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January 6, 2014

The Rebel Next Door

Name any youthful indiscretion and chances are Drew Barrymore has been there, done that. With scandal in her rearview mirror, the girl-all-grown-up still just wants to have fun.
Behind the Cover: Fashion | Behind the Cover: Beauty


Photo Credit: Photographs by Jan Welters

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This was by Barrymore's design. Coming of age without a family, she chose to assemble one of her own. "I hated growing up alone. I hated it." Barrymore has run with largely the same gang for 20 years. (Cameron Diaz is a recent addition.) Her loyalty is renowned. "I don't fuck anyone over." More to the point: "My friends are the loves of my life."

When asked if becoming a mother has shifted the decades-long volatile dynamic with her own, Jaid Barrymore, she drops her head and stares intently at her plate. "Ugh, I mean, my relationship with my mom is so complicated that …" she trails off, taking a sip of club soda, starts again. "I've always been empathetic toward my mom, and I was even more so when I had a kid and we had a really amazing conversation about it. However, it hasn't enabled me to lessen the distance. It's the hardest subject in my life. I've never just been angry with her. I've always felt guilt and empathy and utter sensitivity. But we can't really be in each other's lives at this point." (Her father, John Drew Barrymore, died in 2004.) Marrying into the Kopelmans has been an eye-opener. "I didn't think I would ever get to experience that. This is so safe and positive and healthy because they have their values intact. It was huge for me. And that's what I want for my family."

She talks about hosting Saturday Night Live at age 7, the youngest host it's ever had. (She also holds the record of most times—six—for a female host.) How she grew up completely exposed. About not wanting to make the same mistakes with her children. How that bond is paramount, as is their protection. Everything else could fall away, but as long as the family was safe and sound, all would be fine. "I'm so weary of the modern world. I'm not really of this era, so I'm struggling with that." For example? "I don't want to talk about sex anymore," she says frankly. "I used to be so open. But now people are like, 'Let's explore our sexuality!' And I'm like, 'Let's not!' I'm such a prude these days."

It is odd in some ways to hear the once freewheeling Barrymore describe herself as "very old-fashioned and very traditional," and yet, in other ways, it's not. She has grown up. She has built an empire and found her center and has no need for seductive naïveté or people-pleasing. Instead, she craves "structure, consistency, privacy, plans—they're crucial to me …" She starts to laugh. "God, I'm so boring now." Not too long ago, Barrymore endured bitter backlash after saying she didn't believe women could "have it all." Never mind that she is plainly correct—that it is, in fact, the belief in the myth of excelling in every capacity that drives women to madness—Barrymore still felt shitty. But she did not back down. "I understand if someone might be like, 'What fucking sexist crap are you pulling?' or 'What era are you talking about?' But the sentiment is not that you can't have it all, but that you can't do it all. Maybe I shouldn't say that nobody can. I know I can't. It's just not possible. You don't get to do everything all at once and all the time. Life doesn't work that way. I'm definitely going to be 5 to 10 pounds overweight. I'll be thrilled if my husband is pleased with me that day, if my kid feels like she came first, and if I accomplished something at my job. Then I can hit the sack."

Later, around 10 p.m., Barrymore will be in bed with Kopelman, hugging her body pillow. Olive is sleeping, the dogs, Douglas and Lucy, have been walked, The Colbert Report is queued up on the DVR. The scene is both mundane and perfect, a deep celebration of what is there rather than a longing for what is not. This is Barrymore's favorite time of day, when she feels most complete, when all that matters in her world rests in a tight circle and "there is nothing left to do." Earlier, she walked over her grandfather's star, blew a kiss into her hand, and patted the ground. Then she drove home to her husband and child, at long last knowing in her bones what family means.


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