Corey Feldman Says He and Drew Barrymore Broke Up Because She "Got Sober First"

The two child stars dated at kids and then again as teens.

Drew Barrymore and Corey Feldman both found fame starring in classic films at a young age. But they were also just kids, doing normal things like going on first dates to the movies. Each of them also made headlines for highly public battles with addiction before becoming sober. Keep reading to learn about how the child stars started dating, why sobriety ultimately broke them up, and what they had to say about it during a recent reunion on The Drew Barrymore Show.

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Steven Spielberg introduced them.

Corey Feldman in 1986
Epics/Getty Images

When Feldman was a guest on Barrymore's talk show in January 2023, he revealed that the two former child actors met in the late '80s through none other than Steven Spielberg, who wrote and produced Feldman's movie The Goonies and was Barrymore's godfather and E.T. director. At the time, she was a tween with "the biggest" crush on the middle school-aged Feldman. He recalled his grandmother telling him that an employee of Amblin Studios had rung to let him know that Barrymore was interested in meeting the Stand By Me star.

"What happened was, I got a call one day," Feldman recalled (as quoted in the Daily Mail). My grandmother says, 'We got a call from Steven [Spielberg]'s office, and the little girl from E.T. wants to meet you because she's got a crush on you.'"

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They had a "play date."

Drew Barrymore in 1986
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Soon Barrymore's mother, Jaid Barrymore, set the two up on a "play date" to the movies. Still "years away from getting [their] licenses," they were chaperoned to the theater, where Feldman recalled holding a 10- or 11-year-old Barrymore's hand as they walked in.

"I remember taking you to the movies," he reminisced. "You put your little hand up for me to hold, and I held your hand as we walked across the street. I don't remember what movie we saw, but I remember all that."

Their next big date was to the Oscars.

Drew Barrymore and Corey Feldman in 1989
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

"After that, we just stayed friends," Feldman recalled of their early teenhood. But in 1989, the same year they filmed CBS Schoolbreak Special 15 and Getting Straight, they "dated properly"—an experience that included attending the 1989 Academy Awards together. Barrymore recalled feeling underdressed in an off-the-rack dress.

"I remember getting there, and I remember seeing people in such designer duds," she recalled. "And I remember looking around and thinking, 'Oh, I'm very underdressed. I'm wearing a cotton Betsey Johnson dress. Whoops!'"

Feldman was her "safe place."

Drew Barrymore in 1989
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Barrymore also recalled Feldman as a rock during the rough period when she was emancipated from her mother after spending 18 months in treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. "We had that kind of relationship where they say, 'Date your friend,'" she recalled on her show. "We were the embodiment of that. You were so kind, you were such a safe place for me."

RELATED: Drew Barrymore Says Her Mother Tried to Date Her Boyfriends.

Barrymore "got sober first," leading to their split.

Sadly, their romantic relationship was short-lived. "We were such the great little, cute little item for the three months we lasted or whatever," Feldman said on her show. While Barrymore had found recovery very young, his biggest struggles were still ahead of him.

"The other part of the big memory was that you were already getting your life together and I was…still going through my troubles. So you got sober first," he noted.

By the end of 1989, the 18-year-old Feldman had married his first wife, Vanessa Marcil. His substance problems worsened, and he was arrested for related offenses twice the next year, including a March arrest that uncovered 25 balloons of drugs in his car, according to a contemporary article in The Los Angeles Times.

The Lost Boys star finally joined his one-time sweetheart on the road to sobriety after entering rehab in 1990, according to People. "You got your act together first," he recounted to Barrymore. "It took me a few years after you."

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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