Published: September 2012
She can play America’s sweetheart like no other – see The Vow and The Notebook – but Rachel McAdams is also the rare actress in Hollywood who can say she’s worked with Woody Allen and is on a first-name basis with a certain Palme d’or winning auteur, one “Terry” Malick. In the second part of our Vs. trilogy Drew’s Muses, the actress-director-photographer, and certainly the most entertaining interviewer you’ll ever meet Drew Barrymore, cast her in the one role that’s totally uncharted territory: Pirelli pin-up girl as we remember it from the 90s.
DB: Hi, I’m so sorry. I’m never tardy. I was at a doctor’s appointment, and uh, and it just ran a little late and now I’m here. I’m here, I’m here!
RM: You’re here? I’m in Chelsea! Where are you? How are you?
DB: I’m so good. I’m in West Hollywood. I was just coming in to scratch Ben Darkos head, that big muppet dog that spent the afternoon with you on the beach.
RM: I love that dog!!!
DB: I love dogs, period.
RM: Period, right?!
DB: Period! Period, exclamation mark, period. I see a million people walk by, and I’m like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I see one dog and I’m, like ‘Oh my goddd, stop!!’
RM: I know, and you have no idea if they’re friendly or not but I just assume all dos are so I go for it.
DB: Yeah, innocent until proven guilty. So may I ask you a few questions?
RM: You may, please!
DB: Wouldn’t it be nice if interviewers actually asked that before they started?
RM: I guess it’s just assumed they’re going to dive in.
DB: Ugh dive in is the polite way of putting it. So, would you rather be dental floss or a toothbrush?
RM: Would I rather be dental floss or a toothbrush? is that a question? Um, I would actually rather be floss, I think, if I was using me. Because I don’t really floss enough, but I’m really hard on my toothbrush. After two days my toothbrush looks like it was used to clean the bathroom grout I sort of, like, gnaw on it, and I brush my teeth about 5 times a day.
DB: Do you change your toothbrushes out often?
RM: I do. I feel like every time I go to the grocery store I pick up a toothbrush. Also, I like to be that friend when a friend stays over and doesn’t expect to that you’re like ‘I got a clean, fresh, spanking new toothbrush for ya.’ I feel like if I don’t have anything in the fridge to offer, if I don’t even have clean sheets, as long as I have a clean toothbrush, I’ve done my job.
DB: I totally agree with that. I have a life philosophy about toothbrushes. When I drop my toothbrush, and it’s spinning and spiraling down toward the floow it starts to go in slow motion and I think, ‘Oh my god, this is going to end one of two ways: either really badly, or it just may end up on it’s back, completely ready to go back to work – and it’s just so nice when that happens!’ It became kind of a metaphor, for like, when good things happen it’s ‘bristles up!’
RM: And are you the the type of person if bristles are down the toothbrush has to be thrown out?
RM: Oh, wow, no 3-second rule or anything?
DB: I mean if it’s the cleanest of clean very known circumstances surface, then maybe, but if it’s in a hotel room or anything like that, then no.
RM: Someone called me chicken the other day, and it so made me think of you
DB: I love the term ‘chicken.’ It’s the most, like, sweet term of endearment.
RM: It’s so lovely, and the way you say it , in particular, is the best.
DB: Ah, thank you. You need to like, grit your teeth when you say it too, a little bit like, ‘Chickennn, ooh.’ Like as if chicken means, ‘You’re mine, valentine, like, heart heart.’
RM: Yeah! Very cute. I want you to name your child Chicken.
DB: God, I would love to. I’m going to pitch that to my husband-to-be. I don’t know what he’s going to say about that. But at the very least he’l be like, ‘That’s a great nick name!’
RM: Yeah! Or middle name.
DB: How great would that be? So-and-so Chicken Barrymore-Koppleman. Okay, cute. Speed round. Walk up to a movie theater, are you going to a comedy or drama in your evening?
RM: Well in my mind this scenario I’m alone. That was my first feeling when you said that – you dind’t mention anyone else. So I’m definitely going to see a drama.
DB: Ohh, alone at a drama.
RM: Alone at a drama, because alone at a comedy is a bit strange. I feel like a crazy person laughing.
DB: What can a guy do that is an absolute deal breaker?
RM: Not attempt to get along with my family and friends. May not always work out with everyone but if they don’t even attempt to get along with people in my life, I would find that really difficult. I want everyone to be a big happy family.
DB: If you could do one thing behind the camera or aside the camera – like head honcho, big cheese studio executive to like craft service to being a production designer – what would you choose?
RM: Oh my goodness. I think I could do craft service.
DB: I love that.
RM: Yeah, I remember working with these women in Toronto, who would forage for berrie while we were shooting in the morning and then make jame and use it on pound cake for our afternoon snack. I was like ‘Wow, this is craft service art!’ I would be out foraging for mushrooms and everyone would be starving and just wanting a grilled cheese. Buy yeah, I’d love to try it.
DB: Ah, that sounds just sweet and sexy and nurturing and nymphy. You would be a nymph caterer. But since you do act … What kind of girl do you get most excited by playing?
