“Phone Home” with the whimsy and wonder of E.T.

By: Julie medina
Image: TMDB

About This Quiz

A gentle alien becomes stranded on Earth and is befriended by a young boy who brings the extraterrestrial into his suburban California home.

What is the name of the boy who finds E.T.?

Elliot, is a lonely boy who longs for a good friend, which he finds in E.T. Elliot is portrayed by Henry Thomas. Although best known for E.T., Thomas is also known for his roles in films such as Cloak & Dagger, Legends of the Fall, All the Pretty Horses, Gangs of New York, Dear John, and Ouija: Origin of Evil. Among Star Wars fans, he is well known as the narrator of three Star Wars: X-Wing books: Rogue Squadron, Wedge's Gamble, and The Krytos Trap.

Who plays Elliot’s younger sister?

Gertie, is Elliot's mischievous 5-year-old sister who is initially terrified of E.T. but grows to love him. She is played by Drew Barrymore who today is an actress, author, director, model and producer. She came of age in such films as Poison Ivy, Bad Girls, Boys on the Side, Scream and Everyone Says I Love You. She also co-starred with Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates and Blended.

What is the name of Elliot’s older brother?

Michael is Elliot's football playing 15-year-old brother who often makes fun of him. He and Elliot grow closer over the time they care for E.T together. He later saves E.T.'s life. Michael is played by Robert MacNaughton who primarily worked in the theater and on TV until 2002 when he retired. His TV appearances include Dennis Potter's Visitors for the BBC, Vietnam War Story for HBO, Newhart, and Amen, among other TV movies.

What is the name of Elliot's mom?

Elliot’s mother’s name is Mary, portrayed by Dee Wallace. She is known for her scream queen roles in several popular films in the horror genre, including The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling and Cujo. Her other film appearances include The Stepford Wives, 10 and Critters.

When the alien’s land, what are they doing?

In a Californian forest, a group of alien botanists land in a spacecraft, collecting flora samples. When government agents appear on the scene, they flee in their spaceship, leaving one of their own behind in their haste. The concept was based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents' divorce in 1960. In 1980, Spielberg met Mathison and developed a new story from the stalled sci-fi horror film project Night Skies.

When Elliot returns from picking up a pizza, he discovers that something is hiding where?

As Elliot returns from picking up a pizza, he discovers that something is hiding in their tool shed. The creature promptly flees upon being discovered. His family doesn’t believe him. Steven Spielberg shot the film in chronological order to invoke a real response from the actors (mainly the children) when E.T. departed at the end. All emotional responses from that last scene are real.

How old is Elliot?

Elliot is 10 years old. A child’s perspective was important to the director. Steven Spielberg shot most of the film from the eye-level of a child to further connect with Elliot and E.T.

What type of candy does Elliot use to lure E.T. into his bedroom?

Elliot uses Reese’s pieces to lure E.T. to his bedroom. Before he goes to sleep, he realizes it is imitating his movements. For E.T., most of the full-body puppetry was performed by a 2' 10 tall stuntman, but the scenes in the kitchen were done using a 12-year old boy who was born without legs but was an expert on walking on his hands.

How does Elliot get away with being sick so he can stay home with E.T.?

Elliot puts the thermometer that’s in his mouth up to the light bulb and puts a heating pad on his face to fake a fever. He could then stay home and play with E.T. The young actors (Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton) found the ET puppet's eyes too far apart to comfortably look ET in the eye when they had to act with it. The actors solved the problem themselves by selecting a single eye to look at for every scene.

What happens when Michael, Gert and Elliot ask E.T. where he lives?

When the kids ask about E.T.’s origin, E.T. levitates several balls to represent its solar system. Later in that same scene he revives a dead chrysanthemum. Did you know that ET's face was modeled after poet Carl Sandburg, Albert Einstein and a pug dog?

How does the film show a psychic connection between Elliot and E.T.?

At school, Elliot begins to experience a psychic connection with the alien, including exhibiting signs of intoxication (because E.T. is at his home, drinking beer), and he begins freeing all the frogs in his biology class. As the alien watches John Wayne hug Maureen O'Hara in The Quiet Man on TV, Elliot hugs and kisses a girl he likes. Did you know the sound of E.T.’s waddling walk was made by a t-shirt filled with jello?

How does E.T. learn to speak?

The alien learns to speak English by repeating what Gertie says as she watches Sesame Street. Among other sounds, E.T.'s voice was provided by Pat Welsh, an elderly woman who lived in Marin County, California. Welsh smoked two packets of cigarettes a day, which gave her voice a quality that sound effects creator Ben Burtt liked. She spent nine-and-a-half hours recording her part, and was paid $380 by Burtt for her services.

