That first meeting was at a coffeehouse in Hollywood. Barrymore was in her early 20s; she showed up in a long leopard coat, jet-black hair, pink plastic high heels and grocery-store sunglasses. Sandler, she writes, was wearing cargo shorts, a T-shirt and a baseball cap.
In describing that moment and the 20 years since, Barrymore writes about Sandler with the kind of love, admiration, energy and excitement normally applied to a romantic partner. But the enthusiasm isn’t about romance at all — rather, Barrymore makes clear that they’re professional soul mates.
“I was convinced at the time that we were supposed to pair up. I knew it. I knew it in my bones,” Barrymore writes.
They spent some time trying to find the right script to collaborate on, then “The Wedding Singer” came along. When the movie was released in 1998, Barrymore writes about how it was clear it was going to be a hit, making her even more certain of their professional partnership. “I wanted us to be like an old-fashioned movie couple,” she writes. “He was my cinematic soul mate.”
Several years passed before they worked together again. But when Barrymore’s business partner brought her the script for what would become “50 First Dates,” Barrymore was hooked. “It felt small, deep, and very emotional,” Barrymore writes. “But above all, it was beautiful and romantic.”
Small hiccup: Another production company acquired the script — Happy Madison, Sandler’s firm. So Barrymore sat down at her typewriter on the Sony lot, a few hundred feet from Sandler’s office, and hammered out an effusive letter about how much she loved the script and how the two of them needed to make the movie together.
She hand-delivered the letter to his office, and the exchange that follows reads like it’s straight from a rom-com.
According to Barrymore’s telling, Sandler walked over to her trailer and said: “Of course we can do this! But we want to turn it into a comedy.”
Barrymore responded: “That’s fine, but it can’t lose its romance.”
Sandler: “I know what guys want.”
Barrymore: “I know what girls want.”
Sandler: “Well then, why don’t you produce it with me?”
Barrymore: “That’s what I was hoping you were going to say.”
Then they sealed the deal with big, goofy hug.
“We were basically kids,” Barrymore says of that time when they first met. By the time they were collaborating on “50 First Dates,” they were adults. And by their third film, “Blended,” they were both parents.
They still love working together, Barrymore writes. “I think we also like the comfort of thinking we will be together when we are really old.”
With the amount of time Americans spend working, perhaps the idea of a professional soul mate is more durable and attainable than a romantic one. There you go, Barrymore and Sandler: a concept for your next collaboration.
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