Steven Spielberg shared why looking after then-child star Drew Barrymore while they filmed 1982’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” made him feel “helpless.”
In an interview with Vulture, the Oscar-winning filmmaker recalled feeling powerless over Barrymore’s rocky home life after he cast her in the iconic fantasy film.
Barrymore’s parents were actors John Drew Barrymore and Ildikó Jaid Makó, but as a kid, Barrymore asked Spielberg if he would be her dad.
The director, who was 36 at the time, told her “no,” instead accepting the title of godfather. Barrymore even stayed with the Spielberg family on the weekends, going to theme parks with them.
“She was staying up way past her bedtime, going to places she should have only been hearing about, and living a life at a very tender age that I think robbed her of her childhood,” the 76-year-old recounted in the profile published Monday. “Yet I felt very helpless because I wasn’t her dad. I could only kind of be a consigliere to her.”
In the interview, Barrymore called her father an “abusive drunk,” adding that her first memory of him was when he “stormed in and tossed her into a wall” when she was 3.
Barrymore, who is now 48, gushed over Spielberg’s positive impact on her life from a young age, calling him “the only person in my life to this day that ever was a parental figure.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Spielberg said he tried to keep the magic of the “E.T.” story alive for Barrymore, who believed the character was real while they were filming.
“I didn’t want to burst the bubble,” he said. “So I simply said, ‘It’s okay, E.T. is so special E.T. has eight assistants. I am the director, I only have one.’”
This week, Barrymore faced backlash after she said in the same Vulture interview that she “cannot wait” for the closure that her mother’s death would bring.
In an Instagram video on Monday, she accused media outlets of misinterpreting her words.
“To all you tabloids out there, you have been fucking with my life since I was 13 years old. I have never said that I wished my mother was dead. How dare you put those words in my mouth,” Barrymore said in the clip.
“I have been vulnerable and tried to figure out a very difficult, painful relationship while admitting it is difficult to do so while a parent is alive,” she added. “And that for those of us who have to figure that out in real time, cannot wait as in they cannot wait for the time — not that the parent is dead.”