Where does E.T. get the idea to “phone home”?

E.T. reads a comic strip where Buck Rogers, stranded, calls for help by building a makeshift communication device and is inspired to try it himself. E.T. receives Elliot's help in building a device to "phone home" by using a Speak & Spell toy. ET's communicator actually worked, and was constructed by Henry Feinberg, an expert in science and technology interpretation for the public.

Why is Michael worried about his brother?

Michael notices that Elliot’s health is declining and that Elliot is referring to himself as "we." It’s as much a story about an extraterrestrial as it is about Elliot. The working title for the film was "A Boy's Life". It was changed during production.

What costume does E.T. wear for Halloween?

On Halloween, Michael and Elliot dress E.T. as a ghost so they can sneak him out of the house. E.T. rides in Elliot’s bicycle basket to the forest, where E.T. makes a successful call home. Ironically enough, the iconic phrase "E.T. phone home" isn't said by E.T. first. The actual phrasing by E.T. is "E.T. home phone." It's Gertie who first says "E.T. phone home," then Elliott, then E.T. says it.

What happens the next morning after E.T. phones home?

The next morning, Elliot wakes up in the field, only to find E.T. gone, so he returns home to his distressed family. Michael searches for and finds E.T. dying next to a culvert, being investigated by a raccoon. Almost 10% of the $10.5 million budget was spent on the E.T. puppets and related animatronics.

When Michael brings E.T. home it’s the first time that …

Although Michael's friends learn about E.T. and eventually help E.T. evade a police blockade, Elliot's mom never finds out about E.T. until this moment when Michael brings him home. From hiding him in a closet of stuffed animals to covering him in a sheet to be a ghost for Halloween, the kids keep their mother in the dark about E.T.’s existence. Mary becomes frightened when she discovers her son's illness and the dying E.T. The director, Steven Spielberg, remained true to making this movie from a child’s perspective. Except for Elliott's mother Mary, no adults' faces are shown until the last 30 minutes of the film.

What happens when government agents invade the house?

All of the above as well as the government agents questioning Michael, Mary and Gertie while the scientist and doctors treat Elliot and E.T. The doctors and nurses that work on E.T. are all real emergency room technicians. They were told to treat E.T. the same way they would treat a real patient so that their dialogue and actions would seem real.

How does Elliot know that E.T. is going to live?

A grief-stricken Elliot is left alone with the motionless E.T. when he notices a dead chrysanthemum, the plant E.T. had previously revived, coming back to life. E.T. light glows in his chest and E.T. reveals that his people are returning. At the auditions, Henry Thomas (Elliot) thought about the day his dog died to express sadness. Director Steven Spielberg cried, and hired him on the spot.

What amazing thing happened when E.T. and all the boys on bikes need to avoid a police roadblock?

After escaping with E.T., Elliot, Michael and Michael’s friends, face a police roadblock. They are able to avoid the roadblock when E.T. uses telekinesis to lift them into the air, bikes and all, and head toward the forest. As for trying to make the film not as violent, Steven Spielberg is reported to have spent $100,000 digitally removing guns and replaced them with walkie-talkies in the 20th Anniversary re-release of the movie in 2002. He regretted using the scene and said he would remove it if he ever re-issued the film.

Who says this? “You could be happy here, I could take care of you. I wouldn't let anybody hurt you. We could grow up together, E.T.”

Elliot, the lonely 10-year old boy, wants E.T. to stay. Besides acting, Henry Thomas (Elliot) wrote songs, sang, and played guitar for the San Antonio, Texas band The Blue Heelers (named for the breed of dog) from the mid to late 1990s. Although the band was never signed to a record label, its self-produced album Twister was warmly received and enjoyed statewide radio play. In 1998, his song "Truckstop Coffee" (recorded with the Blue Heelers) appeared on V2's soundtrack to the film Niagara, Niagara in which Thomas appeared.

Who says this? We're all going to die and they're never going to give me my license!

Michael says this as he is stealing a car to return E.T. to the forest and hopefully his ride home. Spielberg shot the film in roughly chronological order to achieve convincingly emotional performances from his cast. In the scene in which Michael first encounters E.T., his appearance caused MacNaughton to jump back and knock down the shelves behind him.

Who says this? “You must be dead, because I don't know how to feel. I can't feel anything anymore.”

