When I ask if she sees her mother, Barrymore gives the only terse answer in the interview. “No contact,” she replies. Her father, John, an alcoholic actor, left before Drew was born and was absent for much of her childhood, though they forged a bond when he was dying of bone-marrow cancer, and Barrymore, then 29, paid for his care. “He was so feeble, I could actually nail him down,” she says sardonically. “He was such a flighty bird—unattainable and off doing his own thing. I’m sure it’s affected my relationships with men. I’m sure I’m sadder about it than I admit, but I accept that a lot easier than my mother’s and my relationship, which is more tumultuous.”
While her father didn’t offer any apologies, she brightly recalls a moment when they were sitting together in his room and he suddenly looked down at her bare feet. “Ah, you were made perfectly,” he told her. “And I was like, ‘This was worth hanging out with you for,’” she says.
Despite the almost parasitic nature of the Beales’ relationship, Barrymore sees theirs as a “love story” and calls her relationship with her own mother “the polar opposite.” “My mother and I split ways when I was very young and have never really reconciled,” says Barrymore, who has lived on her own since she legally emancipated herself at age 15. “Edie chose her mother over the world.”
Barrymore has since built her own family, a tight circle of friends she calls her “tribe,” whose members include Diaz, Juvonen and Chris Miller, vice president of Flower Films, her production company. “They’re the glue. They’re everything to me,” she says. Barrymore and Diaz met as teenagers, at the Beverly Hills soda shop where they both hung out. “I was a model then, and she was—Drew Barrymore!” says Diaz, recalling that her friend was just out of rehab “and trying to get herself back together. She was so funny and sweet. Drew is always Drew. She’s never changed.”
Naturally gregarious, Barrymore is as likely to invite 12 people over to play Cranium at her home in West Hollywood as she is to organize a trip to Mexico or hit a club to catch the latest band. “She knows every single band out there,” says Diaz. And she is never without a plan. “Nothing makes her happier,” says Juvonen. “It comes from the uncertainty of her growing up with ‘I don’t know where I’m going to live or where my mom is.’ It makes her feel safe. The man who really steals her heart will be a planner.”
When the two met in 1994, Juvonen had zero experience in the film business. Then 27, she was working as saxophonist Clarence Clemons’s assistant when the 19-year-old Barrymore dared her to move to Los Angeles to produce movies. “Drew Barrymore and romantic comedy weren’t synonymous then,” she says, pointing out that the actress, who had just posed nude for a Playboy spread and played teen temptress Amy Fisher in a made-for-TV movie, was in need of a different direction. “She wasn’t an A-lister.” Together they mapped out a course, launching Flower in 1995. “I always had faith that all of Drew’s guardian angels would see her through the worst of it,” says Spielberg, by e-mail.