It's always nice when gut instincts pay off. Just ask Drew Barrymore, who sensed she wanted to work with Adam Sandler long before the two were introduced. To date, Barrymore's intuition has yielded $319.8 million in worldwide box-office grosses -- a figure will escalate this weekend when "Blended," the duo's third feature together, hits theaters.
"Blended" is a rom-com (what else?) about two single parents who unwittingly concoct a scheme that leads to a joint vacation at a South African resort, along with their troop of five children, following a terrible first date. The movie reunites Barrymore and Sandler with "The Wedding Singer" director Frank Coraci, who has spent the 16 years since the duo's first movie making broad comedies like "Around the World in 80 Days" and the Sandler vehicle "Click." But a lot has changed since Barrymore first recruited Sandler as her signature co-star; she's a director and a mother of two. HuffPost Entertainment spoke with Barrymore about what led to her second reunion with Sandler and the directorial project she'd like to explore if she'll just "get off [her] ass and do it."
Was it intentional that "Blended" is coming out 10 years after "50 First Dates"?
I tend to be the one to nudge Adam. With “The Wedding Singer,” I was like, “We have to work together, we have to find something. I’ve been saying that you and I are cinematic soul mates,” which probably sounded really crazy at the time because he didn't know me. And then we found “The Wedding Singer.” I nudge and he finds it.
“50 First Dates” was actually a different script. It was more of a drama, and it was called “50 First Kisses.” I knew about it, and I knew he knew it. In fact, I think it had drifted to his company [Happy Madison Productions], and it was something that I’d just been a big fan of for a long time and I loved the writing. I sat down at a typewriter, and I couldn’t stop crying while I was writing the letter because I had this swelling moment where I was so convinced that I knew what we were supposed to do next. I said, “It’s the script that you have and it’s called ’50 First Kisses.’ Here’s why I think we should turn this into our next movie.” Then he did a lot of writing on it and we made it into more of a comedy, and it is what it is. With this one, I reached out to him and said, “Okay, I think it’s time again!” And he was like, “Okay, I’ll go find something.” I said, “Yeah, you do that.” And then he called me months later and said he thought he’d found it.
How'd you know it was the right script for a reunion?
He sent it over, and I ran right up to my little closet and sat down. I was really excited by it because it made me laugh -- I love to laugh, that’s all I want to do in life -- and it made me cry. I thought it was very much where Adam and I are in life. It’s a big, wonderful comedy, but it’s about these two people who have these sweet conversations about how to be the best parent. They’re attracted to each other by each other’s parenting styles, and when you’re younger that’s not what you’re looking for in people. And now you’re like, “Wow, I totally see how they would pick them up from school every day on time,” because when you’re a parent that’s everything. And I loved that aspect of it, and I love the phrase “the kids are all right.” This is really about that. All these kids have different needs, and somehow between these two people they’re getting a little more fulfilled. I thought that was wonderful.
So going back to the letter you wrote Adam, are we talking snail mail here?
Oh yeah. It was on the typewriter. But I think I actually had it hand-delivered to his office.
You can’t throw away a letter from Drew Barrymore, so does he still have it?
I don’t know if he does or not, but it was effective because it worked to get the movie made. I would love to reread that letter, but it wasn’t on a computer, so there’s not another copy of it anywhere.
We were just chatting at HuffPost not too long ago about how much we adore "Whip It."
Oh, thank you. That’s the best thing I could ever hear in the world.
That movie must be your baby.
It is. It’s my first kid, if that makes sense and doesn’t take away from my human children. It’s my movie baby.
What’s the most endearing memory of that film?
I think, sadly, it's how much I put of myself into it. I didn’t really think or breathe or eat or sleep anything except that for like two years. So now I’m cautious, or at least taking my time, to go back to directing, because I know I wouldn’t be able to be a good parent and direct at the same time. Maybe when my kids are older and in school, then I could start to explore or think about it again.
What sort of projects would you want to approach? "Whip It" feels like a change of pace from the movies you star in, so would it be another unexpected story?