Elliot says it as the light goes out in E.T.’s chest. Henry Thomas who portrays Elliot continued his career in both acting, song writing and singing. In 2003, Thomas worked with Nikki Sudden on the music for Mika Kaurismäki's film Honey Baby, which featured four original songs written and performed by Thomas as the fictitious musician Tom Brackett. An album was in the works, but Sudden died in 2006.

Who is E.T. talking to? E.T.: [saying good-bye] “Beeeeeee... gooood”

Gertie is tearfully saying goodbye to E.T. At one point during filming, Drew Barrymore (Gertie) was consistently forgetting her lines, annoying Steven Spielberg to the point where he actually yelled at her. He later found out that she had reported to work with a very high fever. Feeling guilty, he hugged her and apologized repeatedly as she cried and cried. He then sent her home - with a note from her director.

​Who says this? "I'm glad he met you first."

Peter Coyote's character's name is never revealed, and is referred to as "Keys" because he is identified by wearing a key-chain in the first half of the movie. Here is the full quote: Elliot: I really shouldn't tell. He came to me, he came to me. Keys: Elliot, he came to me too. I've been wishing for this since I was 10 years old, I don't want him to die. What can we do that we're not already doing? Elliot: He needs to go home; he's calling his people. And I don't know where they are, but he needs to go home. Keys: Elliot, I don't think he was left here intentionally, but his being here is a miracle, Elliot. It's a miracle and you did the best that anybody could do. I'm glad he met you first.

Who said this? "Swear it. The most excellent promise you can make. Swear as my only brother on our lives."

Elliot says this to Michael to ensure he doesn't let anyone know about E.T. Did you know eleven years later Henry Thomas (Elliot) had another encounter with aliens in Fire in the Sky as Greg Hayes? The movie is about the abduction of Travis Walton.

Who said this? "I'm keeping him."

Elliot loves E.T. like no other, and wants to care for him. However, Elliot knew almost nothing about E.T. After the film’s release, they created a novelization of the story. According to the film's novelization, E.T. is over ten million years old. Steven Spielberg also stated in an interview that E.T. was a plant-like creature, and neither male or female.

Who says this, “We're sick. I think we're dying."

Elliot, who is physically and mentally linked to E.T., knows something is wrong, and knows he cannot survive without this small alien creature. E.T. is truly one of a kind. Steven Spielberg made sure the video cassettes were one of a kind when the film was released in the U.S. The cassette was made from green plastic as a measure to confound video pirates. By December 31st 1988, it had sold 15 million.

The music of E.T. was extraordinary, what scene had the most amazing soundtrack?

Spielberg loved the music for the final chase so much that he edited the sequence to suit it instead of the norm which is to edit the music for the scene. The end of the film was one of the most significant musical experiences for composer John Williams. The result was Williams winning the 1982 Academy Award for Best Original Score.

How many Academy Award nominations did the film receive?

The film was nominated for nine Oscars at the 55th Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Of note, Richard Attenborough, who won the Best Picture Award for Gandhi commented, "I was certain that not only would E.T. win, but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, [and] wonderful. I make more mundane movies.”

How many Oscars did the film win?

The film won four Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It was an amazing movie to watch and the music captured the whimsical nature of the movie.

How did the film do in the Golden Globe Awards?

At the 40th Golden Globe Awards, the film won Best Picture in the Drama category and Best Score; it was also nominated for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best New Male Star for Henry Thomas. And the accolades keep coming as recently as 2011, ABC aired Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, revealing the results of a poll of fans conducted by ABC and People magazine: it was selected as the fifth best film of all time and the second-best science fiction film.

The Saturn Awards are specifically focused on sci-fi and horror movies. In which of these categories did the film win?

The Saturn Awards were bestowed upon the film in these categories: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Writing, Best Special Effects, Best Music, and Best Poster Art, while Henry Thomas, Robert McNaughton, and Drew Barrymore won Young Artist Awards.

What awards did composer John Williams win?

In addition to his Golden Globe and Saturn, composer John Williams won two Grammy Awards and a BAFTA for the musical score. The soundtrack is so popular that John Williams recreated it at his last appearance with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 2013 conducting the orchestra live while the last reel was shown on the jumbotrons.

Which of these accolades are true?

E.T. was the highest grossing film of 1982. It became the most successful movie in film history until Steven Spielberg beat his own record with Jurassic Park (1993), which ironically was released on the same date 11 years later, June 11. E.T. was voted the 20th Greatest Film of all time by Entertainment Weekly. In addition, E.T. is ranked #6 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers, and as #3 on the AFI's top 10 science fiction films.

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