Drew Barrymore is an A-list actress. It seems like she has been on the scene forever, and that’s probably because she pretty much has been. Even before 7-year-old Drew starred in the hit Steven Spielberg film E.T., her ancestors were in Hollywood for decades. Her most famous relatives are her great-aunt Ethel Barrymore, her great-uncle Lionel Barrymore and her grandfather John Barrymore.
But those are the modern Barrymores. Drew’s family can be traced back at least 400 years to her fourth great-grandfather Thomas Haycraft, a combination of her two acting families, the Drews, and the Barrymores. Her ancestors were acting on the stage way before the silent film era. With generations of celebrities, acting is pretty much the family business for them. Being born into stardom may seem like a dream, but it’s not as glamorous behind the scenes.
This is the true story of the Barrymore acting dynasty and the truth about Drew’s childhood.
Thomas Haycraft Lane and Louisa Rouse Lane’s granddaughter, Louisa Lane Drew, started acting at an extremely young age. Louisa had a natural-born gift and was considered a child prodigy. She played The Duke of York in Shakespeare’s Richard III alongside Junius Brutus Booth (the father of John Wilkes and Edwin Booth). It one of the earliest roles for both of them.
She continued to work with some of the greatest actors of her time. In her autobiography, Louisa wrote about how she really enjoyed acting, even though she wasn’t given much of choice. She needed to support her family as a youngster and then again when her Irish American actor husband John Drew died.
Multiple marriages are another thing that Louisa has in common with her descendants. Lionel Barrymore tied the knot twice, John Barrymore four times, John Drew Barrymore (Drew Barrymore’s father) four times, and Drew Barrymore walked down the aisle three times.
Before John passed away, he had three children, including the legendary Shakespearean actor John Drew Jr. and the comedian-actress Georgiana Drew Barrymore. Louisa worked as a stage manager for a year at the Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia. The theatre had many successful shows under the leadership of the seasoned actress.
Louisa’s daughter Georgina and Georgina’s husband Maurice Barrymore welcomed acting legends into the world: Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore. But Maurice Barrymore was a stage name; he was born Herbert Blythe. His father worked as a surveyor for the British East India company and thought his son was going to be a barrister. He didn’t have the highest opinions of the acting profession.
The reason Hebert Blythe took on the stage name Maurice Barrymore was so that his dad wouldn’t be embarrassed that his family name was associated with acting. A few years later, the India-born Englishman moved to the U.S. He was a well-known stage actor and one of the very first Broadway stars to try vaudeville.
Since Georgiana and Maurice spent a lot of time touring, Louisa helped raise Lionel, Ethel, and John. Sadly, Georgiana passed away from tuberculous at age 37, and Lionel and Ethel searched for acting jobs. But neither of them was particularly interested in an acting career when they were growing up; in fact, Ethel wanted to be a pianist, while Lionel and John wanted to be artists.
Lionel and John actually tried to become artists but, unfortunately, neither achieved enough success to do it for a living. Meanwhile, Ethel was often quoted saying, “I always wanted to be a pianist, but I had to eat, and acting seemed like the natural thing to do since the family was already in it.” She was a successful actress and even helped support her father and brother John.
Maurice was a colorful character, to say the least. He owned a farm with exotic animals, wrote plays once in a while, and was involved in affairs. Maurice almost died over a poker game when the losing party shot Maurice in the chest. Despite all this, somehow, the guy still had time to perform on stage until… one day he decided to go off the script and “suddenly dropped his lines and began to rave,” according to The New York Times.
He found out that he had an advanced stage of syphilis, a disease that causes damage to your brain, heart, and nervous system if left untreated. When Maurice acted violently, John took him to Bellevue. Ethel eventually transferred him to Amityville, where he died four years later.
The last years of Maurice’s life really affected John deeply. He always worried that he would end up like his father. John had a chaotic childhood, and his parents weren’t around much. When he was 11, his mother died, and when he was 15, his grandmother Louisa died. Similarly, Maurice was raised by his aunt after his mother died when he was only a couple of days old.
