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Dolce & Guevara: 'Bruno's Guerrilla-Comic Assault

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest jaunt — as a flamboyantly gay Austrian fashionista — is funnier and riskier than Borat. Sure, he's a cheap-shot artist, but he's one who's often got a righteous point.

06:17

Other segments from the episode on July 10, 2009

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 10, 2009: Interview with Drew Barrymore; Review of the new album “Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra, Live at the Jazz Standard;” Review of the new film "Bruno."

Transcript

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Barrymore Enters "The Monastery Of Edie"

DAVE DAVIES, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, senior writer for the Philadelphia
Daily News, filling in for Terry Gross.

Our guest today is Drew Barrymore, who we’ve been watching in movies
since she was about six, playing one of the children in “E.T.” Her role
in the HBO film “Grey Gardens” is a contrast to the romantic comedies
we’ve come to associate her with. “Grey Gardens,” which comes out on DVD
Tuesday, is a dramatic adaptation of the famous 1975 documentary, “Grey
Gardens,” made by the Maysles brothers.

“Grey Gardens” is the story of Big Edie Bouvier Beale and her daughter,
Little Edie, who were cousins of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis but ended up
living in squalor after Big Edie’s husband divorced her.

She refused to leave Grey Gardens, the Easthampton mansion she’d become
accustomed to living in, even though her alimony wasn’t nearly enough
for the upkeep. Over the years, the house deteriorated until local
authorities deemed it unfit for human or animal habitation. When that
story became public, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stepped in to fund the
mansion’s renovation.

Big Edie and Little Edie’s relationship is a complex brew of love,
dysfunction and delusion. Terry spoke to Drew Barrymore in April. In
HBO’s “Grey Gardens,” Barrymore plays Little Edie, and Jessica Lange is
Big Edie. Here’s a scene in which Big Edie and Little Edie are talking
to each other and to the Maysles brothers, who are off-camera filming
them.

(Soundbite of film, “Grey Gardens”)

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. JESSICA LANGE (Actor): (as Big Edie) Edie, oh Edie? Never answers
me, that woman.

Ms. DREW BARRYMORE (Actor): (as Little Edie) I suppose I won’t get out
of here until she dies or I die.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (as Big Edie) Who’s she, the cat?

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (as Little Edie) I don’t know when I’m going to
get out of here.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (as Big Edie) Why do you want to get out?

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (as Little Edie) Because I like freedom.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (as Big Edie) Well, you can’t get it, darling. You’re
being supported. You can’t get freedom when you’re being supported.

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (as Little Edie) I thought you always said you
can’t get freedom when you’re not being supported, remember? Oh, it’s
awful both ways, I guess. I’d just like a couple of days on the beach,
that’s all.

Ms. LANGE (Actor): (as Big Edie) Everything is good you didn’t do. At
the time you didn’t want it. Everybody looks and thinks and feels
differently as years go by.

Ms. BARRYMORE (Actor): (as Little Edie) It’s very difficult to keep the
line between the past and the present. Awfully difficult.

GROSS: A scene from “Grey Gardens.” Drew Barrymore, welcome to FRESH
AIR.

From what I read, you worked really hard to get cast as Little Edie. Why
does the original “Grey Gardens” mean so much to you that you wanted to
be in this dramatized version?

Ms. BARRYMORE: I always loved the documentary very much. I had seen it
about eight years ago because I wanted to know what this cult phenomenon
was all about. And I was very taken by it, but I sort of put it back in
its DVD case and moved on with my life. And I wasn’t one of the die-hard
fans. It was just something that really moved me and touched me, and I
wanted to be educated on what the phenomenon was about.

However, my friends put on head-dresses and dance around and quote her
and love her, and I just have always been in awe of what an impact she’s
had on these people’s lives, how loyal they are to her, how sort of
ferociously protective they are of her.

So when I got the script, what I was really taken with was Michael
Sucsy, the writer-director, had done in sort of a Bob Fosse-esque,
unlinear, uncheesy, biopic-y way, had sort of filled in the holes of
telling us and informing us how these two women got to this moment that
the Maysles captured.

So when I had a better understanding of their lives, and I started
researching them, I fell in love, in a way, and as an actor I also had
never seen a project that had this level of so many challenges.

First of all, she’s an icon. So to imitate an icon is just very
dangerous and intimidating. Then to span the age range of 18 to 58,
which the film takes place for Little Edie in those years, to be able to
do a voice that’s so familiar, so recognizable and yet so distinctively
unique - I mean it’s got Boston. It’s got New York. It’s got Long
Island. It’s got Hamptons. It’s got East Coast. It’s got Southern. It’s
got English tones to it.

