While In Character Filming ‘Never Been Kissed,’ Drew Barrymore Was Told to Tone It Down Because “You’re Just Looking Too Unattractive”

 Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed.
Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed.
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Like so many of our favorite teen movies—Cruel Intentions! Election! 10 Things I Hate About You! She’s All That!—Drew Barrymore’s Never Been Kissed turns 25 years old this year (April 9, to be specific). In the 1999 film, Barrymore plays 25-year-old Josie Geller, a copy editor at The Chicago Sun-Times who heads back to high school to report on an undercover story for the paper. A la the movie’s title, Josie has never had a real relationship and…just go watch the movie, okay?

Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed
Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed

Josie is—how shall we put it?—a flower in bloom in Never Been Kissed, and the actress said on her eponymous talk show that she was told to “tone it down” while filming the movie, because while in character she was “just looking too unattractive,” per Deadline. (God love her, but Josie’s nickname was “Josie Grossie,” after all.)

Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed
Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed

Never Been Kissed was the first effort from Barrymore’s production company, Flower Films, and Barrymore said “At that time, people were very weary of actors being producers,” she 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.”

Barrymore said the pressure of both starring in and producing the movie made her “very stressed,” adding “I was so scared during the whole film because I knew if it didn’t work, we weren’t going to get another chance.” She said that, although she had “so much fun” making the film, she had to “clench her stomach the whole time.”

Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed
Drew Barrymore, Never Been Kissed

Meanwhile, Barrymore said that as filming was underway, “I would get these calls from the studio and they were like, ‘I’m sorry, but you’re just looking too unattractive. Stop it,’” she said. “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 came around when “they said something that appealed to my sensibilities rather than my ego,” she said. “They were like, ‘We don’t want you to lose the heart because you’re going so far for the comedy.’ And I was like, ‘Great argument. Let me dial it back a little bit.’ 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.’”

Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba
Courteney Cox and David Arquette
Courteney Cox and David Arquette

In addition to Barrymore, Never Been Kissed stars Michael Vartan, David Arquette, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Shannon, and John C. Reilly—a firm classic in the golden era of both rom-coms and teen movies.