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What happened to the actors of ‘ET The Extraterrestrial’: This is how the protagonists of the film that marked more than a generation have changed

Cookbooks, literary fantasy works, hit TV series, post offices… four decades goes a long way!

The alien who shrunk the hearts of several generations is getting older, and this 2022 celebrates its 40th anniversary. In 1982, ET came to theaters, the feature film directed by Steven Spielberg, which taught us the true meaning of friendship. The film was screened for the first time at the Cannes Festival in May 1982. But it was not until 11th of June when the film began its journey through theaters in the United States -it arrived in Spain on December 6 of that same year- without anyone being able to predict that a new cinematographic phenomenon was about to emerge.

The film became the highest grossing of 1982 and, for more than a decade, it held first place in the world ranking of the highest-grossing films in the history of cinema. A position that, curiously, was forced to yield, in 1993, to Jurassic Park, another of Steven Spielberg’s great successes.

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The success of ET the alien, awarded four Oscars, was also due to the impeccable performances of its protagonists. Some protagonists for whom participating in Spielberg’s feature film marked a before and after in their lives. Some knew how to manage success perfectly like Henry Thomas -little Elliott- and Dee Wallace -his mother on the big screen-; for others, like Drew Barrymore -the adorable Gertie-, making the leap to fame so young, played a trick on him, and some like Robert MacNaughton -the eldest, Michael- they did not finish seeing the performance of his way of life . But, what matters is that today all of them lead a most pleasant life.

Henry Thomas


Henry Thomas He rose to fame at just 11 years old. The actor, who back in 1982 had already participated in two feature films, was chosen by steven spielberg to embody the unforgettable Elliott in the endearing four-time Oscar-winning film. A role that would mean a rise in his professional career in the world of acting.

Two years later, in 1984, after seeing how ET the alien became an immediate classic of the seventh art, Thomas signed on to star in the drama Elliot, my best friend, alongside Gene Hackman. In the later years of the 1980s, the young actor took it in stride, to be able to combine their work with their studies. Despite this, she participated in a total of five film projects, including The Secret of the Lake and The First Crime.

The 1990s would be a big change for Henry Thomas. Without leaving aside his career as an interpreter, Thomas wanted try your luck with music, and joined the country band The Blue Heelers, in which in addition to singing, he played guitar. His passion for music was not a passing thing, and after the disappearance of The Blue Heelers, he joined the rock group Farspeaker, with whom he continues to give concerts.

If there is something that Henry Thomas has made clear, in these last four decades, it is his love for everything related to culture. In 2019, he started his adventure as a writer and published fantasy novel The Window and the Mirror: Book One: Oesteria and the War of Goblinkind. The first volume of what is expected to become a trilogy. The actor, who has always been a great lover of this genre, has confessed that part of the inspiration for his story comes from his teenage and youth years as a Dungeons & Dragons player.

Despite being happy developing these two new professional facets, Thomas has never been separated from the cinema, and, from the 90s to the present, he has participated in numerous feature films such as Legends of the Fall, Gangs of New York, Ouija: The Origin of Evil, Doctor Sleep and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, among others.

In the mid-2000s, the interpreter, who had previously participated in several films for the small screen, he became interested in television fiction. Of all his projects, it is worth highlighting the Mike Flanagan anthology series for Netflix, made up of The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass, also with Flanagan. Currently, he is in the middle of filming the screenwriter’s new television project, The Fall of the House of Usher, in which he will share the screen with Carla Guigino, Mark Hamill and Mary McDonnell.

drew Barrymore


Although she had already appeared in two television movies, the real acting debut of drew Barrymore it came from the hand of Spielberg. The seven-year-old girl was chosen to give life to gertie, the little sister of the protagonist Elliott. Despite her young age, her performance impressed not only the film industry, but also critics. Some praise that immediately placed Barrymore among the new promises of the seventh art.

Only two years after the premiere of ET The Extra Terrestrial, in 1984, came his first leading role, in the horror thriller Eyes of Fire, directed by Mark L. Lester. That same year he participated in the dramatic comedy Irreconcilable Differences, alongside Ryan O’Neal and Shelley Long, and a year later in the horror comedy Los ojos del gato. A title that marked a turning point in the career of the actress, who would not participate in a movie for theaters again until 1989, with Shared Loves, alongside Jeff Bridges, Alice Krige and Farrah Fawcett.

In the mid-1990s, the actress began to get her professional career back on track, and began to participate in more popular titles, including Batman Forever; Everybody Says I Love You, by Woody Allen; Forever and ever; I have never been kissed, and Scream: Watch Who’s Calling. In the latter, Barrymore was signed to play the leading role, but due to a readjustment in her schedule, the main role went to Neve Campbell, and she was left with a secondary one, whose image you surely have in your head.

The entry into the new century would come with his participation in film projects such as Charlie’s Angels, Donnie Darko, Confessions of a dangerous mind, 50 first dates and You the lyrics, I the music, among others. But her performance would stand out in Gray Gardens, a television movie for which, in 2009, she would earn her second Emmy Award nomination. This same year, the actress premiered her first fiction feature film as director, Rollergirls; although she had already made her debut behind the cameras with the television documentary Choose or Lose Presents: The Best Place to Start.

Barrymore also wanted to try her luck in the world of series and in 2017 she was signed to star in Netflix’s horror comedy, Santa Clarita Diet.

In addition to her career as an actress, director and producer -she has produced various feature films and television series since 1999-, Drew Barrymore can boast of having a very active professional life outside of film and television. In these four decades, she has worked as a model, created a clothing brand (Dear Drew), has proven to be a great photographer with her Pentax camera and has published several books, one of them about cooking (Rebel Homemaker: Food, Family, Life), one of his great passions.

As if that were not enough, dSince 2020, he hosts his own talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show.on the CBS network.

Robert MacNaughton


As for his brothers in fiction, for Robert MacNaughton, ET the alien It was also his big debut as an actor. MacNaughton, who was 16 at the time, was chosen to step into the shoes of Michael, Elliott’s older brotherin the Steven Spielberg movie. A role that earned him the Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actor. Everything presaged the start of a career plagued with success on the big screen. However, the interpreter was not entirely clear that he wanted to dedicate himself to the cinema for the rest of his life.

For six years after the release of ET The Extra-Terrestrial, MacNaughton appeared in a number of television series and movies in small roles. However, when he reached 90, he decided to move away from the cameras to dedicate himself to the theater. A place where he didn’t fit in either.

Finally, Robert MacNaughton decided to leave acting permanently because, as he himself recognized, luck had not been on his side during his time as an actor. Since then, works as a clerk in a post office of Phoenix, Arizona. MacNaughton, who in 2015 returned to stand in front of the cameras in the films Laugh Killer Laugh and Frankenstein vs. the Mummy, has acknowledged that he is happy with the life he leads now.

Dee Wallace


We close this ‘what happened to the actors of ET the extraterrestrial‘ with Dee Wallacethe unforgettable Mary Taylor, mother of little Elliott and his siblings. Unlike his children in fiction, when he became part of the legendary film, Wallace already had a long career in the world of acting. But it is undeniable that participating in Spielberg’s film made her name begin to sound more strongly within the industry.

The 1980s were a very prolific decade for the actress and alternated roles on the big screenlike Cujo and Critters, with others for tv like A Life Together and The New Lassie. In the 1990s, she focused mostly on television movies, although she also participated in film projects such as Grab Me Those Ghosts.

In the new century, the actress has continued to add new roles to her extensive filmography, made up, to date, of over a hundred titles.

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