GROSS: And it also has, it also has aspirations to the theater.

Ms. BARRYMORE: It’s very theatrical.

GROSS: It’s like she always sees herself as being on stage, even though
she’s, you know, living this hermit-like existence in Grey Gardens, in
this mansion, this dilapidated mansion with her mother.

You know, we’re so used to you being in generational roles, in roles
about people of your generation, and so you can use a very naturalistic
voice.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: But this is completely different. She’s not of your generation,
and she didn’t have a naturalistic voice. She had this very kind of put-
on voice, in a way. It’s a combination of regionalism and theatricality.

Can you talk a little bit about what you did to get her voice in your
head and in your mouth?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, I actually retrained my face. I studied for a year
and a half with a woman named Liz Himmelstein(ph), who’s one of the most
renowned vocal coaches in our industry, and I spent every day, five days
a week with her for a few hours a day training. And what I really
learned to do is I wore contacts and fake teeth and 13 pieces of
prosthetics to look and be like her.

So I started working with the teeth, and I had them made early, and I
retrained my face, because I talk out of the side of my mouth and in the
back of my throat, and her lips are completely forward, and everything
is in the front, and she speaks very much in sort of the nose and almost
like a singer. And I also did things like, you know, I studied her
curriculum at all the schools she went to. I read all of her journals
that she wrote.

GROSS: So tell me something that you read in Little Edie’s journals that
made you comprehend her a little bit better or that surprised you about
her.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, her hair loss was something that really ate her
alive. When she was younger, she went through a spell of alopecia that
she didn’t think she was going to recover from, but she did. And she was
a very beautiful young woman who was, you know, fashionable and a model
and had all this potential and promise. And you know, there’s a line in
the film, they did call her the golden girl.

You know, she really believed her future was bright and she bought into
that. When she started losing her hair at a young age, I think this
immense fear riddled her, riddled her in her bones. She was obsessive
about it. She wrote a lot about it.

I think she also felt sorry for herself in certain ways, where it was
crippling to her. She was really afraid of a lot of things, and it’s
ironic because she’s one of like the boldest, most quotable,
entertaining characters, on the other hand, who is completely willing to
expose herself and dance around the room, and loves being the center of
attention, but she would also hide painfully inside of herself.

So again, that stream of contradiction really for me was the thing that
I kept hooking into when I tried to, you know, honor her by bringing her
to life.

GROSS: This might be pushing things too far in terms of making kind of a
psychological connections. So just tell me to stop. But you know, this
is a mother-daughter story, and it’s a story of, like, deep love and
deep dysfunction. And I was wondering if part of the reason why you
really wanted to play Little Edie was because of your relationship with
your mother, which probably also combined love and dysfunction in pretty
large degrees.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: And I mean, your - the story of you and your mother’s
relationship is kind of famous too, since you were, you know, a child
star and your father left – your father was not in the picture by the
time you were born, and your mother, you’ve said your mother had to work
day and night in order to support you, and so she was never home and
left you with babysitters, and then when you started working, you became
the earner of the family as a child. So just to kind of sum up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: But anyway, does the “Grey Gardens” story in some way – do you
relate to some of that love-dash-dysfunction?

Ms. BARRYMORE: I can always, you know, for myself, I’ve always brought
my own emotions and experience, whether that be pain or joy, to the
characters that I play. And this was unique because the anguish that I
feel over the relationship with my own mother is incredibly intense, but
her and I really decided that our dysfunction was something that needed
us to part ways, and we actually haven’t really been in each others’
lives for many years now.

So it was interesting for me because there are elements and moments of
emotions that I could bring that I could relate to, identify and bring
from a real, true place in my heart about a mother-daughter
relationship, but my own story has been now written quite differently
than the Beales, which is that my mother and I decided to part ways, and
the Beales turned off the world, isolated themselves, and were each
other’s salvations and partners.

I also don’t relate to someone who is isolated because I’m a very social
person who has created my own family via a tremendously wonderful group
of friends.

So there was a new thing that I had to challenge myself with, which was
not only this level of technique and acting and vocal coaching and, you
know, etiquette lessons and learning her curriculum and reading her
journals and understanding who this person was and learning perfect
imitation and figuring out exactly how many breaths she would take in
her famous speeches so that I could hit every single word as perfectly
as I possibly could.

