I enter through a grand wooden door of a mansion in Monterey, CA — we're talking Big Little Lies status with sweeping views of the Pacific in front of me. I'm there to interview Drew Barrymore, who is in the midst of an elaborate photo shoot for Barrymore Wines, a wine label she has developed in partnership with Carmel Road. She has just released the 2016 Monterey Rosé of Pinot Noir ($23), a wine I'll try while catching up with the ever-quotable actress. As I step into the foyer, Drew cuts across the room, half sandwich in hand to take her lunch break. She stops upon recognition and draws me in for a hug.
"It's been a year," Drew sighs. "What a year it's been," I echo. Last April, we sat at a sunny window seat, sipped Rosé a little too early in the day, and discussed everything but her relationship status on what might have been the most challenging day of her life. The afternoon before, she and Will Kopelman announced their divorce. "[E]ventually you start to find grace in the idea that life goes on," the two said in the official press release. Those words seem to ring true for Drew. We have a lot to discuss.
I'm led down rugged stone steps in the backyard to a flat, leaf-blanketed nook. After her break, Drew floats down the steps to join me, wearing a floral BCBGeneration dress. A teal-and-indigo Missoni cardigan hangs off her shoulders. She scrunches her tousled hair — it's become somewhat of a legend since this year's Golden Globes.
The man responsible for Drew's hair is Daniel Howell (he goes by Mr. Daniel). He uses a diffuser to dry her hair "without breaking up the natural wave pattern," Mr. Daniel tells me. Then, he wraps the midsection of the completely dry hair (not the roots or the ends) around a curling iron to "enhance and define the texture." To finish, he mists her hair lightly with Evian to soften "that curling ironed look." Fine mineral water spritzed in her hair isn't the only reason Drew looks so luminous.
Drew's eyes glow thanks to her makeup artist Debra Ferullo, who uses Drew's own line of makeup, Flower Beauty. Debra combines the Foxy Brown Shadow Quad and Shimmer and Shade Eyeshadow Palette and dresses the waterlines with Long-Wear Eyeliner in Brownstone. I can't help but become transfixed when Debra pats something iridescent on the center of Drew's lids. It's the Astral White Pigment found in Pat McGrath Labs DarkStar 006, and it ignites the rosy shadows into a luscious, pearly glimmer. Drew looks damn good — and I know that sort of stunning beauty comes from feeling good too.
We sit alone on wooden stools set next to a rustic table styled for the shoot. The sun and sea breeze dance around us. It's completely silent save for the distant noise of waves crashing on the rocky cliffside and leaves rattling on the treetops. We sip our glasses of Rosé. It's tangy and thirst-quenching and tastes like a memory of a cold, rocky coastline. It juxtaposes the warm day nicely. This moment, these surroundings, Drew and I both breathe in the splendor and smile at one other. I start the interview with a simple question and hope she gives me an honest answer.
"How are you?" I ask earnestly. She responds, "We're all going through so much hard, wonderful, amazing . . . it's blessings; it's lessons; it's hardship; it's life. I guess, I don't know what the definition of life is. I now know the meaning of my life, because of my daughters, but mine is one little tiny speck in the universe. It's nice to not be pretending everything is perfect all the time, because it isn't, but I do love happiness and joy and optimism. I'm not a depressive type; I don't want to be around them. I don't even want to watch a dramatic movie right now. I can't, it's too heavy."
POPSUGAR: You recently said something in an interview that made me think, "Yes! I want this to be my mantra." You said, "I want to be optimistic, problem-solving, solution-oriented. I want to make people happy." How do you live by those values even on hard days?
Drew Barrymore: I can't get caught up in darkness. I just don't. I always want to gravitate towards light. I love picking yourself up or surviving or being grateful for the good stuff and not getting lost in the tough stuff. The discipline is so natural for me.
PS: It seemed like this year was really good for you . . . The public appearances you made, you seemed so radiant. What inspired that?
