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Drew Barrymore has so much empathy for Britney Spears and Paris Hilton: ‘It’s hard to grow up in front of people’

Actress Drew Barrymore tells Howard Stern about the challenges of growing up in the entertainment industry. (Photo: Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Drew Barrymore hasn’t seen the much buzzed about Hulu documentary Framing Britney Spears, which recounts the singer’s struggle to be released from a conservatorship, but she wants to.

As the actress-turned-talk show host explained on Monday’s episode of The Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM, she feels for Spears, Paris Hilton and other women who, like her, have spent a lot of their lives in the spotlight. Barrymore herself was in movies before she was in kindergarten and she had an infamously troubled childhood. She went to rehab when she was 13.

“I have so much empathy toward so many people,” said Barrymore, who’s acted since she was 6. “I’m sure that people look on and think, ‘These party girls, these privileges, how dare they have feelings about any of this? They’ve put themselves out there, they’ve asked for this — it’s fair f****** game,’ and I just go, ‘They’re humans. They’re just humans,’ and I have a lot of empathy.”

Her voice cracked as she continued.

“It’s hard to grow up in front of people,” Barrymore said. “It’s just hard.”

While no one ever tried to take control of the E.T. star’s money — in fact, she was emancipated at 14 — Barrymore said she was forced into a facility at one point. She’s previously said that she was taken there because she was addicted to alcohol and cocaine and attempted suicide more than once.

Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore pose for a photo on June 8, 1982 in New York City . (Photo: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

Drew Barrymore and Jaid Barrymore pose for a photo on June 8, 1982 in New York City. (Photo: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)

“My mom put me in a place that was, like, a full psychiatric ward,” Barrymore shared. “I used to laugh at those, like, Malibu 30-day places. Talk about things that pissed me off… A little spa vacation in Malibu was sort of the opposite of the experience I had. I was in a place for a year and a half called Van Nuys Psychiatric, and you couldn’t mess around in there. And if you did, you would get either thrown in the padded room or put in stretcher restraints and tied up.”

Barrymore was there for six to eight months, and the treatment eventually worked.

“It was the best thing to happen to me, in a sick way, because it cooled me out,” she said.

While Barrymore and her mother, Jaid Barrymore, have long had a tumultuous relationship, she said things are improving. Barrymore has come to understand more about where her mom was coming from during Drew’s childhood.

“We texted this morning. I’m really glad there is healing there,” she said. “I feel goodness toward my mom. I feel empathy and understanding.”

The Scream star’s daughters, Olive, 8, and 6-year-old Frankie, have even met their grandmother.

“But there’s real boundaries and distance and a lot of respect,” Barrymore said.

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