RM: I like playing girls who are kind of flawed, or they’re coming to a turning point in their life. I guess I just like playing girls that aren’t that smooth, that haven’t got it all figured out. I find it very hard to play cool people, so the less cool they can be the more they’re not supposed to be cool, then I can kind of just relax and play around my uncool self.
DB: What kind of girl makes you stay up at night with fear and anxiety of how you will approach her?
RM: Someone who has just lived an absolutely opposite life to me. I’m about to play a girl who is German and even just learning the dialect and the flavor of the German sound informs this new kind of person in me. Sometimes the further from what you imagine yourself to be the better, because then you find you’re probably closer to those people than you think. I’ve learned that you’ve always got yourself to fall back on. Ultimately, hopefully, you’re brining yourself to everything, and that will always be there.
DB: Well, first of all, you’re a hot Fräulein. I can’t wait to see you attack German.
RM: Thank you, Herr Barrymore.
DB: If I’d only known in my day that I’d be called that… That makes me super happy.
RM: It kind of has a nice ring to it!
DB: It does! I did a film – this really provoked me when you said that – called Grey Gardens, and I was really flipped out through the whole experience. I didn’t know anything about where this person came from. She was a recluse, I’m a people person. She was in a different era, a different time. She had a different voice, a different face, a different body. Everything was counterintuitive to everything I knew. I was trying adamantly to scrape away every trace of myself and I got really upset and bet out of shape when I couldn’t. I realized that if I can’t get rid of me, how do I embrace me and put it in there in anice, balanced, and real emotional way?
RM: That was such a gorgeous performance.
DB: Oh God, thank you. I’m glad I got an opportunity to be challenged like that, I wonder if I’ll ever like get to do that agin. I hope so, but even if you get to do something like that once, it’s the biggest gift. And Michael Suscy! Ah, sweet Suscy.
RM: Yesss! Who we’ve both worked with He’s good at pushing you to find something a little uncomfortable, a little different, a little bit out of your reach.
DB: He’s a good guy, and I feel like I got to experience something like I’ve never experienced before with him and he kept me feeling safe, which is, you know, a great feeling in life.
RM: He’s a lover.
DB: He is, oh, he’s a total lover. Um, okay, beer on a hot day after softball with friends or wine at a picnic with a lover and just the two of you?
RM: Oh! Can I have wine at a picnic with lots of friend? And lover?
RM: Okay, good. I’l take a mashup there.
DB: Perfect. I would do the same, because I don’t play softball.
RM: I cannot play softball. I’m so bad at it. Do you just not like, or you can’t play it?
DB: Team sports are just too much pressure for me, but like swimming or hiking or board games, I’m your girl.
RM: Yes, let’s have board games at our picnic! I did that once with some friends, we just had like a random day. You know those random days that turn into amazing days? It was the middle of the summer and we all just sort of hiked down to Central Park and brought a couple board games and laid on blankets. It was a random group of people, not everyone knew each other, and you never know how that’s going to go. But we just, like, played Taboo and Sattegories for about eight hours.
DB: You just named two of my favorite games.
DB: Yeah, especially Taboo. It’s my favorite game ever and um, I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it!
RM: Love it, it’s the best. Love holding the buzzer.
DB: Oh my God, I go nutty on the buzzer. I over buzz.
RM: I can picture it, in like the sweetest way.
DB: I don’t know if I maintain any sweetness when it comes to board games, I sort of lose my mind a little bit. I become a competitive, psycho Pisces.
RM: Are you big on the rules? Or do you cheat?
DB: Nooo, I’m big on the tules and in everybody’s faces about the rules.
RM: That’s great, then we can play together sometime, because I can’t play with people who don’t follow the rules.
DB: No, all fun goes out the window. Well, we shall hopefully get some blankies and find a field and play some games with some wine and some friend and some lovers.
RM: Sounds perfect.
DB: That answers the question of the perfect day.
RM: That is a perfect day. That’s a heavenly day, I think. Sounds like for both of us.
DB: Oh, I can’t forget this: what was it like to work with Terrence Malick?
RM: Oh, he’s the nicest person on the whole entire world. I was out on the tall grass prairies in Oklahoma with Terry and with a director like that, it’s such a treat to be able to jump and not be quite sure where you’re going to land.
DB: I just picture myself as this big grey hunk of clay, all wrapped up in plastic, and I’m like, ‘I know I can sculpt but more than anything I just want you to sculpt me into something I didn’t expect I would ever take the shape of.’
RM: Well that must be part of why you’re so good at directing, because you want that in return. At our photo shoot I just wanted to, you know, be your ball of clay. I can sometimes find them scary, for whatever reason. They are really exposing. I felt this one was very cooperative and it was just a lot of fun. It was really just s fun day at the beach, which is the best. So, maybe a picnic next time?
DB: Yes, picnic for sure. That will be our next date.
RM: Yes, sounds great. I look forward to it.
DB: Me too! I’m actually looking at the pepsi bottle that was your prop for the shoot and every time I look at it, I get such a happy feeling. It’s like it’s become a little glass token of positivity.
RM: That was great. I hadn’t had a Pepsi in, I don’t know, three years or something. Ir rasted so food. Yeah it was fun.