It's ladies' might: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu chat about their touchy-feely friendship, their vision for the franchise, and the power of running in stilettos

By Gillian Flynn
Updated June 13, 2003 at 12:00 PM EDT
Darren Michaels

Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu are all here, but one senses an absence this twinkly April evening in Los Angeles. There’s a distinct lack of butt-kicking, for instance. No lush lip gloss or slo-mo hair-flinging either. And the only jammin’ soundtrack comes from Diaz, who quite often lets loose an addictive pretty-pony guffaw.

Life can’t all be Charlie’s Angels. But on the bright side, there is a little girl-on-girl action: Barrymore and Liu are ladies unafraid to swat each other’s rumps, and Diaz occasionally punctuates a laugh by grabbing her own breasts and jiggling them. We’re in a cozy Beverly Hills hotel suite, an ambrosial banquet sits before us, and the Angels — here to dish about their amped-up sequel, Full Throttle — are looking predictably fine. Diaz, 30, blond hair clipped up, silver hoop earrings swaying in rhythm to her generous gesturing, has claimed the couch. Barrymore, 28, snug in an armchair, sports long blond ringlets and rock-star eye shadow. Liu, 34, completes the circle, serene in a periwinkle sweater, the only one of the group who sips water instead of wine.

The ladies, who talk at, with, over, and through one another like old college roomies, are the very definition of salty-sweet: Even their profanity is perky. They have reason to be sunny. Released in 2000, Charlie’s Angels had a first-time director (McG, now 33), who’d previously shot only music videos, and suffered through countless script overhauls and myriad rumors of on-set girlfights (denied) and tiffs with Bill Murray, who played Angel supervisor Bosley (exaggerated, but not entirely untrue). Sounded like hell. Even Barrymore, who also coproduced the first film and had long lobbied for the project, was spooked. When the first film opened, she hopped a flight to Tokyo with Liu so she could “spend the entire opening weekend of this film in the air over the sea, which I thought was the safest place.”

There was no need. The “hard on bad guys, easy on the eyes” formula, along with Angels‘ amiably silly tone, earned the film $264.1 million worldwide. For the sequel, the gang traded in Murray for Bernie Mac (as Bosley’s brother — don’t ask), added John Cleese (as Liu’s rich daddy), sprinkled in cameos from Bruce Willis to the Olsen twins, and created a new villain in Demi Moore. The film’s $100 million-plus budget in part reflects the trio’s new Serious Player salaries (reportedly Liu leaped to $4 million, Barrymore jumped to $14 million against 12 percent of the film’s gross, plus a producing fee, and Diaz hit $20 million, a height she shares with just one woman, Julia Roberts). Of course, the money also reflects Throttle‘s all-that-and-a-cherry-on-top mentality: When the film opens June 27, we’ll be watching the detectives motocross, surf, fistfight, smooch, boogie, and jump out of a bas-relief naked — all while maintaining their distinct I’m okay, you’re okay vibe.

“We never wanted it to be a female-empowerment movie,” McG says. “We wanted it to be a humanity-empowerment movie. ‘Hey, you, little fat boy, you’re invited too! Hey, old woman; hey, you, black man, Asian girl! Everybody get in the back of this convertible and make it happen.'” Get ready for one wacky road trip. Here, Poo, Poo, and Pussy (as Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu, respectively, dub one another) discuss the fashioning of a franchise, their fab friendship, and Diaz’s freaky feet.

EW How did you find the tone for Angels, which isn’t exactly a satire or a remake or…

BARRYMORE When we were writing the first script, we were [asking]: How do you make a movie out of a TV show that existed in the ’70s? At one point, they were testing a very futuristic, cold, dark take — very female-Matrix. Yet that doesn’t match the warm, fuzzy California aspect of the show. We kept saying: What’s the tone? Is it The Brady Bunch? Is it Austin Powers? Is it Matrix? Is it Lethal Weapon?

DIAZ When I first talked to Drew about it, she said: “We have a script, but I’m not going to let you read it — it’s [about] supermodels that are trying to stop the cloning of supermodels. But that’s not what we’re making.”

BARRYMORE We kept the opening, which was the airplane sequence…. We [eventually] found a base to go from: It’s present time and Charlie is Charlie, and when the show went off the air there were still Angels working. We made up all these women who were recruits in those years — from Jodie Foster to Jackie Joyner-Kersee….

DIAZ Brooke Shields…Sandra Bullock was in there…. But it wasn’t till McG came on–and you just went, “This is the guy, he’s got it.”

EW What’s McG like?

DIAZ One of the amazing things about McG is all his references to pop culture — a rainbow. Everything from heavy metal to hip-hop.

BARRYMORE He has an affinity for musicals.

DIAZ He is a musical.

LIU “Get your angel cake face on!” [They laugh.] That means you have to look very serious. Like this [pretends to be deeply pensive].

DIAZ He gives you hysterical direction.

BARRYMORE I was on the hood of a car at a car wash [in Full Throttle]. He was like: “It’s pure Whitesnake video! Tawny Kitaen!”…or “It’s total Animal Planet: You’re the gazelle being chased!” I’m like: I love you.

EW So how vindicated did you feel when the first one was a hit — after all the rumors about trouble on set?

DIAZ Okayokayokay! [Waving hands] Wait, because honestly…

BARRYMORE Oh, you’re going to do it!

DIAZ Let me just say it…bring the wine over. I’m going to quote my good friend Drew Barrymore in saying…


DIAZ Poo! [Nicknames are cooed. Wine is poured.] Someone asked [Drew] about the rumors of us not getting along and she said: Who would say something like that? Seriously, anybody who knows the value of a girlfriend would know — what do you have if you don’t have your girlfriend?

