Drew Barrymore’s second memoir, Wildflower, is a lot tamer than her previous tell-all, Little Girl Lost. Those expecting salacious retellings of her drugs-and-alcohol-crazed formative years should turn back. (Okay, there’s one of those.) However, what you will get is arguably more fulfilling: a series of funny and thoughtful essays touching on various points of her life, ranging from living on her own for the first time to her first encounters with an array of friends and collaborators, like Steven Spielberg and Cameron Diaz. As Wildflower hits bookshelves across the country today, we’ve rounded up nine of the memoir’s especially interesting stories.
1. She stipulates in her will that she wants to be buried under an avocado tree.
As a child, Barrymore lived in a modest duplex in West Hollywood, where she spent most of her time roaming in the backyard and munching on the avocados from the nearby avocado tree, which provided her with a much-needed refuge from the “X-rated” area. “To say that I ate ten avocados a day off that tree was no exaggeration. I loved that tree. It nourished me, and other than cascading bougainvillea out front, it was my only source of nature,” she writes. The strong significance of that avocado tree, and nature as a whole, still remains today. “I even have it in my will that I want to be buried under one, or have some of my ashes put there. Some avocado tree preferably on a hill that is nowhere near anything this time. Just up on a hill on a rolling mountain, preferably with an ocean view. I can dream!”
2. She and Cameron Diaz had a sexist experience while skydiving.
Barrymore and her good friend Cameron Diaz (whom she affectionately refers to as “Poo Poo”) have enjoyed participating in adventurous and adrenaline-fueled activities since the start of their friendship. When they finished wrapping Charlie’s Angels, the duo decided to give skydiving a try, but their attempt at having an enjoyable bonding experience was soon thwarted by the inappropriate behavior of the skydiving school’s male employees. The tension began when the men gave them their suits to change into:
The guys were kind of making jokes and yukking it up as we changed. I was starting to get the sense that these yahoos were holding themselves back from falling all over themselves for [Cameron]. It was obvious that they were all salivating, and who wouldn’t? … I zipped up my suit, and we both emerged from our curtained makeshift dressing rooms at the same time. My eyes bulged. They had put me in a bright yellow rayon jumpsuit with a giant toucan across the entire front of it. I looked like an Oompa Loompa … Then my eyes looked over, and they had given Cameron a skintight, painted-on red spandex onesie that literally let you make out every inch of her body. I wanted to punch these assholes. And there we were, Suzy Chapstick and Toucan Sam. They told us how good we looked, and I rolled my eyes and uttered ‘fuck you’ under my breath.
Nevertheless, they hopped on the small prop plane and proceeded in good spirits, and their respective dives went smoothly. But not before the instructor touched her without asking.
After a deep breath and a stare-down, I think we both telepathically said, ‘these guys are tools. But we came all this way, and it would be a shame to turn back now. They can get us where we need to go. And we need to go out of this plane and rock this goddamn dive!’ Yes! … After what felt like an eternity, I landed smoothly, I’m happy to say. My instructor took my face and gave me a big grandmother kiss. Yuck. Thanks a lot. First you put me in this clown suit and now you try to grope me? Get out of here. [Cameron and I] got out of there as fast as possible, happy to have our lives and bodies intact.
3. She hasn’t spoken with her mother much since her emancipation.
Barrymore was born in 1975 to a young and hedonistic single mother, and after a much-publicized legal battle, she became emancipated from her at the age of 14 (her father, the actor John Barrymore, was only in her life sporadically as well). After this parting of ways, the two have barely made any contact with each other, but Barrymore only has kind things to say about her:
I still support her — I must know that she is taken care of or I simply cannot function. I am grateful to this woman for bringing me into this world, and it would crush me to know she was in need anywhere. It is not who I am to harbor any anger for the fact that our life together was so incredibly unorthodox. I want only to say thank you to her, because I love my life and it takes every step to get to where you are, and if you are happy, then God bless the hard times it took you to get there. No life is without them, so what are yours, and what did you do with the lessons?
4. She lied to Steven Spielberg during her auditions to seem more interesting.
Kids say the falsest things! When Barrymore first auditioned for Spielberg for Poltergeist, her tactic was simple: to lie and lie and lie her way to the top of the child-actor food chain. In their first meeting, she pretended to have a family full of brothers and prodigy-level cooking and organizational skills, and claimed that she was in an indie band called the Purple People Eaters. She didn’t end up getting the Poltergeist role, but when she went to audition for the film that would later become E.T., she decided to up the ante of rhetoric and wild tales.
“That morning, when I was six, walking into a room with four adults, I had swagger,” she writes. “They all sat around observing me and asking questions. I was a dry-witted, lying, thieving six-year-old, and I just wanted to win the job and go on an adventure! And I wanted to make the most of it. So after my made-up tales and small talk that was larger than life, I was mostly directing it to Steven because I knew that he was buying it.”
