Balancing Act (Part 1)

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Life is good for Drew Barrymore. She’s got a cute beau, a hot film production company, a circle of fab friends and, at last, a life that’s on an even keel. Here, she reveals how she got so happy


Drew Barrymore landed her first role – in a pet food advert – when she was just 11 months old. The precocious tot endeared herself to the producers by laughing, not crying, when the canine star tried to bite her. The first sign of a future daredevil – or a hint of what Steven Spielberg has called her tenacious optimism? It’s true: Drew tends to look on the bright side and can persuade others to see it too.

Today, as she settles into an overstuffed chair at her LA production company Flower Films, wearing skinny jeans, no make-up, an ombre bob and brown granny boots, Drew displays the same childlike exuberance when describing her tightknit group of friends. There’s business partner Nancy Juvonen, Nancy’s husband Jimmy Fallon and Cameron Diaz (the two have been friends since they were teenagers).

And let’s not forget her new fiancé and boyfriend of one year, art consultant Will Kopelman. “It’s just the best!” says Drew. “We go on group trips and spend holidays together – there’s a lot of love! And that is really nice and very different from the way I grew up, which was more unstable and inconsistent, with a lot of highs and lows, “she says, more serious now. “It’s funny, when I was younger; I used to say that I’d hate a flat line – that I want the ups and downs, the roller coaster. But I’m actually really enjoying the flat line.”

Is it any wonder? Since her scene-stealing turn as a wide-eyed Gertie in ET: the Extra Terrestrial in 1982, Drew has had a wild ride. She’s appeared in more than 50 films, produced ten and has learnt her craft from some of the country’s best directors, from Spielberg to Woody Allen. We’ve been rooting for her more than three decades, through good seasons (her 2010 Golden Globe-winning Little Edie in Grey Gardens, for instance) and not so great (rehab at 13; short-lived marriages to bar owner Jeremy Thomas in 1994 and comic Tom Green in 2001). “Drew’s the poster child for survival in a turbulent business.” says Ken Kwapis, who directed her in current rescue-adventure film Big Miracle. “She’s fierce and delicate. That’s why she appeals to people.”

On the strength of that charisma, she’s become a true polymath – actor, producer, director philanthropist and CoverGirl spokewoman (she’s been affiliated with the US cosmetics company since 2007)/ To millions, she is the girlfriend they wish they had. “Drew is so beautiful,” says Kwapis, “but you feel like you could go out for a beer with her.” Chris Miller, co-president of Flower Films, agrees. “She’s so forthcoming,” he says. “People feel safe around her. Guys like her and girls like her. You wouldn’t be afraid to leave her alone with your boyfriend.”

Beneath the bubbly façade, however, there’s something else: an extremely driven (albeit tiny, at 5ft 4in in stockinged feet) power player.

Colleagues marvel at her work ethic and attention to detail and how every aspect of her life is insanely thought-out, from where she’s going to dinner to what scripts she’s considering. “I don’t know if it stems from a childhood that was chaotic and rushed,” says Miller, “but Drew loves the process – the luxury of holding on to something, sleeping on it, rereading a script and researching it. When she became a producer and director, her process stayed the same. She has such authenticity.”

As Drew elaborates on her current projects, it’s easy to understand what her friends are talking about. Disarmingly warm and direct in person, she expresses agreement with a zealous “I love you!” She is equally at home chatting about the beloved discontinued boots on her feet (“they’re the best height on the leg – not too high, not too low”) as she is discussing the existential remifications of modern technology.

“People just breathe differently now,” she says, huffing and puffing, like she’s racing to clock a tweet or update a Facebook profile. “I miss the Pony Express, when you had to wait to get a response to a letter.” She speaks in energetic paragraphs, an impassioned steam of consciousness laced with California slang. Of her decision to create a short film recently for the band Best Coast, she says, “I kept Shazaming them in different places. It was the same band coming up again and again, so clearly I love them. And then, they randomly asked me to make a video. And I hadn’t directed a music video before and I always wanted to – my God – since I saw that flag planted on, you know, MTV planet!”

When Drew emerges from her second-floor office into the open-plan arrangement of Flower Films, the younger staff members turn with expectant expressions, like schoolchildren whose mother has just come home from work. The atmosphere is bustling, fun, homely and more than a little bit quirky. Just off a long corridor, where movie posters for Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Never Been Kissed and 50 First Dates hang on the wall, is the downstairs bathroom; a small framed oil painting of Adam Sandler sits on the back of the toilet. In the room on the right, there’s a washer and dryer and basket of clean, neatly folded clothes (some of the employees didn’t have washing machines at home, so Drew had the appliances installed). “Flower Films is a business,” says Miller, who’s been with the company for 13 years. “But it’s like a family too.”

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