Thirty years ago today at the Cannes Festival the closing film got a ten-minute standing ovation, its director later commenting that “this was the best welcome I’ve ever gotten in my life.” The film was E.T. and the words were by Steven Spielberg.
E.T. was a personal film, Elliot’s room is based on Spielberg’s own room growing up and the character of E.T. is a sort of fully-realized version of an imaginary friend a traumatized Spielberg had conjured after his parents’ divorce. E.T.’s face was modeled after poet Carl Sandburg, Albert Einstein and a pug dog.
Spielberg launched the first B.O.-smashing summer tentpole with Jaws. E.T., too, would go on to be a major financial success.
Henry Thomas, who portrayed Elliot in E.T. has had a prolific career as supporting and television actor since his turn in E.T. He will appear next in Big Sur, based on the Jack Kerouac novel, opposite Josh Lucas and Kate Bosworth.
Do you remember your E.T. experience? Who did you watch it with? Add your comment below.
Spielberg in Cannes: Ralph Gatti / AFP
Henry Thomas now and then: Kevin Mazur – WireImage.com / Universal Studios