What I did was – I shut the world out when I made this film. I turned
off my phone, my computer. I didn’t read a newspaper, a magazine, watch
television, radio, drive a car, or do anything with the outside world,
including – I told all the people who, like I said, are my family that I
can’t speak to you for three months because I really wanted to
understand what it was like to lose everything and be isolated and be on
that island.

And it was one of the most painful experiences of my life, but I thought
the only way that I can bring honesty and relatability to this woman is
to go into a monastery of Edie Beale.

DAVIES: Drew Barrymore, speaking with Terry Gross. Barrymore stars in
the HBO adaptation of “Grey Gardens,” which is out on DVD next week.
We’ll hear more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: Let’s get back to Terry’s interview with Drew Barrymore,
recorded in April. She stars in the HBO adaptation of “Grey Gardens,”
which is out on DVD next week.

GROSS: Little Edie always wanted a stage.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah.

GROSS: So she didn’t have one until after her mother died, when she
became, as a result of the documentary, she was able to become something
of a performer. But she always wanted a stage, but the only stage she
had was, like, the world, and so she didn’t mostly live in the world,
she just lived in her home. It was a really teeny, tiny little stage
until the Maysles brothers came along and made this documentary.

But you always had a stage. I mean, you were I think like in a dog food
commercial when you were 11 months old. You were in “E.T.” before you
were seven. So it’s another way in which you’re completely the opposite
of her.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Different, yes.

GROSS: What was it like to have that stage before you even understood
what a stage was?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, I think that’s why I had to give it all up in order
to understand her and to be her, because it is a totally different
mentality.

I’m the opposite of isolated. I am completely exposed, and it is – it’s
surreal at times. It’s very liberating at times. I feel like the Norm
of, you know, the “Cheers” of, like, the world. I walk in and everyone’s
like, Norm! I mean, it’s a funny way to live.

I feel like I could hitchhike across the country and get from one end to
the other just by sheer, you know, hey, we’ve all known each other our
whole lives, like there’s sort of a natural, friendly vibe that comes
with that. It’s very, very surreal and very, very wonderful too. It’s
such a privilege and such a gift that I never abuse.

GROSS: How did you know that you liked acting when you were a child? I
mean, you obviously were good at it right from the start.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Thank you.

GROSS: And we could certainly see that in “E.T.,” even if we didn’t see
the things that you did before that. But did you like it? Did you know
as a child, yeah, this is for me?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, there were two things. One is I cosmically and
magnetically, with all of the blood running through my veins, felt this
connection to this family that I was born into, the Barrymores. I felt a
real honest to goodness desire to act.

I felt it because they instilled it in my soul, and I never wanted to
deny myself of that. In fact, I was very proud and excited of the fact
that at such a young age that I was in tune and in touch with that
connection with them and wanted to honor them and play in their field
and keep their name going and be like them. I admired them.

GROSS: Your father, John Barrymore, Jr., left - I mean, he wasn’t part
of the picture when you were growing up, and you never really spent a
lot of time with him. How close were you with other members of the
Barrymore family?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Not close at all, because they mostly were deceased
before I was born, but I would read their books, and I would watch their
movies, and I saw my face in their faces. Unlike other families who
aren’t close, I have a wealth - trunks and trunks and trunks of research
material.

You know, there’s a great book called “Minutes of the Last Meeting,”
written by Gene Fowler, who also wrote “Good Night Sweet Prince,” and
just the adventures that he writes about with, you know, Sadakichi
Hartmann and John Decker and W.C. Fields and my grandfather and the
escapades that these gentlemen went on, their mentality, their zest for
life - you know, I can get lost in that and understand more profoundly
who I’m connected to, who I’m born from.

And the reason that I love acting is because of them and because I feel
it in my blood that this is what I need to do. This is my creative,
cathartic outlet, and if I didn’t have it, I’d go – I’d be in a
straightjacket, I’m pretty sure.

And on the other level, there’s another kind of tribe, which is that
when you don’t have a family, such as I did not have a family growing
up, when I went on film sets, there are these amazing, eclectic,
interesting groups of people who are like the Island of Lost Toys, a
band of misfits, and they’re little families in themselves.

And when I did “E.T.,” that really changed my life because I had really
just done TV, movies and commercials, so I never really had an
experience as profound. And I also met my godfather there, Steven
Spielberg, and he was a gift to me, a real father figure, and he showed
me and gave me a sense of safety and inspiration and security and
someone to look up to like I had never had in my life.

