September 30, 2002 12:00 PM

With kitschy oil portraits of Suzanne Somers, Regis Philbin and KFC founder Colonel Sanders lining the walls, Tom Green’s canyonside L.A. home seems the height of goofball-bachelor chic. Then the comedian passes a room with a bunk bed and G.I. Joes scattered across the floor. “This is Danny’s room,” he says. And who’s Danny? “My son. My little boy.”

Say what? “Just kidding,” says Green, 31, who bought the $1 million-plus pad last year with some furniture still in it and judged the room “way too cool to take down. So I kept things the way they are.” The sentiment is understandable considering the tumult Green has endured in the past two years: a battle with testicular cancer; a wedding to Drew Barrymore and a divorce five months later; and the critical slamming of his big-screen directorial debut, 2001’s Freddy Got Fingered. “He could’ve hit rock bottom,” says his close friend, writer Derek Harvie. “Instead he got stronger and even funnier.”

It wasn’t easy. “It’s been crazy, to say the least,” says Green. “Only in the past six months have I started to find my stride again.” The gross-out comedy guru kept a low profile after filing for divorce last December and receiving five Razzies (the Oscars for worst films) for Freddy in March. Now he’s acting up again on the big screen in the new comedy Stealing Harvard, and he recently produced a WB special about his pro-skateboarder pal Tony Hawk and his team. “It’s nice to go skating in a parking lot,” he says, “and hang out with people who aren’t talking about their next movie role.”

The same goes for relationships. “I recommend people don’t get in high-profile marriages,” Green says dryly. “There are a lot of people in the world. You don’t have to marry someone with their own team of publicists, managers, agents and lawyers.” The Ottawa native, who became a U.S. star when MTV imported his cult-hit show in 1999, fell for Barrymore, 27, on the set of 2000’s Charlie’s Angels. After months of pretending they had eloped, they tied the knot on the beach in Malibu in July 2001. “I genuinely felt that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together,” says Green.

After all, the match had already weathered Green’s cancer. Diagnosed just after he met Barrymore, he had one of his testicles removed two years ago and has since tested cancer-free. Green still struggles to make sense of it. “There was a kid in the hospital two doors down from me,” he says. “He was 24, a fan of my show, and he had the same thing as me. But he died. I didn’t. I was like, ‘Why?'”

Although Barrymore helped nurse Green through his recovery, the romance went awry. “We were beginning to have problems before we got married,” says Green. “I don’t want to go into exact details. But I said I promised this person and I’m not giving up. Maybe the smarter thing would have been to not get married. But I was so firm in my belief that it would work I kept on. My parents are still together. I assumed I’d never be divorced.”

Today, “we’re not great friends anymore,” he says. “It’s sad. I haven’t seen her since I filed. It’s been emotional. You’re set on spending the rest of your life with someone and then one day you just don’t see them anymore.” These days Green’s companions are his dogs Annie and Steve: “I’m staying away from the idea of a serious relationship for a while longer.”

But his mother, Mary Jane, 56, a retired health-care administrator, and dad, Richard, 61, a retired armed forces officer, confidently predict non-imaginary grandkids. “I think he’ll be a very conservative father,” says Mary Jane. “I’m going to enjoy watching his children torture him the same way he did us.”

Samantha Miller

Todd Gold in Los Angeles

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