Inside The Life Of Hollywood’s Original Wild Child, Drew Barrymore

If you ask someone younger who they think of first when you say “Hollywood’s wild child” they might jump to Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and of course, Britney Spears’ infamous 2007 breakdown. But those next-generation party girls have nothing on the original wild child, Drew Barrymore.

It might be hard to believe that the goofy actress in films like 50 First Dates and Charlie’s Angels was addicted to drugs at the young age of nine but it’s true! Read on to learn all about the rise, fall, and career resurrection of Drew Barrymore.

Born Into A Dynasty

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Drew Blyth Barrymore was born on February 22, 1975, to what is best understood to be Hollywood’s royal family. It might be hard to believe nowadays because she’s the only Barrymore in acting, but her family has some serious acting chops that stretch back to the 1800s.

Both her father and mother were in the business, but her extended family is better known. Drew’s great-uncle Lionel Barrymore won the 1931 Best Actor Oscar and is known for playing Mr. Potter in It’s A Wonderful Life.

Drew’s First Gig

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Thanks to all her connections, Drew landed her first acting gig when she was only eleven months old, starring in a dog food commercial. Although it’s said that babies can’t act, Drew was already charming people on television.

She began accompanying her mother and father on set and was soon exposed to every aspect of Hollywood. As soon as she could speak, Drew made it clear that she wanted to follow in the family’s footsteps.

Famous Connections

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Coming from such a renowned family meant that Drew had made some incredible Hollywood connections before she could even speak. Her two godmothers are legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren, and theatre great Lee Strasberg’s widow, Anna Strasberg. Her godparents were important for Drew because they provided a kind and nurturing relationship she didn’t get from her parents.

Drew’s godfather is none of than famed director Steven Spielberg. This relationship would come in handy when Drew landed her first major role in 1982.

Drew Barrymore Phones Home

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America fell in love with Drew in 1982 when she starred as Gertie, the youngest sibling in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She might have had a bit of help since Spielberg is her godfather, but he also said he knew she had the “right imagination” for the role.

E.T. would end up being the highest-grossing film of the ’80s and catapult Drew to become the most famous child star of the time.

Breaking Records At Every Turn

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Her breakout role led Drew to receive the Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also invited to host Saturday Night Live in 1982, and to this day she still holds the record for being the youngest host at only 7 years old.

The show was worried at first about whether or not it would be too inappropriate for a seven-year-old, but they would soon find out that Drew was way beyond her age.

Nine Years Old And Partying Hard

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It didn’t take long for Drew’s sudden fame to get to her. She began to frequent clubs, particularly the notorious Studio 54. She got drunk for the first time at Rob Lowe’s party when she was nine. She began smoking marijuana at age ten and took her first hit of cocaine at age twelve.

For her 10th birthday, she even danced the night away until 2 a.m. at the New York City nightclub, Limelight.

No Help From Her Parents

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Considering the fact she was so young when she began on this destructive path, many would like to hope Drew’s parents were there to help her. In fact, it was quite the opposite.

Drew’s mother was actually the one who first took her to Studio 54 after her divorce. She used Drew’s fame as a way to increase her own social life. Drew’s father John had his own substance abuse problems and was a violent drunk. Looking back, Drew said she “didn’t really have parents.”

Off To “Rehab”

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Despite the fact it was her mother who introduced her to the party scene, she also sent Drew to rehab when she was only thirteen. Drew was sent off to an intense rehab assignment, except it wasn’t your typical Betty Ford clinic.

Looking back she admitted her mom had sent her to a mental institution that was more like a “serious boot camp.” Drew said it was a “horrible and dark” 18 months.

Coming Clean And Emancipating Herself

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By the end of her stay in the mental facility, it was actually the doctors who suggested for Drew to truly stay clean she’d have to emancipate herself from her mother. Drew was unsure whether or not this was the right move, but after a failed suicide attempt, she realized to be successful she needed to cut her parents out of her life.

So, at the young age of 14, Drew returned to the real world and became an independent adult.