DB: It was a really hard year actually. I tried to put on a brave face. I felt it in the moment and I never felt inauthentic, but it wasn't without its reality checks and struggles. When you have a big life change, it takes a long time to get used to either the new format or the understanding that you need to create a new dream. Or if things didn't work out, mourning the death of that dream. It's hard, because that's a very private journey. If I read something that's really intense and depressive, I will face it; I will try — but there's plenty of times I also run away. I think it's trying to find a balance between the positive and the negative. They don't exist without each other. It's the polarity; it's two sides of a coin. You can't get one without the other. I don't wallow. I can't stand it.
PS: You mentioned creating a "new dream" for your life. Do you mind sharing it?
DB: My life is so different than what I thought it would be when I engaged in this new chapter. Whether it be like married-with-kids or living-in-California, all these funny things you tell yourself about what your plan is and then your plan goes out the window. I think it takes a while to transition, but you will get there if you get yourself there. I'm excited about the work you have to do. Happiness takes work. It doesn't always fall off trees or come easily. You really have to be someone that doesn't fall prey to being sad. I don't want sad, I can't be sad, I don't want to be about sad; I avoid sad. It inherently envelops you, so do everything that you can to escape it all the time.
My best friend Nancy Juvonen always loved to say, "Happiness is a choice." When I was a kid I would say, "Happiness is a choice"; it's so hippie and lovely. Then as a woman, it's the word "choice" that's the war. That's the valiant effort to be happy, sometimes it takes a lot of work.
"My life is so different than I thought it would be."
PS: I'm sure that involves habits. Did you form any new ones this year?
DB: I did a lot of exercise to feel good in my mind. Whether my body changed or not was superfluous. The discipline of going somewhere and sweating or moving gave me all the more incentive to go to the corner store, get the slice of pizza after, and completely annihilate everything I had worked for — but my brain felt good. Physicality was a big wake-up call for me.
Not to like sit in the sh*t but work out and walk and keep my headphones with me everywhere I went. I loved listening to music again. You have kids, you have a family and you kind of lose touch sometimes with habits, as you said, rituals that you had before. You're so overwhelmed and distracted, and it's so wonderful and you're so present with it. You, in a good way, lose yourself. And then, over time you start to find things that you had love for, and they come back. Music has been a big one for me.
PS: Who are you listening to right now?
DB: I'm so obsessed with Solange's song with Blood Orange "Losing You," "I Dare You" by The XX. Fun, great songs. Those are my two favorites right now, and I'm sure they're not even the current this week.
PS: I think songs find us at the right time.
DB: I walked by this woman at a burger stand the other day and she was telling her friend — really trying to painfully figure things out. I was like, "Yup! Isn't everybody." Their life is so relevant to them, and their problems are so big. The way that they solve them is so interesting. I don't think anyone is coasting on this earth. I think everybody does feel incredible struggles. Any day that you're not held down by the struggle, celebrate it! Be present, because I feel like I lost sight of that for a while going through hard stuff. And now, I'm really enjoying the good moments.
"Any day that you're not held down by the struggle, celebrate it!"
PS: No one would ever know that about you. How you live is an example to many.
DB: Know it's no rodeo clown, like, "Everything is awesome!" I really worked hard on myself and things and struggled to get to a good place, to a better place.
PS: You're involved in so many projects too. How do you do it? How do you become an entrepreneur in so many facets?
DB: My personal life never affects my focus on work and [the] joy that that work brings me. That's a really important lesson for my daughters — have a good work ethic. I really enjoy applying myself. I like the distraction that it causes. Having kids now obviously I dial back the time I spend at work so I can be more with my kids. But when I get back to work or get to do work, I'm very focused and psyched. All moms feel so much guilt all the time, so the more time you spend with your kids the more you time you also enjoy being able to step away and do something that makes you want to make them proud. I think my whole life, work has been a very important and positive thing for me. It never was something that made me feel unhappy or disengaged from life. It always makes me feel like I'm plugged in, in a really healthy way.
