The Stunning Transformation Of Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is one of the sweetest actresses people can't help but love. From her smile, to her carefree attitude, and brutal honesty with the press, Barrymore seems like the best friend we always wished we had. But between E.T. and The Santa Clarita Diet, she's endured extreme lows and nearly life-ending situations. After reading her memoir Wildflower, we have an even greater appreciation for Barrymore's resilience.

As we look back on the life of this impressive actress, mother, and entrepreneur, fans can't help but marvel at Barrymore's incredible strength, tenacity, and overall love of life.

Drew Barrymore was born to a famous father and refugee mother

Drew Barrymore is one talented branch of a famous showbiz family tree, beginning with her great-grandfather, Maurice, who began acting 100 years before Barrymore was born. Her father's side of the family was filled with talented actors with a penchant for alcohol. Barrymore never met her grandfather John, the notable Shakespearean actor, nor great aunt Ethel and uncle Lionel (who was most famous for his role as Mr. Potter in It's A Wonderful Life). Barrymore's own father, John Drew, was also an actor, though his alcoholism and hippy nature got in the way of a successful career.

Her mother was also an aspiring actress, though she came from much more humble roots. Named Ildiko Jaid, she was born in West Germany in a displaced persons camp for Hungarian refugees during WWII. She then came to America, tried to start her acting career, and met John Drew at 21. They were together for five years, but divorced while Jaid was pregnant with Barrymore. Though the two parents hailed from exceedingly different backgrounds, they brought a similar chaos into their child's life.

Drew Barrymore's father was mostly absent, drunk and abusive

Though Drew Barrymore holds the illustrious family name, she had little contact with her father. Since her parents divorced before she was born, the future actress didn't meet her dad till she was 3 years old. That meeting wasn't filled with hugs and kisses, but rather a drunken father storming into their apartment only to grab a bottle of tequila. Barrymore always wanted the love and support of her father, but he reportedly wasn't capable of it. Once, when John was babysitting, he allegedly decided to show Barrymore his new karate moves. He was said to have kicked and punched her until she cried out, "Why do you always cause so much pain?" A pretty mature way to phrase it for a girl under seven. But John reportedly retorted that she didn't really know pain and held her hand over a burning candle until she started to cry.

Barrymore cut off all contact with her father for a number of years. But as she grew into an adult, Barrymore would visit him on occasion, while giving up any hope of having a real relationship. In 2001, John was diagnosed with cancer. Barrymore reconciled with her father and took responsibility for his hospice care. Though he remained the difficult, enigmatic person he always was, according to Barrymore in Wildflower, he took a moment while visiting Barrymore at Joshua Tree to tell her, "You were born perfect." Three months later, he died.

Drew Barrymore landed E.T. because she didn't get Poltergeist

By the time Drew Barrymore auditioned for Steven Spielberg at age 6, she was already a pro. She landed her first commercial when she was 11 months old: an ad for puppy food. She consistently got roles, though nothing huge. Then, she was called in to audition for Poltergeist. As Spielberg looked on, Barrymore charmed everyone with her adorable personality and various stories. The fact that the stories were totally made up didn't make her any less cute.

Barrymore admits that in the audition she told Spielberg she was a drummer in a rock band — and a burgeoning chef. Spielberg knew Barrymore was something special, but didn't think she was the right fit for Poltergeist. He promised he'd call her in for another film, but, at a jaded age 6, Barrymore guessed it was probably just a Hollywood brush off. But Spielberg stuck to his word and after many callbacks, Barrymore landed E.T.

Drew Barrymore started clubbing very young — and mostly with her mother

After the success of E.T., mother Jaid quit her job and became Drew Barrymore's full-time manager. Jaid seemed to like the spotlight just as much — if not more — than her child star daughter, so she wanted to take advantage of this new found fame. Jaid took Barrymore to the infamous Studio 54 nightclub when she was only 9 years old.

Jaid and Barrymore hit the club scene hard. Barrymore loved being the youngest at the party. She described clubs as being "Disneyland for adults, only I got to be a part of it." At Rob Lowe's 20th birthday party, Jaid abandoned her child in the club to find her own fun. That's when Barrymore had her first beer and make out session. The underage party girl regularly drank and smoked cigarettes — and by age 12, she was addicted to cocaine. But her mother thought this completely unregulated childhood was completely okay. Jaid once said, "When we went out, it was always the two of us together. It wasn't ever Drew going off to a party while I stayed home and knitted ... This was still a period where I considered us an inseparable team."

Though Barrymore's problems were quickly spinning out of control, it took a drastic event to get her life on the right track.

