Bizarre Drew Barrymore "Interview" Sparks HFPA Apology

Drew Barrymore - Getty - H 2017
Getty Images

The organization behind the Golden Globes says it regrets "any distress" caused to the star for an error-strewn and at times offensive profile in EgyptAir's inflight magazine supposedly written by one of its former presidents.

A purported interview with Drew Barrymore in an in-flight magazine has gone from comedic, head-scratching viral sensation to something facing an investigation by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Earlier this week, a profile piece on the actress in EgyptAir’s Horus magazine was brought to the attention of Twitter for its rather peculiar, error-strewn language, offensive assertions about its interviewee and bizarre replies from Barrymore herself.

Written by Aida Takla-O’Reilly, although bylined as "Aida Tekla," the article opened with the line, “Despite being unstable in her relationships most of her life, despite the several unsuccessful marriages and despite the busy life of stardom that dominated her life for several years; the beautiful American Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore has recently decided to temporary [sic] take an unlimited vacation to play her most crucial role as a mother.”

Grammatical issues and insensitive statements aside, the lede clashed with Barrymore’s previous interviews, in which she has spoken about being a working mother, not to mention the fact she has several projects in the pipeline, including those from her own banner, Flower Films, and the lead role in Netflix's Santa Clarita Diet.

The article then went on to point out that Barrymore has had "almost 17 relationships, engagements and marriages," claiming that psychologists believe this behavior "is only natural since she lacked the male role model in her life after parents’ divorce when she was only 9 years," and that ever since then she has been "subconsciously seeking attention and care from a male figure." Not content, the paragraph concluded with a somewhat slap-in-the-face line: “But unfortunately things do not always go as planned and she has not yet succeeded in any relationship for various reasons.”

Unfortunately, Barrymore’s supposed replies in the Q&A section after the intro did nothing to stem the tide of weirdness. “I cannot deny that women made a great achievement over [the] past century, there is significant progress recorded by people who study women status throughout history,” the star is quoted as saying. “This is naturally reflected on women in the west who will not be satisfied unless they gain the rights they deserve to the society. This is especially true since women exert tremendous efforts that men are incapable of exerting due to their numerous commitments and obligations.”

Asked — insensitively — about dealing with weight issues after giving birth, Barrymore supposedly served up another unlikely response. "I find this a great opportunity to encourage every woman who is overweight to work on regaining her beauty and body, especially that is not as hard as one may think; it is all about determination and following the appropriate diet under the supervision of a physician," she was quoted as saying.

Soon after the article went viral, Barrymore’s reps stepped in, with a representative telling the HuffPost that the actress “did not participate” in an interview.

But EgyptAir stood by its published work. Responding to a number of tweets describing the interview as fake, it said: “This is a professional magazine interview conducted by Dr. Aida Tekla Former president of the HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and one of the voting members of the Golden Globes.”

The airline also retweeted what it described as a “clarification” from the author herself, which said: “This doesn’t negate the fact that the interview with Drew Barrimoor [sic] which took place in New York is genuine & far from fake. As far as Drew we interviewed her several times I saw her grow up before my eyes she is charming and talented.”

Tekla — whose full name is Aida Takla-O’Reilly – later said the misspelling of Barrymore's name had been because she had dictated her post. But she also used Twitter to point out that she has been a member of the HFPA, the non-profit organization which famously organizes the Golden Globe Awards, since 1956, and that her celebrity interviews have appeared in a number of magazines, which she gives authority to edit the final versions. 

Facing potential embarrassment, the HFPA has now gotten involved in the matter, conducting an investigation into how the article — and Barrymore’s quotes — came to be.

“We are aware that an article under the byline of our member Dr. Aida Takla-O’Reilly regarding Drew Barrymore, published in EgyptAir’s Horus magazine, has come into question,” it said in a statement to Vanity Fair.

“Based on our preliminary investigation, we understand that parts of the article in question were not written by Dr. Takla-O’Reilly and that other portions of the article may have come from other sources. We regret any distress caused to Ms. Barrymore by this article.”