See the Cast of ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ Then and Now
Back in 1982, Steven Spielberg introduced audiences to Elliott, a lonely boy who befriends an alien called E.T., and with the help of his siblings, tries to help their new friend return to his home planet while keeping him hidden from the government. ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ was loved the world over, and became an instant classic, cherished by both adults and children alike. 32 years later, we revisit the cast of one of Spielberg’s greatest and see what they’re up to now.
Henry Thomas, Elliott
Then: Henry Thomas played Elliott, a young, lonely boy who finds an alien who’s been abandoned on Earth, and the pair strike up a meaningful friendship as Elliott tries to help E.T. return home.
Now: After ‘E.T.,’ Thomas decided to focus on school, still occasionally acting in films like ‘Cloak and Dagger’ and ‘Valmont.’ In the ’90s, he appeared in films like ‘Legends of the Fall’ and ‘Suicide Kings,’ and in the aughts he appeared in movies like ‘All the Pretty Horses,’ ‘Gangs of New York,’ and ‘Dear John,’ as well as the TV movie adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Desperation.’ He’s guest-starred on ‘Without a Trace’ and ‘The Mentalist,’ and starred in the short-lived ABC series ‘Betrayal,’ which was canceled earlier this year after one season. Thomas also recently appeared in the film ‘Big Sur’ with Kate Bosworth and Josh Lucas, based on the novel by Jack Kerouac.
Robert MacNaughton, Michael
Then: Robert MacNaughton played Michael, Elliott’s older brother who plays football and often picks on his younger sibling.
Now: MacNaughton continued to work in the ’80s, appearing in ‘I Am the Cheese,’ as well as a CBS afterschool special, the TV movie ‘A Place to Call Home,’ and an episode of ‘Newhart.’ He also worked in the theatre, originating the role of Buddy Layman in ‘The Diviners,’ and appearing with Kevin Kline in a production of ‘Henry V.’ MacNaughton left acting in 2002 and became a mail handler, but he’ll return this year to appear in the upcoming films ‘Frankenstein vs. The Mummy’ and ‘Laugh Killer Laugh.’
Drew Barrymore, Gertie
Then: A young Drew Barrymore played Elliott’s younger sister Gertie, who is frightened of E.T. at first, but grows to love him. Barrymore had previously made her acting debut in the 1980 film ‘Altered States,’ and following ‘E.T.,’ she appeared in the ’80s films ‘Firestarter,’ ‘Cat’s Eye,’ and ‘Far from Home.’
Now: In the ’90s, Barrymore tried to distance herself from her childish roles by appearing in films like ‘Poison Ivy,’ ‘Doppelganger,’ ‘Boys on the Side,’ and ‘Mad Love.’ The late ’90s made her a legit star with parts in ‘Scream,’ ‘Ever After,’ and ‘Never Been Kissed,’ and she also starred with Adam Sandler in the rom-coms ‘The Wedding Singer’ and ’50 First Dates.’ Her other credits include the ‘Charlie’s Angels’ films (which she also produced), ‘Riding in Cars with Boys,’ and ‘Fever Pitch.’ In 2009, she made her directorial debut with ‘Whip It,’ and also gave an acclaimed performance in the HBO film ‘Grey Gardens,’ for which she earned a Golden Globe for Best Actress. In recent years, she’s appeared in the films ‘Going the Distance’ and ‘Big Miracle,’ and you can catch her this month in the new rom-com ‘Blended,’ which reunites her with co-star Adam Sandler.
Dee Wallace, Mary
Then: Dee Wallace, previously known for roles in ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘The Howling,’ played Mary, Elliott’s mother who’s been recently separated from her husband and is kind of oblivious to an alien hanging around her house.
Now: Wallace is known for her roles in horror flicks like ‘Cujo,’ ‘Critters,’ ‘The Frighteners,’ and Rob Zombie’s ‘Halloween’ remake. From 1989 to 1992, she also starred on ‘The New Lassie’ as the mother of Lassie’s new keeper. She had recurring roles on ‘Sons and Daughters’ and ‘My Name Is Earl,’ and guest-starred on shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘The Office.’ In recent years, Wallace has appeared in ‘The House of the Devil’ and ‘The Boarder,’ and reunited with Rob Zombie for ‘The Lords of Salem.’ She’s also appeared on recent episodes of ‘Switched at Birth’ and ‘Grimm.’
Peter Coyote, Keys
Then: Peter Coyote played “Keys,” a mysterious government agent identified by the keyring he wears, and who’s on a mission to capture E.T. Coyote was a relative newcomer who had previously appeared in the film ‘Die Laughing.’
Now: It wasn’t until the late ’90s that Coyote started landing roles in bigger films like ‘Sphere,’ ‘Patch Adams,’ and ‘Erin Brockovich.’ He’s had recurring roles on ‘Commander in Chief,’ ‘Brothers and Sisters,’ ‘The 4400,’ and ‘Law and Order: LA,’ and appeared in the recent HBO film ‘Hemingway and Gellhorn.’ He also recently appeared on episodes of the new CBS series ‘Intelligence.’ In addition to acting, Coyote often provides narration for National Geographic and NHL specials and documentaries, and has narrated Ken Burns’ PBS miniseries ‘The Dust Bowl,’ as well as a recent episode of ’30 for 30.’
C. Thomas Howell, Tyler
Then: C. Thomas Howell made his acting debut as Tyler, one of Michael’s friends who helps Elliott and E.T. try to outrun the authorities during the climax of the film.
Now: Howell was pretty major in the ’80s with roles in ‘The Outsiders,’ ‘Red Dawn,’ ‘The Hitcher,’ and ‘Soul Man.’ He also appeared in films like ‘That Night,’ ‘Payback,’ and ‘Hidalgo,’ but over the last several years he’s mostly starred in B-movies like ‘War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave’ and ‘Camel Spiders.’ He did have a small role in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ and lent his voice to ‘Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox’ as Professor Zoom. From 2009 to 2013, Howell had a recurring role on ‘Southland,’ and he’s also guest-starred on ‘Revolution,’ ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ and ‘Longmire.’ More recently, he had a recurring role on ‘Grimm.’
Erika Eleniak, Pretty Girl
Then: Erika Eleniak made her acting debut as the young girl Elliott works up the nerve to kiss in his class.
Now: Eleniak didn’t appear in another film for six years, returning to star in ‘The Blob.’ In 1989, she became a Playboy Playmate, and had a recurring role on ‘Charles in Charge’ before landing a leading role on ‘Baywatch’ from 1989 to 1992. She went on to become best known for her roles in ’90s films like ‘Under Siege,’ ‘The Beverly Hillbillies,’ and ‘Bordello of Blood.’ In 2005, Eleniak appeared on the reality TV show ‘The Real Gilligan’s Island,’ and in 2006 she competed on VH1′s ‘Celebrity Fit Club.’ In recent years, she’s starred in B-movies and made-for-TV movies like ‘Dracula 3000′ and ‘Absolute Zero,’ and appeared on an episode of ‘Desperate Housewives.’