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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 09:17 GMT
ET comes home
ET was a blockbuster in 1982
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By the BBC's Caroline Westbrook

On 10 December, 1982, ET: The Extra-Terrestrial made its cinematic debut in the UK, trailing in the wake of enormous US box office success.

Reports of American cinemagoers queueing around the block to see Spielberg's new epic were joined by accounts of punters weeping uncontrollably at the loveable little alien's adventures - and misadventures - on earth before they rejoined the line for a repeat viewing.

Henry Thomas
Henry Thomas has a role in Scorsese's upcoming film, Gangs Of New York
Two decades later, and ET is returning to cinemas for its 20th anniversary re-release, complete with brand new print, and a previously deleted sequence in which ET and his human pal Elliott (Henry Thomas) take a bath together.

How it will be received by modern audiences raised on a diet of visual trickery and increasingly expensive, impressive-looking blockbusters, will be even more interesting to witness than the film's restored footage.

And although the film netted only $15.1m in its opening weekend in the US, less than half the grosses of Ice Age and Blade 2, the film's continued appeal is evident.

"I think it was pretty apparent by the second day of the original release what a phenomenon it had become," says actress Dee Wallace Stone who played mother to ET's human friend Elliott.

E.T with Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore overcame alcholism and drug abuse
Having also sat through the film twice with modern audiences, she remains confident it will stand the test of time. "It totally holds up, you identify with so many different things on so many different levels."

Of course, younger viewers are still familiar with the extra-terrestrial megastar, given that ET was revived as the face of British Telecom advertising in 1998 (the campaign ended last year), but other members of the cast may prove less familiar.

Drew Barrymore, who was just seven-years-old when she starred in the film as Gertie, is just as well known for her films (Charlie's Angels, The Wedding Singer, Never Been Kissed) as for her pre-teen slide into alcoholism and drug abuse.

Henry Thomas is another cast member who has had more success in adulthood - appearances in the likes of Legends Of The Fall, alongside Brad Pitt, Billy Bob Thornton's All The Pretty Horses and the forthcoming Scorsese picture Gangs Of New York have kept him in the public eye.

Stone played Elliot's mum in E.T
Dee Wallace Stone gives acting classes and motivational speaking
Other cast members have continued to be prolific - Stone, for example, now gives acting lessons at her own studio in Burbank ("absolutely one of my great loves," she confirms) between back-to-back roles in TV movies and cinematic outings.

She was last seen on the big screen in 1997's The Frighteners and she has also developed a sideline in motivational speaking.

"I keep reminding myself that the most important thing for me in my life is to stay connected to my own joy, in the midst of everything," she says.

Meanwhile character actor Peter Coyote, who plays the mysterious Keys, is constantly in demand and will be seen next in teen drama A Walk To Remember.

Erika Eleniak, the little girl ET shared a kiss with, has notched up a brace of TV movies and direct-to-video offerings via a stint in Baywatch and an appearance on the cover of Playboy in 1990, and C.Thomas Howell (Tyler), continues to work steadily, having just completed the sequel to The Hitcher.


Even Tamara De Treaux, the 31-inch tall actress who stepped inside the E.T suit to play the alien in certain scenes, has achieved some kind of notoriety.

Although she died in 1990 aged just 31, De Treaux, who still holds the record as the shortest adult actress ever to appear on film, served as the inspiration for the character of Cadence Roth in Armistead Maupin's 1992 novel Maybe The Moon.

Only Robert MacNaughton, who played Elliot's ET-sceptic brother Michael, has taken the opposite route - after moving to Phoenix to work in theatre in 1994 and finding work less than forthcoming, he took on a Christmas job as a mail handler for the US postal service in Phoenix - and has worked there ever since.

MacNaughton, who lives with wife Jennifer and four-year-old son Noah has said that while he enjoys watching ET, "I find it distracting to watch myself".

"I never saw myself as a star at all. I always saw myself as an actor who was lucky."

With the re-issue set to delight a new generation of fans, it looks like he is about to get lucky all over again.

ET is released across the UK from Friday 29 March

See also:

08 Apr 99 | Entertainment
ET phones home again
18 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Barrymore and Green to divorce
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