Help From Famous Friends

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Her connection to Hollywood’s hottest stars ruined her life, but it also saved it. Upon her emancipation, she had nowhere to go. Drew ended up using her famous connections to stay with David Crosby, of the band Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

In an interview later on, Crosby said that he “didn’t want to see her go down the tubes” and wanted her to be around a loving, caring, and clean adults for the first time in her life.

Releasing Her Autobiography


Most people wait until the end of their life to release an autobiography, but Drew had already experienced more than most people. After her rehab release, she finished the autobiography “Little Girl Lost.” Drew was only 14 when she published the book, which makes her the Guinness Book of Records holder for the youngest person to write an autobiography.

The tell-all showed the world what Drew had been through. Everyone hoped that this meant she was cleaning up her act, but Drew was just getting started.

Rebellious On And Off Screen

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After leaving rehab, Drew was basically a social pariah. Many directors feared that casting her would be a stain on the film so she had a hard time getting work for about three years.

Her first major role came in 1992 when she played a teenage seductress in Poison Ivy. That same year, she shocked everyone by posing nude on the July cover of “Interview” magazine when she was only 16.

Short-Lived Engagements

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It was during this rebellious time that Drew began having some questionable romantic relationships. Drew attended the 1989 Academy Awards with notorious bad boy Corey Feldman. She then became engaged at 16 to Leland Hayward, who was the grandson of the Hollywood director of the same name who produced The Sound Of Music.

The engagement was called off only a few months later. In 1992, Drew became engaged again the actor Jamie Walter, but called it off within a year.

Her First Marriage, And First Divorce

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Finally in 1994, Drew didn’t call off an engagement and went through with marrying a Los Angeles bar owner Jeremy Thomas. It was only two months later that she filed for divorce.

The same year she began dating Hole guitarist Eric Erlandson. That relationship didn’t last long but introduced Drew to one of her new closest friends, Courtney Love. They friendship would grow so close that Drew is actually Francis Bean Cobain’s godmother.

Disappointing Her Godfather

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Even though she’d already posed nude when she was 16, Drew stripped her clothes off again when she was 19 for the 1995 issue of Playboy. The photos reminded everyone that even if Drew was growing older, it didn’t mean she was maturing.

Drew famously said that she doesn’t regret the Playboy cover, but that her godfather Steven Spielberg did later send her a quilt with a note that said, “Cover yourself up.”

Silencing David Letterman


To this day, Drew’s interview with David Letterman is one of the most notorious in late-night television history. It was Letterman’s birthday and Drew was only 19. She decided as a little “gift” she would climb up on his desk, do a little dance, and then flash him. The moment left Letterman and the audience speechless.

Looking back on it, Drew says she doesn’t regret doing it because “you only have one life” but that it seems like a distant memory and that it doesn’t feel like who she is anymore.

Return To Big Screen Acting

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After a slew of failed relationships and controversies, Drew decided to turn her focus back towards acting. She began acting alongside big names like Julia Roberts, Andie MacDowell, and Chris O’Donnell.

Drew also became pickier with her roles at this time. Notably, she was offered the lead role of Sidney Prescott in the 1996 slasher film Scream but chose instead to shock audiences and play the character who gets murdered in the first ten minutes.

Re-Establishing Her Image

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By the end of the ’90s, it finally seemed that Drew had finally put her bad-girl persona in the past. Especially after the use of Drew’s image to advertise Scream, then having her killed off immediately, agencies and directors now saw her as a highly bankable star.

This proved to be true when she landed the role of Julia Sullivan in the 1998 romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer. It seemed like her rise back to stardom had finally begun.

Flower Films

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After the success of The Wedding Singer, Drew decided it was finally time to take fate into her own hands. Alongside her friend Nancy Juvonen, she established Flower Films. The idea had been in the works since 1995, but the company didn’t make their first film until 1999.

Flower Films released Never Been Kissed in 1999. In a review, CNN noted that the reason the film worked was Drew’s “comedic timing and willingness to go all out.” It was a huge commercial success and put Drew back on the map.

Yes, Charlie?

