Going the Distance - Christina Applegate and Drew Barrymore
Corinne (Christina Applegate) and Erin (Drew Barrymore) © 2010 New Line Cinema

Drew Barrymore has certainly done her share of rom-coms, including He’s Just Not that Into You, The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed and 50 First Dates. But the actress, who has been making movies now for almost three decades (she started a child in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) has also found success in actioners like Charlie’s Angels, and dramas such as Grey Gardens, for which she won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress.

In her latest movie, Going the Distance, she portrays Erin, a wry, witty woman who meets Garrett (Justin Long) in a New York bar. Sparks fly over beer and video games, but both believe their romance will fizzle when Erin flies back to grad school in San Francisco, where she lives. When the time comes for her to leave, neither of them wants to end their relationship, and they become determined to sustain a long distance liaison.

What was it about this movie that appealed to you?

Going the Distance - Drew Barrymore
Erin (Drew Barrymore) © 2010 New Line Cinema

I liked this story because it had a lot of humor and it was sexy, but it was also surprisingly emotional. I couldn’t’ stop thinking about these characters and I really cared about why or how they were or weren’t able to work out their issues.

Any story that deals with the complexities of a relationship in a very comical and contemporary way totally interests me.

Erin is more of a modern, sassy outspoken girl than some of the rom-com characters you’ve played. Did the fact that she was more of a modern woman attract you to the part?

Yeah, I definitely was excited to play her. I just wasn’t in that place in my life where I wanted to play a cuckoo, wacky role-reversal sort of scenario. She is someone who can hangout with guys and loves women but has a spine and is funny.

I just feel like I relate to that kind of person right now in my life. Erin is a very strong girl; she can got to bars and win at video games and hang with the boys. But she put a relationship ahead of her dreams before and resented it, so she’s not going to do it again. I really liked playing someone with a sharp tongue and wit and honesty. I love her bravado.

It was a pleasure for me to get to improv and just work in a much more free-flowing way where you could play around and you didn’t have to be censored because you have an R rating, and that to me was just an absolute pleasure.

What would you say was the scene that was the biggest challenge to you?

Going the Distance - Drew Barrymore
Erin (Drew Barrymore) © 2010 New Line Cinema

One of the challenges that I was most excited about was doing the drunk scene. Me and Nanette (Burstein, the movie’s director) really focused on what type of drunk Erin is, and what we could adlib.

If you were really angry, how would you just let loose? It was the most fun day at work ever, because I really just let loose.

I thought it was genius to cast Christina Applegate as your sister. You both started out as kids and have lived your whole life growing up in the public eye.

I thought it was interesting, I felt like we started to really look alike, which I thought was cool. I love when people cast siblings that actually feasible could have come from the same womb, so I felt like we started to morph.

We used to be in a dance class together when we were kids, but she looked really good in spandex and I did not. We have a lot of parallels. It worked for us.

Can you talk a little about your kissing scene with Justin?

Going the Distance - Drew Barrymore and Justin Long
Erin (Drew Barrymore) and Garrett (Justin Long) © 2010 New Line Cinema

I just was lucky that he’s a good kisser. It was like, ‘Whew, thank God.’ The worst for me is kissing someone who is not a good kisser and you’re trying to make it look good and you feel like you’re just working on your own. At least it was a real team effort.

What do you like about being in an ensemble movie?

Watching films, for me, works best when I’m invested in the whole group of people. Like a Judd Apatow or Christopher Guest movie, they have this kind of alumni quality and you’re really into all the people and you like the people’s world.

So when they cut back and forth between a couple and their friends or family, I love when the chemistry goes far beyond just the couple. And one of the reasons I like this movie is because of everybody in it.

Would you call this a recession romance?

Going the Distance - Justin Long and Drew Barrymore
Garrett (Justin Long) and Erin (Drew Barrymore) © 2010 New Line Cinema

I personally want something that I can escape into and forget what’s going on around me, but I don’t want to loose sight of it relating to something. So for me I just want that beautiful, striking balance and I feel like this film has that.

I’m laughing, but I’m crying and relating and emotional about it. I feel like it gets surprisingly real, but then it does come and save you and make you laugh.

I think the question was more eloquent than the answer actually!

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.