We all recognise the story of E.T., an alien who is stranded on Earth. Lonely Elliott becomes friends with the extraterrestrial and wants to ensure that E.T. can return home to the stars, all the while keeping the ordeal a secret from everyone else.
If you loved this movie, here are 20 facts you’ll enjoy just as much!
1. E.T. was originally planned to be a horror movie
The initial concept for E.T. might surprise you: Steven Spielberg first came up with a story about a terrified family that was harassed by aliens in their own home. Of course, he decided in the end that the movie would be family friendly, and this scary concept was instead used to inspire Poltergeist.
2. The story of E.T. was dedicated to Harrison Ford’s then-girlfriend Melissa Mathison
…as the majority of the script was written simultaneously to the filming of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
3. Drew Barrymore first auditioned to be in Poltergeist instead
She auditioned to play Carol Anne, though Spielberg didn’t think she was suited to the role. This audition did land her the role of Gertie in E.T., so it wasn’t all bad news!
4. M&Ms were supposed to appear in the movie
E.T. was originally planned to be tempted into Elliott’s house with M&Ms. However, Mars, Incorporated didn’t agree to have the chocolates used. When Reese’s Pieces were used in place of them, there was a 65% increase in sales as a result.
5. E.T.’s face was based on two people and a breed of dog
To be exact: Albert Einstein, Carl Sandburg, and a pug.
6. E.T. doesn’t have a gender
Spielberg has clarified that E.T. isn’t male or female.
7. Two people were the voice of E.T.
Pat Welsh’s voice was used primarily. She smoked two packs of cigarettes every day to perfect the unmistakable voice of E.T.
A temporary voice was provided by Debra Winger – and some of her work did in fact make it to the final cut of the movie.
8. E.T.’s puppetry was made possible by a 2’10” stuntman, with the exception of the kitchen scenes
The kitchen scenes were performed by a 10 year old boy. The boy had been born without legs but could walk around on his hands expertly.
9. During the movie, Elliott is never given a last name
10. The movie only shows one adult’s face in the first half: Elliott’s mum
11. When Elliott tells Gertie that “only little kids can see him”, the line “Gimme a break” was ad-libbed by Drew in response.
12. Robert Zemecki came up with that well known scene where E.T. is hiding amongst the stuffed animals
13. Harrison Ford was originally going to be in the film
Ford was going to cameo as Elliott’s principal, though the scene wasn’t used as Spielberg decided that his appearance would divert people’s attention from the movie.
14. Real doctors and nurses were used in the movie
That’s right, they weren’t actors at all! They were bona fide emergency-room technicians who were told to handle E.T. as they would a real patient.
15. The film was shot completely in chronological order
It’s rare that a movie is shot in this way. It was to ensure that the responses given by the actors were believable as possible.
16. …and this technique it was a great success!
The actors gave genuine emotional responses that work amazingly in the film.
17. E.T. was nominated for 9 Oscars
Best Picture and Best Director were both possible wins for the film at the 55th Academy Awards, though Gandhi snaffled them up instead.
Richard Attenborough, director of Gandhi, said, “I was certain that not only would E.T. win, but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, [and] wonderful. I make more mundane movies.”
18. E.T. could have had a sequel
Spielberg would have called it E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, where the characters roles would be reversed – the children would be captured by aliens, and E.T. would rescue them. E.T.’s planned real name, Zrek, would also be disclosed.
19. One of the puppets used in the movie was owned by Michael Jackson
20. The movie grossed more than Star Wars: A New Hope in 1983, a film that had previously held the title of highest-grossing film in the U.S.
But when Star Wars: A New Hope was re-released in 1997, E.T. was superseded by the movie once again. In 1998, the top spot was claimed by Titanic.