At age 14, John started drinking and never stopped. His alcohol dependency issues made it difficult for him to hold down jobs. He started off working at The New York Evening Journal as and illustrated and poster designer before deciding that “it looks as though I’ll have to succumb to the family curse, acting.”
Like his brother and sister, John was an applauded actor on stage and screen. He really enjoyed performing Shakespeare. Thanks to his striking profile, he was known as “the profile.” John was a leading man and landed parts like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Lionel was more of a character actor who you might recognize as Henry Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Ethel could play just about anything, but toward the end of her career, she often starred as bedbound ill characters. Lionel, Ethel and John each performed with different relatives on stage, but the three siblings starred in one movie together: Rasputin and the Empress. 20 years later, Lionel and Ethel partnered up once again for the film Main Street to Broadway (sadly, John had already passed away by then).
Lionel and Ethel both won Academy Awards, and John earned a Rudolph Valentino Medal in 1925, an outstanding achievement since it was the first awards ceremony to acknowledge artistic accomplishment in film. Valentino’s premature death a year later made it the only Valentino Medal ever given out.
All three siblings, as well as John’s son, John Drew Barrymore, and granddaughter, Drew Barrymore, have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. John Barrymore even had his profile-print, handprints, and footprints immortalized at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
Lionel and Ethel Barrymore had more than just acting chops. Lionel directed, wrote books, composed music, and was a talented graphic artist and horticulturist. Ethel enjoyed writing plays and short stories. John, on the other hand, dedicated himself to performing and alcohol.
John’s drinking made him erratic, late to work, and even led to some memory problems. Toward the end of his career, he could barely remember his lines. At this point, he was landing very few roles, and the ones he got were just parodies of himself. However, his expensive divorces meant he needed to keep working. John was only 60 years old in 1942 when he died from cirrhosis of the liver and kidney failure.
Addiction and alcoholism are horrible traits that John passed on to his descendants. His children, Diana and John Drew Barrymore, both had successful acting careers before drugs and alcohol overpowered their talent.
Unfortunately, Diana passed away from a drug overdose at the early age of 38. John Drew died of cancer at age 72. John Barrymore had a third child: Dolores Ethel Mae Barrymore. She chose not to follow the family path and didn’t go into acting. She is currently 90 years old=.
Sadly, but unsurprisingly, addiction followed some of John Drew Barrymore’s children as well, including Jessica Barrymore, who died of an overdose in 2014. John Bluth Barrymore and Drew Barrymore also had notable struggles with drugs. Drew was a child star who landed her big break at age 7 for her role in E.T. and began drinking when she was 9.
When she was just 15 years old, she had already been through rehab and emancipated herself from her parents. Or as her brother, John Blyth Barrymore, puts it, “Everyone in the family had a bad patch. My sister Drew was the only smart one – she got hers over before she was even 18.”
Drew was able to reinvent her career, gaining extreme popularity with movies like Scream, The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed, and Charlie’s Angels. The beloved actress also added screenwriter, director, and producer to her resume and received a Golden Globe for her role in Grey Gardens.
These days she plays a real estate agent-turned-zombie in the hit Netflix show Santa Clarita Diet. The remarkable starlet also wrote two memoirs and owns a clothing and cosmetic line. The acting was always important to her just like it was for many of her relatives. Luckily, she was able to find stability and not allow her family history of addiction to plague her forever.
During an interview with The Guardian, Drew opened up about her family’s acting dynasty: “I think films saved my life. I mean, I come from a family that has done acting for 400 years. But film sets are a bizarre world. For me, it was better than my circumstances. It was a savior.”
Although she feels acting helped save her, she doesn’t plan on allowing her children to get into the industry. That doesn’t mean the Barrymore acting dynasty is over. She went on to say that if they choose to get into acting later in life, she would be supportive. She just doesn’t want to push them into such a toxic industry as little kids. And who could blame her?!
I guess only time will tell whether Drew’s kids will get into acting or not. But with generations of actors marrying other actors and their children becoming actors, a career path unrelated to the entertainment industry seems like a radical choice. If talent runs in their blood, they might choose to be stage actors or work in theatre.
