In an exclusive interview, the Hollywood star explains the vision behind her new talk show, reconnecting with celebrity friends, and why conversation is the best medicine
Child star, teen phenomenon, rom-com headliner, author, entrepreneur … and now, talk show host. Drew Barrymore’s been there, done that, and will do it all over again.
Right from when catapulted to global fame as a seven-year-old as the star of Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to her many successes later in films like Charlie’s Angels, 50 First Dates, Music and Lyrics to entering the streaming space with Netflix’s Santa Clara Diet, Barrymore has always marked her career with that quintessential brand of twee and humour that has endeared to audiences for nearly nearly four decades.
A mother of two young children, this year also saw the 45-year-old (we can’t believe she’s that old either) debut her pandemic talk show —The Drew Barrymore Show — that has proven to encapsulate everything we thought we knew about the actor in a nutshell – and also showcase whole new facets to her personality.
A mixture of celebrity guest appearances — she’s already brought on her Charlie’s Angels BFFs Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, and favourite co-stars like Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer) and Jessica Alba (Never Been Kissed) — and emotional surprises like reuniting with ex-husband Tom Green live on air after having not spoken to him in 15 years, the show has lived up to its enjoyable, eccentric premise.
With her ‘Never Been Kissed’ co-star Jessica Alba
Barrymore says that her aim is to elevate, inspire and entertain with segments that reflect her personal passions including upbeat news and heartwarming human-interest stories, and even fought hard to have the show produced live: “Otherwise, there would be no spontaneity!”.
Talking to us just ahead of The Drew Barrymore Show’s India premiere, the actor is at her charming, offbeat best, as she once again repeats her recent catchphrase: “I’m in the joy business.”
Excerpts from an interview:
When you first conceived the show before the pandemic, a different purpose or vision may have been in mind. How has that changed over the last year?
A little bit into 2020 we got our official announcement, and then the world changed as we knew it. In some ways, the old show we were doing applies to the joy and the subjects and a lot of the things we are doing. But I think that right now in 2020, we have to meet this moment; we can’t pretend things are not happening and have blind gratuitous optimism. But I’m an optimist, so I think intelligent optimism is what is required here.
Like I said, I’m in the joy business. I just want to take my life experience and talk about it with other people and figure it out together. Also, laugh and heal and cry and cook and everything the scroll of our opening credit sequence says, because variety is the spice of life. It’s funny; in late night shows, they are like, “You made it through the day, we’re going to put you to bed with some laughs, congratulations.” I’m like, I want to start the day that way!
“I just want to take my life experience and talk about it with other people and figure it out together,” says the actor
I want people to carry that with them throughout the day like a tool in their arsenal, and give them a place that is elevated and transported. It will have a bookend beginning and bookend ending, and within that hour we have cared for you.
Do tell us about the Charlie’s Angels reunion with your co-stars after all these years. How is your relationship with Cameron and Lucy today?
When we planned our premiere episode, we really took a moment and didn’t want to rush the decision, because every booking is meaningful to us and has purpose.
We came to the understanding that we wanted to project friendship and support and love. And that’s what was important to us, that tone. That was what made it such an easy decision to bring in Cameron and Lucy. I couldn’t have begun this journey without both of them, who have been a part of my heart for over 20 years. We are friends, we are fellow angels and partners in crime and life.
The show also delves deep into personal and emotional aspects of your life. Was it challenging to expose yourself like that to an audience, with such challenging subject matter?
I definitely am really convinced that all of this work I do on myself is the same thing that everybody else is going through. We are trying to reach enlightenment, trying to grow, trying to figure things out, and going through uncomfortable changes in our lives. I want to talk about that stuff, I’m totally into the conversation.
Being a mother of two young kids, are you looking to do any segments dedicated to moms or children?
I am a mom of two wonderful girls, so maybe I’m a little biased. But it’s a job that has proven to be one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever had, and also the most rewarding. I want to keep moms connected, supported and heard while giving them a break when they need it the most, which is why we created the recurring segment Mom’s Time Out on the show, where we celebrate moms and surprise them with some much deserved time out.
How much of a unique show like this can be rehearsed before you go on camera? Are you happy with not knowing where a segment is going to take you?
Being spontaneous, being myself, not pretending to be anyone else or try to hit a comedic story, but use the time as if my heart and excitement were on the line… that’s something I always want in this show.
On the sets of ‘The Drew Barrymore Show’
Also, the knowledge that if anybody else wants to come here and do that… I would love it. I try and give people a refreshing approach: look, I would love to go in the back door of conversations and talk more about your life experience or your upbringing, rather than the thing you’re working on now and promoting. I know that’s an essential sort of aspect — and we’ll certainly professionally hit that button — but I want to have a different approach to conversations, something more casual, something a little more disarming.
But then I’m also like, “Do you want to come here and play a character you loved being? You own that character.” We love it, come do that, let’s do sketch comedy. Let’s try something completely different. That’s what the show is all about.
The Drew Barrymore Show airs weeknights at 9PM on Zee cafe