10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About E.T.

The 3-foot tall extra terrestrial has a lot of surprising secrets.

E.T. was a deeply heartwarming family film about the friendship between a child and a stranded alien that captured imaginations and broke the box office. It was a uniquely child friendly film told from the perspective of 10-year-old boy, Elliot. You’d be surprised though, at how little you know about this sci-fi classic.

2. E.T. And Indiana Jones Are Connected

Okay, not in the sense that they necessarily occur in the same fiction but not only was Harrison Ford cast and filmed (and eventually cut) for a part in E.T., but the bulk of the script was written while filming on location for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

3. E.T.’s Communicator Actually Worked

When they wanted E.T. to phone home in the film, they got science and technology expert Henry Feinberg to design a device that would actually work. The communicator was made up of parts including; a Speak & Spell, a record player, a coat hanger, a tin can, an umbrella and a few other components.

4. It Cost Around $100,000 To Remove Guns From The Film

For the re-release of E.T., Steven Spielberg had all of the guns removed. He felt that there was too much violence in children’s entertainment and decided to have all the guns taken out.

5. E.T. Had Some Really Weird Plants

Not only were some of the alien plants in E.T.’s spaceship made from condoms and balloons but there was also a Triffid from The Day of the Triffids.

6. E.T. Could Have Been A Lot Darker

E.T. was very nearly a sci-fi horror based on existing UFO mythology. The film was originally going to be about a family barricaded in their homes and terrorised by aliens. It featured a subplot about one good alien’s relationship with an autistic boy that was eventually re-written into the film we all know today.

Not only was the original concept for the film quite dark, but there was also a sequel written that even darker. The main plot saw Elliot go off into the woods after feeling E.T.’s return only to be captured and tortured by bad aliens.

7. All The Scenes In E.T. Were Filmed In Order

It’s in no way normal for a film to be shot in the order it’s intended to be shown; shooting schedules just don’t work that way. For E.T. however, the film was shot from first page of the script to last, all in order. Steven Spielberg decided that this was the best way to get the most genuine reactions from the children he had cast.

8. Not All Of The E.T.’s Were Puppets

For a big budget alien film shot in the 1980s there would be a big need for puppeteers and animatronics. However, for some of the walking scenes it actually required a person in a costume, or more accurately three people. The various E.T. costumes were worn by two different dwarf actors (Tamara De Treaux and Pat Bilon) and a 12 year old with no legs (Matthew De Merrit). Apologies for the low resolution of this image, it is the only one available that shows all three actors.

9. E.T.’s Links To Star Wars

We all know that Spielberg was behind both films, but did you ever notice that during the film there’s a child in a Yoda costume? Not only that but Yoda’s theme music also plays at this point? Or that the composer for Star Wars, John Williams, was also the composer on this film too?

Well that’s not all, if you look really carefully in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, you’ll see a small delegation from E.T.’s race in the senate chamber.

10. E.T. Had Animals For Voice Actors

The main voice actor for E.T. was Pat Welsh, an elderly woman with a severe smoking habit and a ridiculously gravelly voice. Recordings were also taken for E.T. from a large number of other people, among them were; Spielberg, Debra Winger, Ben Burtt’s (Sound Effects Creator) wife, who was asleep and had a cold, a burp from and a USC film professor. Animals were also used, and they included raccoons, sea otters and horses.

11. The Peculiar Story Of How E.T. Looks

From his squat waddling gait, to his outstretched neck and earthy colour, E.T. was always intended to be like a walking sentient plant. It certainly explains his affinity for flowers at least.

Not only that but his face was inspired by and tries to incorporate some of the features of poet Carl Sandburg and physicist Albert Einstein.

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