If they do end up becoming mainstream Hollywood actors, there will be one significant difference. It will be their choice, their dreams, and their achievements. They will not be pushed into anything as kids, and their genetic talent will speak for itself, not their family name.
As we know, Barrymore started off as a child actress. She quickly embarked on a dangerous path of substance abuse. Although child stars going bad seems like a tragic cliché at this point, it makes for a good story. Barrymore’s memoir, Little Girl Lost, tells the story of her earliest years.
She has spoken openly about her early years and revealed that she had her first cigarette at nine years old and was regularly going to clubs just a few years later. She finished the book when she was 14 and, in 2015, she released Wildflower, which tells more about her life since she was a young teen.
By the time she was five, Drew had already starred in two TV movies and one feature film: Altered States. Her fourth and breakout role was in Steven Spielberg’s movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and it propelled her to childhood fame.
Drew played the protagonist’s little sister, Gertie. She was only seven when the movie came out. The actress revealed that during filming, Spielberg told her that he would never do a sequel to E.T. Seven years old and already having conversations with Spielberg. Very impressive.
How do you find your soul mate? A bookstore? The vegetable aisle? If you’re from this generation, perhaps Tinder? Well, if you thought meeting online wasn’t romantic, Drew met one of her exes, musician Eric Erlandson, while she was throwing up outside of a club. He stood by to stand guard. That’s quite the first impression.
Two weeks later, the actress ran into him by accident when she knocked on his door because someone had given her the wrong room number. She ran into him again in Seattle while filming Mad Love. This time, the musician made a move and asked Drew to come over and listen to some music. The pair moved in together almost immediately.
Drew Barrymore has been really open and honest about her childhood. She grew up in a world that gave her so much excitement and so much grief. But after overcoming so many obstacles standing in her way, including drugs and alcohol, the actress now focuses on positivity.
Her goal is to bring happiness with the movies she makes. She particularly wants to take on roles that focus on self-improvement, optimism, and joy. That’s actually one of the reasons she took on one of her most famous roles in Charlie’s Angels.
Most of us don’t regularly meet celebrities. The average person would be lucky to meet just a few of them and make sure to snap a picture for proof! But Barrymore rolled with the Hollywood crowd, so meeting celebrities wasn’t such a big deal… most of the time.
In 1984, she had the honor of meeting Mr. T at the People’s Choice Awards and casually partied with Rod Stewarts’ band in West Germany. You know, the usual. Barrymore also met Purple Rain co-star Apollonia, and the singer even gave her the ring she wore in the movie, The Rich Get Richer.
Often times, when a Hollywood starlet takes a step back from the spotlight, fans fear the worst. But don’t worry about Drew Barrymore. Her net worth is currently estimated at approximately $125 million! She has quite a few houses to retreat to when she needs privacy, including her $8 million L.A. home.
Barrymore has still got it. I love seeing her beautiful face on the screen. Maxim ranked her #40 on the Hot 100 list, which is impressive, but I personally think she should have been higher. The stunner was also included in People’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue.
Since she had such an unconventional childhood, Barrymore wanted her children to experience a little more stability and normality. She got off to a good start with her hubby Will Kopelman by welcoming two children into the world: Olive and Frankie. But the couple split up after three years.
Even though the divorce was disappointing, the actress revealed that the two on still on great terms. They wanted to set a good example for their kids, who will learn from seeing how their parents treat each other. More than anything, the actress wants her kids to feel “safe” and “know I’ve got them.”
When you start acting as young as Barrymore did, the glamourous profession gets old pretty quickly. When the late ‘90s rolled around, she and Nancy Juvonen founded Flower Films, their production company. The first movie they produced was Never Been Kissed, starring Barrymore. The company produced other notable films, like Donnie Darko, 50 First Dates, and Charlie’s Angels.
There is a very early Drew Barrymore credit you won’t find on IMDb. She was actually in a dog food commercial that her family put her in when she was 11 months old. A promising start to a long career.
