11 Facts About 'E.T.' That You Didn't Know

by Maitri Suhas

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial turns 32 years old on June 11, and it's hard to believe that Steven Spielberg's beloved sci-fi movie has surpassed three decades. It's still one of the most tender, heartwarming, and heartbreaking stories about friendship, healing, and acceptance, which also happens to be about a cute, strange alien with telekinetic powers. Ah, the memories. I mean, whose heart doesn't shatter when E.T. bids farewell and boards his spaceship home, even though we all knew that E.T. had found a new home, with Elliott, on planet California? There is a light that never goes out, and it's E.T.'s heart.

To honor the film's anniversary, here are 11 facts you might not know about the filming of Spielberg's masterpiece:

1.) E.T.'s face was modeled after a combination of the faces of genius Albert Einstein, poet Carl Sandberg, and novelist Ernest Hemingway (and also, the face of a pug, which is why he's so cute). E.T. was made from the greats!

2.) The E.T. puppeteering was done for the most part by a very small stuntman (he stood at 2'10"), but the kitchen scenes were done using an astonishing 10-year-old boy who was born without legs and could walk on his hands, giving E.T. those unique movements.

3.) E.T. is neither male nor female, plant nor animal. E.T. simply is.

4.) Spielberg made a cameo as one of E.T.'s doctors, but the rest of the medical team were actual doctors and nurses that Spielberg recruited from UCLA, whom he told to attend to E.T. as if the alien were an actual patient.

5.) Drew Barrymore originally auditioned for the role of Carol Anne in Spielberg's Poltergeist, which she didn't get — he thought she'd be better suited to play the sweet, sassy Gertie in E.T. instead. Thank goodness!

6.) Elliot's mother is the only adult whose face is shown in the first half of the film. Spielberg shot the movie from the kids' perspective to make it more authentic.

7.) During filming, Spielberg voiced E.T., but the alien's voice ultimately came from a woman named Pat Welsh, who was a lifelong smoker; her voice was lowered and mixed with the sounds of animals to get E.T.'s signature raspy voice.

8.) The famous Reese's Pieces scene was supposed to be M&M's, but Mars, Inc. refused the request to use their candy in the movie. Bad move!

9.) E.T's eyes were glass, to make them more lifelike — but because they were set so far apart, the movie's young actors could only look into one eye at a time when filming.

10.) Spielberg shot the film chronologically to elicit real emotions from the very young cast — they really thought that E.T. was going to die! (Kind of cruel, if you ask me, but it makes for great filmmaking.)

11.) Harrison Ford was originally in the movie as the principal of Elliot's school, but his scenes were cut because Spielberg didn't want to show Ford's face and have it distract from the film (none of the other adults' faces are shown).

If you've got the emotional strength, you should re-watch E.T. today, but be prepared to shed some tears.

Images: Universal Pictures