BARRYMORE But it came from so many sources — some of them must have been women. Not all girls are sisters.

DIAZ That’s the thing. I met this girl on a film I was doing and she was like, “I don’t trust women. Women are always jealous.” And I said, “I don’t trust a woman who doesn’t trust women.” I would never hang out with somebody who wasn’t, like, down for the girls.

LIU I think the whole idea of women being catty and jealous is perpetuated from the soap operas: Dynasty, Dallas

BARRYMORE Alexis Carrington.

LIU Who doesn’t like that? But, ultimately, the bottom line is it doesn’t allow any sort of sorority around other women…. Since the first movie was released there’s been no talk of that anymore because people saw the chemistry.

DIAZ When we did our junket, I think people were thrown off, too, because we were just being organic and genuine to our relationship.

BARRYMORE Humping each other.

DIAZ People were like, “Oh, they’re trying to overcompensate, they’re trying to prove so much!” But then I think people started saying “Wait a second, you can’t fake that.”

BARRYMORE Four years later: They’re still humping!!!

EW Bernie Mac replaced Bill Murray — did that make for a smoother set this time?

BARRYMORE Nononono. We had a good time with Bill. It was a very different working experience with Bill because Bill is a very different person than Bernie…. Bill approaches everything like, We have to make this great.

DIAZ And Bernie’s like, Whatever pitch you throw me I’m going to hit.

BARRYMORE There are people in life where it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen each other, you pick right up where you left off.

DIAZ We didn’t even know him and we picked up.

[pagebreak]EW Some people love Angels‘ cheesecake factor, some hate it. Discuss.

BARRYMORE I know what I wanted [Angels] to be: I love love, and I love couples, and I think about couples going to the movies. I was so profoundly wanting a couple to watch this movie and have the guy dig what he was seeing — love the action, love the girls, not [be] bummed out that the girlfriend is dragging him to this movie — yet the woman [isn’t] threatened. The woman is thinking, This is about women, I am a woman, therefore I can do this.

LIU After the first one they realized just because we’re fighting doesn’t mean we have to be running around with our hair cut off and like buff and running around in motorcycle boots. We could actually wear stilettos and little tiny outfits.

DIAZ By the way, stilettos? Are really kind of easy to run in.

BARRYMORE [But not] to dance in.

DIAZ But I ran.

BARRYMORE And ya did well.

DIAZ Seriously, all the running, the dancing, and fighting that we do in stilettos…[hushed tones] are actually done in the actual stilettos.

BARRYMORE Balance is a bitch.

DIAZ It’s a bitch, but baby, we did it.

LIU When you add that factor, you can’t not enjoy it. Because the girls look hot. We haven’t shaved our heads….

BARRYMORE And yet we don’t have to have our hair perfect. I think that’s the tonal balance, weirdly: You don’t have to be a woman trying to be a man, yet you can be a woman but not so picture perfect — that’s bulls—, you know?

DIAZ But we have to have the lip gloss on.

LIUYou can be beautiful and you can be strong and you can also be capable. That’s what the movie’s about: being capable. Capable yet not having to wear librarian glasses.

BARRYMORE Although I did try that librarian look for [a Full Throttle] scene. [I wore], as McG called it, a f—bun.

DIAZ With something like Charlie’s Angels, if it wasn’t done well, you could walk away with…like, I know people who’ve done films who are ashamed they did that film. They’d be like, Please do not mention it. We all have ’em.

BARRYMORE I got ’em.

DIAZ But Charlie’s Angels is not one of those things where you walk away and go, “Ahhh. I know I did it, but don’t talk about it, it was just that thing.”

EW What are your comfort-food movies?

DIAZ The Princess Bride. One of my favorites.

BARRYMORE “No more rhymes now, I mean it…”

DIAZ “…Anybody want a peanut?”… Raising Arizona.


DIAZ I love, “That motherclucker!” I say motherclucker all the time.

BARRYMORE John Hughes. Any John Hughes movie.

DIAZ Ferris Bueller.

LIU And old Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Willy Wonka? I love that s—.

EW What’s Drew like as your producer?

DIAZ [who’s plopped herself on Barrymore’s lap] She knows exactly what she wants, and she fights f—ing tooth and nail to get it. And that’s the success of our film. If there was no vision from her, there would not be the film that exists.

LIU We’d be fighting, you know, the cloning of supermodels.

DIAZ She’s such a passionate person that I think she’s created this world for herself so she has a place to put that energy. She has to have a place where she says, “This is my passion, this is what I believe in — if you do not f—ing follow me on this you’re going to be left behind, because I know.” And she does.

BARRYMORE [Peeking from behind Diaz, where she was hiding during the compliments] I like hanging out with my friends too…. Isn’t it the ideal — to create, then have it paid off by giggling and having fun and traveling and doing extraordinary things?

DIAZ By the way, the two of them are amazing photographers. Unbelievable photographers. Lucy shoots amazing portraits, and Drew shoots the most amazing Polaroids and candid moments.

EWAnd what do you do?

DIAZ I cook well.

BARRYMORE She cooks like a mother-f—er…. Don’t ever eat breakfast without her. Nobody makes decisions from their heart the way she does. Lucy and I are more diligent [types]. Cameron is the purest, truest person you will ever meet. Nobody is more in touch with their instincts and their heart than she is.

DIAZ And nobody has littler feet than me. [She pulls off her Ugg boots to reveal freakishly wee feet, then cackles.]

BARRYMORE Which is why I can’t raid her shoe closet. ‘Cuz damn, I would.