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Emmys 2017
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Spotlight on Drew Barrymore

The actress talks about her directorial debut, ”Whip It”

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EW: What made you decide to make Whip It your directorial debut?
Drew Barrymore: My producing partner, Nancy Juvonen, and I optioned the book [Derby Girl, by Shauna Cross]. I saw this film a certain way, and it was just like that moment in Clueless at the fountain. I was like, ”I love Josh!” I was like, ”I have to direct this film!” It was a love story between a mother and daughter which, emotionally, tears my heart apart.

EW: The film is set in the world of roller derby. Did you and the cast train for the competition scenes?
Barrymore: I designed a camp for all the girls and me. And I chose to play a part in the film because I didn’t want to be that guy that was like, ”No, no. Just go ahead and do it.” I wanted to be with them. I wanted to understand how scary it was. I wanted to be in pain.

EW: What kind of director were you on set?
Barrymore: I don’t understand laid-back — it freaks me out. I hate ”passive,” and I hate ”total control freak.” I am very diligent. [I don’t like losing] five minutes here and there during shooting by people sitting around drinking coffee and talking.

EW: It sounds like you relished every moment of directing.
Barrymore: I loved filming. I don’t work by a monitor. Unfortunately, I’m right there in their faces. But I don’t want to be watching a movie when I’m making it; I want to be right there.

EW: Did this experience make you want to direct again?
Barrymore: I absolutely want to direct again. Whatever you do, you really have to be in love with it, particularly as a director because it becomes your lover for two years.

EW: He’s Just Not That Into You was very successful, you won an Emmy nomination for Grey Gardens, and now you’ve got Whip It this fall — is this your best year ever, professionally?
Barrymore: Maybe at the end of this year I’ll take a vacation and reflect. And then I’ll be like, ”Oh, f — -! That was probably the best year of my life!” But I’m one of those people who doesn’t pop the cork until it’s all really said and done.