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Wild Thing: Drew Barrymore

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Two weeks later, after being given the wrong hotelroom number by a photographer, Barrymore knocked on Erlandson's door accidentally. There was intrigue, but still, Barrymore claims nothing was set in stone. And then while filming Mad Love in Seattle, Barrymore ran into Erlandson yet again. This time, he suggested they retreat to his apartment to play records. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. The rest is history.

"I love him so much," says Barrymore at this moment and countless others to come. "And I have a family now from Eric, too. He has such a huge, amazing family. Seven kids. I never thought I'd have a sense of family until I had my own kids. I want two: a boy and a girl. My daughter will be named Ruby Daffodil."

Of course, there is extended family as well. While Barrymore brings to the relationship her trailerful of issues, Erlandson enters the union with Courtney Love – his bandleader and a walking psychology experiment in her own right. It's enough to make you want to buy some popcorn, sit back and watch the carnage. During the rehearsal for Hole's MTV Unplugged taping, in fact, Love chastised Erlandson by saying, "You're the one with the girlfriend on the cover of Playboy."

Explaining her position, Barrymore flashes a look of uneasy diplomacy. "We're not close at all," she says, "but that's fine. As democratically as possible, we don't feel the fucking need to be best friends. We respect each other's positions. No woman can suffer anything more torturous than losing the man she loves. In every way, that makes me totally accepting. I don't excuse actions, but it makes me totally accepting."

Barrymore's understanding is one born out of lifelong tutelage. Most of her mistakes have been public. Many of her scars are visible. About the only exception is the tattoo (one of six) that bears the name of her former fiance, Jamie Walters – the actor and singer currently haunting America via radio and Beverly Hills, 90210 episodes. Barrymore turns around and pulls up her shirt to display the artwork – a cherub holding a banner with a thick black line in the middle.

"His name is gone," Barrymore says. "It just bled. How insane is that? When my tattoo artist did it, you could definitely read it, but he said, 'Trust me.' I asked why, and he said, 'Just trust me.' A year later the name was gone, and so was Jamie."

Still, for all the analyses of her life – both paid for and heaped upon her unwittingly – she claims that nothing has been more painful than the mockery she endured after her marriage. Not that it was a blessed union by any means. Just that a mistake is a mistake – plain, simple and human.

"I was struck by her," says Patricia Vander Weken, the minister/psychic/private detective who performed the ceremony. "She was the kind of beauty that men would give up their entire kingdom to just have dinner with. She has a wonderful power and energy. And there are many people from England who have a rock steadiness that I felt he had. I really felt that this would be helpful to this young woman. I felt they'd be together spiritually for lifetimes to come."

In reality they were not together for many lifetimes. They weren't really together for many weeks. Now that the divorce is legal and there are no lawsuits pending, Barrymore's claim is that it was a marriage performed to help Thomas obtain a green card. Yes, they were dating; no, they were not ready to be married.

"He needed the marriage, and I stupidly agreed to it," says Barrymore. "We were married for six weeks, and we were only together for, like, two days of it. It was such a joke. The whole thing was a fucking lie. The press lied about it, we lied about it. I felt alienated from the world when it happened because I felt like such an asshole and that everybody knew it. But after I did something wrong, I made it right. I got out of it. I just said, 'OK, my fucking life's ruined, you got what you wanted, you're happy, I'm fucking out of here.' "

Quickly, another topic is suggested: a game of show and tell. Barrymore dumps out her backpack on request and begins reeling off the items: cigarettes, wallet, a photo of her kissing her boyfriend, Filofax, camera, pocket dictionary. She is asked to name the last word she looked up.

"I can't say," says Barrymore. "I actually looked it up and wrote it down, and it's really insane because it pertains a little too fucking closely to my life."

Barrymore is met with a slightly stunned silence.

"OK, fuck it," she says. "But if you print it, you have to explain this. I looked up this word because I was obsessed with finding its purity. The last word I looked up was nirvana. The definition of nirvana is 'the final freeing of the soul from all that enslaves it.' "

For what seems like the hundredth time in the past few days, Barrymore begins to cry. "When I looked that up, it was just crushing to my soul."

Don't call it a comeback. Barrymore's been here for years. Los Angeles: city where she spent what would have been her youth; site of her renaissance; spiritual home of the cellular phone.

We have traveled west to L.A., and Barrymore is driving around like she owns the place. She is behind the wheel of a black automobile that closely resembles a monster truck. Stuffed animals duck for cover all across the front dash. She slashes through traffic, stops dead on Sunset Boulevard to complain about another driver, and then lurches forward again with a broad smile. There is not a game in this town at which she is unskilled.

When she was broke not that many years ago, she worked in a coffee shop. "I was there for four months," says Barrymore. "Finally the owner said, 'You suck. You're such a bad employee.' " But shortly afterward she got the phone call that proved to be the beginning of the beginning. Word had gotten around town that Barrymore was doing well in her auditions and had been close to landing a number of roles. When she read for Poison Ivy, she could feel it was hers. On Page 1 of the script, her character had a tattoo of a cross with rose vines growing through it – the exact tattoo that Barrymore already had on her ankle. And so the phone rang to tell her that she would be a murdering teen-age slut. Barrymore cried tears of joy.

"I knew this movie was going to do exactly what I wanted it to do for me," she says. "Especially being a child actor, the last thing anyone will associate you with is sex. I had this vision of coming in with a bang. I had a vision of me being like Lolita. I wanted something crazy that no one would expect out of me."

More roles followed, some good (Guncrazy), many disastrous (Doppelgänger; the TV show 2000 Malibu Road, with Lisa Hartman Black) and one a guilty pleasure (The Amy Fisher Story). But more than anything, she was once again an entity. Finally, with Boys on the Side, Barrymore was playing with the A team. No matter how much you might have been put off by the movie's schmaltz quotient (read: a lot), there's no denying that Barrymore breathed life into the film at every turn. It's not surprising that she counts that character as the one most like her true self.

Now she's being asked to carry entire movies. In Mad Love, the movie lives and dies on the chemistry of Barrymore and Chris O'Donnell. It is a heartwarming tale brought to you by Disney. Even if Barrymore describes it in less-than-Disneyesque terms.

"The story is so innocent, it's beautiful," says Barrymore. "They're not just these fucked-up fuckers who are just fucking out-of-control crazy. They're just sweet kids who just want fucking happiness."

Fuckin'-a right. Now seems as good a time as any to mention – if you haven't already guessed – that one of Barrymore's favorite and most oft-used utterances is the f word. It is less an offensive usage than an animated one. Take her life philosophy: "I have to fucking be crazy and live my life and just fucking go for it, fuck everything and just fucking suck the marrow out of every fucking day." Nonetheless, we will defer talk of her Mad Love life to O'Donnell.

"We always hung out together all through the shoot," says O'Donnell. "Drew seems very mature, but when you get to know her, she acts her age more. Butterflies and daisies. That is her deal. And she has a book with her at all times to keep track of the world. I always gave her a hard time because she'd actually be taking pictures of clouds."

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