“I am a hippie girl with anger issues, I get it,” Drew Barrymore said cheerily, while talking about her new film, Whip It!, which hits theaters Friday, on the heels of fawning reviews.
Barrymore was at the Toronto Film Festival, talking about her character in the film—Smashley Simpson, a roller derby chick with a mean streak—but she was also talking about herself. From her blond hair with the tips dyed black, right on down to her clunky, red-satin heels, Barrymore looked every bit the child actress turned wild child the world has come to expect.
View Our Gallery of Drew Barrymore’s Evolution from Rebellious Child Star to Movie Mogul
But whatever her professions of zaniness, lately Barrymore has seemed awfully grown up. Whip It!, based on Shauna Cross’ young adult book Derby Girl, is Barrymore’s directorial debut, meaning she can now add auteur to her already multi-hyphenated job description of actress-producer. In the former role, Barrymore has also been stretching in new directions, and as a result was nominated for a Best Actress Emmy for playing “Little Edie” Beale in HBO’s Grey Gardens, a role that proved she has much more to give than simply fulfilling Hollywood’s daffy-adorable ( 50 First Dates) and action babe ( Charlie’s Angels) needs.
“I love to go get plastered with my friends on a Saturday night and let it go, but… I’m up on Monday morning at 6 a.m. and I don’t stop for seven days straight.”
Barrymore copped to a new maturity as she discussed Marcia Gay Harden’s role in Whip It!, as a mother trying to rein in her rebellious teenager daughter (Ellen Page), who trades in beauty pageants for the bitches-on-wheels world of roller derby. “Being a 35-year-old woman, and on the mom side, too, I really appreciate this woman clawing her way to have her daughter have the best life possible,” Barrymore said, adding that her decision to not “tie the film up in a Hollywood bow” was also influenced by where she is in life. “I was so obsessed with happy endings in my 20s. In my 30s, I’m like, a good day is a good day.”
But if Barrymore is taking on the role of older and wiser, not to mention mentor to many of the film’s young actresses, she’s doing it in her own, quirkily self-empowered way. Case in point: her recent lip-lock with Page on the cover of Marie-Claire.
Still, Barrymore maintained that for all of her Girls Just Want to Have Fun-ess, she works hard to earn that right. “I do a very serious, disciplined, mature job,” she said of her work at Flower Films, the production company she runs with Nancy Juvonen. “That said, I love to go get plastered with my friends on a Saturday night and let it go, but… I’m up on Monday morning at 6 a.m. and I don’t stop for seven days straight.”
While shooting, Barrymore said of her ladies, “We’d go out on a Saturday night and start a female fight club. It’s so fun for girls to do what boys do. We don’t want to be boxed in. We started punching each other, and I said, ‘Oh my God! I have to put that in the movie!’ That’s the great thing about being a director—Oh my God, I can do that!”
Nicole LaPorte is the senior West Coast correspondent for The Daily Beast. A former film reporter for Variety, she has also written for The New Yorker, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Observer, and W.