Drew Barrymore absolutely oozes the no-fear attitude she so easily portrays on-screen. From her jet black tipped hair to her inspiring career moves, the 34-year-old actress, producer and now director is one intelligent, daring and classy lady. And that’s saying a lot these days.
“I’m just not one of those people that can sort of watch everything happen and be off in La La Land daydreaming about something else,” Barrymore said in her recent interview with Blast while she was in Boston.
She explained shy she has finally taken her seat in the director’s chair after a lifetime of acting and 15 years of producing. “I wanted to do it when I felt like I was really ready and really understood how filmmaking works on every single level that I possibly could.”
Whip It, in theaters October 2, stars Ellen Page as a Texas teenager who finds an outlet from her loathed life of pageantry in the world of women’s roller derby.
Barrymore took a risk in choosing a movie about a relatively unknown sport — that even she knew almost nothing about — as her directorial debut.
“I love to see girls do what boys do, especially not male bash while they do it,” she said.
Barrymore said it was important to her to create a movie that encourages women and girls to go after their goals. “Take from your inspirations, but don’t imitate them. Become your own individual,” she said.
Clearly she has no problem inspiring women, herself. “And still (directing is) the biggest challenge and, you know, it’s gonna knock you sideways on a daily basis no matter how prepared you think you are,” she said.
And boy was she prepared. Barrymore, along with Page and co-stars Kristen Wiig and Juliette Lewis, spent painstaking hours learning to skate and getting in shape for their many rides around the rink.
“You bond and you injure yourself together and cheer each other on to get it right or to celebrate when you learn a new trick,” Barrymore said.
Now she’s practically a pro. Though her role in the movie, as badass derby girl Smashlee Simpson, is fairly small, it’s obvious that she sank her teeth into her role as both actress and director, taking it upon herself to learn everything she possibly could about roller derby. “The game is real, the girls are amazing,” she said. “They’re these great little tribes. There’s great competitiveness and capability and athleticism.”
Another reason she was drawn to the sport was its propensity to include people from all walks of life. “I also think that it’s a very welcoming sport in that you can be any age or size or ethnicity or economical background and it’s a very come one come all, open hearted sport and party and I like that.”
Derby certainly does look like a party, with an always excited crowd and hot girls in tiny outfits swearing at each other and getting in fights. But did Barrymore portray roller derby realistically? “The only intention I had was to celebrate it and allow people to be let in on something if they don’t know about and celebrate the people who are involved in it,” she said. “I honored the derby world entirely.”
As for the critics? “You can’t please everybody so you’ve gotta get over that, like, as soon as you come out of the womb,” she said.
No she can’t please everybody, but she can sure try. And try. “I’m sort of surprised when people go, like, ‘why did you want to direct’ or ‘do you think you’ll direct again.’ I’m like, ‘Do you know me?’ I’m film obsessed. I do nothing but work. I wish I had more of a social life,” admits the workaholic.
Barrymore is unabashedly proud of her movie, but modest in a decidedly un-Hollywood way. “I think you don’t have to be a certain age or gender in order to be a storyteller. I think you have to risk being personal and exposing yourself and investing in your characters and driving great performances out of people,” she said.
She is also proud of the real-life derby girls who are able to kick-ass on and off the rink.”What these girls do is have these great little alter egos and they’re one thing by day and another thing by night,” she said.
So does Barrymore have an alter ego? If you remember her stripping on Lettermen’s desk and partying all night long, you may think so. But in reality, Barrymore has grown into an inspiring woman.
“‘Be your own hero’ is the tag of our movie and that’s a big theme for me in life,” she said. “I just think you have to be your own little hero.”