’t come naturally.
Drew has a sparkling smile that lights up a room (and a movie screen), and her relentlessly cheerful attitude seems to be the secret to her success. Yet, she says, sunny is not her natural state. “I’m willing myself to be happy,” she said last month. “I do feel as if I am thrusting myself forward all the time.” Drew says her business partner in Flower Films, Nancy Juvonen (who is married to Jimmy Fallon), was the one who inspired her attitude. “Nancy had on her refrigerator this sign HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. When I first saw it, I thought, ‘That is so simple and yet complex and wise.’”
4. She loves Halloween—but it’s not about the candy.
It isn’t surprising to hear of an actress who loves Halloween—after all, hasn’t Drew devoted her life to playing characters? But there’s a bit more to it than that. “I love my life. I really do,” she told InStyle. “But there are moments I battle with it. Some days I want nothing more than a brilliant mask so I could look like someone else and go wander the streets and be free. I’m very peeved Halloween only comes once a year.”
5. She has had to beg for work.
Drew took on the challenging role of “Little” Edie Beale for HBO’s Grey Gardens last spring, but her notoriety and mile-long resume weren’t enough to get her in the door. She was prepared to beg director Michael Sucsy for the role, and he was reluctant to even meet with her about the film. “Drew hadn’t done anything as demandingly dramatic as this,” Sucsy told Elle in April. “Edie was a model, statuesque and whatnot. At the time, I didn’t see Drew that way.”
“I knew this was not a courtesy meeting, but not far from it,” Drew says of her meeting with the director. She told Elle that she had filled a binder with research and notes for the character, and that she handed it over to Sucsy. “He started looking through my binder, and I saw his demeanor change.”
6. She loves board games.
Goofball Drew is a big fan of the nerdy (yet fabulous!) board game Cranium, and has been known to host game nights at her Hollywood home—and even abroad. When she vacationed with Whip It!’s Ellen Page for New Year’s, they skipped doing tequila shots at their hotel bar in Mexico to spend a wild night in: “We played Cranium, and I teamed up with [musician] Har Mar Superstar, and we were destroyed.”
7. Her godfather is the godfather (of movies).
Drew’s godfather is Hollywood powerhouse Steven Spielberg, who directed her in 1982’s E.T. “Drew and I were like dad and daughter,” he told W magazine, “and this was four years before I had any children of my own.” Drew recounts the power of that relationship: “I came to the profound understanding that I had found my place, so I wasn’t going to let it go for anything in the world. For me it was survival.”
Always the paternal figure, Spielberg once sent her a quilt for her birthday, with images from a Playboy shoot she did (the images were doctored so she appeared to be wearing clothes) and a note that read, “Cover yourself up.” Spielberg supports her to this day, and said of her directorial debut: “I was not surprised that she knew exactly where to put the camera, because at six years old she was telling me where she thought I should put the camera.”
8. She’s a major philanthropist.
Drew was recently crowned the World Food Programme ‘s Ambassador Against Hunger and donated $1 million of her own money to help the WFP feed children in Kenya. “I have seen with my own eyes what a difference a simple cup of nutritious porridge can make in a child’s life,” she said.
9. She’s not relationship savvy.
“I don’t know s**t about how to make a relationship work—I’m totally in the dark,” Drew, who’s been in an on/off relationship with Justin Long, said in an interview with Marie Claire. “And I’m surprised. I didn’t know this was what my thirties were going to be like.”
By Kathryn H. Cusimano for BettyConfidential