This wonderful classic captured the hearts of people around the world. I think we all remember reaching for the tissues when the young Elliot lost his friend.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, it tells the story of a young boy named Elliott who is struggling to cope with his parents’ divorce. He lives with his single mother, older brother and younger sister. His life gets more interesting when he discovers an alien life-form that was left behind after coming to Earth to study our planet.
His attempts to hide the creature fail and eventually the government learns of his existence.
E.T. resonated with so many people because it took you though a range of emotion in a short period of time. From wonder and amazement at the friendship the boy and the alien grow, to the fear, and anger of the government nearly killing E.T., to the sadness of their final goodbye.
This landmark movie is something we can still take away a lot from decades later.
It Was Inspired By The Divorce of Steven Spielberg’s Parents
This instant classic was an amalgam of ideas that Spielberg had. The movie mogul had planned to make a movie called Growing Up that was based on his childhood memories of disappearing into his imagination as a way to deal with his parents’ divorce. He also had the idea for Night Skies, an alien-themed project about a family coming face-to-face with hostiles from another planet.
These ideas melded into one that we know of as E.T. If the movies often feels heartbreaking, it’s because it’s meant to. Spielberg made sure that he infused his own experiences into the story and atmosphere of the movie.
Night Skies also morphed into the Spielberg-producted movie, Poltergeist.
Drew Barrymore Lied To Be Cast
Drew Barrymore originally auditioned for the role of Carol Ann, the young girl at the center of Poltergeist. That role went to Heather O’Rouke, but the young actress left an impression when she fibbed that she was in a rock band called the Purple People Eaters and had world-class culinary skills.
When she was called for a casting session for E.T. she continued her silly lies.
“I was a dry-witted, lying, thieving six-year-old, and I just wanted to win the job and go on an adventure. And I wanted to make the most of it. So after my made-up tales and small talk that was larger than life, I was mostly directing it to Steven because I knew that he was buying it.”
Luring E.T. With Candy
Elliot was originally supposed to lure E.T. into the house with M&M’s, but Mars Incorporated turned down the request to use their candy. Instead Reese’s Pieces were used and thanks to the movie, its sales surged 65%.
Where did they get the alien’s face from? A mashup between Carl Sandburg, a pug and Albert Einstein. Who would have thought?
E.T. Was Performed By A 10-Year-Old With No Legs
All the puppetry was performed by a 2’10” stuntman, with the exception of the scenes in the kitchen. Those were done by a 10-year-old boy who was born without legs but was an expert at walking on his hands.
Harrison Ford Was Cut Out Of The Movie
Harrison Ford was originally meant to have a cameo as Elliot’s principal, but his scene was cut out of the movie. Spielberg thought that his appearance would distract people from the movie.
Michael Jackson Owned A Piece of Memorabilia
Michael Jackson owned one of the puppets that was used in the film.
E.T. Beat Star Wars At The Box Office
In 1983, the film pasted Star Wars: A New Hope as the highest grossing film of all time in the United States. It held the top spot until 1997 when Star Wars: A New Hope was re-released into theaters and reclaimed its top spot. This claim was brief, because in 1998, Titanic took the crown.
Spielberg Abandoned His Plans For a Sequel
Spielberg came up with the idea for a sequel titled E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears. The story would surround Elliot and his friends being abducted by malevolent aliens and they need to find a way to contact E.T. to rescue them.
After consideration, Spielberg abandoned his plans for a second movie, because he didn’t want to detract from the impact and unique magic from the movie that so many people had fallen deeply in love with.
The 20th Anniversary Edition Digitally Replaced All The Guns
While many people don’t consider E.T. as a violent movie, there were instances when government agents would carry guns. The guns are never fired, but they’re meant to intimidate the family while the storm their home looking for the alien.
In the 20th anniversary re-release in 2002, Steven Spielberg second-guessed the use of guns because of the number of mass shootings in America. As a result he had them digitally replaced with walkie-talkies.
As you can imagine there were strong feelings about this change.