"I want to be the rock that floats."
PS: So many of our readers come to our site because they may be in a rut, whether it's in a relationship or a job that's not working. What advice do you have to offer?
DB: Get yourself out. Be brave. Don't leave before you're ready, because you should know that you tried everything. So there's a conviction and a confidence when you step away from something that may or may not be conducive to your life. I think if you run away too quickly, you're going to have that "Oh God, did I try everything?" feeling. Try everything. Make it work. Do everything you can. If it's not working, then know when the signal is and move on. Change. Try something different.
PS: I love that idea of confidence with conviction. How have you found that for yourself?
DB: I stay in it until it no longer works.
PS: Did anyone teach you that confidence?
DB: No, because I grew up in such an inconsistent family dynamic. I don't know why I have a rock-like behavior but I refuse to be the rock that drowns. I want to float and live and survive. I want to be the rock that floats.
PS: I'm watching Santa Clarita Diet and I'm dying laughing, meanwhile my boyfriend is white as a ghost. "She's just eating fondant cake body parts," I keep telling him!
DB: Exactly! Victor [Fresco], the creator and I, we don't think it's that gross or gory. I'm like, "Is something wrong with us, Victor? Seriously." People are losing their lunch. Hopefully, I would suggest not eating while you watch the show, [so] you can get into [it]. Aside from all the blood and guts, it's about a family and the human condition. I found the show at a time where I knew I was getting divorced. It was very helpful [for] me to have this man say, "I've been married to my wife for 25 years and if she woke up one day and everything was turned upside down, how would I deal with it?" I thought that's so hopeful and cool. Set to a really f*cking weird backdrop. I loved it.
"Aside from all the blood and guts, [Santa Clarita Diet] is about a family and the human condition."
PS: Have you started filming season two? Can you provide any more details?
DB: We start in like a month and a half and I'm so excited. Victor took me through the whole second season, because I produce the show. I get to be privileged to know what I'm going into, which really helps, because TV is so mysterious. I wouldn't know how to sign up as an actress. What if I'm signed up for something I don't like? I have nothing to do [with the writing]. This man comes up with all this crazy sh*t that I'm totally into. There's such humanity and normal themes behind it that I can relate to it. I think it comes from my training with E.T. You can have aliens, but it's in suburbia. It's in your backyard.
I would not know what to do if you put me in outer space. I'd be like, "Where the f*ck am I?" I love science fiction. I'm all for it, but I would be lost as an actor. Make it in a backyard, in a house in a suburbia, and I'm good to go. Back to the Future? Time travel, but it was suburban, so you believed in it. Don't go so far away from home. Home is the best theme. You can do flesh eating, time travel, aliens, but you're watching human beings go through it, so you have a nicer relatability at the end of the day.
PS: Can you tease anything about the "crazy sh*t" that goes down in season two?
DB: Weirdly, Netflix is secretive, so they don't allow it. I'm always like, "Is it that serious that we can't give a storyline away?" But they're pretty private. I like it, because they're internet savvy. They know how quickly something will go. They're a very cool partner to work with.
PS: Do you anticipate working more with TV now that you've had this experience?
DB: I have no idea where my life is going and for the first time in my life, I find that to be the most liberating feeling I've ever known. I've always been untethered in my life. Sometimes out of that chaos, you want to create stability. I'm at a moment right now where as long as my daughters have stability, then I like the life adventure and not knowing where it's going. Ironically, my daughters, every time I present an airplane ticket to them, they're like, "Where are we going?!" They're so excited. I'm glad we didn't stay still. Staying still is a very easy thing to fall into. It can be as easy as going out on a Saturday and trying to discover a new thing. It doesn't have to be grand. Getting out of your comfort zone, creating an adventure is really good.