GROSS: Well, why don’t we play a clip here from “E.T.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: Okay.

GROSS: And this is a scene where, you know, you have seen E.T. for the
first time, and you’ve just been, like, screaming in, like, shock, and
so now you’re asking your brother questions about E.T., because you were
initially, like, shocked and kind of afraid, and now you’re just really
confused. So here’s the scene.

(Soundbite of film, “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”)

Ms. BARRYMORE: (as Gertie) Is he a boy or a girl?

Mr. HENRY THOMAS (Actor): (as Elliott) He’s a boy.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (as Gertie) Was he wearing any clothes?

Mr. THOMAS: (as Elliott) No. But look - you can’t tell, not even mom.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (as Gertie) Why not?

Mr. THOMAS: (as Elliott) Because grown-ups can’t see him. Only little
kids can see him.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (as Gertie) Give me a break.

GROSS: That’s Drew Barrymore in a scene from “E.T.” What did Steven
Spielberg do to guide you through this movie?

Ms. BARRYMORE: He, you know, he encouraged my imagination. I loved that
- forever, as long as I can remember, I’ve loved comedy. I love to make
people laugh. I love when people make me laugh, or something’s funny. I
love that he encouraged me to improv and be playful, and a lot of that
is in the movie.

I mean, my character in that movie is a bit of a wisecracker. I mean,
she really is. So I loved that he brought out that sense of humor and
sense of play in me, and then I loved how nurturing he was when we did
the emotional scenes and how kind and gentle he was.

He just sent me a picture of us from doing an emotional scene, and he
has his hand on the Panavision camera and I’m crying in his arms, and
it’s – we were doing the scene where E.T. is dying, and you know, not
many directors are that nurturing when you have an emotional scene.

And then personally, you know, he would show me movies. He introduced,
you know, old cinema to me. He - we would have food fights in the
commissary during lunch. He gave me a sense of hope and humanity because
I really was a little bit scared and lost as a kid because I didn’t have
that guidance, and he was the person who sort of made me feel like
everything’s going to be okay.

GROSS: Did he stay in touch with you after the movie, or did you feel
like…

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: …somebody else in my family abandoned me?

Ms. BARRYMORE: No, quite the opposite. Him and I have remained close. In
fact, I just showed him a rough cut of the first film I directed, called
“Whip It!” starring Ellen Page. I’ve worked on it for the last two
years.

And I took it to him, and we watched it in his old movie theater, and he
gave me notes on it, and he’s very much still a part of my life, and
it’s just a relationship that I will forever, until the day I die,
value.

DAVIES: Drew Barrymore will be back in the second half of the show. She
stars with Jessica Lange in the HBO adaptation of “Grey Gardens,” which
is out on DVD next week. I’m Dave Davies, and this is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies in for Terry Gross.

Back with Terry's interview with Drew Barrymore recorded in April. Drew
Barrymore starred with Jessica Lange in the HBO adaptation of the 1975
documentary "Grey Gardens." It comes out on DVD next week.

Barrymore has been acting all her life and she was born into an American
acting dynasty. Her grandfather was John Barrymore. Lionel and Ethel
Barrymore were her great aunt and great uncle. Her father, John Drew
Barrymore separated from Drew's mother before Drew was born. Many of the
films Drew Barrymore makes now are produced by her company "Flower
Films," which she founded in the mid ‘90s.

GROSS: Now, I want to play a clip from another film that you’re famous
for from earlier in your career, and this is “Scream.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: Uh-huh.

GROSS: One of the classic, you know, contemporary horror films - Wes
Craven - and the opening scene, which I think is by far the best part of
the film, is like the scene you’re in. You get killed in the opening
scene.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

GROSS: And most of – most of our listeners will know the scene, but for
those who don’t: you’re – you’re alone at home. The phone rings and it’s
somebody who appears to be a wrong number or something. Then it becomes
clear that he is threatening you and that he can see you. You think
you’re alone, but he is close enough so that he can see you. And then he
is threatening you that if you don’t play ball with him, he’s going to
kill you. And then you realize that he’s tied up your boyfriend on the
front porch, and your boyfriend is sitting there bound and bleeding. And
then this like terrifying caller starts to play this game with you. He
knows you’re a horror movie fan. He starts to play this game and
everything is on the line.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yes.

(Soundbite of movie, “Scream”)

Mr. ROGER JACKSON (Actor): (As Phone Voice) Here’s how we play. I ask a
question. If you get it right, Steve lives.

