Drew Barrymore Says Studio Told Her ‘You’re Looking Too Unattractive’ in ‘Never Been Kissed’ and ‘It’s Too Far’: ‘I Was Forced to Tone It Down’

Drew Barrymore revealed on a recent episode of her daytime talk show that she was told to dial her performance back during the making of the 1999 romantic comedy “Never Been Kissed.” Barrymore starred in the film as Josie, an insecure copy editor who has never had a real relationship. The movie was notable for Barrymore as it marked the first official title under her Flower Films production banner.

“At that time, people were very weary of actors being producers,” Barrymore said. “A lot of it wasn’t necessarily working, and it didn’t mean because you were an actor, you knew how to produce the film. And it was about the economics. So if you didn’t make the film work, and you produced it as an actor, you are likely to not be able to do it again.”

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“I was very stressed throughout the movie,” she continued. “I was so scared during the whole film because I knew if it didn’t work, we weren’t going to get another chance. We had so much fun making it but I had to clench stomach the whole time. And I would get these calls from the studio and they were like, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re just looking too unattractive. Stop it.’ And I was like, ‘Good.’ And they were like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. It’s too far.’ So I was forced to even tone it down a little bit because I had gone even farther than that.”

Barrymore explained that she agreed to tone back her performance as Josie only when the studio “said something that appealed to my sensibilities rather than my ego,” which was the following: “We don’t want you to lose the heart because you’re going so far for the comedy.”

“I was like, ‘Great argument. Let me dial it back a little bit,’” Barrymore said. “And so Josie, what you see there, is me dialed back and it came out and it worked. And we got really lucky and I’m very, very grateful and I would walk around just going I can’t believe this worked. We’re gonna get a second shot.”

“Never Been Kissed” continues to be one of Barrymore’s most classic offerings. She headlined the rom-com opposite David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Leelee Sobieski, Jeremy Jordan, Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly. The movie earned strong reviews upon release, especially for Barrymore’s leading turn.

“A likable romantic comedy with an engaging premise and strong cast, ‘Never Been Kissed’ looks set to further the winning ways of its star, Drew Barrymore,” reads Variety’s review. “Barrymore shines throughout. Never more endearing than when she’s cutting loose on the dance floor after unknowingly ingesting her first hash brownie, she renders Josie a thoroughly winning and sympathetic heroine.”

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