Drew Barrymore made her first talk show appearance 36 years ago, and she's been charming hosts ever since. When she stopped by on CBS' The Late Show Monday, the 43-year-old Santa Clarita Diet actress shared some of her favorite late-night memories with host Stephen Colbert.
"I did Johnny Carson in 1982, and I tripped on the step and really, really ate it. I think they cut to a different angle on the camera, because I was, like, splayed," Barrymore recalled. "I was like, 'This is a lesson in humiliation. It's The Tonight Show and you're 7 and you've completely eaten it.' But, you know, it's cool. I worked with him all the time. I would go on the show when Jay Leno and Joan Rivers were on. I was on his show, like, eight times." She eventually developed a rapport with Carson, and Barrymore started bringing him gag gifts." Like, he was on his eighth divorce, and I brought him a set of dishes with his name on it. And I was like, 'Now whatever woman you divorce is not going to want these, because they say Johnny.' I was a real card or something. I don't know why—or how—I had that sense of humor. But I loved joking with him."
Realizing she was back in the Ed Sullivan Theater, she said, "I did something in particular with Mr. [David Letterman] on his birthday." On Apr. 12, 1995, Barrymore jumped up on the host's desk, performed a sexy striptease, flashed her breasts, then gave Letterman a kiss on the cheek.
Looking back on her stunt, Barrymore admitted to Colbert, "I literally was like, 'What?' I sometimes think, 'That doesn't feel like me.' It's like a distant memory that doesn't seem like me—but it is me. And that's kind of cool. I'm still down with that. I'm a mother of two. I don't know. I'm such a different person now that it doesn't feel like me, but I'm still into it." In fact, the actress has no regrets about her provocative performance, saying, "You only have one life!"
Barrymore last spoke about her infamous episode in 2015 on its 20th anniversary. "He's always been known as the person who had no problem letting the audience know he was not down with what the guest was doing," the actress confessed to Entertainment Weekly. "It was scary."
"From the moment I went on—especially with my little dance number, which was completely spontaneous and not calculated in any way—he let the audience know it was OK," Barrymore told the magazine. "He was so accepting of me, and letting everyone know to go on the ride."
"From that infamous show, we developed a really fun chemistry. Then I just looked forward to going back. There's an energy to his show. The more you tried to charm him, the less he wanted it. He either liked you or he didn't. When you usually go on a talk show it's very buddy-buddy," she added. "But with him you have to work for it. But not too hard, because he won't like that!"