Ms. DREW BARRYMORE (Actor): (As Casey) Please don’t do this…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on. It’ll be fun.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) It’s an easy category.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Movie trivia. I’ll even give you a warm up
question.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Don’t do this. I can’t…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Name the killer in the “Halloween.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on. It’s your favorite scary movie,
remember? He had a white mask, he stalked a babysitter...

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) I don’t know…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Come on, yes you do.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…please.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) What’s his name?

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) I can’t think.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Steve’s counting on you.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Michael - Michael Myers.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Yes, very good. Now for the real question.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) But you’re doing so well. We can’t stop
now.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Please stop. Leave us alone.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Then answer the question. Same category.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Oh, please stop.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Name the killer in “Friday, the 13th.”

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Jason, Jason, Jason.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No it’s not. No it’s not. It was Jason.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Afraid not. No way.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) Listen, it was Jason. I saw that movie 20
goddamn times.

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Then you should know Jason’s mother, Mrs.
Vorhees, was the original killer. Jason didn’t show up until the sequel.
I’m afraid that was a wrong answer.

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) You tricked me…

Mr. JACKSON: (As Phone Voice) Lucky, for you there’s a bonus round. But
poor Steve - I’m afraid he’s out.

(Soundbite of gagging)

Ms. BARRYMORE: (As Casey) No…

(Soundbite of gagging)

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: That’s such a great scene. That’s like my nightmare come true,
that there’s going to be like a real life game show and you’re going to
get the answer wrong.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: Oh, it’s just terrifying. I really wanted to do that
movie. I had just started my company, Flower Films, and we sort of
unofficially produced it, and I teamed up with Harvey Weinstein.

GROSS: Oh, I didn’t realize that.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. And we went – and we found the director together
and we asked Wes to do it. And I said, you know, let’s ask the man who
has every 10 years created some of the most important films of that
genre. Then, after speaking with him, I just knew I had the right take
on it. And I was originally supposed to play another character but I
wanted to play that character because it was my favorite scene in the
movie. And I said the problem with scary movies is that always know the
main character is going to make it. So it’s like this, you know, screwy
mind game but she always survives. So if I bite it in the first scene,
all bets are off. That means anyone can get it. That’s scary. That’s
like flipping the genre on its head. And I just got this wild idea, one
night, in my apartment, sitting alone in New York, and I called Harvey
on the phone and I was like - I’ve got it. I was – like I’ve got to play
this girl and we sort of said, let’s do like a Janet Leigh in “Psycho.”

GROSS: Right, right.

Ms. BARRYMORE: And pull the rug out from under people and nobody’s safe.
And – and it was just so much fun to do it. And the reason I wanted to
do that, on an acting level, was because that scene took a week to shoot
and I’ve never ever, ever had to cry that much, and be hyperventilating,
and fear-ridden, and on the verge of like passing out because of, you
know, lack of breath and fear and anxiety and tears and hysteria, and to
be in that state for five days was a total blast. It was wild.

GROSS: So are you as big horror show – horror movie fan as your
character in “Scream”?

Ms. BARRYMORE: No, the opposite. I’m terrified of scary movies. Like I
don’t – I don’t want anything to do with them, ironically. I don’t go
see them. I’m – I’m absolutely terrified of them. But I wanted the
acting challenge of, you know, having to get to that level of – of fear
and tears and you know…

GROSS: Okay. So if you’re so scared by horror films, what was it like to
watch you as the person in jeopardy?

Ms. BARRYMORE: I didn’t mind it because I knew the tricks, you know. I
was there shooting it - I knew there was a camera. I knew there was a
crew. So I was okay. But I readily can’t suspend that disbelief when I
see other scary movies. They just scare me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: You’re such an interesting mix of - on the one hand, coming from
this like, pedigree, this like famous family, and on the other hand,
feeling like you didn’t have a family, because your father wasn’t with
you, your mother was – was working a lot and not with you and became
your manager for a while. But as you said before, you and she officially
parted ways. And I guess it’s – it’s such a kind of inherent
contradiction of your life, that you’re part of this like really famous
tribe, the most - perhaps the most famous acting family in American
history - and at the same time, you feel like you grew up without a
family.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. It’s – like I said, we’re dealt the cards we’re
dealt with in life and it’s up to us on how we want to play them. And I
feel anything less than sorry for myself, what I’d really like to do is
to keep their name alive and well and honor them. And, you know, when I
go to the Chinese Theater in Hollywood, which is where I try to have
most of my premieres, they – my grandfather’s face is in the cement. He
put his profile because he’s known as the great profile. And my star is
actually, you know, ten feet away from his and here is the place at
another time he was and here I’m now. And I want to keep that tradition
alive.

