Drew Barrymore had a complicated relationship with her parents growing up. The actress and talk show host emancipated herself from her mother and father by 14. Now, she is praising Steven Spielberg’s impact on her life from a young age.
In a new Vulture profile published Monday, Barrymore, 48, described the filmmaker as “the only person in my life to this day that ever was a parental figure” after he cast the then-child actress in a key role for 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
The profile detailed some aspects of Spielberg’s relationship with Barrymore, who was seven during E.T.‘s production — including keeping operators around to maneuver the E.T. puppet at all times so it could react to Barrymore.
“I didn’t want to burst the bubble,” Spielberg told the outlet for the story, noting he made sure to shoot the movie in chronological order, which is rare for film productions. He discussed a moment in which Barrymore asked for the puppet’s operators to leave during a scene. “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.”
The story recounted that Barrymore would eat lunch with the E.T. puppet during filming and asked Spielberg to be her godfather, leading her to stay with the filmmaker during weekends. “She was staying up way past her bedtime, going to places she should have only been hearing about, and living a life at a very tender age that I think robbed her of her childhood,” Spielberg once said of his thoughts on Barrymore’s tumultuous childhood, per the outlet. “Yet I felt very helpless because I wasn’t her dad. I could only kind of be a consigliere to her.”
The story also discussed Barrymore’s complicated thoughts on her parents, Jaid Barrymore and John Drew Barrymore, whom she won legal emancipation from at age 14. Barrymore recalled memories of her father acting abusive toward her from as early as three years old, when “he stormed in and tossed her into a wall,” according to the outlet.