At 13, Drew Barrymore's mother locked her in a mental hospital to combat her addictions

Drew Barrymore hit a low point at age 13. She slit her wrists. Luckily, her suicide attempt was unsuccessful, and her mother claims that Barrymore did it for attention. Whether that's true or not, it was an obvious cry for help.

So, Jaid sent her daughter off for an 18-month stint in a mental hospital to get clean and clear her head. Barrymore said she hated it at the time, but now is grateful for it. Speaking about her time in recovery, she said, "It did give an amazing discipline. It was like serious recruitment training and boot camp, and it was horrible and dark and very long-lived, a year and a half, but I needed it. I needed that whole insane discipline. My life was not normal." Though it took a suicide attempt and a drastic lifestyle change, according to her book, Barrymore finally had a little structure in her life and she didn't want to go back to her addictive ways.

At 14, Drew Barrymore divorced her mom

As her time in the hospital came to a close, the doctors suggested that Drew Barrymore make a big change to stay clean and keep her life on track. They wanted her to become emancipated. Jaid's guardianship was so unstable that experts thought the 14-year-old would have a better chance on her own, versus staying with her mom. So, Barrymore filed for, essentially, a "divorce" from her mom. Jaid was completely supportive of the action. The teenaged Barrymore stood in the court asking to be legally considered an adult, and the emancipation was granted. Barrymore and Jaid hugged in the courtroom, then went their separate ways.

Barrymore was sad that she had to leave her mother, but she knew it was inevitable. It was also very exciting! She was officially an adult and ready to go out on her own. But first, she had to get an apartment and quickly realized she didn't know how to clean, cook, or even do laundry. Having never finished school, Barrymore taught herself, instead of returning. She devoured books on every subject, learned how to take care of herself, and even worked in a coffee shop in order to have an income, since the industry was reluctant to work with her after the drug addiction scandal. Even though she was thrown into the world so young and so unprepared, she slowly found a steady life for herself.

Drew Barrymore had a lot of interesting relationships

Out on her own, Drew Barrymore started getting work again, returning to the public eye at 18 with the film Poison Ivy, where she played a seductively evil teenager. To get past her child acting days, she took risqué roles and adopted a kind of "wild child" persona in the press. Barrymore's real love life did nothing to temper that.

At 19, Barrymore married Jerry Thomas after a very brief courtship in 1994. The marriage was a surprise to the media, and it didn't help that Thomas was a 31-year-old bartender. But after only two months, the couple split up. In 1998, she dated Luke Wilson for a year after they starred in Home Fries together. Shortly after their breakup, the actress starting going out with unusual comedian Tom Green. Though it seemed an unlikely couple, they were married for two years before an amicable divorce in 2001. After split number two, she experienced her longest relationship yet. Barrymore and The Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti remained linked for five years. Though they never married, it was obvious their relationship was incredibly close and full of love. After that, she dated Justin Long for about a year before meeting her third husband.

Drew Barrymore has a history of groundbreaking late night moments

Drew Barrymore has always made a splash onscreen — whether in character, or as herself. She still holds the record for youngest star to ever host Saturday Night Live, which she accomplished at age 7. That's four years younger than the next youngest host, Macaulay Culkin, who made his debut at the ripe old age of 11.

But her most memorable moment was in 1995, when she was a guest on Late Night with David Letterman. Barrymore dished that the week before Letterman, she did a performance art character named Lolita at a club on the Lower East Side, involving stripping and prancing like a go-go dancer on stage. When Letterman himself asked about her Lolita escapades, Barrymore decided to show rather than tell. She jumped up on the desk and started dancing. The crowd went crazy and, heightening the moment, she turned towards Dave, lifted up her shirt, and flashed him! No one saw anything but Dave and the audience went wild.

Everybody was talking about it the next day and though the backlash wasn't severe, Barrymore realized she had gone too far. In her book Wildflower, Barrymore discusses the Letterman moment and how she was through with her "bad girl/wild child" image. "I wanted to be a good girl, and I wanted goodness to be the theme of my life and my work," Barrymore resolved. That would the last of her salacious late night moments.

Drew Barrymore founded a production company Flower Films

Never happy to sit around and wait for the next role, Drew Barrymore wanted to create more films for and about women. So, with her good friend Nancy Juvonen (who later went on to marry Jimmy Fallon), she formed Flower Films in 1995, producing their very first movie in 1999.

They've gone on to produce Never Been Kissed, Home Fries (the first screenplay Breaking Bad show runner Vince Gilligan ever wrote), Charlie's Angels, and the Jake Gyllenhaal breakout, Donnie Darko. Now involved in a wide range of film and TV projects, Flower Films is going strong.

Drew Barrymore sought out Adam Sandler to revive her career

After she decided to be a "good girl," Drew Barrymore had trouble getting roles. Though she was featured in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You and had an amazing cameo in Scream, Barrymore wasn't where she wanted to be. So, she took charge and worked to get it back.