I still love things that have family themes. I would be interested to know if it had another young girl character because that’s something I always enjoyed experiencing. I always loved a sports theme, which makes no sense because I’ve had no athleticism in my life. But I always liked girls doing physical-capable things, whether it’s “Charlie’s Angles” or roller derby. I loved watching movies like “Breaking Away” when I was a kid. A can-do sports theme is always great. But those are the things I was attracted to before, and now that my life is so different. I’ll be curious as to what I’m attracted to now.
I know the mother–daughter relationship has always been an emotional Achilles’ heel to me. There’s this one project that’s completely my own idea that I’ve always wanted to write or write with someone or have someone write. It does have a young girl and a sports theme to it, too. It’s kind of dark and raucous and cool and fun, and it’s something I’ve thought about for years. So that doesn’t seem to be too different. I think things will get more large and sweeping. Maybe it’ll have something to do with an older man, but as long as it has some type of physical capability as well as a longing of the heart, I like those themes. I do think the films that I direct are probably quite different than the films I star in, which is interesting and I don’t know why that is. I do like the human spirit at the end of the day.
What’s your next sport of choice?
I would want to just keep it to myself in case I ever do it. The question is, will I get off my ass and do it?
It's been 15 years since "Never Been Kissed," which is such a fun movie.
I always love watching fun, fish-out-of-water makeover movies. I am a child of the ‘80s, and that was the best genre. But at the end of the day, I also just wanted to make a film about how tough kids can be and how important it is to embrace the inner nerd you are. I’ve never been a hot-body, confident mama; I’ve always thought if I can make you laugh then hopefully that will make me sexy because it’s probably not going to be any other way. I liked getting to do that movie for that.
Your movies are fixtures for TV airings, which means your face is all over for people of all ages on Sunday afternoon.
That’s such a good thing. I like an all-ages party, and I have a great partner in my company [Flower Films] that I produce all my movies with Nancy Juvonen because she’s just into everything that I am. If people swear too much or there’s gratuitous nudity, she always asks why -- what’s the point? And she can totally appreciate it in other movies, but I think we both thought: Let’s not make moms bummed out that their kids are watching this; let’s not make a movie where the character isn’t totally beautiful the way she is naturally; let’s not be so girly that we alienate the boys, or let’s not not let kids into this movie because we’re going so hard for it. I always appreciate that about her. She, like me, inherently thinks everyone should feel good about them. That’s where it comes from.
Now that you've made your own movie, do you feel more confident giving notes on the set of a movie you aren’t directing, like on "Blended"?
Adam and I are really collaborative, especially in the writing process. And Adam is so sensitive and great when he’s writing for me. He gives me something to do and really incorporates things that I want to do. We have a code, and it’s called “let’s discuss.” We always do a “let’s discuss.”
We also carefully pick the directors of the movies that we are doing. Frank Coraci, who did “The Wedding Singer,” I have such a special relationship with. I trust him. He gets broad comedy, but he isn’t afraid of emotion and intimacy, and that’s really important to me. With Pete Segal on “50 First Dates,” it was all about how to balance the romance with crazy comedy. I could just tell from our first conversation that he was the right person to do it. It was individually project-based, but when you trust the team around you, you put everything into it and you try every idea, but you also don’t have a fear that you can’t trust these guys.
Do you and Adam use "let's discuss" just in the writing process?
We use it before the shoot and then all throughout the shoot.
What happens after someone says "let's discuss"?
We come to some wonderfully collaborative, better place. He’s a great producer and a great writer, and he takes an idea and makes it work. He throws you great stuff, right in the moment. And you’re like, "That’s awesome!" If it’s like 11:00 at night and we’ve been doing a scene all day together, he’ll make me laugh out of context so that my laugh on camera is totally genuine. Whenever he sings to me in his movies, like he did in “50 First Dates” and “The Wedding Singer,” I don’t want to hear it or see it until we shoot the first time, because I want that reaction to be genuine. I don’t want to fake it. We want something more spontaneous.
This interview has been edited and condensed.