ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

These days I don't think many people will dispute the enormous skill and business acumen Drew Barrymore has shown in dealing with the film industry. Coming from such a huge show business family, it seems like Drew was practically bound for stardom from a young age, and made her on-screen debut at just 11 months old.

A young Drew Barrymore
A young Drew Barrymore

However, between her start in Hollywood as a cute, innocent infant to her current life as an actor, producer, director, wife and mother, there were tumultuous, chaotic and downright depressing times in Barrymore's life; the type of events that make present-day Drew Barrymore a true success story.

A famous name abandoned by her father

Shortly after Drew was born in February 1975, her father, John Drew Barrymore, abandoned his family and left Drew to be raised by her mother Jaid. John Drew Barrymore was an abusive and alcoholic man, much like his father, the legendary actor John Barrymore. Having spent many years in and out of jail on drugs charges, he eventually died of cancer in 2004. Barrymore and Drew never has a close relationship and only reconciled shortly before his death.

From before the age of one, Drew was introduced into show-biz, landing a slew of commercials and TV Movies, but in 1982, at the age of 7, she became an overnight success after playing the adorable Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Early success takes its toll

Source: the Drewseum
Source: the Drewseum

Following E.T., Drew had roles in films such as Firestarter and Irreconcilable Differences. Although the roles kept coming, this sudden stardom didn't mix well with Drew and her mother Jaid, who would take her 8-year-old daughter with her to the infamous nightclub Studio 54.

With a party lifestyle starting so early it's no surprise that the young starlet was smoking at age 9, drinking at 11, smoking marijuana at age 12 and snorting cocaine at just 13years old. Drew Barrymore's life was rapidly descending into chaos. At age 14 she entered rehab for the first time, and after a suicide attempt in the same year she went back to rehab for the second time. During this period in her life, her wild partying ways were frequently splashed around newspapers and magazines and she began to find herself able to get less and less work.

Emancipation, loneliness and rebuilding a reputation

Drew Barrymore in Guncrazy
Drew Barrymore in Guncrazy

After her unstable and tumultuous early and mid-teen period, Barrymore emancipated herself from her mother shortly before her 15th birthday. After committing to sobriety, the teen now had the huge challenge of fixing her reputation and learning how to live by herself. In 2014 Drew spoke to Marie Claire about this time in her life:

"When I was a kid, everything was so unplanned, my parents were so erratic, and my world was so inconsistent. I was 14 when I moved into my own apartment. I was so scared. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know you had to throw food out when it rotted in the fridge. I was convinced someone was going to crawl through my window. I would go to the Laundromat and sit there reading Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath."

Despite the tough times, Drew was hard working and rallied for roles she wanted, which led to being nominated for her second Golden Globe for her role in 1992 film Guncrazy.

Sober but still wild

Despite Barrymore now being off drugs and rebuilding her reputation, she was still young and her sometimes-wild behavior was still shocking. At age 19 she married Welsh barman Jeremy March after knowing him just 6 weeks. The partnership would last 29 days before divorce papers were filed, and it later came out that the purpose of the marriage was to get Jeremy a greencard.

In 1995, at age 20, she made headlines again when she appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and danced on his desk before flashing the host her breasts. However, 1995 was also the year that Barrymore, along with business partner Nancy Juvonen formed the production company Flower Films.

From wild child star to smart business woman

Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen
Drew Barrymore and Nancy Juvonen

After humble beginnings for Flower Films, the business partners found success with the first film they produced, Never Been Kissed. This was soon followed by Charlie's Angels and Donnie Darko. All together the production company has produced 14 movies and four television shows since 1999, no mean feat!

In 2009, Drew took the next step in her show-biz career when she not only made her directorial debut with the roller derby film Whip It, but also won her first Golden Globe for the TV movie Grey Gardens, after being nominated twice before. It seemed like the actress's life was under control and blossoming, though there was one final element missing - a family of her own.

Wife, mother and actress

After many high profile relationships and two failed marriages (the second with comedian Tom Green), Barrymore met art consultant Will Kopelman in early 2011. The two were married in June 2012, shortly before the arrival of their first child, Olive, in September 2012. Their second daughter, Frankie, was born in April 2014.

Reading recent interviews with Drew, it's clear to see that she has no intention of repeating the chaotic events of her childhood with her daughters, and has often mentioned that she loves the stability that her in-laws have given her, saying:

"This is so safe and positive and healthy because [the Kopelmans] have their values intact. It was huge for me. And that's what I want for my family."

After such a wild ride in her early years it's most certainly a triumph and testament to her character that Drew Barrymore was able to rise above all her troubles, maintain her sobriety, and grow her career. Even more than all of that, it looks like she's intent on maintaining the cycle to ensure that her two daughters never go down the same path that she did. Go Drew!

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Marie Claire


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