We could all learn a thing or two from Drew Barrymore. Despite having experienced more drama before her fifteenth birthday than a series of ‘Homeland’, she is one of the most joyful, relaxed and downright sorted Hollywood stars I’ve ever met. She’s a genuine role model: a successful actor, producer and director, plus entrepreneur (she has her own beauty business) and more recently mother to two girls. Couple all that awesomeness with a career that’s included some of the iconic movies of the ’80s, ’90s and noughties – from ‘ET’ to ‘Donnie Darko’ to ‘Never Been Kissed’ and Barrymore might just be the most loved star around. As one of my friends said: ‘I want her to be me in the film of my life!’
I meet her in Berlin, for the launch of her first foray into television: Netflix’s ten-part comedy ‘Santa Clarita Diet’. If you think the name’s weird, just wait till you see the first episode. It’s about a couple, Sheila (Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant), both real estate agents who live with their 16-year-old daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) in the middling LA suburb of Santa Clarita. So far, so normal. That is until Sheila’s taken sick and suddenly develops a taste for human flesh and a no-bullshit attitude. It’s gory and silly with a feminist undercurrent that feels very 2017. (Spoiler alert: in the first episode Shelia ends up eating her pervy, douchebag colleague.)
There's a lot of gross-out in 'Santa Clarita Diet'. In the first episode you projectile vomit for an entire scene.
‘We really went for it. I had to sit in vomit for hours and hours. Just covered in that disgusting stuff. And I loved it. I had blood all over me, every night. And I was like: “This is so much fun!” It’s not real blood, it’s fucking make believe and it was just a blast. I always wanted to just go for it as much as possible.’
Drew Barrymore in 'Santa Clarita Diet'
‘I had to sit in vomit for hours and hours’
You play an estate agent turned flesh-eating zombie and your character feasts on a lot of raw meat – and human flesh. What were you actually eating?
‘It was always different things. One day it would be rehydrated apple. The chicken was actually wet cake. Some days it was ahi tuna. I never knew what I was getting.’
Until she turns into a cannibal, Sheila is a bit of a people-pleaser. Do you ever find yourself slipping into that kind of behaviour?
‘Oh yeah, I’m a people-pleaser, for sure. But I like people and I want to have a positive exchange with them. I think if someone is walking all over you and you draw a boundary and you stick to it, it’s going to be really hard at first because it goes against your nature, if you’re a people-pleaser But I love the day when it’s like: “Don’t fuck with me anymore.” When someone’s making your life hell and you just spin around one minute and you just go “No more, motherfucker!” That’s so great.’
You said earlier that you often laugh at inappropriate moments. Could you give me an example?
‘Oh, if anyone talks about death I just start giggling. It’s a nervous laugh. I think it makes me so uncomfortable that I just start giggling. I think sometimes people don’t like that… And just like if you’re in a room and it’s quiet and you’re supposed to be quiet I just get the giggles because you know it’s just the worst thing that could happen.’
Which comedians do you love right now?
‘I cannot get enough of Amy Schumer. She is just the real deal. She’s legendary. My friend (and to me a national treasure) Kristen Wiig. And John Oliver: his show is everything to me. I am obsessed.’
The great thing about Netflix is that you can binge on a whole TV show in one go. What have you bingewatched on Netflix recently?
‘I watched “The Crown” and was so upset when it was over. I didn’t get to binge-watch it, though. I never get to binge-watch because as a parent, I’m with my kids so much.’
Drew Barrymore in 'Santa Clarita Diet'
‘If anyone talks about death I just start giggling’
When I told my female friends I was interviewing you they got really excited. You have a huge female fanbase. Why do you think that is?
‘I love that because I am such a girl’s girl! I think some of my biggest heroes in life have been women. I love men but everything in my world is about girls. I have two daughters. I love it when me and my daughters go: “Who runs the world?” and they go: “Girls!” I’ll never forget the day when I found out I was pregnant with Olive and I thought: Here we go, gotta work through the mother issues. And when I got the call with my second child and they said, “It’s a girl”, everything fell into place. I was like: Oh, I see, I’m here to raise girls. It’s the point of my whole life.’
Which of your films do people come up and talk to you about most?
‘It’s a real mixed bag. Some people come up to me and they’re like: “Firestarter”; and some people are like: “Are you the girl from ‘Blended’?” I can sometimes predict what a person is going to say based on their age but I get surprised a lot too. I get a lot of “50 First Dates” and a lot of “Never Been Kissed” and “Charlie’s Angels”.
Do you miss your characters when you stop playing them?
‘I sometimes miss Dylan from “Charlie’s Angels” because she could just do the coolest shit. That movie for me is a real love letter to women. And then I’m so Josie Grossie from “Never Been Kissed”. I can never kick that character. I’m goofy and vulnerable and I am not cool a lot of the time and that’s okay. It’s about coming to terms with that and actually celebrating your little freak.’
You also have your own wine label. What's your favourite vintage?
‘I think rosé. I love pinot grigio too but I’m obsessed with our rosé. It’s the third wine I’ve created now and I feel like I’m hitting my stride.’
'Santa Clarita Diet' is on Netflix from Fri Feb 3.