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20 Fascinating Facts About "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"

Thankfully we were spared an awful sequel that might have destroyed our perception of this wonderful classic.

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1. Steven Spielberg's original concept for the movie was the story of a family that was terrorized in their home by aliens. He instead decided to go with a family-friendly movie and the family-in-jeopardy concept was developed into Poltergeist.

2. Most of the script was written while filming Raiders of the Lost Ark. Spielberg dictated the story to screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who was the then-girlfriend and future wife of Harrison Ford.


3. Drew Barrymore originally auditioned for the role of Carol Anne in Poltergeist, but Spielberg felt she was wrong for the role. It was that audition, however, that landed her the role of Gertie.

4. Elliott was originally supposed to lure E.T. into the house with M&Ms, but Mars, Incorporated turned down the request to use their candy. Reese’s Pieces were used instead, and the its placement resulted in a 65% surge in sales.

7. E.T.'s voice was provided by Pat Welsh and Debra Winger.


Pat was the main voice of E.T., who, in order to achieve the distinct voice, smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.

Debra Winger provided the temporary voice for E.T. during filming. Some her voice acting did make it into the final movie.


8. All the puppetry was performed by a 2'10" stuntman, except for the scenes in the kitchen: Those were done by a 10-year-old boy who was born without legs but was an expert on walking on his hands.


13. Harrison Ford was initially intended to have a cameo role in the film as Elliot's principal, but the scene was cut. Spielberg felt that he would distract people from the film.

14. The doctors and nurses who worked on E.T. were not actors; they were all real emergency-room technicians and were told to treat E.T. the same way they would treat a real person.

17. The film was nominated for nine Oscars at the 55th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, but it lost both to Gandhi.

Even the director of Gandhi, Richard Attenborough, felt E.T. should have won the Oscar, saying, “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.”

Of course Spielberg didn't hold a grudge; he cast Richard as John Hammond in Jurassic Park.


18. Spielberg came up with the concept for a sequel called E.T. II: Nocturnal Fears, where Elliott and his friends are kidnapped by other aliens and E.T. would come to their rescue. It would also be revealed that E.T.’s real name is Zrek.

...and it held the title until Star Wars: A New Hope was re-released into theaters in 1997, and it reclaimed the top spot.

Star Wars: A New Hope briefly reclaimed the record before losing it again in 1998, to Titanic.


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