HOLLYWOOD, CALIF. — She was a darling baby in a puppy-food commercial and starred as the cherubic 6-year-old Gertie in Steven Spielberg's "E.T." More than 20 years later, she's still in front of the camera, but look more closely at the credits and you might see her name twice: as actress and producer.
Drew Barrymore's production company, Flower Films, which she started nine years ago with her partner, Nancy Juvonen, has just produced the sequel to its biggest moneymaker. "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," is expected to reach numbers similar to the original's $264 million take.
In the sequel, Barrymore and costars Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz still do everything from kung fu to surfing while dressed to the nines. "It takes work to get into shape," says Barrymore. "Lots of mental preparation, and weeks of rehearsing those fights."
It may have taken weeks to train for "Angels," but it took years to get her production company off the ground. Specializing in quirky hits like "Never Been Kissed" and "Donnie Darko," Flower Films was slow going at first.
"I wanted to produce my own pictures," says Barrymore. "I thought, 'Here is a way you can do different types of films, and incidentally always have a job,' " she laughs.
Barrymore's past gives this joke more than a little bite. While she's now as famous in Hollywood for her likability as her acting, in the early 1990s she had to overcome a reputation as all-but-unemployable, stemming from the drug and alcohol use that landed her in rehab at age 13.
People went from saying, "She's great, remember, she's a Barrymore," to "What do you expect, she's a Barrymore?"
There's another career comeback on view in "Full Throttle," one that Barrymore worked hard to engineer.For "Full Throttle," she wanted Demi Moore to play the fallen angel, Madison Lee. But Moore hadn't worked in a mainstream role since 1997's "G.I. Jane" and wasn't sure she wanted to play the villain. "When the audience sees you in a bikini, well, need I say more?" Barrymore remembers wheedling. She talked with Moore twice about the part, had the director McG phone Moore, and then dropped script notes off at her doorstep. "How could I refuse?" Moore sighs.
"I've never been one to sit on my hands, and hope something will happen," says Barrymore. "I like to roll up my sleeves, get out there, and try."