Drew Barrymore, Stephen Colbert
Screenshot: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

On Monday’s Late Show With Stephen Colbert to promote the upcoming second season of The Santa Clarita Diet (coming to Netflix on Friday, March 23), Drew Barrymore instead spent much of her time breaking down her reaction to the accelerating #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in Hollywood. The acting, producing, and directing veteran of some 40 years in the business (she’s 43), perhaps surprisingly, offered a more cautious and measured take on the long-overdue push toward something resembling gender equality in the workplace. Telling Colbert that some of her thoughts on the matter might be “taboo,” Barrymore spoke about “tone” and “anger,” urging women who might be preparing to take advantage of what is still a mere sliver of opportunity in entertainment to not count on the perceived change in environment to “expect things to be handed to you.”

Coming from someone else, Barrymore’s words might seem discouraging, or even condescending. (And even still...) But the battle-scarred lifelong performer certainly has a perspective few women in Hollywood can boast, with Colbert noting that her Flower Films (begun in 1995, when Barrymore was 19) made her one of the first women with her own (still successful) production company. Indeed, Barrymore cited the current exposure of a toxic, male-dominated entertainment culture as “phenomenal, overdue, and wonderful,” even as she admonished those women who aren’t ready to put in the hard work to take advantage of the moment. Doors may be opening, she said, but warned women in her industry to “leave no doubt or favors to be asked.”

Advertisement

Barrymore did talk Santa Clarita Diet, telling Colbert that her liver-eating zombie character’s bloody deeds help satisfy her “dark side,” and that she first discovered the liberating nature of (fictional) violence way back when she starred in 1984's Firestarter. Speaking of her 9-year-old self, she told Colbert that, even then, she was meeting people in the business she’d like to blow up with a well-aimed fireball. She and Colbert talked about her long history as a show biz “free spirit” and “bohemian,” with the interview concluding with, of all things, a poetry reading. Of infamously disreputable poet and novelist Charles Bukowski, no less, as Barrymore read out Bukowski’s poem “So Now?,” with its final couplet of echoing aging, loss, and the wisdom that comes from deep regret. Again, all things that the resiliently sunny Barrymore probably knows as much as anyone.