Drew Barrymore, the woman who stole my heart aged seven, as I sat on my dad’s knee in the cinema watching E.T., walks into her hotel room and gives me a big hug. She’s wearing a green silk Zara kimono jacket and a vintage Mickey Mouse T-shirt. I am slightly taken aback by her normality. Seeing an icon in the flesh, one whom I’ve girl-crushed on since childhood, is surreal. She should, given her Hollywood pedigree, be giving Mariah a run for her money in the diva stakes.
But there are no demands, no entourage. And no sanitised, PRd-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives soundbites. She's in the UK to promote her beauty brand, Flower Beauty. In fact, five minutes in, and we’re talking heroin and plastic surgery.
“I have an extremely addictive personality,” says Drew, openly. “I’ve never done heroin,” she comments, referring to her misspent youth, “and I don’t want to get plastic surgery because I feel like they’re both very slippery slopes. I feel if I try either, I’m going to be dead really soon.”
It’s why she feels very strongly about ageing naturally. “Not messing with my face or chasing some unnatural beauty is a standard I live by. I have dark circles under my eyes. I was at my dermatologist’s recently who said to me, ‘Can I shoot some Juvederm up there? It will raise the skin and it won’t be so sunken, which is causing the darkness to look worse, because it’s lower than the natural light that is hitting it.’ And I went: ‘No, but I’m gonna go home and start highlighting under my eyes, so thank you for the tip!”
It’s this refreshing, no-BS approach that has led to her to becoming a genuine, modern role model, appealing to women of all ages. Often, when actresses say they don’t have plastic surgery, what they really mean is they don’t go ‘under the knife’ – but that excludes injectables. I look more closely at Drew’s face and I can assure you it’s as real as her attitude. Her under-eyes and forehead have the natural fine lines you’d expect of a 43-year-old mother of two. Everything moves and she is beautiful. It’s unusual for a Hollywood star of her status to be so, well, au natural.
“It shouldn’t be,” she says, shaking her head. “We’ve gone far too far with the whole thing, especially when people who are so young are doing it.” She’s always felt this way, more so now she’s a mother.
“I feel ageing is a privilege. It’s about how to do it gracefully, with humour, self-love and a respect for the process, and that’s always been really important to me. Then I started having girls and I thought, thank god these were my initial instincts. Now I can carry them out in an even more deep and profound way.”
Instead of surgery, she swears by a ‘Clear + Brilliant’ laser treatment with NYC-based dermatologist Dr Roy G. Geronemus.
“He’s the best,” she assures me. “[The treatment] just schluffs the barnacles of brown and sun damage off your face. It’s the greatest thing ever. It’s non-invasive and there’s no downtime. It’s like microdermabrasion laser, but it always makes me feel so much more attractive.”
If she sounds like the most balanced person you’ve ever met, by her own admission, it hasn’t always been that way. Born in Los Angeles into an acting dynasty on her father’s side, she was put to work in a dog food commercial aged 11 months. She was a film star by seven – pouring Baileys over her ice-cream – and her mother reportedly first took her clubbing to Studio 54 when she was nine. Sadly, around the same time, Drew developed a drink and drug habit.
Professionally, she was judged harshly, with no big roles coming her way. But she never gave up, rising from the ashes to become a successful, Golden Globe- and SAG-award-winning actress and producer, star of Never Been Kissed, 50 First Dates, The Wedding Singer, Scream, Charlie’s Angels Grey Gardens and more recently Netflix show, Santa Clarita Diet. On a personal level, motherhood seems to have given her a sense of belonging – she is a single mum to her two girls Olive, six and Frankie, four, from her third marriage to Will Kopelman, which ended in 2016.
Now, she has another string to her bow: beauty boss – in 2013 she launched her cruelty free cosmetics brand Flower Beauty, which is now available in the UK. It closes the gap between mass and prestige and everything is priced under £13. What inspired her to go down the ethical route?
“I was vegan and an animal-rights activist a lot of my life, so I think it’s just held over from that. I used to be a crazy fundamentalist and didn’t wear leather. So for my own brand, I had to be true to my ethics. People sometimes assume we’re a major botanical, organic company because we’re called Flower Beauty and I’m like, oh no – bring on the chemicals. I want good pigments and amazing products that perform.” Is there a product in her collection she swears by? “Our concealer wand is phenomenal,” she smiles.
In the wake of #MeToo, when activism and speaking out has become the norm, does she still identify herself as an activist? After all, she took her daughter Olive to the anti-Trump Women’s March in 2017.
“I was a bit scared of feminism when I was younger because of all the male bashing. And there are a lot of women’s movements now that I’m apprehensive about, because I don’t want to be viscerally angry at men. I love men. I like keeping both sides in mind. I avoid anything political, where I sense too much anger. It’s just not the way I find messaging to be truly empowering.”
So what hopes does she have for her daughters in the future? “The empowerment to know that girls and women are worthy without wanting to take down the male race...”
As we wrap up the interview, I can’t help but think Drew’s eldest daughter is now almost the same age as she was when I first set eyes on her in E.T. – and how she’s creating a happy, stable childhood for her daughters, so different from her own. If she could send a message to her angry, scared seven-year-old self now, what would it say?
“I would try to tell her how everything’s going to be OK – but she just won’t know it till she’s there anyway.”
Flower Beauty is available now in Superdrug