Going back to work after the birth of a child is never easy, but Drew Barrymore’s return to the day job came sooner than most.
Just a month after welcoming second daughter Frankie, a little sister for 20-month-old Olive, into the world, the US actress was boarding a transatlantic jet without her brood to promote new romantic comedy Blended.
“It’s hard to be apart from her,” 39-year-old Barrymore admits, before she’s whisked off to be preened and primped for the film’s premiere.
“We really didn’t plan it this way, but my baby is healthy and happy, which puts my mind at ease because everything is so good.
“I’m just going to take a couple of days to talk about this wonderful movie that is all about family, being a good parent and loving your kids as we all do, and then I’ll be right back with her. I’m really with family now, so it’s a good, healthy environment,” adds the actress, referring to her long history with friend and co-star Adam Sandler, who’s by her side for the short trip to Europe.
The film marks the pair’s third collaboration after The Wedding Singer (1998) - also directed by Blended’s Frank Coraci - and 50 First Dates (2004).
“She’s got a great husband [art consultant Will Kopelman, who Barrymore wed two years ago] taking care of the babies,” Sandler points out loyally.
Family seems an apt way to describe Barrymore and Sandler’s relationship. There’s a brother-sister dynamic between the pair, who laugh together and stick up for each other - “If anybody messes with Adam I’ll kill them,” warns Barrymore. And, according to Sandler, there is “zero attraction” between them. “Drew has seen me shirtless and has just walked away laughing.”
In Blended, they play single parents Jim and Lauren, who never want to see each other again after a disastrous blind date.
The pair end up accidentally sharing a luxury suite at an African safari resort with their families and, in true romcom tradition, animosity gradually morphs into attraction.
“It was hard not to have a good time together,” Sandler says of their characters’ first encounter.
“In all seriousness, I was like, ‘No one’s going to buy that I don’t like [Sandler]. I’m going to be a bad actress, this is awful’,” Barrymore adds.
Like Jim, laidback Sandler’s first date with future wife Jackie wasn’t a particularly polished affair.
“I was on the Atkins diet at the time... All I got to eat was this steak, and then I looked over at her and I ate half her chicken. She still talks about that,” recalls the 47-year-old.
Having spent most of her life – including her notoriously wild adolescence – in the spotlight after starring in 1982’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, blind dates weren’t really an option for Barrymore when she was single.
“I never got to have a blind date, which still really irritates me. I would have really liked that,” she says, smiling. “I did consider internet dating, because I thought at least that part until I showed up would be anonymous, but I never got to do that either. And now I’m married, so hopefully that will never happen.”
One thing Jim and Lauren do have in common is that they both put their children’s needs ahead of their own.
Divorcee Lauren has her hands full with 13 and 9-year-old boys, while widower Jim is father to three daughters ranging in age from four to 15.
“I grew up with a single mom and I’ve always appreciated the strength that it takes to be a single parent. I feel like I wanted to channel that in this film,” says Barrymore, whose parents (actors Jaid and John Drew Barrymore) split up before she was born.
“Lauren’s a strong woman, she’s really doing it on her own, and I have just nothing but the highest respect for her because I grew up that way myself. So it was a sense of pride to try to represent that as well as I could.”
Meanwhile Sandler – himself a father to daughters Sunny, seven, and five-year-old Sadie – could empathise with his character’s reluctance to let his daughters grow up.
Jim’s three daughters all sport the same unflattering hairdo – partly because that’s the only style his barber knows and, as Sandler says, “he doesn’t want them to look too pretty because he doesn’t want them to grow up too fast and leave their daddy”.
It’s clear that a lot has changed for the pair since those Wedding Singer days (“We didn’t need any sleep, we had the best time - shooting in the daytime, hanging out at night,” Sandler recalls), but you don’t get the sense that either star is hankering after their younger existence.
Barrymore adds: “You don’t want to go anywhere and do anything without your kids, because life is better with them.”