Interviews: Drew Barrymore on 50 First Dates


Drew Barrymore is a bit forgetful in the new romantic comedy 50 First Dates. Actually, she can’t even remember what happened yesterday and tomorrow won’t remember what happened today! She plays Lucy Whitmore, who marine biologist Henry Roth (Adam Sandler) falls head over heels for one day. But when he sees her the following day, she hasn’t a clue as to who he is. Lucy suffers from a rare brain disorder that wipes her memory clean every night. Now, with the help of his friend Ula (Rob Schneider), he has to concoct new and increasingly clever ways to meet her and get her to fall for him every friggin’ day.

50 First Dates was filmed in Hawaii, a place Drew and Adam were already familiar with. “Adam and I and my partner Nan and all his team from Happy Madison had come here on vacation after ‘The Wedding Singer’ and we felt this place was associated with our friendship and he came up with the idea to shoot it here. It really became a character and a backdrop for the whole film. It really changed the tone and the look of it, because he’s a veterinarian for sea animals, it was just perfect and appropriate.” She adds that she really wants to see the film with a Hawaiian audience. “We do a joke where we talk about taking the Like Like Highway home, and I just want to hear people laugh at that because it meant so much to us because we drove that highway to work everyday. It’s such a special place.”

Having already worked together before with Sandler helped playing this role, says Drew. “We got to know each other. We’re older now and we’ve known each other favor a long time. We’ve remained friends through that. I think that only actually helped us do these characters who are in different places, who are different people, who are at different times in their lives. I know we didn’t want to just repeat ‘The Wedding Singer.’ It’s like if we’re not going to make ‘The Wedding Singer 2’, how can we make a film that stays true to some of the themes and tones that we love, which is love and laughter and romance and comedy, but make it different enough? I think a lot of that has to do with story. This film, although is has jokes and all that stuff, there is a story there, which I think is so important for any film, that it’s not just ornaments. That you actually have a Christmas tree to hang them on.”

Drew says that the two production companies coming together gave the film various tones of humor and romance. “I commend our director Pete Segal for bridging everything together as well as he does. Because in life, if it was just all some musical that was just happy-go-lucky we’d all be vomiting by the side of the road. We do inherently give a little giggle when someone trips and falls, we’re human. I don’t think we love being mean to people, some people do and I can’t stand those people, but put them aside, we do like to be liked at a certain point, we can’t all be like philanthropic, perfect, happy little Peter Pans all the time. There is a point where we do like to laugh, and we like comedy and we like humor. I obviously don’t like being mean to people, but I also think that it’s interesting that this film is so thoughtful and romantic, and I mean but it has a lot of broad comedy. I’m beating Rob with a baseball bat, but then I justify it as I’m protecting Adam. I think there will be 13-year-old boys watching it who might laugh and think that that’s funny, but I know as a woman who’s about to be 30 myself, I can’t believe this film is about a man who tries to make a woman fall in love with him everyday. So that very man who might be light, and making fun, and poking and trying to make the kids laugh and rolling his eyes at a certain point is also one of the most romantic, consistent, beautiful characters I’ve ever seen developed in a movie. What person do we know that goes to those lengths everyday, day in and day out to make someone else happy to that degree and make them fall in love with them. I kind of like that he has a little bit of balance because if anybody was too perfect, it would be annoying.”

She did research the role, as the character’s illness is a real-life condition. “I did research it a lot actually. Yeah, it is. I mean, it’s so confusing. I was overwhelmed by some of the research I was reading. And then I was like, ‘Wait a minute, maybe I shouldn’t know too much about this because I don’t really know what’s happening actually in my life as the character.’ But there are different symptoms that people can have with short-term memory loss.”

So can we expect Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore to be the new Hepburn/Tracy, Doris Day/Rock Hudson, or Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan? “Yes. Absolutely. You didn’t see my peacock feathers extend when you said that? I love hearing that. And I love him so much. He really is such a wonderful person. He has not a mean bone in his body. He is inherently kind on every single level. I love getting to work with someone who is so nice to everybody and so kind to me and he can walk into a room and it’s like—I walk into a room and all I want to do is make people happy. He walks into a room and like says one off-shot thing and everybody starts laughing and it’s so great. He just brings a lot of joy to people by being funny. When I’m working with him, it’s so genuine. I mean I transfer it into a character thing and an in-love thing. We’ve only ever been friends, and we always will be. So it’s not those feelings, but that thing of oh my God you’re so great and you’re so funny and I do love you is really genuine. It’s nice and a pleasure to keep choosing and being fortunate enough to receive the jobs where you get to go to work and just be genuine with people instead of having to fake it because it’s so difficult.”

Drew produces a lot of her own films, which can be pretty tough at times. “A lot of actors feel the less I know, the more I can focus on my work and get in touch with the emotions that are required to do my job. Producing can be really stressful, and when you’re about to walk into the set and you’re supposed to do a scene where you’re really happy and you just found out the studio is going to cut your favorite scene because you’re a day behind schedule, all you want to do is rip clumps of your hair out and scream and run to the head of the studio’s office and fight passionately about why that’s so important. But you’ve got to go out there and be happy. It’s really hard. You’re like oh my God, I have to take this hat off now and get into this mindframe. So a lot of people don’t want to be involved because they want to protect what their real job is, which is acting. I enjoy torturing myself, so I think the harder I can make my job, the more pleasure I get out of it.”

And of course, we have to talk about the walrus in the film! “I was like on top of the walrus, loving, hugging, petting, riding, like you name it. It’s the cutest thing, but it’s weird to talk about a two-ton animal saying it’s cute because he’s so large, but then he’s like all bony and large at the top, and weirdly somehow the bones and the cartilage disappear because by the bottom he’s this weird, rubbery most flexible—like there’s nothing at the bottom. It’s so weird. He’s got these great quills and his mouth of full of gums. There’s no teeth so you can feed him ice and put your whole hand in its mouth and its totally safe. I was obsessed with him. I wouldn’t like leave his side for a second. I have a picture of him with his pacifier paint brush in his mouth, and he painted me this painting and I have it up on my wall. It’s so cool. So I bonded with the walrus, not a sentence I thought I would ever get to say.”

Barrymore enjoyed the sights as well, of course, while shooting was going on. “I surfed while I was here, actually, a couple of times. I was so proud because I totally stood up on my first time, and the second or third time one of them took pictures. I’ve never hunted a human being down more. I was like I need the negative, I need the copy, I need this—and they ended up blowing it up for me as a joke—really big, which I think I’m too shy about putting up, but I saved those pictures like you can’t even imagine—like me standing up on a surfboard riding a wave was not ever something I thought I’d see myself do.”

Having spent all the time there filming, would she still go back for a vacation? “It’s so weird, when we wanted to take a vacation after working here, we were completely confused. We were like this is always where we vacation, Hawaii. It doesn’t make any sense. I think Adam did, actually. I think he vacationed right here after he was done. We actually went off to work right away again so we didn’t get a vacation. But I like anywhere tropical. I’m really drawn to the sunshine and a Corona and the beach and like just greasy hair because you’re so oiled up, I don’t know. Anywhere you can get oiled up is a good thing.”

You can oil up with Drew when 50 First Dates opens in theaters on Friday, February 13.