Drew Barrymore describes herself as “the least Hollywood person”. It’s a big call given she is one of few movie stars universally famous across the globe.
“I live like a mole, like an unsocial, unglamorous mole,” Barrymore tells Saturday Extra.
First hand, from the three or so times this scribe has crossed paths with Barrymore over the past decade, she’s speaking the truth.
In person she is about as uncensored, no filter as you can get from a movie star. She’s often seen without makeup and doesn’t appear to have had any plastic surgery.
In a world of huge egos it is a refreshing change of pace and perhaps why she’s so loved and loveable.
Having appeared in her first movie at age five with Altered States, followed by Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial two years later, Barrymore is a Hollywood survivor.
She has seen the highs and lows of the hugely competitive and often tricky movie business, which is why she is perfect to host her own talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show, that premieres on Foxtel’s Fox Arena on Monday.
“I’m lucky that I have met and known and worked with all these people and that they’re coming on the show, which is so cool because I feel like I get to be that front row seat and geek out over everyone too, which is so nice,” she said.
“I will say growing up in this business gave me definitely some good perspective on some ways to be and maybe just ways that seemed like some serious pitfalls. And then I had to learn a bunch of nasty lessons.”
By nasty lessons, Barrymore, now 45 with two daughters, is touching on the well documented difficult times of her career in the public eye.
While protective of her young daughters’ privacy, she has always been an open book when talking about her struggles growing up as a child star, which included battles with alcohol and her mental health.
“No one has a perfect road and a journey,” she said.
“It’s all a bit of a hot mess and it’s what you learn out of it and your sense of humour about it. And did you learn? I’m still learning every day.”
Hosting her own talk show has spurred a new round of life lessons, all of which she is willing to take on board.
“I have learnt some very valuable lessons since the show started and every time I lose sight of them, I’m so gosh darn mad at myself. I just want to tear myself apart. This is a great job to grow as a person. Just working with other people is going to help you grow and learn if you want to. And I just want to annihilate myself when I get it wrong.”
The Drew Barrymore Show launched in September 2020 and with the global pandemic in full force, many of her guests have been via Zoom or satellite cross.
She had her Charlie’s Angels co-stars Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz on the couch in the first episode, with Diaz beamed by hologram on to the New York set as if she were there in person.
The biggest lesson since launch for Barrymore has been to be less hard on herself.
“That’s my comfort zone — self-flagellation. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt, funny enough in a job that is so outward, is that having a private conversation with someone has so much value,” she said.
“I will always be outward but there are times I think I’ve learnt, take it around the corner or sit on it for a second. I’ve never really been good at that in my life. I am usually all of the water out of the bottle all of the time and I am trying to put some water back in the bottle.
“I have had some good revelations with that. That is just a quiet personal lesson.”
The past year has brought more lessons about herself.
“I learned much more about the world and life and how we all function and what we’re supposed to do and how we’re supposed to do it alongside of everybody,” she said.
In a show business career spanning four decades, Barrymore has taken time adjust to being the interviewer as opposed to the interview subject.
She has found there is a fine line between probing journalistically and pushing boundaries on personal information that may make her subject feel uncomfortable.
With an impressive contact list of famous friends, her guests have included Reese Witherspoon, Jane Fonda, Charlize Theron, Gabrielle Union, Adam Sandler, Jessica Alba and Tyra Banks.
“I try to reach out to them either personally or through the producer and run it like a subject is off limits so I don’t put us in an awkward situation,” she explained.
“When I first started this job, I wanted to be newsy and journalistic and do hard-hitting questions, it felt like such an opportunity to do that.”
But as time went on, she realised her style was less journalistic and more conversational with friends.
“I’m the least gotcha type of person,” she said.
“I don’t like it when it’s done to me. So I try to be really creative and catch people off guard but in a really pleasant ‘oh my God, you learn that about me’ kind of way. Not a holy, why are you bringing that up right now way? I don’t want to put anyone in that position and I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching that.
“That show Punked is literally my worst nightmare. You are putting me in a situation where you’re poking me to act out and then you’re going to film it. So I want to surprise people and keep it spontaneous, but more trying to surprise them about things I learnt about them.”
Research is paramount as too is Barrymore’s hands-on approach.
“I do really appreciate journalism and I do think it’s an important thing to maintain in daytime, I don’t just want to have a fluffy show. I really take my research very seriously and it is part of the fun of the job. It is hard work. I could definitely show up and just have everybody tell me what to do. But that’s not who I am. I am a homework girl.”
The Drew Barrymore Show premieres on Foxtel’s Fox Arena channel week nights at 7.30pm from Monday.