And, as the actress recalled during a visit to "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Thursday, that early fame brought one unexpected perk: The chance to meet an even bigger celebrity of the day — Princess Diana.
Kimmel held up a black-and-white photo of that moment, which showed Barrymore handing a plush E.T. doll to the then-wife of Prince Charles.
"I remember it like it was yesterday," she said. "It was the most exciting moment for me to meet a real-life princess — the real-life princess, the people’s princess."
And Barrymore, who has two daughters of her own now — Olive, 5, and Frankie, 4 — believes the late royal's legacy lives on for young girls.
"Diana was and is and will always be the epitome of a woman that all little girls look up to," she continued. "She was so kind and so nice."
The 43-year-old added that for her, growing up a bit too fast in Hollywood back in those days, Diana "was such a good example."