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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 04/ 8/2009

Drew Barrymore on the Brink?

By Liz Kelly

Drew Barrymore is a lot of things: Former child star. Romantic comedy staple. Recovering addict. Producer. Serial dater. She's also, at 34, on the brink of the best acting years of her life.

On April 18, we'll see an entirely new Drew when an adaptation of "Grey Gardens" -- based on the life of Jackie Kennedy cousin Little Edie Beale -- airs on HBO. Drew takes on the role of "Little" Edie opposite Jessica Lange, who portrays her equally eccentric mother "Big" Edie.

There's been some blowback from fans of the Broadway production of "Grey Gardens," who would've liked to see Christine Ebersole star in the HBO version. But the production was a labor of love for Barrymore, who placed high stakes on the role.

As she recently told E! Online, anxiety caused Barrymore to drop a noticeable amount of weight during filming:

"The expectations I put on myself were definitely life-changing for me, ones that absolutely caused physical and mental despair for a long time. I cared so much about wanting to do a good job on this that I did things I've never done before in order to achieve it."

I've taken some ribbing over the years for my vocal support -- nay, banner-waving -- for Drew. But she's more than a pouty underdog girlfriend. She's got her own production company and later this year we'll see her first directorial attempt when "Whip It" -- starring "Juno's" Ellen Page as a roller derby girl -- is released. I'm hoping her turn in "Grey Gardens" pushes her beyond the rom-com realm and into roles where she can truly let her inherited acting skills shine.

It seems Barrymore's ready to diversify (although a new rom-com co-starring her ex, Justin Long, was just announced), as she told Elle magazine:

"I'm in my thirties now, and I really want to try all the things that I haven't gotten to do yet, like directing, and doing a drama," the actress, 34, tells the May issue of Elle. "I've produced and gotten to do a lot of optimistic love stories, and that was so where I was at for 10 years in my life. And now I feel like, 'Okay, now I know how to do that. I wanted to get scared again.' "

I, for one, am rooting for her.

By Liz Kelly  | April 8, 2009; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, TV  
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I am rooting for her as well, Liz. While some of her work over the years has bordered on cloying and precious, she turned me around with "Music & Lyrics."

That said, these stories about her making "Grey Gardens" seem a bit overblown to me. I mean, she's not curing cancer here. Some of this recent devotion to Drew as an artist seems a bit over-the-top relative to world issues.

I half-expect Ben Vereen to pop up (cf. "All That Jazz") to laud her as "A great entertainer... A great humanitarian... And my dear friend for 25 years..."

Still, I wish Drew luck. She's come a long way since E.T.

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 8, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I've always liked Drew. Although it was a little difficult when she was married to Tom Green.

And doesn't she look like she could be Susan Sarandon's kid?

Posted by: jaybbub | April 8, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Liz, count me in the Drew fan club. I have enjoyed most everything I have seen her in and I am glad to see she will be trying something new. My favorite movie of hers is "Ever After". I am such a girl.

Posted by: hodie | April 8, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I like her too. She seems to have herself together to a remarkable degree, considering she's a former child star *and* a member of the notoriously messed-up Barrymore clan. Good luck to her.

Posted by: northgs | April 8, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I have always liked her. She has an old soul under the girly exterior. Glad to see she is stretching into territory that lets her feel scared. That's called growing.

Posted by: mgmvoice | April 8, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I half-expect Ben Vereen to pop up (cf. "All That Jazz")..

Well, Jessica Lange's in the movie, so does that count?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 8, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Great connection, Nosy! Too bad Roy Scheider's not still around to join them (though I guess he's done singing, "Bye, Bye, Life").

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | April 8, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE Drew Barrymore. She can act and what a beauty! I'm glad she's overcome her past difficulties and I'm rooting for her all the way.

Posted by: Sam888 | April 8, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm rooting for her too, and you know, if I was her, I'd be dating everybody I wanted to as well! She's young, beautiful, smart, uber-talented -- enjoy it girl!!

Posted by: Californian11 | April 8, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Drew is one of those people that just seems so much older than she really is because we've seen her since she was practically a toddler.

I've always like her & wish her well. Just as long as she doesn't turn on Marilyn Manson's arm, she'll be fine.

Posted by: wadejg | April 8, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The Charlie's Angels franchise worked against Barrymore insofar as being taken seriously as a performer. Yes, they made a bunch of money but they were really loud and stupid. Add to that the string of rom-coms and she seemed destined to be a highly successful lightweight.

I hope she succeeds with Gray Gardens artistically. Her acting pedigree goes all the way back to pre-Civil War Philadelphia and her great grandmother, Mrs. Drew. Seems it would have to be more generations than that, but remember that her grandfather, John Barrymore, died in 1940!

Posted by: jhpurdy | April 8, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Also a Drew Barrymore fan. Just am. She works very hard and managed to come out of the partying-in-her-tweens phase very focused. Have to respect the work ethic.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 8, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

She works very hard and managed to come out of the partying-in-her-tweens phase very focused.

I hope other teen (and older) starlets will follow her example, for their own sakes as well as being role models for "civilians."

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 8, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I've always liked Drew. Although it was a little difficult when she was married to Tom Green.

Posted by: jaybbub | April 8, 2009 11:20 AM |

So for about 4 minutes she was unlikable right?

Posted by: jes11 | April 8, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I love her too. Everafter and The Wedding Singer are my two favorite movies of hers.

Posted by: supersonic1 | April 8, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I decided she was pretty cool when she did that hilarious talky/singy thing about "Life has dealt some pretty funky hands to Miss Drew Barrymore...." on SNL.

Anybody that can poke fun at themselves like that has to have their s*it together. All that genuinely wackiness doesn't hurt, either.

I look forward to seeing what she does with a dramatic role.

Posted by: memphis1 | April 8, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I've always liked Drew. Although it was a little difficult when she was married to Tom Green.

Posted by: jaybbub | April 8, 2009 11:20 AM |

So for about 4 minutes she was unlikable right?

Actually, even though Drew was pretty likable, because she stood by Tom during his battle with testicular cancer.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 8, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

even then, not even though

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | April 8, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Can someone please ask Drew to go visit Lindsay Lohan? Poor Lindsay is so confused about validation. It seems like Drew would be the perfect person to explain to Lindsay that being a tabloid staple is not the way you feel good about yourself.

Posted by: mcsarch | April 8, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the love Drew category. She has such a sunny disposition and even a spirituality despite her having been in rehab as a tween. And she never whines about her bad past, she just forges on.

I don't look down on her rom-com years because I think she has a particular gift for romantic comedy -- you always find her likable and sense chemistry between her and the leading man, which doesn't always happen. The Wedding Singer was funny but would it have been half as sweet as it was with someone other than her? That applies to a lot of her films. So I wish her luck ...

Posted by: msame | April 9, 2009 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Drew has survived an incredible acting pedigree, being a child actress, puberty, addiction, mediocre movie roles, and still has talent that shines through. She'll be fine.

Posted by: reddragon1 | April 9, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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