5. Spielberg is a pretty swell guy who dresses in drag and grosses people out with food.
Barrymore has nothing but lovely things to say about her godfather, including a handful of funny anecdotes about the times they spent together while shooting and promoting E.T. As it turns out, he really gets into the Halloween spirit:
We all were hearing rumors that Steven, the biggest kid of all, the most playful, the most unpatronizing leader, was about to show us all up. We waited. It was quiet in the school-house. We were all doing our schoolwork, and in walks this old lady, and for a second until our eyes adjusted, we wondered who she was. Well, it was Steven, in full drag, and we all jumped up and attacked him! And we escorted him to set, like a moving wave of groupies in Steven’s ocean. To say that we loved him is the understatement of the world.
Spielberg also highly enjoyed playing the game “See-Food,” which, yes, involved forcing people to see food … in his mouth. “Steven loved to freak people out with food, hence the food fights,” she writes. “He would put food in his mouth and then open it and say ‘See food!’ and we all howled! He would dangle clams and then slurp them up, and we would all yell ‘Gross!!!!!’ and he loved it.” We’re assuming Scorsese plays this game, too.
6. She “knew it in [her] bones” that she and Adam Sandler were supposed to be collaborators.
She first crossed path Adam Sandler when she was in her early 20s, and she had to “beg, borrow, and steal” to get him to meet with her in person. She showed up to their restaurant chat in a long vintage leopard coat with jet-black hair, pink plastic heels, and sunglasses, while Sandler opted for his classic look: sportswear, cargo shorts, and a baseball cap (some things never change).
“It was definitely not obvious we were supposed to fit as well as I believed because we looked like a preppy and a punk set up on a bad blind date,” she writes. “But I shook his hand with fervor, thanked him for meeting me, and began to plead my case to him. I told him that, for whatever reason, I knew that we were supposed to become a team.” What ensued were two well-received and popular film collaborations (The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates) and one not-so-good one (ahem, Blended). But regardless of success, Barrymore was convinced that the two were inherently meant to work together. “I knew it. I knew it in my bones,” she continues. “I thought Adam had a goodness that was so unique. I could tell that he possessed something different, and I was drawn to his light. I wanted to make love stories, but I wanted them to have a certain energy that was about true love and chemistry and timelessness, and I was convinced of us doing something together.”
7. When her dog died, she booked a trip to India to scatter the dog’s ashes throughout the country.
When Barrymore’s beloved dog, Flossy, died at the age of 16, she was devastated. But after a period of grieving, she decided to give her late pup a proper and fitting send-off — to India. She bought a plane ticket and headed off shortly thereafter, scattering some of Flossy’s ashes at Gandhi’s house in New Delhi, by a Buddhist monastery up in the Himalayas, and on a quiet path in the countryside by the Ganges River. “Flossy was my first girl,” she writes. “And the love I felt for her is one of the best gifts I have ever known.”
8. She got drunk and disorderly in a hotel room in Germany when she was 11.
When shooting the film Babes in Toyland in Munich, she and her fellow underage thespians engaged in the German teenage tradition of sitting around, getting drunk, and listening to heavy metal. One night, when a rock band came through the hotel, all hell broke loose. Running wild throughout the hallways, the alcohol-fueled, anarchy-seeking teens started stealing dozens of laundry bags full of clothing and proceeded to throw them off the balconies, with all the bags landing in the small river surrounding the hotel, never to be seen again.
Once her conscience got the better of her, she realized how appalling she was being and didn’t act out again during the remainder of the filming. “I am telling you that I cannot keep clothes, and I am convinced it is my karma from that night in Munich,” she writes. “And you know what? I say to myself, OK, you probably deserve it. And I am positive that what I am wearing while I write this will be gone by the time anyone ever reads it.”
9. Her mantra comes from Homer on The Simpsons.
The specific episode she loves is called “And Maggie Makes Three,” when the Simpson family is one day looking through a photo album, only for the kids to realize there are no pictures of Maggie in it. As Barrymore explains, the episode tells the story of how Homer unhappily works at a power plant, sacrificing his unhappiness for the well-being of his family, something she can relate to now as a mother:
Every day he worked in an octagonal room looking at an Orwellian plaque that read, ‘DON’T FORGET: YOU’RE HERE FOREVER.’ And one day when Homer came home he told Marge that he was afraid of his whole life slipping away without him ever getting to live his dream, which was to run a bowling alley. And so they all squeezed financially and made it work and Homer finally got his dream job! He became so happy that even his hair started to grow back! His life fell into place with his wife and two kids, and then suddenly Marge became pregnant. Now of course, in order to earn the living wage his family needed, he had to go back to work at the power plant. And so he did. But at the end of the episode, the kids say, ‘Yes, but why are there still no pictures of Maggie in this photo album?’ and Homer says it’s because he keeps her pictures where he needs them the most, and it cuts back to his office, and they are all taped up in front of him on the plaque for inspiration. But the way he has taped all the pictures of Maggie on the plaque, it has covered some of the words, and it now reads, ‘DO IT FOR HER,’ and that is what he now sees every day. Do it for her. That is it. You show that you love them endlessly. You devote yourself. You sacrifice. You parent also by example. The way you live and the things you achieve and the way you behave will be more evident than trying to convince them of anything.