Barrymore -- who gained fame at age 7 as Gertie in "ET: The Extra-Terrestrial" but was in substance abuse rehab by 15 -- told The Mail on Sunday the major turning point in her life was forming the production company that produced the blockbuster action movie, "Charlie's Angels."
"I was accomplishing things and I found a real tribe -- the family I'd been looking for all those years," she said. "It's been a difficult time emotionally, but I'm happier now than I've ever been."
Barrymore, 35, left the entertainment business after her substance abuse problems. In the interview, she recalls casting directors laughing at her when she showed up for auditions and she worked for a while in a coffee shop before she decided to commit to a career in Hollywood.
Roles in "Poison Ivy," "Scream" and Woody Allen's "Everyone Says I Love You" re-energized her career and she eventually went on to star in hit comedies such as "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates," both with Adam Sandler.
With an acting Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award to her credit for HBO's production of "Grey Gardens," Barrymore says she is happy.
"The way things have gone in my life, sure, I could have been a bitter person," she said. "But I just find bitter people really un-fun, you know? And who wants to be that person?"
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]