Why Harrison Ford’s ‘E.T.’ Scene Was Cut From the Final Film
The sci-fi movie E.T. the Extraterrestrial is considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the beloved film tells the story of a boy named Elliott’s relationship with an alien who can’t find his way home. It held the record for the highest-grossing film ever for nearly 10 years. Fun fact: Actor Harrison Ford was cast in a small cameo role, but the scene didn’t ultimately survive the final cut.
The success of ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’
Released in June of 1982, E.T. brought in $11,835,389 during its opening weekend. In the US, the film grossed $435,110,554. Worldwide it earned $792,910,554.
The estimated budget for the movie was $10,500,00. It was the highest-grossing film that year and became the most successful movie in film history up to that point. When it was released on videocassette, 15 million copies sold grossing more than $250 million in sales.
E.T. received critical acclaim universally. Roger Ebert gave the film four stars and called it “one of those movies that brush away our cautions and wins our hearts.”
The film was referred to as a dream of childhood, brilliantly orchestrated to involve not only children but those who remember being one. To this day, it holds a “certified fresh” rating of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie racked up awards from numerous associations. It was nominated for nine Oscars at the 55th Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It won Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects.
At the 40th Golden Globe Awards, it won Best Picture in the Drama category and Best Score. It was nominated for Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best New Male Star for Henry Thomas, who played Elliott.
The film also brought in accolades from the American Film Institute, the Saturn Awards, and the Young Actors Awards, which recognized both Thomas and Drew Barrymore.
Harrison Ford’s role on ‘E.T.’
At the time E.T. was produced, Ford was dating the screenwriter, Melissa Mathison, whom he later married. She asked Ford if he would consider making a brief cameo in the movie, and he agreed.
The scene happened after Elliott, under the influence of E.T. showed signs of being intoxicated at school. He set all the frogs in his biology class free and then gave the girl he had a crush on a big kiss.
Elliott was sent to the principal’s office where he was given a stern reprimand for his behavior. When the principal turns to face the window, Elliott’s chair begins to levitate due to E.T.’s extraterrestrial powers. By the time the man faces Elliott again, the chair is back on the ground.
The role of the principal was played by Ford. Although his face is never seen, the voice is unmistakably his.
Why was the scene deleted from the movie?
Before the final edit, Spielberg felt that the scene with Ford might be too much of a distraction in the movie. Ford’s popularity was soaring at that time after he had appeared in the monumental hits Star Wars, (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
The scene didn’t really fit with the vibe of the film and it actually felt forced, so it was cut before the movie reached audiences.
A blurry version of the scene can still be found on the internet, but it was never officially released. There was some speculation that it may be added back into a special DVD edition celebrating the 20th anniversary of the film, but Spielberg’s initial feelings regarding the scene were unchanged. Ford remains absent from E.T. the Extraterrestrial.