He inspired a generation to look to the stars in wonder and is officially the friendly face of alien invasions – but whatever happened to E.T.’s co-stars?
Henry Thomas – Elliot
You don’t hear about the former child stars who don’t go off the rails or become mega-stars – they just keep their heads down, do the work and don’t get noticed.
Young Henry Thomas, who is of Welsh descent, shot to stardom as fresh-faced little alien-botherer Elliot. Now aged 43 (there’s a sobering stat), Thomas has raised his head above the fame parapet a few times – most notably as young Norman Bates in ‘Psycho IV: The Beginning’ and in Martin Scorsese’s 'Gangs Of New York’ – but he’s been a persistent presence on the small screen of late, with roles in ABC show 'Betrayal’ and History Channel drama 'Sons Of Liberty’ alongside Ben 'Prince Caspian’ Barnes and Dean 'Hank off Breaking Bad’ Norris.
Drew Barrymore – Gertie
No one thought cute little sister Gertie had it in her to be rebellious, but Drew Barrymore gave new meaning to the term 'hellraiser’ – she went through sex, drugs, rock 'n’ roll, rehab, emancipation and a suicide attempt before she even turned 15.
Barrymore’s career turnaround from wild girl to romcom queen was an unlikely success story, and guided by godfather Steven Spielberg – who, after she posed nude for Playboy aged 19, sent her a quilt which read 'Cover Yourself Up’ – she went on to rack up hits including 'The Wedding Singer’, 'Never Been Kissed’ and '50 First Dates’.
Recently, Barrymore gave birth to her second daughter, Frankie, and considered converting to Judaism.
Robert MacNaughton – Michael
McNaughton’s background was in theatre, and though 'E.T.’ was his first feature film role – playing Elliot’s older brother, Michael – he quickly returned to the stage, continuing to tread the boards in Shakespeare adaptations for the following decade.
He quit acting in 2002 and until recently worked as a regular mail carrier in Arizona, where he lives with actress wife Bianca Hunter. McNaughton briefly broke his hiatus from Hollywood when he appeared alongside the missus in 2015 thriller 'Laugh Killer Laugh’ and made a cameo in the frankly excellent-sounding horror mash-up 'Frankenstein Vs The Mummy’.
Dee Wallace – Mary
She might have played Elliot’s oblivious mother Mary in 'E.T.’, but we’re not going to dedicate too much room in this paragraph on Dee Wallace’s 'then’ because her 'now’ sounds so amazing.
Check out these credits, just a fraction of her IMDb output over the last five years: 'Soupernatural’ (2010), 'Walk A Mile In My Pradas’ (2011), 'Aliens From Uranus’ (2012), 'Robocroc’ (2013), 'My Stepbrother Is a Vampire!?!’ (2013, punctuation film’s own), 'The Jazz Funeral’ (2014), 'Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard’ (2015) and coming soon, 'Rock Paper Dead’ (2016). It sounds like she’s doing just fine.
Peter Coyote – 'Keys’
The mysterious government agent in 'E.T.’ was known only as 'Keys’, but the man who played him is more a face than a name – one of many 'That Guy’s who keep popping up in movies despite you never knowing who they are.
Coyote – real name Rachmil Pinchus Ben Mosha Cohon – has since appeared in the likes of 'Sphere’, 'Patch Adams’, 'Erin Brockovitch’, 'A Walk To Remember’ and as the President in short-lived TV sci-fi 'Flashforward’, but he’s just as well known for his voice: his silky tones narrated the 2002 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony as well as over 165 documentaries. You can read his writing and check out his music at his website, which is updated weekly.
Sean Frye – Steve
As Elliot’s bolshy friend Steve, Sean Frye didn’t have the largest part in 'E.T.’, nor did he use it as a springboard onto bigger and better things.
Frye wasn’t bitten by the acting bug and after a few forgettable TV movies were added to his CV, he quit the business, with Molly Ringwald pregnancy drama 'For Keeps’ his last movie.
Frye met his current partner, army veteran Michael Alexander, while in West Hollywood, and the pair adopted a son in 2003. Bonus Sean Frye Fact #1: he is the brother of Punky Brewster actress Soleil Moon Frye. Bonus Sean Frye Fact #2: he played David St Hubbins’ punk-rocker son in 'This Is Spinal Tap’.
C. Thomas Howell – Tyler
“Where is he from, Uranus? Get it? Your anus?” As another one of Elliot’s obnoxious friends, C Thomas Howell – known back then simply as 'Tom’ – would make his movie debut in 'E.T.’, but few would have thought it would be he who boasted the most movie credits 33 years on from the film’s release.
Howell tasted proper fame as star of 'Red Dawn’ and 'The Hitcher’, then bottomed out with ill-advised race comedy 'Soul Man’, then disappeared into obscurity for a while, before making a direct-to-DVD comeback of sorts in the new millennium.
Never one for boyish features, his grizzled look has secured him roles in dozens of low-rent action movies and thrillers, including recent joint 'Bigfoot Wars’ (would watch). He even found time for a small part in 2012’s 'The Amazing Spider-Man’.
Erika Eleniak – Pretty Girl
The role of 'Pretty Girl’ wasn’t one of E.T.’s more fleshed-out roles (does she not get a name, Spielberg? #Everydaysexism or what?) but once she’d grown up, Erika Eleniak would become plenty memorable.
Most famous for her recurring role in 'Baywatch’ as Shauni McClain (distinguishing features: red swimsuit, blonde hair, boobs), Eleniak also caused a generation of men’s eyes to pop out of their sockets when she popped out of a cake topless in 'Under Siege’.
Before long, Eleniak’s weight yo-yo’d and after she was hospitalised due to an eating disorder, she ended up overweight and did what any good celebrity should do: appear on VH1’s 'Celebrity Fit Club’. It’s not known if the old swimsuit currently fits or not.