Events where someone of the caliber of Harrison Ford is cut out of a movie almost never happen these days. but even 1982's smash hit E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial couldn't find space for the legend. Released the same year as another science fiction cult classic Blade Runner, Henry Thomas told Entertainment Weekly that he was over the moon (pun notwithstanding) just to rub shoulders with the Star Wars icon.
Ford's character was intended to be part of the frog escape scene, as he talks with Elliott (Thomas) in the principals office. Upcoming Baywatch star Erika Eleniak would end up making the cut as her character kisses Elliott. Thomas recalled how his enthusiasm got the better of him to rub shoulders with director Steven Speilberg and Ford for the same project.
"When I met Steven, the first thing out of my mouth was I think, 'I love Raiders of the Lost Ark,' and my hero was Harrison Ford," he remarked. "I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison."
Scene Went Against Type For Brash Harrison
Whether it was portraying a swashbuckling, cocky space pirate or courageous archeologist that battled the odds, the stiff principal part was never an ideal fit for Speilberg. The offer came about because the superstar would be dating E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison at this juncture. And, wanting to stay in the good books with his Raiders of the Lost Ark director, he agreed to the part.
"He did the scene where E.T. is home levitating all of the stuff for his communicator up the stairs," said Speilberg. "Elliot is in the principal's office after the frog incident. We don't ever see Harrison's face. We just hear his voice, see his body."
Psychic Connection Moment Goes Unnoticed
Talking about the Ford scene confined to the archives, Spielberg described the events that would illustrate the connection between Elliott and the terrestrial being.
"Henry's chair starts levitating. So as E.T. is lifting all of the communicator paraphernalia up the stairs, Henry starts rising off the ground in the chair until his head hits the ceiling," he recounts. "Just as Harrison turns, E.T. loses control of the weight of everything and it all falls down the stairs, and Henry comes crashing down to the ground, and lands perfectly. Four-point landing. The principal turns around, and as far as he's concerned, nothing ever happened."