'I would go and take lunch to him,' the star recalled, talking about working on the film at 7 years of age.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 31, 2022. It has since been updated.
For many of us, Steven Spielberg's "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is a childhood classic unlike any other. With its iconic pulpy science-fiction storytelling, the movie represents all that is pure and wondrous about childhood imagination and our desperate fight to cling to it as we mature into adults. Perhaps this is because the renowned filmmaker and crew took special care to ensure that a child's innocence and imagination were kept alive even on set where the illusion created by movie magic could instantly be broken by the animatronics and puppetry behind the scene. This heartwarming tidbit about the filming was brought to light by Drew Barrymore, who revealed that she genuinely believed her alien co-star was real while starring in the hit film as a 7-year-old.
Drew Barrymore reunites with her 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' castmates to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic on an upcoming episode of her talk show. https://t.co/fXCbncE1Dh— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) October 30, 2022
In a sneak peek of an episode of her eponymous talk show series, "The Drew Barrymore Show," Barrymore shared that she used to talk to and care for the animatronic puppet while filming the cult classic. "Now I believed E.T. was real," she said in a conversation with her former co-stars Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton and Dee Wallace. "I really loved him in such a profound way. Is it like true that... what would happen? Because I would go and take lunch to him."
The 1982 film features Barrymore in the role of young Gertie, who despite initially being terrified of the alien living in her brother’s closet, eventually comes to love him. Thomas—who played Barrymore's older brother Elliot in the movie—shared that the then-young actress also felt the same about E.T. when the cameras weren't rolling. "The first thing I remember is that we were on stage, and it was quite cold on the stage, and you asked the wardrobe lady if you could have a scarf for E.T.'s neck because he was gonna get cold, so you wrapped the scarf around his neck," he said.
#ET star Henry Thomas revealed that Drew Barrymore thought the alien was real.— Screen Rant (@screenrant) October 31, 2022
"The first thing I remember is that we were on stage, and it was quite cold on the stage, and you asked the wardrobe lady if... a scarf [was available] for E.T.’s neck."https://t.co/mV8ZpuCvKg pic.twitter.com/3aXUA8ExLN
Wallace, who played Elliot and Gertie's mom in the film, also recalled Barrymore's innocent affection for their out-of-this-world co-star. "We found you over there just talking away to E.T. and so we let director Steven [Spielberg] know," she recounted. "And so Steven, from that time on, appointed two guys to keep E.T. alive so whenever you came over to talk to him, he could react to you." According to PEOPLE, during their appearance on the show, the cast also discussed the possibility of a sequel to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film. Barrymore revealed that although she had brought up the possibility to Spielberg, he'd wanted to leave the classic untouched.
"And at that moment I thought, 'Oh that's a bummer because that doesn't bring us all back together again for another round,' but I also understood and respected and completely knew that it was all about the preservation of integrity for him," she shared. The 40th anniversary of the film holds a special significance for Barrymore, as her daughters are now around the same age she was when the film first came out. The 47-year-old previously revealed that Spielberg pointed out this coincidence to her. "So he's like, 'We're not missing this moment with your kids,'" she said in February. "I'm like, 'Okay. You're right. We can't. You're right.' This is very emotional and full circle. My kids are very close to the age that I was when E.T. came out. Frankie actually is at the age. She is 7, and she will just be turning 8, and Olive is 9. She'll be turning 10. This is where I'm at, and they love Steven."