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Interview: Drew Barrymore - Taming Of The Drew; Drew Barrymore was a childstar at seven and hooked on coke at 13. THOMAS QUINN finds that the wild child is now putting her work first.

She has Hollywood at her feet, but former wild child Drew Barrymore does have one thing missing from her life - a man.

She split from her boyfriend of 18 months, Luke Wilson, back in February. Then, at the Oscars the following month she was pointedly cast in the role of a `walker', accompanying her close friend Ed Norton.

It is a sad fact that the actress who has made a career out of playing girls who always get the fella of their dreams - in The Wedding Singer and Ever After for example - has a private life more akin to her cameo in Scream.

Industry watchers in Tinseltown were shocked at Drew and Luke's split. Barrymore, 24 - who made her debut in a puppy food commercial at the age of 11 months - had bubbled with more than the usual luvvie enthusiasm for him.

"I love him without question," she had insisted, only weeks before the break-up. I love him enough to want to have children with him, whether married or not, just to be together and have a family. He is definitely someone I think I would be greatly honoured to do that with."

But then Drew has always been one who's worn her heart firmly on her sleeve.

"I love romance. I'm a sucker for it," she says. "I love love so much. I'm crazy for it. I'm nutty for it."

Asked the difference between true love and not-so-true love she has a bizarre answer.

"I ask myself, do I feel like I hold the bowl of love and go out there in the universe, whether with this person or alone, and have that shield and glow that's incredible?" she says bafflingly, "Or do you feel kind of depressive and self-conscious and like you're walking on egg shells?"

As it is, her affair with Luke sadly seems to have simply fizzled out and although she has been linked to another actor, Saving Private Ryan star Jeremy Davies, she remains free and single.

The truth is that Drew is enjoying a purple patch in her career and romance is taking a back seat as a result.

The only partner in her life she's apt to talk about now is the one taking care of business at her production company Flower Films, which made this week's box office sure thing Never Been Kissed as well as the upcoming movie of Charlie's Angels.

Drew is increasingly taking her production duties very seriously. Along with Elizabeth Hurley, she belongs to an elite group of glamorous movie actresses who are turning into executives.

"I try to be extremely appreciative on set," she explains. "It's never one person that makes a film, it's a lot of people and without them the system wouldn't work. Producing and starring in a film is like working in a democracy. It's not just you.

"You want to protect the studio and keep them happy, stay on time and on budget, so they only have to worry if you're making a good movie or not.

"Being a problem-solver is so wonderful. You have to be able to create an atmosphere where actors feel free to be creative and even improvise with their characters."

This is level-headed stuff, and all the more surprising coming from someone who a few short years ago could be written off as nothing more than the terrible, destructive offspring of a once great Hollywood family.

Yet she is now clearly turning her pedigree - great uncle Lionel Barrymore, great aunt Ethel and her grandfather John Barrymore Sr - to her advantage.

Barrymore's own career has always been colourful but for the wrong reasons. Born on February 22, 1975, she got a high-profile role in ET when she was just seven and famously got drunk for the first time aged nine at a Rob Lowe birthday party. She was hooked on cocaine by 13 and went in and out of rehab units during her teens, once in handcuffs led by her mother Jaid's private investigators.

She then temporarily sobered up and sued her mother, then also her manager, when she was 15. Drew attempted suicide at 16, wrote her memoirs months later, and spread herself nude across the pages of Playboy at 20, shocking among others her godfather Steven Spielberg.

"I think that life is a series of learning experiences," could well be one of the greatest understatements of all time, but she certainly has managed to learn.

There is even an indication that her new mature status in Hollywood has brought an unlikely rapprochement with her family.

Her actor dad John Barrymore Jr now lives in a house in her grounds - "The irony of the century since we never lived together before," she says. And even her relationship with her mother has thawed.

"My dad told me when I was a kid that he couldn't be a father," she says. "As for my mother, I think we will get together as friends at some point but the time is not right. I am fine now with the fact that my family is totally wacky, but you don't want guys like these for parents."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Quinn, Thomas
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 27, 1999
Words:854
Previous Article:Film: With greasy hair, frumpy clothes and a brace on her teeth, Drew seems to relish the opportunity to look bad; Jonathan Ross reviews this week's...
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