GROSS: Of your family’s movies, which made the biggest impression on
you?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Well, different ones for various reasons, but I loved
“Twentieth Century” because I think my grandfather is just funny and
genius as that mad director, he’s just wonderful in it. But when I watch
“A Bill of Divorcement” with Katharine Hepburn, I get so emotional
because it’s about a father and a daughter reconciling. And I picture
myself in her shoes and me getting to have these conversations and
moments with him, the way that she got you have them with him in that
movie, and so that one is very personal for me.

And I loved “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” I loved that he used very little
prosthetics and makeup and – and took the risk of acting out those
physical differences between the characters. I mean, sure he had some
hair and some nails, but really it was his - he trusted his own facial
features and body language. He’s definitely the one I’m the most
connected to and – and – and feel this – this deep longing for. I love
Lionel in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Potter is one of the, you know,
greatest characters ever created and I can’t believe that’s my – my
uncle and…

GROSS: I know he’s just like the mean banker.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: I know and he’s awesome, and he was in a wheelchair at
the time so…

GROSS: For real?

Ms. BARRYMORE: For real…

GROSS: Yeah.

Ms. BARRYMORE: …so he performed it in a wheelchair and it’s, you know,
it’s just, I just love them. I love watching them. I…

GROSS: Did – did having them as your family send you back to lots of
other early movies too?

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah, I – I grew up watching the classics, and I still, I
keep Turner Classic Movies on my television at all times. So, I’m always
watching old movies, coming home to old movies, and lot of the times my
family is on TV and it just feels…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: …welcoming home - that warm fireplace of good vibes. And
I have their pictures all over the wall. And it’s not an obsessive
thing, it’s just like, you know, I’m connected to these people and that
connection makes me feel good. So, I always love when I come home and
I’m like, hey guys how are you? You’re on the TV. It’s a sign. And yeah,
so I – I – I absolutely love - and it’s interesting because one of my
favorite love stories growing up was “Captains Courageous” - which is
actually a film, like Lionel is in as well.

And Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew have this incredible
relationship that evolves into something very deep and meaningful and
life changing for both of them. And the reason I fell in love with “Grey
Gardens” is because I’ve always loved unorthodox love stories that don’t
have a sexual connotation to them. That there - it’s about love. And I
was raised on those movies as a kid and they were more ubiquitous in the
old fashion classics, a little bit more than they are now today. But,
you know, “Paper Moon” by Peter Bogdanovich - even “Planes, Trains and
Automobiles” is a phenomenal love story, and funny and – and
heartwarming and - so I’ve always been a fan of that type of film.

GROSS: People who have come from troubled families or, you know,
families that broke apart like – like yours. I think a lot of them tend
to want to have a family and make it a more better family, like – make
it the kind of family that they wish they had and didn’t, or – or to not
have a family because families have like bad – bad memories for them.
Where do you fit on that scale if you – if you don’t mind answering it,
if it’s not too personal.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Not at all. I’m definitely for option A. I believe that
I’m going to be a great mother. I cannot wait to have a family. I’m so
looking forward to - all the challenges that I’ve taken on in my life -
I can’t wait to take on the one that shall be my greatest and most
selfless if I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to have a child. And I
know that I will provide the exact family that I would have always
wanted. And I do think that you can take damage and pain and dysfunction
and use it as the blue print of what not to do.

GROSS: So, I guess one of the things you wouldn’t be doing is what your
mother did with you, take you to Studio 54, you know, like the big club
where a lot of people were doing cocaine, back when you are still a
child.

Ms. BARRYMORE: Yeah. It seems irresponsible and I don’t want people to
hate her for doing that because, you know, it’s not the orthodox way of
motherhood. On the other hand, selfishly, from my own experience, I
can’t believe I got to party in that hay day and be the part of a
cultural phenomenon. And I’m – I’m glad because she inadvertently gave
me the opportunities that I needed, to have the career and the life and
the job that I wanted. So, you know, trial by fire - but I – I hope
people will forgive her for something like that because I – I don’t
believe she did them with malcontent intentions.

I think she just, you know, was a bit of a kid herself, and, you know, I
got – I got where I was. I got, you know, I got that I was at Studio 54.
And I was like, you know what, I’m glad. I’m glad I got to be in this
moment and, you know, I saw a lot of amazing things growing up. Maybe
they weren’t for children to see, but that was my life and I have no
regrets. It’s what’s formed me.

