Drew Barrymore Says Steven Spielberg Was the Only “Parental Figure” She Ever Had

Getty / Michael Kovac

Drew Barrymore was just 6 years old when she first met director Steven Spielberg during a casting for 1982’s blockbuster hit “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Little did she know, the audition would not only lead to her breakout role as an actor but a long-lasting friendship with Spielberg. In an interview with Vulture published on June 5, the 48-year-old actor said Spielberg was “the only person in my life to this day that ever was a parental figure.”

Barrymore, who’s been open about growing up with uninvolved and abusive parents, apparently asked Spielberg if he could be her dad while they were working on “E.T.” together, but he declined. So then she asked if he could be her godfather, and he said yes. Spielberg also went to great lengths to conceal the realities of a film set for Barrymore after she noticed men operating the alien behind a wall and she asked him to kick them out. “I didn’t want to burst the bubble,” Spielberg explained. “So I simply said, ‘It’s okay, E.T. is so special E.T. has eight assistants. I am the director, I only have one.” Barrymore would then have lunch with E.T. and tell him her secrets and Spielberg made sure to have assistants on hand so the alien could react to Barrymore.

Barrymore told Vulture that she stayed with the director during the weekends and that he would take her to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. He also gifted her a cat she named Gertie.

Barrymore was raised by her mother, Ildiko Jaid Barrymore, who Barrymore says treated her more like a friend and client than a daughter. She says her father, John Drew Barrymore, was an abusive drunk who abandoned her mother when she was young. Barrymore became emancipated from her parents at 14, and she says she and her mom have never fully reconciled. Referencing Jennette McCurdy and Brooke Shields’s broken relationships with their own moms, Barrymore said, “All their moms are gone, and my mom’s not.” She continued, “And I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t have that luxury. But I cannot wait. I don’t want to live in a state where I wish someone to be gone sooner than they’re meant to be so I can grow. I actually want her to be happy and thrive and be healthy. But I have to f*cking grow in spite of her being on this planet.”

Almost immediately after saying those words, Barrymore regretted wishing her mom ill will. “I dared to say it, and I didn’t feel good,” she told the outlet. “I do care. I’ll never not care. I don’t know if I’ve ever known how to fully guard, close off, not feel, build the wall up.”

Vulture notes that a few weeks after the interview was conducted, Barrymore said she texted her mom for her birthday. Five days later, the actor wrote a blog post, writing in part, “My mother is still here. And I worry every day that something in my exploration will hurt her feelings. Because that isn’t what I want. And I have been petrified of how to justifiably go on my expedition without consequence,” she wrote. “Once again, my friend Dr. Aliza Pressman, said, as I poured out my worries to her, she said, ‘Well you don’t have the luxury of waiting, you have two young girls.’ with that came a gift and peace. This isn’t just about my mom. It’s about my girls. It’s about me. It’s about how to simply be a mother.” Barrymore has two daughters, Olive and Frankie, with ex-husband Will Kopelman.

Ahead take a look at more pictures of Barrymore and Spielberg through the years.

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