Elliott looks at ET's glowing finger.

The most important secrets of the classic Spielberg movie revealed

This Saturday, “ET the Extra-Terrestrial” turns 40. But it doesn’t seem to be more than 10 million a day – which is his approximate age in the 1982 movie novel.

The Steven Spielberg family drama, where a young boy named Elliot (Henry Thomas) finds a missing alien in his yard, was an instant classic. It made “ET phone home” one of the most iconic phrases in all of cinema. And grease pieces Reese candy decade. It also introduced the world to 6-year-old Drew Barrymore, who played Elliot’s adorable younger sister Gertie.

The film was shown in theaters for an unprecedented full year, until June 1983.

Check out these inside facts about Spielberg’s epic childhood drama, then rewatch: We dare do not Cry.

The concept of ‘ET’ started getting darker

It was originally meant to be talk of an alien invasion.

When Spielberg began thinking about doing a grotesque follow-up to his 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he hired writer and director John Sayles to write a screenplay for “Night Sky,” in which the farm community is terrorized by alien invaders. As The Guardian reported, the ‘night sky’ tone was ripe for terror and violence. Fortunately, the director changed his mind.

9-year-old Henry Thomas crushed audition

Thomas, who already had one role in Sissy Spacek’s drama “Raggedy Man,” did an impromptu audition with Spielberg where he cried while pleading with a government agent not to take ET. “The improvisation was so frank and honest that I gave him the part there,” Spielberg said.

Ralph Macchio was about to star in the movie

“Cobra Kai” star Macchio told People that he had a chance to play Tyler, a friend of Elliot’s older brother. “J. said in an interview with Drew Barrymore on The Drew Barrymore Show, that Thomas Howell—my grease friend in Outsiders, Ponyboy—actually played that role.” It was Howell’s film debut. The movie “The Outsiders” was released the following year.

Spielberg painted the famous faces of his alien hero

ET and Steven Spielberg.
ET was supposed to have “trivial” eyes.
Getty Images

In the special “The Making of ET the Extra-Terrestrial,” the director shared that he wanted ET’s face to conjure up many legends. “I remember saying [special effects artist] Carlo [Rambaldi]Here are some pictures of Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandberg. I love their eyes, can we make ET’s eyes frivolous, wary, and sad like those three icons.”

Special effects artist Ben Burt used many sources for ET’s sound – including a chain smoker

Elliott and ET
Burt was creative in using the ET sound.
Courtesy Collection Everett

Burt told the BBC that Burt got the extraordinary votes for ET from several places. “There are raccoons there, sea otters, and there are some horses, and there are burps from my old film professor from USC. There my wife is breathing asleep at night with a cold.” But the main voice came from actress Pat Welch, a chain smoker. According to IMDb.com, she made $380.

Original Harrison Ford had a part

The three original cast of ET
Another actor was almost a part of the movie.

Ford was dating “ET” screenwriter Melissa Matheson at the time – and had just shot Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He shoots a cameo as the headmaster, blaming Elliot for releasing dissected frogs. The scene was cut short but, as Spielberg said, “This is the place [Henry] I got a chance to meet Harrison.”

A legless ET actor made his breakthrough career

Elliott and ET hugging.
ET’s career was unique.
Courtesy Collection Everett

In many scenes, the puppeteers control ET. But Matthew de Merritt was eleven years old when he was assigned to be inside the costume in the scene in which ET raids the refrigerator; He was born without legs, and walked on his hands, giving the alien a unique wobble.

Spielberg gave multiple tips on the ‘Star Wars’ hat

The director enjoyed shouting at his friend George Lucas’ work. In one scene, ET Elliott shows his characters in the series “Star Wars”; And in another movie, his older brother Michael (Robert McNaughton) voiced Yoda. And in the Halloween sequence, where the brothers throw a sheet at ET to smuggle him into the woods, they see a kid wearing a Yoda mask as they weave trick-or-treaters.

The doctors in the movie are really doctors

For the frightening sequence in which the house was taken over by scientists and medical teams, Spielberg enlisted real doctors to play the roles: “The entire team of doctors who worked at ET were real emergency room doctors and different specialists from all over California, which was completely improvised. “He just wanted them to do it like putting on a real token blue,” McNaughton said.

Spielberg digitally erased guns in one release

The guns were erased from the film.
© Universal / Courtesy Everett Cole

While Elliott and ET are being chased by the feds, there is an FBI agent with a gun in their ranks. In the reissue, the director replaced the gun with a less dangerous walkie-talkie. He said he’s received a lot of negative comments about the movie review: “I learned a big lesson and this is the last time I decided to mess with the past.”

Spielberg accused of plagiarism

Steven Spielberg in front of an ET poster.
The concept of “ET” was similar to that of “The Alien”.

Indian author Satyajit Ray believes that the concept of “ET” was strikingly similar to his 1960s text “The Alien,” about “an alien who lands in a village in Bengal and becomes friends with a boy.” Ray received a tip-off from American science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, after Clarke saw a screening of Spielberg’s movie. Spielberg denied the allegations, and eventually Ray decided not to pursue legal action.

John Williams’ score made the film an opera

The director said that the emotional ending to “ET” was “closer to opera…like anything I’ve done before in my life” due to the musical style of Williams, longtime Spielberg, and Lucas, the collaborator.

The Atari video game ‘ET’ was so bad

ET video game.
The video game ET appeared in 1982.

Shortly after the movie came out, a game was developed for the Atari 2600 system. The lead time for a game was usually several months – but this game got up and running within five weeks. Looper.com noted, “Reviewers from that era found the game confusing, disturbing, and difficult to learn, with poor graphics even at the time. Apparently, kids were easier to play than adults, but people didn’t like being constantly stuck in the pits.”

There could be an annoying sequel

Gertie and ET kissing.
Spielberg realized that a sequel to ET would ruin her reputation.
© Universal/Courtesy Everett/E

Spielberg reunites with screenwriter Matheson for a treat for “ET 2: Nocturnal Fears,” in which ET will return to Earth amid an invasion of aliens who were “carnivorous and unleashed a ‘hypnotic hum’ with crippling effects on the surrounding wildlife.” In the end, he wisely concluded that this might distort the legacy of the original film.

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