In the hilarious, very R-rated romantic comedy Going the Distance, actors Drew Barrymore and Justin Long play Erin and Garrett, a young couple who begin a punch-drunk love affair after bonding over movie trivia and arcade games at a bar in New York. Things get serious somewhere between chicken-wing bukkake and a DJ’d hook-up, despite the knowledge that, at the end of six weeks, Erin’s newspaper internship will end and she will move back to San Francisco. But when it comes time to say goodbye, Erin and Garrett decide to test their mettle as a long-distance couple.
The rest of the film—with the exception of a few brief cross-country visits and one very unfortunate dalliance involving a spray-on tan and an oblivious, corn-eating dinner guest—unfurls via webcam, e-mail, and text message. Midway through the film, Jason Sudeikis, who plays Garrett’s best friend, does a spot-on impersonation of their often benign, sometimes troubled rapport: “‘What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Nothing.’”
Thirty-five-year-old Barrymore, who won a Golden Globe earlier this year for her portrayal of Edith Bouvier Beale in HBO’s Grey Gardens, lives in Los Angeles. Long does, too, although the 32-year-old actor holed up in Massachusetts over the summer to star in Samuel J. and K., part of the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Given the stretch of country separating them, we invited the on-again, off-again couple (who are, currently, off again) to take revealing self-portraits from their phones, and to ask each other 10 questions via e-mail.
JUSTIN LONG: What’s your go-to karaoke song? DREW BARRYMORE: “Paul Revere” by the Beastie Boys.
If you could invite any five people, dead or alive, to a dinner party, who would you choose? My grandfather, Blake Edwards, Marilyn Monroe, Rachel Maddow, and “Jeff Spicoli.”
Which of your senses do you most treasure and why? Taste, because I aspire to foodie status. Not that you’d know it at 4am when I’m breaking out the Kraft macaroni and cheese.
What’s the last text message you sent? It was to Omar, my editor: “You dirty bird, I love it.” And another one: “Oh, thank you. Any podiatrist potential? PS—I’m just lying here with her on the floor and, other than the smell, it’s just so lovely.”
If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose? A mischievous chimp.
What movie could you never get sick of watching? Stand By Me.
If your house was burning down, what items would you save? My toothbrush, my Tony Robbins inspirational seminar tapes on Betamax, my easel, my birth certificate, my jar of pennies, my toe socks, and my framed list of awesome Matthew McConaughey quotes.
Describe the perfect sandwich. Toasted whole wheat bread, shredded carrots, alfalfa sprouts, thinly sliced cucumbers, and avocado, finished off with a dill cream cheese spread.
How do you define happiness? When you’re laughing so hard at something that it starts to hurt. It becomes truly painful and it won’t stop. And then, when it’s over, you think, I will remember that and I can’t wait until it happens again.
Ginger or Mary Ann? Ginger. Few things get me hotter than a redhead.
DREW BARRYMORE: Ginger or Mary Ann? JUSTIN LONG: This is hands down the easiest question to answer: Mary Ann.
Did you use an ass double in the movie? I did, actually. Her name is Helen Mirren. She was really nice and totally professional.
I heard you were meant to have a full-frontal scene in the movie that got cut. What happened? I was, thank you for asking. As far as I understand, it was removed from the film for the same reason they censored that infamous South Park episode earlier this year: apparently my penis bears too striking a resemblance to the Prophet Muhammad. Anwar al-Awlaki just called for the execution of anyone who would defame or desecrate the image of Prophet Muhammad. I can come up with a different answer if you think he’s going to be reading this, though I don’t mean it to be insulting. Quite the opposite—I think my penis is fairly handsome!
What is your favorite improvised moment that ended up in the movie? My Bobcat Goldthwait joke… Oh wait, a moment that ended up in the movie? I honestly don’t know. I don’t remember the movie well enough, I guess. What does it say about me, though, that I can name 10 or so improvs that didn’t make it in?
Does Garrett have any qualities or characteristics that you wish you had in real life? Garrett is a lot more driven—professionally—than I am. That’s a good quality that sometimes I wish I possessed. He’s also a much better dresser, though I wouldn’t really consider that worth envying. But I think some people would.
Who’s funnier: Charlie Day [who plays Long’s roommate in the film] or Jason Sudeikis? This is going to sound like such bullshit, but Charlie and Jason are not only equally funny, they’re also equally two of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Watching them work and play off each other was such a treat. In many scenes, I felt more like a giddy spectator than an active participant.
What was your favorite thing to do in New York on your days off? I liked walking around the city, finding new restaurants and things to do while holding my best friend’s hand.
What are you doing right this minute? I’m sitting on my porch with a bunch of moths, in a rocking chair, looking out over a field of tall grass that’s completely lit up with fireflies, listening to this great, haunting Stars album called The Five Ghosts. It’s drenched in melancholy, but not the dark I’m-going-to-kill-my-uncle-for-sleeping-with-my-mom-Hamlet-style melancholy—something far more positive.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what are the five things you would have to have? Assuming people don’t count as “things,” I’d bring a book about wilderness survival (including a chapter on ship building), a Swiss Army knife, waterproof matches, a picture of my family and loved ones, a pen and ink supply, and, of course, a volleyball (for friendship). I know that’s six things, but one was a joke.
What director would you love to work with? I’d love to work with Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach, Paul Thomas Anderson, Terrence Malick, and so many more—including you.