Drew Barrymore has long regarded Steven Spielberg as a father figure. However, when Barrymore asked Spielberg to be her actual father at the age of 7, he turned her down.
According to Barrymore, Spielberg was and still is the only person in her life who has taken on a parental role. And despite declining to be her biological father long ago, he agreed to be her godfather after witnessing the difficulties she faced in her troubled home life during the filming of the 1982 blockbuster flick.
In an interview with Vulture, Spielberg expressed his concerns about Barrymore’s upbringing, noting that she was experiencing a mature lifestyle at a remarkably young age. He felt that she was deprived of a normal childhood from the get-go.
Even so, he admitted to feeling powerless throughout their time working together, as he wasn’t her father. The only thing he felt he could do was offer guidance and support.
Barrymore has revealed numerous times that her biological father, the late John Drew Barrymore, was an alcoholic. Reflecting on her upbringing, she described him as someone who had a destructive mindset and couldn’t have cared less about his own career.
“He was willing to destroy the ‘Barrymore’ dynasty completely,” a legacy that is often attributed to her grandfather, John Barrymore, who, along with his brothers Lionel and Ethel, is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished Shakespearean actors of all time.
While filming “E.T.,” Spielberg took special care to preserve the sense of “wonder” for the young Drew Barrymore, who genuinely believed the alien she was co-starring with was real.
He even went as far as shooting the movie in strict chronological order to keep up the facade.
At one point, he noted that she spotted members of the film crew behind the wall operating the puppet behind.
“She asked me to remove them from the set,” he jokingly remembered.
Luckily for Spielberg, he was quick with a response, assuring her that “It’s okay, E.T. is so special that we had to give him eight personal assistants. I only have one assistant, and I’m the director.”
Throughout the filming process, he went to great lengths to maintain E.T.’s authenticity for Barrymore. Even when they weren’t filming, he’d have E.T.’s puppet operators hang around on set, so that the alien could react to Barrymore whenever she wanted to have a chat with him.
Barrymore would share sweet and intimate moments with E.T. while eating lunch together. There were many times when she confided in him, revealing some of her deepest secrets.
The young actress would also often spend weekends with the Spielberg family. It was around this time that Spielberg gifted her a cat named Gertie (like in the film) and took her to multiple theme parks, including Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland, all in an attempt to create memorable experiences outside the film set that she wouldn’t otherwise get with her parents.