RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS
About The Story
Drew met the real Beverly Donofrio at the first read-through of the script.
"I didn't know she was going to be there, and I totally freaked out,"
laughs Drew. As the two women spent more time together, they realized how much
they had in common.
"Most of her problems came from her family," says Drew. "I can
relate to that. Families are always painful for people to be honest about. Doing
this movie was a really good opportunity for me to get in touch with all the
realities of my own family that I've sort of repressed."
Upon meeting Drew, Beverly says, "I felt immediate warmth toward her. The
dialogue began right then and there, and has continued. We're always talking
about how alike we are inside."
Producer Jim Brooks agrees. "Beverly makes friends more readily than any
human being alive. It just radiates off her. Drew has that quality, too. They
each have that wild side. They've each been through it without having their
Barrymore and Donofrio went to the author's old neighborhoods, where they
visited with her former neighbors. They also visited her and Jason's old
apartment. "The one constant is Beverly," says Laurence Mark of
Donofrio's role during the film's production. "She served as a kind of
technical consultant throughout."
"You don't take a book about somebody's life and run with it," says
Jim Brooks. "One of the things that kept us relatively honest was having
the real-life heroine around. This is not a documentary about Beverly, but she
kept being a part of the process. Her presence always informed us."
Drew believes that Beverly's most significant characteristic was her complete
faith in herself and her fierce determination to do something with her life.
"She's the most interesting person to be-and the most multi-dimensional
person I've ever met. But she's also like your best friend, your sister, someone
you can hang out with."
The two women even confronted the rather sensitive subject of Beverly's hardly
angelic behavior as a mother and a person, and Drew was impressed with Beverly's
openness and willingness to share herself. "She says things that no one
will admit, whether it's about drinking, or not wanting to have her child, or
the frustration she felt with her family, or the pain she carried around with
her. I'm able to have conversations with her that I can't have with many people
in my life. You don't often get that level of insight and influence into the
characters you play.
"It was hard," continues Barrymore. "I touched on the fact that
she wasn't a good mother and that she was selfish. She yelled at Jason, and she
ignored and resented him at times. Penny really helped me get outside of my own
Pollyanna stuff and get into Bev and not be perfect, beyond not perfect. We all
can be that way. We all, in moments, are the worst part of ourselves.
"But," adds Drew, "Beverly always fought her way back into
"I think that's what Penny and Drew bring to this movie," says
Laurence Mark. "They figured out a way to have Beverly not be a
particularly good mother while having us still care about her. We understand why
Beverly wasn't a good mother, and we give her points for managing as best she
If Beverly was an imperfect mother, Ray was an equally ill-equipped dad. Steve
Zahn portrays Ray as a classic screw-up with a heart of gold, if a little
tarnished. "Ray is good in moments. He's not good in the overall picture.
He's too young to have the responsibility he has, and he gets screwed up with
drugs, drinking and partying."
In retrospect, what appealed to Beverly about Ray was that he seemed to be
"this wounded bird of a boy... I was goi
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