Henry Thomas celebrates the legacy of ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ as movie marks its 40th anniversary

Henry Thomas, who starred as Elliott Taylor in “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”, shared his thoughts on the iconic 1982 film’s legacy as it marks its milestone 40th anniversary.

The 51-year-old actor told Good Morning America that he was “very proud” to have been part of the beloved Steven Spielberg-directed movie.

“I think it has a universal theme of compassion and friendship and nurturing of those things, so I think it speaks to our very human nature,” he said.

Thomas also noted that “it’s a very personal story” for each of its viewers. 


In the science fiction movie, 10-year-old Elliott befriends “E.T.,” an alien who becomes stranded on Earth. With the help of his friends and family, Elliott eventually helps E.T. escape from the government and return to his home planet.

The movie was an instant box office success when it premiered in June 1982 and became the highest grossing movie of the year. The movie was also met with overwhelming critical acclaim and scored nine Academy Awards nominations, of which it won four.

Thomas told GMA that experiencing overnight fame at such a young age was a “strange feeling.”

“I didn’t see it coming, and then suddenly you’re famous and you’re not anonymous anymore,” he said. “I don’t think I really knew how to deal with it very well.”

Thomas told the outlet that the next few years were “pretty overwhelming” and for a time, he felt that he was only known for his role as Elliott. 

The Texas native went on to star in other well-known films including “Legends of the Fall,” “All the Pretty Horses” and “Gangs of New York.” Over the past few years, he has appeared in Netflix shows including “The Haunting of Hill House,” “The Haunting of Bly Manor” and “Midnight Mass.”

Despite initially trying to distance himself from “E.T,” Thomas said he came to appreciate its enduring impact.

However, he recalled that his three children were underwhelmed when they saw him in the cherished family film for the first time.

“I thought that they would be much more impressed. I guess I had built it up in my mind, but the reality was that they were just watching it like anything else,” Thomas said. “I’m famous to them as an adult, not as a kid.”

Thomas told GMA that he was awed by Spielberg’s directing, especially “how focused he was on telling the story.”


“He talked through the entire performance and would give you notes on the fly — so much so, that I thought I could hear his voice when I first saw the film in theaters,” he joked to the outlet. 

“I thought that they hadn’t taken him out of the sound, but it was my imagination.”

Thomas reminisced over meeting the director for the first time when he auditioned for “E.T.” The actor said it was exciting for him as a kid since he was a “huge fan” of Spielberg’s 1981 action adventure movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

“I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I was 10 years old,” he said.

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” actor Henry Thomas weighed in on the film’s enduring legacy as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. He said he was “very proud” to have been part of the iconic movie.

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