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Now that Drew had established herself as a respectable actress and producer, she decided it was time for a major box office hit. Flower Films bought the rights to produce Charlie’s Angels. Drew brought on her good friends Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu to act alongside her.

The film was a major success and created an entirely new image of Drew. The film, released in 2000, portrayed Drew as a flirty, goofy, and fun actress and many kids had no idea that she had such a troubled past.

Finding Love For Longer Than A Few Months

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Now that Drew had successfully rehabilitated her career and image, she turned back to finding love. Drew began dating comedian Tom Green in 1999 and became engaged a year later.

The two worked together on many projects during this time. Green appeared in Charlie’s Angels, and Drew starred in Green’s directorial debut, Freddy Got Fingered. Sadly the relationship didn’t last outside of the work environment and the two divorced in 2002.

Becoming A Matchmaker

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Despite the fact that Drew couldn’t find love herself, that didn’t stop her from becoming an expert matchmaker in real life and an incredible romantic comedy actress. In 2005 she introduced Fever Pitch co-star Jimmy Fallon to her fellow Flower Films founder Nancy Juvonen, and the two are still married today.

Drew also went on a run of box-office rom-com hits with 50 First Dates, Music and Lyrics, and Lucky You.

Openly Bisexual

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Even though Drew hasn’t had much success in love on paper, she’s been open about her previous relationships with women. Although she’s never dropped any names and has only been engaged to men, she has admitted to having sexual relationships with close female friends.

People usually think these types of “admissions” are publicity stunts, but Drew explains it’s quite the opposite. She simply believes that two women are a “beautiful coupling.”

Joining Her Family On The Walk Of Fame

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Thanks to Flower Films and her string of box-office hits, in 2004 Drew received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The ceremony would be exciting for any celebrity, but particularly for Drew.

With her star on the Walk of Fame, she joined four other members of her family. As the fifth Barrymore on the Walk of Fame, Drew joins her father John, her grandfather, and two other relatives.

A Scary Fire

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Back in 2001 when Drew was still married to Tom Green, she narrowly escaped a disastrous fire. The two were asleep at night and awoke to their dog Flossie barking at the door. Flossie likely saved their lives that night.

It took more than 55 firefighters over an hour to put out the fire in the $3 million mansion. The house ended up completely ruined with about $700,000 in damages.

A Worsening Relationship With Her Mom

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You might think that emancipating yourself at 14 from a mother who introduced you to drugs and alcohol would be as bad as a mother-daughter relationship could get, but it didn’t end there for Drew.

Drew revealed that her mom has never been invited to any of her weddings. She said the relationship turned particularly sour in 1995 when her mom tried to sell Drew’s baby clothes on eBay for some extra fame and cash.

A Special Relationship With Adam Sandler

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Drew has co-starred with Adam not once, not twice, but three times in movies produced by Flower Films. She’s opened up about the fact that she had to “beg, borrow, and steal” in order to convince Adam to work with her.

Drew says that she knew she wanted to make love stories but that she wanted a “goodness” to it and that she has always been drawn to Adam’s “light.”

Becoming A Mom

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It’s hard to believe that Hollywood’s biggest wild child finally settled down and became a mom, but it’s true! Drew married art consultant Will Kopelman in June 2012. Drew even wore a custom maternity wedding gown designed by Chanel since the CEO is her ex-father-in-law.

The couple has two children together, a girl named Olive and a boy named Frankie. The marriage lasted four years but the two were divorced in 2016.

Comfortable With Her Body

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Drew is famously body confident and open about her issues with weight and having an image in the public eye. She revealed that she follows a strict vegan diet when filming and then returns to a regular, protein-based diet when she’s not. Drew admits that she usually gains about 20 pounds when she’s not filming but that it’s all about embracing her health.

It seems to be working since Drew has been a Covergirl spokesperson since 2007.

Changing Her Acting Style

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Now that Drew is a mother she’s also shown to have changed up her acting style and taking on different roles. Rather than playing the love-struck young woman, she’s stepped into roles as a contented mother.

Movies like Blended fit her funny, quirky acting style while her latest Netflix television show Santa Clarita Diet have perfectly mashed her past in horror with her new family roots.