ABC News’ Chris Connelly, Melia Patria and Scott Shulman report:
Drew Barrymore, fresh off her recent engagement to art consultant Will Kopelman, the son of a former Chanel CEO, was all smiles and laughter while sharing details about her career and new romance.
“He is a really good person,” Barrymore said of her new fiancée. “I’m proud of my choice with him.”
It was a more refined Barrymore, full of excitement but with quieter satisfactions, than the actress we have come to know with her wild-child past. In her earlier years, Barrymore had become infamous for her rebellious nature and whirlwind romances, having two short-lived marriages to Los Angeles bar owner Jeremy Thomas in 1994, and comic Tom Green in 2001.
When she sat down with “Nightline” for a recent interview in Los Angeles, the actress, 36, spoke of the newly discovered pleasure she finds in domestic pursuits like making soups and perfecting her lobster fra diavolo dish.
“I’ve always talked about how important it was to get a scene right or a shot right or, you know, to work with this great cinematographer and have a day-long conversation about storyboarding or this or that. It’s nice to introduce soups into the mix,” Barrymore said with a laugh.
“Maybe because I started younger I’m going through the mid-life crisis now,” added the former child star. “I like the more, you know, just quiet and calm you can feel inside.”
Barrymore’s latest role is playing a Greenpeace volunteer in “Big Miracle,” a film based on true events from 1988 when three California grey whales were trapped underneath a massive swath of Alaskan ice.
“It was a really sort of a heartfelt story about a creature and it made me emotional and I liked that it gave me hope… it was something where people put their agendas aside to do something together and I would love to see that in the world,” said Barrymore.
While the film was shot on location in Alaska, Barrymore said the whales were actually animatronic puppets – something she was familiar with.
“I know it sounds sort of, like, an insane person saying this, but I was so appreciative to work– again, much like “E.T.” — with something that is in the room,” she said.
Movie goers have literally watched Barrymore grow up on the big screen. After landing her first major movie role at age 6 as the curious Gertie in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster “E.T.,” Barrymore went onto to become Hollywood royalty, starring in more than 50 films and producing almost a dozen.
Two of those films were a movie remake of “Charlie’s Angels” (2000) and sequel “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” (2003), and the actress said she would jump at the chance to make a third.
“We would all do it in a heartbeat, and yet it just isn’t ever really the right time,” Barrymore said. “Those movies are really long and hard to make. I mean, we all just have such good feelings about them.”
In recent years, Barrymore’s career has pivoted in a different direction. She played Little Edie Beale for HBO’s “Grey Gardens,” for which she won a 2010 Golden Globe, and directed her first movie, the 2009 roller derby romp, “Whip It!”
“That was really terrifying, but so fun and so amazing,” Barrymore said. “I didn’t want to let that fear show because that doesn’t really do anybody any good. I think the key is to not make other people suffer while you suffer.”
The actresss endured a tormented childhood off-camera. By age 13, Barrymore had twice been through extensive drug and alcohol rehab treatments. Looking back now, it’s a life Barrymore said she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy.
“I was lost and scared and completely, you know– just trying to figure everything out,” the actress said. “But what I did learn is humility and that things can go away. You can be told all those things, but unless you really experience them, I’m not sure if I would’ve believed it as much.”
In this latest act of her personal life, Barrymore seems happy to embrace adulthood, and says achieving peace of mind is the most important thing.
“When you’re young, you’re always wondering when you’re actually going to feel like a grownup,” she said. ”And I think you probably fear it, in a sense, too. There’s a danger to feeling like an adult… like this whimsical kid in you is going to die or something. And then all of a sudden, one day you kind of feel like an adult and it’s really nice… That’s how I feel.”