GROSS: Well, Drew Barrymore, it’s been great to talk with you. Thank you
so much.

Ms. BARRYMORE: I’m so honored to be on your program. I’m not kidding I
listen to you all the time. I just can’t believe I’m not, like, in my
Crown Vic driving down the road listening to this myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BARRYMORE: …I don’t believe it’s really happening, so thank you -
thank you, thank you for having me on.

DAVIES: Drew Barrymore speaking with Terry Gross recorded in April.
Barrymore stars in the HBO adaptation of Grey Gardens," which is out on
DVD next week.

Coming up, jazz critic Kevin Whitehead on an album from a new quartet
led by pianist, Fred Hersch.

This is FRESH AIR.
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'Live' With The Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra

DAVE DAVIES, host:

2008 was a horrendous year health-wise for jazz pianist, Fred Hersch who
was diagnosed with HIV two decades ago and has AIDS. He's now on the
rebound and has returned to performing. But before he took a downturn
last year, he recorded live in New York with a new quartet. Jazz critic
Kevin Whitehead says it one of Fred Hersch's best and weirdest bands.

(Soundbite of song, "Stuttering")

KEVIN WHITEHEAD: “Stuttering” by pianist Fred Hersch's Pocket Orchestra
actually a quartet with voice, trumpet and drums. One way to shake up
players in the jazz rhythm section is to take one away, the bass player
in this case. You give up something but lopsided rhythm sections promote
a looser kind of interplay. One good thing about this band is it often
becomes a de-facto duo for Hersch and drummer Richie Barshay. He knows
how to dig into a Brazilian march.

(Soundbite of song, "Stuttering")

WHITEHEAD: The lack of a bass player gives pianist Fred Hersch more
leeway to make sudden turns without a collision. But that also means
sometimes his left hand has to be the band's bass player. Listen to
Hersch backup trumpeter Ralph Alessi who's got great chops but a
weakness for playing a little too much.

(Soundbite of song, "Stuttering")

WHITEHEAD: On Fred Hersch's album "Live At Jazz Standard" everyone in
his scale down Pocket Orchestra pitches in where they can. Jo Lawry is
called on to sing a couple of romantic lyrics and to speak and sing her

way through a Mary Joe Salter poem about memory and the play of light.
But more often she is freed from words altogether. If piano can play the
bass role, Lawry eases into Hersch's “Canzona” like a cello or viola.

(Soundbite of song, “Canzona”)

WHITEHEAD: That's the kind of pretty melody Chick Corea gave singer
Flora Purim in the 70s. Fred Hersch's Pocket Orchestra is a very modern
band that can reach into the past. The heavier role for the Fred's left
hand harks back to two-fisted early jazz piano players. When he uses Jo
Lawry's voice like an extra horn beside Ralph Alessi's trumpet, the
collective interplay recalls old New Orleans or Chicago bands who would
sometimes record without the bass.

(Soundbite of jazz music)

WHITEHEAD: Jo Lawry sounds like she’s been listening to jazz singer
Sheila Jordan, a good role model for weaving through situations like
that. Fred Hersch is rightly prides as an excellent ballad player who
works well with singers. But he also has a playful exploratory side. He
doesn't mind taking a tune way out for the pleasure of finding his way
home. Hersch’s Pocket Orchestra speaks to a few sides of his musical
personality. It’s a little band that does a lot.

(Soundbite of jazz music)

(Soundbite of applause)

DAVIES: Kevin Whitehead is currently on leave from teaching at the
University of Kansas. And he’s a jazz columnist for emusic.com. He
reviewed Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra "Live At The Jazz Standard" on the
Sunny Side label. Coming up, David Edelstein on the new Sacha Baron
Cohen film, “Bruno.”

This is FRESH AIR.
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Dolce & Guevara: 'Bruno's Guerrilla-Comic Assault

DAVE DAVIES, host:

Sacha Baron Cohen’s highly anticipated and controversial new film,
“Bruno,” has finally arrived in theaters. Bruno is the fake documentary
saga of an outrageously flamboyant Austrian fashion model who travels to
the U.S. to become a movie star. Film critic David Edelstein has this
review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN: To say that Sacha Baron Cohen's “Bruno” is a queeny
stereotype is like saying water is wet. He's a geyser of swishiness. And
Baron Cohen is a big guy, with long arms and legs, and a wiggly little
butt. And when he sashays forth in a pink jumpsuit or short-shorts, he's
an amazing spectacle. Bruno is childishly oblivious, a boob, and he
parades himself in front of people who are not accustomed to someone so
out there, which is to say most people. For Baron Cohen, the whole world
is stooges, only his audience is in on the joke. We laugh at his marks,
never with them.

