Somewhat amazingly, this week sees the 30th anniversary of the release of perhaps the greatest family film of all time, Steven Spielberg’s alien and kid buddy classic, ‘E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’. While we’ve been struggling to believe that it’s a full three decades since the bony-fingered alien first hit cinemas, we began to wonder about the career trajectories of the cast since 1982. So we did a little digging. Here’s what we came up with…
Henry Thomas (Elliott)
Then and now… Henry Thomas (Copyright: Universal)
The main human star of the film was E.T.’s best mate, the red hoodie-wearing kid Elliott – played by 11 year-old Henry Thomas. The Texas-born actor is all grown-up now and has steadily built up a fairly impressive CV. True, he’s not exactly set the world on fire since his alien-in-a-bicycle-basket days, but he’s certainly done okay for himself. He played a young Norman Bates in ‘Psycho IV: The Beginning’, starred alongside Brad Pitt in ‘Legends Of The Fall’ and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s ‘Gangs Of New York’. Next up, he’s in ‘Big Sur’, an adaptation of the classic Jack Kerouac novel with Kate Bosworth.
Drew Barrymore (Gertie)
You probably know what happened to cute little Gertie… John Barrymore’s granddaughter was a revelation in ‘E.T.’. She followed it up with a string of comedic child roles until controversy with drink and drugs as a young teenager led her slightly off-track. She announced herself as an adult actress with sexy femme fatale roles in films like ‘Poison Ivy’ and then settled on a less controversial rom-com route. She’s remained popular ever since and even proved a capable director after helming enjoyable 2009 roller derby movie ‘Whip It!’
Young stars… Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton (Copyright: PA)
Robert MacNaughton (Michael)
Elliott’s older brother Michael was played by an actor with less drive to make it big. Robert McNaughton bagged a few roles in several US TV series, but retired in 1987. Hollywood’s loss was the Arizona Postal Services’ gain, though. Robert’s now a Phoenix postman.
Classic… E.T. (Copyright: Universal)Pat Bilon (E.T.)
Actor Michael Patrick Bilon was one of the smallest adult dwarves in the US when he was cast as the eponymous alien. The heavy rubber costume Pat had to wear during filming weighed in at just under five stone (the same weight as him!). Unfortunately, Pat died a year after ‘E.T.’s release from pneumonia.
Pat Welsh (Voice of E.T.)
The film’s Sound Designer Ben Burtt heard the chain-smoking San Franciscan Welsh nattering to friends in a shop during the shoot and loved her deep, rapsy tones so much that he urged her to audition for the voice of E.T.. Welsh didn’t go on to have much of a film career after that, but was cast to voice the character of bounty hunter Boushh in ‘Return Of The Jedi’.
C. Thomas Howell (Tyler)
CTH has kept a fairly respectable film career ticking over since the ‘phone home’ days. A major role in Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘The Outsiders’ was followed by a role in ‘Red Dawn’ and a decent turn alongside Rutger Hauer in the skin-crawling chiller ‘The Hitcher’. You can see him next in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’.
Erika Eleniak (The Girl Elliot Kisses in Class)
Lady in red… Erika Eleniak went on to star in Baywatch and Playboy (Copyright: REX)As you can probably tell from her character’s name, Erika’s part in ‘E.T.’ wasn’t huge (though she was in a fairly memorable scene). Hired for ‘E.T.’ because she was pretty (she was a child model), Erika’s looks also bagged her a role in slo-mo surf rescue TV series ‘Baywatch’ and a string of Playboy shoots. Lads might also remember her as the topless lady that jumps out of that big ol’ cake in Steven Seagal actioner ‘Under Siege’.
Dee Wallace (Mary)
Elliott’s mum has gone on to become somewhat of a scream queen, carving out quite the horror movie career. She’d already appeared in ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘The Howling’ pre-‘E.T.’ and went on to star in gore n’ chill fests like ‘Cujo’, ‘The Frighteners’ and Rob Zombie’s especially nasty ‘Halloween’ remake.
Peter Coyote (‘Keys’)
Pete’s an interesting chap. As well as being an actor, he’s been all of these things: improv comedian, narrator, hippy, director, writer, Democrat activist and even an ordained Zen Buddhist priest. He’s been in over a hundred TV shows and films since ‘E.T.’, so chances are you’ll have seen him in something.
So there you have it, what the ‘E.T.’ cast have been up to since the film wrapped. Can you quite believe it’s now thirty years old…?