The pair address Long's audition for the film, after which Nia says she was told she "looked too old next to Drew."
Nia Long and Drew Barrymore sat down together to address the recently-resurfaced story about how the former wasn't cast in 2002's "Charlie's Angels."
In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, the actress recalled auditioning for the role of Alex Munday, which ultimately went to Lucy Liu. According to Long, she was told she looked "too sophisticated and too old" for the part next to Barrymore, who starred as Dylan Sanders in the 2000 action comedy film, as well as the 2003 sequel.
During an appearance on Friday's episode of Barrymore's talk show, "The Drew Barrymore Show," Long again detailed her audition for the film, sharing the feedback she received after she ultimately didn't get the part. While Barrymore was a producer on the film, Long said she didn't think Drew had anything to do with the feedback she received.
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Drew first pointed out how it's wild how the story has resurfaced, with the talk show host describing the revelation as "so bizarre."
"So, apparently a producer called your agent and said something to the effect of, 'Eyebrows and age,' what was it?" said Barrymore, 47, to which Long, 52, reacted with a laugh, before recalling what went down.
"So here's what happened. I go and I audition and first of all, I was so excited to meet you... and it went really well," she began. "So, I go and I audition, then you go home and you wait and you hope to get the response which is, 'You're going to get the job.' I didn't get the job. It's okay, it happens."
"But the feedback was, 'My eyebrows were too sophisticated and I looked too old next to Drew," she added. "And that was the feedback and I was like, 'What?' It just was an odd way of saying you didn't get the job."
The "You People" star said that now looking back, she believes there was a bigger reason why she wasn't cast.
"Now that I'm older and wiser and we've been in this business for a long time, I think what was happening during that time is there were all these conversations about diversity, but people weren’t really pulling the trigger," Nia explained, telling Drew that she doesn't think it had "anything to do" with her and Nancy Juvonen's production company, Flower Films.
"I think this is just a result of the fear of really putting a Black woman into a film that never cast anyone Black," she continued. "It was a first time for them. There was this initiative to cast more Black women, have more Black women on set, but Hollywood wasn't quite doing it because I remember during that time I actually auditioned for so many roles that weren't written Black to the point where I was exhausted. It was almost like, bring the Black girls in, bring the Black actors in, so we can say that we did it, but we're not going to necessarily pull the trigger."
Long added, "So, what I will say now is things have changed a little. I thank god for producers like you because I know you're aware and you’re sensitive to it because you're having the conversation."
Barrymore said she and Juvonen "almost felt nervous and bad" after the Drew and Cameron Diaz were cast. "We were like, 'Oh god that doesn't feel right for us,'" she recalled. "And the original 'Charlie's Angels' were all white women."
While Nia noted that the female stars of the Charlie's Angels TV series, which ran from 1976 to 1981, all "looked different," Drew stressed that "there was no diversity there."
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"Let's call that out," she said, sharing that she and her producing partner "felt the exact opposite" in 1999 "when those conversations were not being had and it was really her and I who championed the fact that like, 'Okay we love our Angels so far but now what?'"
Barrymore continued, "When we even went in to present ourselves as producers for the film, all the pitches for the combination of the trio all had diversity in it, and that was just something that felt right in our guts at the time."
"It's bewildering to me that someone would say those things," she added. "First of all, Nan and I would never talk about eyebrows. That's not what women would do."
Long agreed, telling Barrymore that she's "101% positive that it came from a studio exec that has no concept in understanding the importance of diversity, let alone what you stand for because you've been in this game Drew for a very long time. And I know your heart and I see your show and I know who you are so this was never anything I took personal at all."
The "Fatal Affair" actress went on to point out that she's "glad" she and Drew were "having the conversation."
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"Black women and white women, women period, we need to talk, we need to stay in communication because at the end of the day, it's hard for all women in this industry," Nia explained. "I don't care who you are. It's harder for us, there's less roles, there's less diversity but if we don't talk to each other ... we can next have a show and create something with each other. We have to keep the dialogue going so I appreciate you being brave enough to, with me, have this conversation."
Barrymore wrapped up the conversation by admitting that she was "mortified" when she learned about Long's audition, and addressed the comments about the latter's age at the time.
"Nan and I would never speak like that and as far as age that's the stupidest thing because you're actually the same exact number, and age as Lucy Liu so how is that possible?" Drew told Nia. "And I grew up in an industry where I was like, 'I will not fall prey to aging and all that B.S.,' like that will never be my thing I've watched too many people suckle off the fountain of youth and think they were less worthy if they looked older."
She added, "So age, and weight, and body, I was like, 'This is a toxic part of this industry.' There are many wonderful things about it, but this part, I will not play with and I will not succumb to. So there's no way the age thing was an issue."