Learning Curves

02/12/2004 AT 10:44 AM EST

Drew Barrymore is looking through photographs of herself – as a child in 1982's E.T., as a teen at the Oscars, as a beaming young woman getting her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a few weeks ago. But it's a photo from 1984's Firestarter, based on the Stephen King story, that gets her excited. "I really liked him," she says of King, whom she visited at his home in Maine when she was 8. "He had the most interesting family to me. They lived in this wild house, and the kids had their own styles. There were trinkets and photographs everywhere. It was, like, love clutter – and I was like, 'Okay, that's the kind of family I want to have one day.' " She stops and rolls her eyes. "By the way, I got this by visiting them once."

These days Barrymore – who turns 29 on Feb. 22 – has family on her mind. "I am definitely starting to think about kids," she says. When she's in meetings with other Hollywood working women, she questions them about juggling careers and children. What's behind the quizzes? For one thing, Barrymore is deeply in love. For the past two years she's been dating Fabrizio Moretti, 23, a drummer for the rock band the Strokes. "It's the most positive relationship I've ever been in," she says. But after more than enough drama for a star twice her age – worldwide fame at 9, drug-and-alcohol rehab at 13, two divorces by 28, a resurgent career as a producer and Hollywood's go-to girl for sweet, goofy comedy – she's feeling fulfilled in a larger sense too: "I'm happy where I am in my life. I'm happy with my age. I've made mistakes that I don't have to make anymore."

Sure, she uses the words "like" and "totally" more than your standard Hollywood mogul. But lately Barrymore has been showing off a blossoming elegance and maturity – and a sleek new shape: Since taking up running last fall and reintroducing meat to her diet, she has shed 20 lbs. "I picked up running because I needed an outlet," she says. Plus, "gravity definitely does have an effect on the body at a certain point." Says her close friend and Charlie's Angels costar Cameron Diaz: "She's more athletic than even she would admit. I think [running] brings clearness to her mind."

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