Why 'Conventional Romance' Isn't for Drew Barrymore

The actress-director dishes about her Valentine's Day plans and the necessity of getting bruised on the Whip It set

Drew Barrymore isn't your average girly girl. For last year's roller-derby flick (and her directorial debut) Whip It, she donned roller skates, pink highlights and tattoos, and though her tough-girl persona was all for the sake of the movie (out now on DVD and Blu-ray), it's not a far cry from the 34-year-old actress's real-life personality. "I love boys and I am very boyish myself," Barrymore -- who is dating Justin Long, 31, her costar in 2009's He's Just Not That Into You and the upcoming Going the Distance -- tells iVillage. "I kind of really love men and their whole perspective and I'm pretty androgynous." iVillage spoke with the actress about complicated mother-daughter relationships, bonding with her Whip It costars and why Valentine's Day is, well, "weird."

Why was it so important for you to show strong female characters in Whip It?

I do fundamentally believe that you can be true to who you want to be in this world and find a great group of friends, and it is so much more fun to do it alongside a group of people who keep you honest and inspire you to do better and who you can laugh with. And that's what I've done with my own life, so that theme is so true to me. I also know what it's like to be a young girl with a mother and to try to navigate that relationship. Though my own life was quite different than it is in the movie, there were similar themes and emotions I could really make personal. I love to rock out with my friends and have a good time. I like laughing and comedy and I like women who are physically capable, because I'm not really in real life: I just pretend at work sometimes that I am and it's so fun. I have such admiration for women like that so I celebrate people who are doing it on their own terms and empowering themselves and empowering each other and having a good time and inspiring each other along the way.

How much girl bonding were you able to do with the cast off screen?

Oh, we did a lot. Ellen (Page) trained for three months and Zoe (Bell) trained for a long time. If anybody could start early they did, but we had a one-month long derby camp six days a week. It was so bonding because we would all be in pain. Or when we'd actually learn something we'd be cheering each other on and everybody really got to know each other. We weren't just showing up and pretending to be this team. It was real. You can't really buy that. It's something that has to come over time. And I'd play with them on Saturday nights because that's really the only time I'd allow myself to do anything social. I'd watch all them go out to dinner afterward and I'd be like, "Yay, I have to go back to work but I love that you're all hanging out. It's just fantastic."

Was it hard to separate being an actress and director in this film when you were presumably behind the camera in the crazy makeup and hair?

I put myself in the movie on purpose. I've done some action films and I know how physically demanding it is and how kind of psychologically scary it is to throw yourself into these situations, and how important the training process is because you need to be able to get those sorts of skills in order to do it well on camera. But then there are also the friendships that develop out of going through that together. The chemistry is so important. And so I really wanted to be in it with everybody so I wasn't on the sidelines going, "I know it's hard but just go and do it." So that was great for me.

What is the main lesson that you want moms and daughters to take away from the movie?

That I believe in mothers who want the best for their daughters and I understand what it's like to be a daughter who may have a different vision for my future than my mother. To try and see both sides and to try and share a common belief that everyone is trying to look out for each other and want the best for each other might take some of the sting out of it. It's just not easy. It's a really complex relationship, but I have a fantasy of what it can be and a few ideas of how to make that work. [Laughs] And so I tried them out in this film. It's not everything I believe or know, but it was just a slice of it.

Was Bliss's (Ellen Page) complicated relationship with musician Oliver (Landon Pigg) in the movie any kind of statement on guys in bands?

No, because I have so many friends in bands. Not at all. What I do think though is that when you're younger there are guys who are a rite of passage and Oliver to me was just that awesome little rite of passage. And the message is really what makes me feel the best about myself and about life, and it is not shaky ground.

Bliss's first pair of skates have Barbie on them. Do you remember what your first pair was?

You know they kind of weirdly looked like derby skates. They were like sneakers on skates. They looked like '70s wedding shoes on four wheels.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day?

A lot of carbs. [Laughs] I don't know, it's just an odd day. I'm not really that comfortable with conventional romance and I also know that if you're not with somebody it can really make you feel bad and it's kind of a weird day [laughs]. I'm not cynical at all but I just think it's one of those funny, odd days that can kind of turn itself around on you. But I'm okay to do whatever you can to have the best time ever on it. Whatever makes you happy.

Do you celebrate or loathe Valentine's Day? Chime in below!

Plus: 
- Were you inspired by Whip It's Ellen Page? Vote in our iViillage Entertainment Awards!
- Best and Worst-Dressed at the SAG Awards: Drew Barrymore
- Golden Globes' Best & Boldest Moments: Drew Barrymore

 

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