By Tim Nasson
Drew Barrymore has a couple things to get off her chest before we begin talking about her most recent comedy, Never Been Kissed.
“Yes, I am going to be starring in a big-screen version of Charlie’s Angels (opposite Cameron Diaz and probably Angelina Jolie),”she says first, when asked. “And no, I won’t be going forward with a feature film about Brandon Teena,” she adds.
More about Brandon Teena later. First, I needed to ask Drew about the kiss she shared with her Never Been Kissed co-star Molly Shannon on Shannon’s television show “Saturday Night Live” recently.
“That was the best thing,” she says, about hosting the popular comedy show, on March 14. “But kissing Molly Shannon was even better.”
This was not the first time that the adorable Drew acted as hostess of the hit late-night show. Seventeen years before, at the age of seven, Barrymore became the youngest host of SNL — she retains that title — when she was there to promote her second film — what was it called? Oh, that’s right, E.T.
Dressed in a blue cardigan sweater, Drew enters the suite at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills followed by her beautiful Labrador, Flossy.
“I try to take him with me everywhere,” she says of her four-pawed friend.
The last time I spoke with Drew, last November, she had recently completed filming Never Been Kissed, and had just returned from having seen it for the first time. She was very excited and proud of her effort, and rightfully so. Never Been Kissed is the first film that Barrymore produced under her production company, Flower Films.
The film happens to have been a great vehicle for Barrymore to debut her talent at producing. Following her two smashes from last year, The Wedding Singer and Ever After, Barrymore scores big as Josie Geller, a struggling copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times who wins an opportunity to prove herself as an undercover reporter, back at the high school she went to eight years earlier. The problem? A huge one. Actually a nightmare. You see, when Josie was a student at the high school, she was called “Grossie” Josie because of her geekiness. She was a klutzy, nerdy, “never-been-kissed” laughingstock. Can Josie overcome the horrid memories and go back to school as a “new” girl and fit in with today’s even more incredulous teens?,
Barrymore recalls that Never Been Kissed was a labor of love. “I wanted to make this movie because it taps into an emotion that everyone can identify with — the awkward moments of our high school years. For Josie, high school was a horrible, humiliating experience. She completely lacks in social skills, and now, when she has to relive those years by going back, she again misses the mark by the mile.”
Molly Shannon joins us later in the morning, and says she enjoyed playing Barrymore’s colleague in the film and also kissing her on “Saturday Night Live”.
“She is such a good kisser, too,” Shannon beams, when told that Barrymore paid her lips a compliment.
“We even did some kissing during our dress rehearsal,” she says, laughing.
Shannon, an Ohio native and regular on “SNL”, well-known for characters such as Mary Katherine Gallagher and Helen, the Licensed Joyologist — based on a drunk neighbor of hers when she was growing up — recalls that her high school counselors never gave her much encouragement because of her lack of attention in school.
“They were nice enough to tell me that I would do well at Ohio State. I was like, ‘F*** you. I’ll go wherever I want to. I’ll show you,” she says, laughing.
Show them she did. Shannon moved to NYC and went to NYU, where she met some aspiring comedians and actors who introduced her to cast members of “SNL”.
“I’m lucky. Yes, but because I am doing something I love, making people laugh and feel good,” says Shannon, running her fingers through her hair (“I quit smoking and need to keep my fingers busy”).
Shannon, who steals Never Been Kissed, as she did a scene in Analyze This, debuted on the big screen less than a year ago in A Night at the Roxbury. Since then, she has completed filming Superstar, which will be released in September and is a film revolving around her “SNL” character Mary Katherine Gallagher.
Shannon and Barrymore are now both single, Barrymore very recently single.
“No, I am not seeing Edward Norton. We are just friends,” Drew says, when asked. “We were at the Academy Awards together as friends. I am enjoying my singleness.”
You’ll remember that her Home Fries co-star Luke Wilson was also her real-life boyfriend at the time of filming and until a couple of months ago.
Things change, though, and it seems that things have changed in the right direction for Barrymore over the years. She has recovered from her pre-teen and teenage drug and alcohol abuse, which necessitated an almost decade-long film hiatus, and has chosen some pretty good roles — in Boys on the Side, Scream, and Batman Forever — since her return to film, roles which have kept her one of America’s favorite faces.
“I really wanted to do the Brandon Teena movie. I wanted to produce and star in it,” says Barrymore, recalling the true story about the girl who lived as a boy and was murdered when her secret was discovered. “But I lost it. I had such a great interest in the film,” she adds, “and told everyone about it long before I should have. I have learned to keep my mouth shut.”
While Barrymore is not too happy that she will not be working on Brandon Teena, she is glad that the film is getting made with Hilary Swank in the title role. “They,” she says, referring to the other producers, “like us, appreciated the story and realized it needed to be told on screen. More power to them for beating me to it.”