Barrymore was desperate to have a meeting with Adam Sandler around 1997. Somehow she knew that they would be a perfect onscreen duo — she loved his goofy style on SNL and in Billy Madison. Sandler finally agreed to a meeting, and, at first glance, it seemed like a pair that would never work.

"We looked like the worst blind date you've ever seen," Barrymore said. "I showed up with purple hair and a leopard coat and he was in his classic cargo pants." Despite the mismatched attire, the two got along and Barrymore made it very clear she wanted to work with him whenever they found a project that was right. Fortunately, Sandler thought Barrymore would be perfect in The Wedding Singer. Critics and audiences loved Barrymore in the movie. The world fell in love again with Barrymore's irresistible charm and she was back in the spotlight.

Drew Barrymore is building her empire

Drew Barrymore can't stop, won't stop — in the best possible way. Though she's still acting, the star is slightly less interested in films, which take her away from home for long periods of time, now that she has children. So she's been branching out into other business interests. Ever a force of creativity, Barrymore grew interested in cosmetics after modeling and co-creative directing for CoverGirl. "I'm not good at just showing up to things. I like to be involved in the creative process, learning how things function," said Barrymore about her growing interest in creating a cosmetic line. 

On the other side of the spectrum, the multi-talented entrepreneur has crafted Barrymore Wines. She describes herself as "passionate about wine" and worked with Carmel Road winery to create her signature blend.

But that's still not all! Barrymore is also directing, producing, running Flower Beauty, Flower Eyewear, Flower Films, and more. The moral of the story is Barrymore works super hard and maybe has some kind of magic that adds hours to her day.

Drew Barrymore had two girls with Will Kopelman and felt like a failure after their divorce

With her career flourishing and businesses taking off, Drew Barrymore thought she finally found a healthy, steady relationship when she married Will Kopelman in 2012. "Will struck a lot of my pragmatic sides," she said. "He was someone who was always reachable on the phone, someone who was a classy human being, someone who has this incredible blueprint of a family that I don't have." Barrymore knew they were total opposites, but she wanted it to work out. They had two lovely girls together, but her "perfect" family wasn't meant to be.

They divorced after four years of marriage. Barrymore was devastated. "When you get divorced you're like, 'I'm the biggest failure. This is the biggest failure.' It's so shameful and hard to actually go through that, even privately." On Ellen (via Us Weekly), Barrymore added, "I so wanted to raise kids in this ultra-traditional way and do everything so the polar opposite of my experience." Though it might not be the perfect family she always dreamed of, Barrymore and Kopelman are working well together on co-parenting their children.

Motherhood has changed Drew Barrymore's life

"I cannot remember life before kids. It seems like a dream," Drew Barrymore once said. Despite her divorce from Will Kopelman, Barrymore is the happiest she's ever been, all because of the real loves of her life: her little girls, Olive and Frankie. Giving birth in 2012 and 2014, she's thrilled to give herself completely to being a mom and happy she didn't have children when she was younger. Now she can share the lessons she's learned from her tumultuous life with her daughters. All Barrymore wants to do is provide a safe and loving home for her kids, with lots of the family structure that she never had. "When people are like, 'Aren't you worried your daughters are gonna end up like you?', I'm like, A) thanks, [and] B) I, in some ways, hope they do, now, in the later years," she said on Today. "And in the younger years, like, they're not gonna have my life, you know. Not going to Studio 54 at 7 years old will probably make them a lot more normal than I was."

The idea of having two Barrymore mini-me's in the world sounds pretty good. And now that Barrymore feels so fulfilled by her wonderful children, there's no chance of those girls suffering like she did.

Drew Barrymore switched things up by starring in a dark comedy for Netflix

Drew Barrymore is still looking to challenge herself despite her many great successes and her full plate. In 2017, she debuted The Santa Clarita Diet, a dark comedy for Netflix. It received good reviews and people were excited to watch the gory comedy. Though she produced and starred in the program, when Barrymore was first approached for the show, she was hesitant. She had spent little time on-camera at the time and she was focused on her girls and healing from a divorce. Feeling "heavy" (her words) and scared, the amazing script won her over.

The female-centered, zombie comedy that crosses all genres is nothing like her previous work. The show was apparently been a delight for Barrymore to work on and helped her through the darker moments of divorce. In an interview with The New York Times, Barrymore said, "It goes to show you: sometimes when you think something is the worst timing and there's no way you're going to be able to do it, it can become the thing that ultimately pulls you out of the darkness and brings you into the light." Santa Clarita Diet was canceled in 2019, though fans were lucky enough to enjoy three whole seasons of the show.