Steven Spielberg is opening up about feeling conflicted as a parent and director during production of “E..T” with then-child star Drew Barrymore.
The Oscar-winning director has come out “helpless” over how Barrymore’s tumultuous family life was evident during the making of the 1982 fantasy film. Barrymore was seven years old at the time.
“She was up well past bedtime, went places she should only hear about, and lived a life at an early age that I think robbed her of her childhood,” Spielberg said. Vulture. “And yet I felt very helpless because I was not his father. I may just be an advisor to her.
Barrymore’s father, former actor John Drew Barrymore, was an abusive alcoholic. “He’s talking about someone who wasn’t a careerist,” Barrymore said. “He was like, ‘I’m going to burn this fucking dynasty to the ground.'”
As a child, Barrymore called Spielberg “the only person in my life to date who has ever been a parental figure.” Spielberg even shot “ET” in continuity to keep the story magic alive for Barrymore.
“I didn’t want to burst the bubble,” Spielberg said, citing that he had to explain why the puppet had multiple people running him. “So I just said, ‘It’s okay, ET is so special, ET has eight assistants. I’m the director, I only have one.’”
Barrymore later asked if Spielberg could be her father; when he said no, he agreed to become her godfather. Barrymore stayed with the Spielberg family on the weekends.
Years later, Barrymore similarly stayed with director Tamra Davis after being cast in the 1992 film “Guncrazy.” At the time, Davis explained, Barrymore “didn’t have a good reputation” coming out of rehab.
“But she came in and said, ‘No one takes me seriously. I want to prove that I can come back.’ And I just melted,” Davis said. “I immediately thought, ‘Oh my God, I love you. I’m going to do anything I can to help you.’”
He added, “I felt like she was kind of our daughter. We provided her with this surreal and stable family where she lived with us and she could just focus on being an actress.
Barrymore said of Davis, “I showed up at her house late one night with my laundry basket, and she said I could stay in her spare room, and then I didn’t leave for eight months.”
Barrymore previously opened up about her enduring parental relationship with Spielberg, telling The Wall Street Journal, “Not having a father, not having that kind of relationship with anyone, he was so good and thoughtful and kind. We still have a really wonderful relationship. I thank him because if he hadn’t chosen me, I think my life would be really different. It’s crazy when you can actually trace someone back.