Local remembers working as Drew Barrymore’s double as new ‘Firestarter’ movie releases

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A newly released hit hits closer to home for some locals. The new movie, Firestarter is based off the 1984 movie by the same name filmed in Wilmington.

The explosive new trailer rekindled old memories for Jennifer Bunch. The mom and pediatric nurse was apart of the original film, playing Drew Barrymore’s double.

“They show her eyes close up when she’s looking in the fire,” Bunch explained. “That’s… that’s me. And anytime she starts the fire and you see her from behind, that’s me as well.”

When the movie studios first came to Wilmington, Bunch remembers her mom auditioning for film after film, dragging ten-year-old Jennifer with her.

“I kind of peaked out from around from behind her, and everybody in the room just kind of stopped,” she remembered. “The casting agents. They were all just staring at me. And I remember thinking, why is everybody staring at me? And apparently I looked just like her.”

Just like Drew Barrymore, starring in the Stephen King film right after ET.

As a child, Barrymore could only work limited hours. Crews would use Bunch to set up shots and lighting, and for angles that didn’t show Barrymore’s face. Bunch remembers having to stand perfectly still as her character made a cinderblock wall explode. She was so nervous, her dad had to hide behind a nearby set piece to keep her company.

According to Bunch, “I remember, if you watch it real closely, you see her you see Charlie jump… that’s me. I was so scared!”

As Bunch doubled Barrymore in Firestarter and Cat’s Eye, the girls ignited a friendship.

“We shared a room for about two years,” said Bunch. “Went on vacation to Hawaii together. So yeah, it was like I had a sister for a couple years.”

Bunch showed her kids the movie for the first time during the pandemic. Seeing the new trailer decades later reminds Bunch how lucky she was to be in the right place at the right time.

“I don’t take a lot of time to think about it, but whenever I do it’s like, oh wow!” she laughed. “That was, that was a very strange experience but at the time it was just like, ok, this is what I’m doing now. This is fun!”

Bunch donated the rest of her props and pictures to the Cape Fear Museum. She hasn’t made up her mind about whether or not she’ll see the new Firestarter in theaters.

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