In a profile for Vulture, Barrymore opened up about her childhood and said the director was “the only person in my life to this day that ever was a parental figure.”
While shooting the sci-fi film, Barrymore asked Spielberg if he could be her father to which he said, “No.” However, Barrymore would then ask if he could be her godfather, to which he agreed to.
“She was staying up way past her bedtime, going to places she should have only been hearing about, and living a life at a very tender age that I think robbed her of her childhood,” Spielberg said. “Yet I felt very helpless because I wasn’t her dad. I could only kind of be a consigliere to her.”
Barrymore spent weekends with Spielberg, took her to theme parks like Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, and even gifted her a cat that she named Gertie.
Spielberg also recalled not wanting to ruin the movie magic for Barrymore, who wondered why there were so many people around E.T.
“I didn’t want to burst the bubble,” Spielberg said. “So I simply said, ‘It’s okay, E.T. is so special E.T. has eight assistants. I am the director, I only have one.”
In the profile, Barrymore talks about her first memory of her father, former actor John Drew Barrymore, who “was an abusive drunk.” The daytime talk show host said that when she was 3 years old she remembers a moment where he “stormed in and tossed her into a wall.”