Drew Barrymore: 'I suck at acting' and 9 other highlights from her 'Howard Stern' interview
Howard Stern has had a lot of guests in the studio this year that would have been all but unthinkable a few years ago: Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ellen DeGeneres...and now Drew Barrymore, who sat down with Howard on Tuesday to promote her new memoir "Wildflower," which chronicles her fascinating life as a beloved child actor-turned-down and out Hollywood pariah-turned-A-list box office superstar. I caught the interview yesterday evening and was glued to my earbuds. Here are 10 highlights from the in-depth chat (with relevant audio clips).
1. "E.T." wasn't the only Steven Spielberg movie she appeared in.
"[Spielberg] didn't abandon me [after 'E.T.']. I was on 'The Color Purple' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and, you know, I would get to get dressed up in costumes. I'm actually in some of those movies in the background. I'm not kidding."
(Note: Drew was most likely referring to "Temple of Doom," since "Raiders" was shot well before "E.T.")
Steven Spielberg and Drew Barrymore on the set of "E.T."
2. She calls the "semen" gargling scene in "Private Parts" "one of the most brilliant scenes in cinema history" -- and even included it in a film reel she put together for Sony Pictures when she was pitching her vision for "Charlie's Angels."
Barrymore: "I put together a film reel to give them a sampling of the way I saw the tone. I put in 'Sixteen Candles,' 'Enter the Dragon,' 'Foul Play.' [...] We put a scene from 'Private Parts' on the reel, where you guys are gargling --"
Howard: "Gargling jizzum."
Barrymore: "Gargling jizzum...in your throat and talking and doing it for Pig Vomit. And I just think it's one of the most brilliant scenes in cinema history. And it just, it's so funny and so brilliant. I love when people can put it all out there but there's still a level of heart."
3. She still gets emotional talking about rehab.
Barrymore: "It was boot camp. And you would get the boot all the time. And I hated it at first. I had nothing but freedom up until that point. Dancing on tables at Helena's and Studio 54 and Limelight and every club on the planet. And partying it up, doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And all the sudden it was, 'You have no freedom. You will figure out your life. And you have the best insurance policy ever so you're staying here until we tell you you've changed.' And it was so upsetting at first, but over the course of that year and a half, I left there like the most humble person you could ever imagine."
Howard: "They saved your life, didn't they?"
Barrymore: "They saved my life."
4. She called working with Stephen King (we can only assume hyperbolically) "the highlight of my life."
Barrymore: "[As a kid] I got to like hang out with Stephen King. That was like the highlight of my life. Cause I think he's the raddest human being ever."
Howard: "How do you get to hang out with him?"
Barrymore: "Well, I did two movies with him. 'Firestarter' and 'Cat's Eye,' which was short stories taken from his book 'Night Shift.'"
Stephen King and Drew Barrymore in 1984
5. She claims to "suck at acting."
Barrymore: "My friends get mad at me when I say this, but I suck at acting. [...] I really do! I can't fake anything! I'm the worst liar, it's awful!"
Howard: "Let's say you're playing a sad scene. Could you sit there and just think about your father and the tears would flow?"
Barrymore: "That's exactly what I do. I just pull on shit and I cry."
Howard: "But isn't that acting?"
Howard: "Why do you have to say you're a bad actress if you're doing exactly what actors do?"
Barrymore: "Is that what they do? [Laughs] [...] I don't know what actors do!"
6. She came up with the idea to be killed off in the opening scene of "Scream" (a movie she "unofficially" produced).
"That one was fun for me because I had a weird idea late at night [...] I had been shopping it around with Harvey Weinstein, and we were very partners in crime about it. And we were trying to find the right filmmaker for it. I was set to play the main character. And I just had this revelation one night. I think this is about -- a lot of what producing is about is coming up with ideas and daring to execute them. I said 'Harvey, I'm just having a revelation that every scary movie, you always know you're safe with the girl. I want to be the girl that gets killed'...and all bets are off. [...] I thought that was so fun. And he was like, 'Got it, Janet Leigh in 'Psycho'!'"
7. Robin Williams gave her a pep talk in her dressing room when she hosted "SNL" at seven years old.
"Robin Williams came with Steven Spielberg, and they were there for me on that show. [...] Steven was there as like a nurturing father to make me feel like I had my support system around me, and he brought Robin [...] they came in the dressing room and just gave me pep talks [...] he was just really nice and supportive. And I was freaking out cause Mork was in the dressing room."
8. Her famous dance on David Letterman's desk was completely spontaneous.
Howard: "When you did that, was that calculated?"
Barrymore: "No. So spontaneous. I mean, you can see me up there as if I'm on a train that I don't know where it's going."
Howard: "So when you did the Letterman appearance, did you get off and go, 'My god, I just killed it'?"
Barrymore: "No. I got off and I was like, 'Holy shit, what did I just do?' And when I watched it that night with my friends...I was like, 'Okay. That was crazy, fun, I think the tone came off okay, thank god David Letterman didn't make me look bad in front of people' [...] he could've. He could've sent me into a really bad place with disapproval in that moment. And instead he was charming and cute and let everybody know this was okay. And it was okay. We got away with it. And that night, I said to myself, 'Okay, so next chapter. You need to go and become a young lady. You're about to be 20...I think that was the cap to your teens, what do you want your 20s to be?"
9. Her "in" with David Letterman was their mutual love of old movies.
"I always made him talk to me in commercial breaks...I was like, 'Don't look at that card. Focus on me. I want to have an authentic chemistry with you'...so I found an in with him which was old movies. And I happen to be very versed and love old films so much...it's one of my favorite things to discuss...I think I even got him a Laserdisc of like [Jean] Cocteau's 'Beauty and the Beast.' I was like, I have an in, I have a conversation point with you."
10. Courtney Love "deemed" her to be Frances Bean's godmother without really asking.
Howard: "Are you Frances Bean's godmother?"
Barrymore: "Courtney deemed me that many years ago, but we've lost touch."
Howard: "I've heard you say that you thought Courtney was like the smartest person you know or something like that."
Barrymore: "Well, I think she's incredibly intelligent."
Howard: "And so she said, 'Hey...you're Frances Bean's godmother.' But it's not true then."
Barrymore: "Well, she deemed it, like, oh my god, how many years ago was that? [...] I think she just told me, she's not a real 'ask' kind of gal. She probably hit me with a two-by-four and said 'you're her godmother.' I've lost touch with them. Courtney and I's lives went in very different directions."