Drew Barrymore and Christina Applegate were friends long before fashioning a playful sibling rivalry for the new romantic comedy “Going the Distance,” opening Friday.
Both born into show-business families – Barrymore the granddaughter of Hollywood legend John Barrymore, Applegate the daughter of singer and actress Nancy Lee Priddy – the two grew up in Los Angeles sharing some of the same teachers.
Now they share the screen as sisters who draw on each other's strength and try each other's patience during Barrymore's up-and-down long-distance courtship.
Barrymore says she felt a special kinship with her co-star, and noticed a physical resemblance as well.
“I think we started to look alike,” says Barrymore, 35, whose aspiring San Francisco journalist in “Distance” falls for a New York record executive played by on-again, off-again real-life flame Justin Long. “I love when people cast siblings who could have feasibly come from the same womb. We started to morph.
“We used to be in the same dance class as kids, but she looked really good in spandex and I did not. I was horrified. But I've known her forever. We have a lot of parallels.”
After making her film debut at 5 in the 1980 science-fiction fantasy “Altered States,” Barrymore became a household name with her star turn in the 1982 blockbuster “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and a battle with substance abuse that followed a few years later.
A child star on a smaller scale, Applegate, 38, appeared as an infant with her mother in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” before being cast in the 1979 horror film “Jaws of Satan.”
Later, she landed a career-defining role as ditzy Kelly Bundy on the sitcom “Married… with Children.”
“We look at each other and I think I know the inside of Drew in a way nobody else does,” says Applegate, promoting “Distance” at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles following her July announcement that she is pregnant with her first child, two years after surviving breast cancer. “She knows me on that level that people don't talk about, so playing sisters was really easy.
“She and I both know the downside to growing up in public, as well as the advantages. We have that bond. And we'd never had a chance to work together, so that made spending a couple of weeks on 'Going the Distance' an easy decision.”