Although she is famous for her acting chops, Barrymore revealed that she prefers to direct. The first movie she directed was Whip It in 2009, and she loved it. Drew found much more satisfaction in controlling the outcome of things, instead of just saying her lines and hoping everything works out at the end.
Drew revealed that it was fun for her to work behind the scenes of a movie: “Having a hand in it, being part of the process, has given me tremendous satisfaction. I don’t like just showing up.”
I don’t know where Drew Barrymore ranks on IMD’s star meter, but she has certainly become a household name… at least for my generation. However, it looks like we won’t be seeing Barrymore on the big screen as much as we did back in the 1990s.
The actress is a mom first. With her family duties and business endeavors such as producing, her time is restricted. She wants to take care of her kids, and a busy Hollywood life tends to take time away from more important things, like family. She admitted that she no longer has time for demanding roles.
If you watch Family Guy, you know Brian goes through girlfriends the way most people go through underwear. One of the most notable girlfriends was arguably Jillian, the good-looking blonde girl with a heart of gold, even though there wasn’t much going on in her brain.
The dumb blonde was actually voiced by Drew! Since the show has had lots of celebrity talent appear throughout the years, ranging from Jessica Biel to Ryan Reynold, many people are unaware that Drew Barrymore was the voice of Jillian.
Most actors can be pretty quiet when it comes to giving themselves an honest critique and admitting that they pretty much play themselves in their characters. But Drew Barrymore has no problem admitting that there was only one specific role that truly tested her as an actress.
That part was in her portrayal of Edith Bouvier Beale in Grey Gardens. The actress revealed that her earlier roles in rom-coms like Never Been Kissed allowed her to play herself. The older she got, she landed roles as a contented mother that fit her personality more. For example, her character in Blended.
When I was seven, the most notable thing I accomplished was winning a game of pin the tail on the donkey. But when Barrymore was seven, she did what all other second graders did… become the youngest person to host Saturday Night Live. Just a casual evening for this little lady.
On November 20th, 1982, she made history with her SNL debut. Barrymore is part of the exclusive club of people who have hosted SNL more than five times. She still remains the youngest person to have ever hosted the show.
I’m not an expert, but I would assume that any actor or actress would fight to get a lead role instead of playing the first victim in a horror movie. In Drew Barrymore’s case, she was offered the lead role in Scream that ultimately went to Neve Campbell.
The filmwriter Kevin Williamson knew he wanted the biggest star in the movie to die first; he even considered courting Alicia Silverstone for the part of Casey Becker. As Barrymore looked over the script once again, she realized she loved the opening scene and told Williamson that she wanted the role of Casey Becker. The actress still considers the scene a masterpiece.
As we know, Barrymore has quite a family history when it comes to Hollywood. But when it comes to her famous family members in the industry, it’s not always related by blood. Drew’s godfather is renowned director Steven Spielberg.
Barrymore was also close friends with Courtney Love before Courtney, and Kurt Cobain had their daughter. Drew is Francis Bean Cobain’s godmother. If that isn’t crazy enough, guess who Drew’s daughter Frankie’s godmother is? The one and only Cameron Diaz.
Drew Barrymore’s autobiography Little Girl Lost reveals a lot of juicy details about the young star’s life, including her first kiss with fellow actor Breckin Meyer. You might recognize Meyer from the TV show Franklin & Bash or notable movies like Clueless and Rat Race.
The actor revealed that the kiss happened when he was an 11-year-old kid. But it worked in his favor. After the kiss, Barrymore got her new crush an audition with an agent. Therefore, she possibly paved the way for his impressive acting career.
When it comes to discrimination in Hollywood, Barrymore is not naïve. She is fully aware that they can restrict the variety of roles women receive. She joked that after hitting 40, she passed her prime for love interest roles.
But the actress feels lucky that she was able to create her own production company and work on successful projects. When she was only 23, she produced the film Never Been Kissed. Barrymore remembers wearing corduroy pants when she went to meet Fox executives, but she still got the green light to take on the project.
Like everyone else in the world, Barrymore had a few missteps. She worked on Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon but, unfortunately, it wasn’t well-received. The rom-com followed Barrymore and Fallon’s characters’ relationship, which was stalled by Fallon’s devout commitment to the Boston Red Sox, and it was a financial disappointment.
