16 October 2011

Favorite Actress Countdown

Coming in at number ten on my list of favorite actresses is Drew Barrymore.  I've been a fan of hers since probably the sixth grade or so, and so I suppose that has a lot do with my liking her so much, but then again, I think she's quite proven that she is fantastically talented. Granted, she's not somebody that you're going to watch and shout about her performances every time, but every so often, she delivers. And when she's good, she's perfect. I do think that she's more of a "movie star" than an "actress" but she is quickly approaching actress status.
Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore

Drew Barrymore is the granddaughter of John Barrymore and the great niece of Lionel and Ethel Barrymore. All three were brilliant performers. Drew certainly inherited that. But the Barrymore family had long been plagued by demons of drug addiction and alcoholism. John, in particular, was a very bad alcoholic who never truly recovered from it. He would die in 1942, a shadow of his former great self. His son, Drew's father, John Barrymore II, also suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction. Sadly, Drew herself become an alcoholic and cocaine addict before the age of fifteen.

She had gotten her big break at the age of six, playing Gertie in Steven Spielberg's E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial. Afterward, Drew became one of the most popular child stars of the 1980s. I think her success came from the ability to play wide eyed moppet roles with genuine talent. With new found success came opportunity. And opportunity released the Barrymore demons. At nine years old, Drew started drinking. At ten, she started smoking pot, and at fourteen became a cocaine addict.

After being released from rehab at sixteen, finding work was a struggle. Drew was stuck in the rut of being too old for children's roles but too young to be a leading lady. The best she could do was small, supporting character roles in low-budget films.

In 1998, Drew teamed up with Adam Sandler for the 80's themed romantic comedy The Wedding Singer. Commercially  successful, Drew was back in the spotlight. She then founded her own production company, Flower Films, and in 1999, produced her first film, Never Been Kissed.  Again, it was a commercial success and Drew Barrymore established herself as a premier romantic comedy star.

50 First Dates. Can just say I love her hair in this movie?
Many romantic comedies make up Drew Barrymore's filmography. However, she hasn't forgotten her roots as a dramatic Barrymore. It's almost as if people forget that she's a damn fine actress too. Remember Riding in Cars With Boys? She played a character who went from fifteen years old to her mid-thirties.  I think that it requires a skilled person to be able to pull that kind of role off. But Drew did. And she was brilliant in it.
There was also Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Drew played the supporting role of the long-suffering yet infinitely steadfast wife of game show host/alleged CIA hitman Chuck Barris.

However, no other role has displayed Drew Barrymore's dramatic prowess better than the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens. She played "Little Edie" Beale so well that I found myself forgetting that I was watching an actress in a movie, and not the real thing. Being quite a fan of the original Grey Gardens documentary, I was somewhat wary of watching this film. However, I was absolutely blown away by this film. Drew completely immersed herself in the character so well that it's as if she crawled inside the skin of Little Edie. She did more than portray her; She became her, and won a much deserved Emmy award for Best Actress. I have no doubt that had Grey Gardens been made for a major studio, Barrymore would have been nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, and would have been quite a strong contender.

I have no doubt that Drew Barrymore will only continue to rise as an actress, and would not be at all surprised if an Oscar comes her way.