Drew Barrymore was eight when she had her first drink.
The actor was with her mother, Jaid, at the wrap-party for the sci-fi horror Firestarter. The woman went one way, the child another. Drew wound up talking to two crew members she’d come to know during filming. Young, brash and eager to please, the young star bet them she could down two glasses of champagne.
They hesitated, but she insisted. “No, I bet I can.”
A crystal glass was placed in her hand. “Down it, champ.” She skolled the fizzing liquid in two gulps. Then another glass, the same.
“I was tipsy, and bubbly, and the life of the party,” Drew told Oprah Winfrey in a 1990 interview. “I felt so good. All my problems had seemed to disappear for that hour that I was out of it.”
By the following year, Drew Barrymore was casually drinking. At 10, she took up marijuana, and by 12 she began snorting cocaine. A troubled, dependent child in the spotlight; a world away from the empowered actor/producer/entrepreneur fans know today.
The young Hollywood star.
Born February 22, 1975, one of four children to aspiring actor Jaid and film star husband John Barrymore, Drew was among the fourth-generation of Barrymores to take up the craft. Even her godparents were legends of the industry: actor Sophia Loren, Anna Strasberg (wife of acclaimed acting teacher, Lee) and director Steven Spielberg.
By the time Drew Barrymore appeared in E.T. at the age of seven, the highest-grossing film of the ’80s, she was being called the modern-day Shirley Temple. She had the dimples, the confidence, the star quality. And with her famous family, a career in Hollywood seemed inevitable.
Her first role was in a pet food commercial at just 11 months old — a role she landed because she laughed when the starring dog nipped at her during the audition. Her big-screen debut came with a small role in the 1980 movie Altered States, then E.T., Firestarter, which was an adaptation of the Stephen King novel, and Irreconcilable Differences, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. (She would ultimately go on to win one 25 years later for Grey Gardens.)