At his best, Baron Cohen is a comic guerilla in the frontlines of the
war against prejudice and sanctimony. What's open to debate is whether
he's also a comic gorilla, a King Kong mauler of innocent bystanders, a
cheap-shot artist. Well, he’s both, which is why I hated “Borat” and why
I’m surprised to say how much I laughed at "Bruno." If Baron Cohen and
director Larry Charles’ latest provocation seems less sadistic than
Borat, maybe it’s because flaunting one’s gayness in the face of
potentially violent homophobes is not just aggressive, it’s borderline
suicidal. I mean, Bruno puts moves on hunters with guns. The film
centers on a doomed quest. After being Schwarz-listed in the fashion
industry, the Austrian model and exhibitionist flies to Hollywood,
determined to become a celebrity.

He auditions for appalled directors, draws egregious attention to
himself as an extra, and shoots a pilot for a talk show interspersed
with semi-pornographic bumping. The camera rests on the faces of the men
and women in the focus group as they struggle to keep their revulsion in
check. To get the most out of "Bruno," you have to suspend disbelief and
regard the movie as a hard, R-rated Candid Camera. To accept that,
unlike Eminem, who was in on the set-up at the recent MTV awards,
celebrities and ordinary people whom Baron Cohen punks are driven to
actual sputtering rages.

Take the largely African-American audience of "The Richard Bey Show,"
when guest Bruno trots out his adopted African baby.

(Soundbite of movie, “Bruno”)

Unidentified Man: How did you find your son?

Mr. SACHA BARON COHEN (Actor): (As Bruno) I swapped him.

Show Audience: You swapped him for what?

Unidentified Woman: Swapped the baby for what?

Mr. BARON COHEN: (As Bruno) For an iPod.

Unidentified Woman: What?

(Soundbite of crowd)

Mr. BARON COHEN: (As Bruno) Not the standard iPod One, it was like
limited edition red, a U2 iPod (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of crowd)

Unidentified Man: All right, quiet, wait a second. You are the baby's
father now and you chose to dress that baby upon a T-shirt that says
what?

Mr. BARON COHEN: (As Bruno) Gaby.

Unidentified Man: That’s not the baby’s name, is it?

Mr. BARON COHEN: (As Bruno) No, I gave him like a traditional African
name.

Unidentified Man: So, what the baby’s name?

Mr. BARON COHEN: (As Bruno) O.J.

(Soundbite of crowd)

EDELSTEIN: Here’s the question - is there a larger satirical point, or
is Bruno only about pushing buttons? Consider the thrust of that talk
show scene. Through ludicrous exaggeration, Baron Cohen is implicitly
making fun of hate speech about gay adoption that children will be
ushered into lives of debauchery by perverts promoting an alternate
lifestyle. I think that’s worthy of ridicule and the scene is a hoot.
But the O.J. line suggests he can’t resist the odd gratuitous flourish,
which is also a hoot but, yes, only button pushing. I watched much of
Bruno through my fingers, squirming, especially when Bruno tries to
manipulate former Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul into
making a sex tape.

Nearly as excruciating are his earnest queries to a former homosexual
who now works for a church that aims to deprogram gays. See Bruno
ingenuously inquire how not to be disgusted touching female bodies and
see the deprogrammer patiently say words to the effect that you just
have to take one for God’s team. The detour to the Middle East is off-
topic, but what daredevil from MTV’s Jackass ever had the chutzpah to
stride through an Israeli Orthodox neighborhood in a black hat, pais,
and short shorts? Underlying all these gags, profound and cheap, is a
hard truth: many heteros are still uncomfortable with flamboyant gay
behavior.

When the arty, painfully discreet “Brokeback Mountain” came out, some
conservative commentators announced they couldn’t bear to watch such
ickiness onscreen. To them, and to everyone who see "Bruno" because it’s
the new gross-out sensation, Sacha Baron Cohen is mischievously moving
the boundary posts, proclaiming: in your face.

DAVIES: David Edelstein is film critic for New York Magazine.

(Soundbite of music)

DAVIES: You can download Podcasts of our show at freshair.npr.org.

For Terry Gross, I’m Dave Davies.
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Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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