The movie came out in 2005, just one year after the Red Sox won the World Series. As it turned out, the film’s production overlapped the Game 4 win, so Barrymore and Fallon were on the field when the Red Sox celebrated. The Red Sox seem to have forgiven the on-screen couple, but fans don’t think the actors deserved to celebrate with the team.
Barrymore has openly stated that she has been in a relationship with women. Sometimes, these types of relationships can be seen as publicity stunts, but the actress explained that she sees a woman and a woman as a beautiful coupling, the same way she thinks a man and a woman is a beautiful union.
For a little while, Barrymore was dating the drummer or The Strokes, Fabrizio Moretti. Moretti dated Kristen Wiig, Barrymore’s close friend, in 2012. Barrymore expressed that the dynamic of that relationship “seems so wacky and incestuous, but that’s kind of how life works.” That’s one way to look at it. Wiig and Moretti called in quits in 2013, which hopefully made things a little less awkward.
Next time you’re in the mood for a nice glass of cabernet sauvignon, check out Barrymore’s winery. She really likes wine, so she decided to make it a business endeavor. Barrymore specifically enjoys a fruity white wine, but her winery offers a much wider selection.
In February 2004, the actress received her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which really cemented her status as a Hollywood A-lister. She is actually the fifth member of her acting family to get this honor, in addition to her father, grandfather, and two more relatives.
Barrymore was pretty much born into Hollywood, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she crossed paths with other celebrities. When she was a teenager, Barrymore went out on a date with the very famous Christian Bale. Bale later revealed that the actress never called him back.
In Barrymore’s defense, this was a difficult time in her life. She was dealing with severe addictions to alcohol and drugs. As she puts it, she “had a lot of fish to fry,” and boys were not a priority at that time in her life. Luckily, she was able to recover and then had plenty of time for dating.
If someone asked us to rank Adam Sandler, Hugh Grant, and Jake Gyllenhaal in terms of talent, I would keep my answer to myself in order not to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, during an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden, Barrymore and John Boyega were playing a game of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts,” where they have to answer a tough question… or eat something disgusting.
Instead of being forced to eat bird saliva, Barrymore came clean about who is the least talented of co-stars, and her answer was pretty surprising. She put Gyllenhaal at the bottom! I mean, has she not seen Nightcrawler?!
Like many actresses, Barrymore needs to really act the part in her personal life (to an extent) in order to make her character’s portrayal more believable on screen. Barrymore sticks to a vegan diet and exercises while filming The Santa Clarita Diet but returns to a normal diet when filming ends.
Barrymore revealed she puts on weight whenever filming wraps. Her mom even suggested cold-sculpting (fat-freezing). I’m not entirely sure what that means. However, Barrymore embraces her looks. A stranger once asked her if she was pregnant. The witty actress was quick to answer, “No, I’m just fat right now.”
Barrymore was happily dating Tom Green back in 2001, and the couple was enjoying their home in a canton north of Beverly Hills. But when they were sleeping one night, things took a turn for the worst, and their house caught on fire. Their dog Flossie woke them up barking and likely saved their lives. The house was ruined, and there was about $700,000 in fire damage.
Back in 2002, the punk band Eden Park released a vinyl called Journey to the Centre of Skill Mountain. It included a track called “Barry Loves Drew Barrymore.” The band hasn’t had much of a big break since, but that doesn’t change the fact that they wrote a song about her.
Since Barrymore was required to stay in a mental institution when she was 13, it probably doesn’t come as a shock that she didn’t finish high school. However, she did put all her experiences and feelings into her acting career.
Barrymore’s past hardships made for some convenient fuel to get raw emotion out of her. Director Wes Craven noticed this during the filming of Scream. Barrymore opened up to Craven so he would know exactly what to say in order to make her cry during the week-long shoot of her scene in the movie.
Barrymore was introduced to the world of the paranormal and sci-fi at a young age. She read Stephen King’s Firestarter at the tender age of five. She went on to appear in two Stephen King movie adaptations and almost landed the child’s role in Poltergeist.
The movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter may not be as popular as It or The Shining, but Barrymore remembers it from her role as Charlie McGee. If you’re a Stranger Things fan, you might notice some similarities in the plot, which is about a girl with powers running away from a clandestine branch of the government.
Barrymore stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman back in 1995. During her interview, she spoke about a movie scene where her character does a striptease. She offered a demonstration, and let’s just say it didn’t exactly go as planned.
She ended up accidentally flashing Letterman with her back to the camera! The actress returned to the show and explained how she developed good chemistry with Letterman. I could only imagine. At least they were able to laugh off this awkward moment.
When she was only 19 years old, Barrymore posed nude for Playboy. In response, her protective godfather Steven Spielberg sent her a quilt with a note saying, “cover yourself up.” I guess she really is daddy’s little girl. Or at least god-daddy’s little girl.
By the time she became an adult, Barrymore had a long and successful career as a child actress. That’s why in 1999, she received a child star “lifetime achievement” award. Although she had a troubled upbringing, she accomplished more in her childhood than most of us do in our entire life.
As we know, Barrymore began drinking and clubbing at an extremely young age. But do you ever wonder how her mother let her get away with it? As it turns out, Barrymore’s mother, Jaid, was actually born in a displaced person’s camp for Hungarian World War II refugees.
Barrymore believes the situation had a huge impact. Her mom was living in an unregulated environment, and it must have led to her unhealthy parenting style: Barrymore started drinking and partying with her mother and her mother’s friends about five times a week! That’s a lot for a grown adult, let alone a 9-year-old child!
Unfortunately, her early problems with drugs and alcohol led Drew down a dangerous path that led to a suicide attempt when she was just 13. Luckily, Drew was found and taken to the hospital. After that, her mom sent her to a mental institution, where she stayed for a year and a half. Drew said she didn’t even get a warning.
However, Drew revealed if she had known anything, she would have run away. When she was released at age 14, she legally became an adult by emancipating herself from her mother. Despite all this, Barrymore thinks fondly of her mom now, even though they don’t talk very often.
After her suicide attempt and subsequent stay at a mental institution, Barrymore lived with David Crosby. The rock star and his wife, Jan, had also dealt with drug and alcohol abuse and wanted to help Barrymore get her life back on track.
Crosby also believes Barrymore will be the one to break the chain of addiction that runs in her family. The most recent victim was Barrymore’s father. The actress hasn’t discussed that experience much, but she did admit she would be f— up” if it wasn’t for people like “David and Jan and Steven (Spielberg).”
Despite her extreme success as a child actress, Barrymore’s life wasn’t so easy. Especially after her substance abuse and emancipation from her mother. She found herself in a rough spot where she was having financial difficulties (despite working her entire life).
She ended up taking a job at a coffee shop and was called a “bad employee” by the owner. Not long after, Barrymore landed the role in Poison Ivy. The movie helped the reinvented and grown-up Barrymore snag roles. And it led to her successful career as an adult actress.
When she was born, the little starlet was given the name Drew Blyth Barrymore. However, at one point or another, she really hated to be called Drew. Perhaps because it’s derived from her dad’s middle name. The way Barrymore put it in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone, no one who cared about her called her Drew. Her preferred nicknames at the time were D or Daisy.
These days the name doesn’t bother her as much. We can see how the names are repeated in the family, but it looks like Drew broke the cycle when she named her own children Olive and Frankie.
Barrymore’s ancestors are acting royalty, with a legacy stretching back to the 1800s. Drew’s grandpa John Barrymore and her dad John Drew Barrymore were talented actors. John was a Shakespearean actor who tragically drank himself to death at age 60. Drew’s father, John Drew Barrymore, was a movie star in films like The Sundowners and While the City Sleeps. He dealt with his own struggles with drugs, alcohol, and physical abuse.
He passed away in 2004. Even though he was an estranged father who wasn’t involved in his daughter’s life much, Drew still referred to him as a “cool cat” in a statement her publicist released after his death.