ET didn’t call Harrison Ford.
The megawatt movie star was supposed to be in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster—who turns 40 on June 11—but his scene ended up on the cutting floor.
Fresh off the success of Spielberg’s 1981 “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Ford had agreed to a cameo as Elliott’s principal. Elliott, played by Henry Thomas, is the young boy who befriends ET before trying to help him get back home.
In the deleted footage, Ford admonishes Elliott for releasing frogs in the classroom.
“Elliot is in the director’s office after the frog incident,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly. “We never see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”
The dimly lit scene was a “strange sequence,” commented reporter Anthony Breznican.
“I see the jar, the pills, the angel wings,” Ford, headmaster, trots into the footage, lecturing Elliott about drug use.
In the film, Elliott and ET are psychologically linked. “So as ET lifts all the communicator paraphernalia up the stairs, Henry starts to rise from the floor in the chair until his head hits the ceiling,” Spielberg said.
Harrison has turned his back, so this feat goes unnoticed.
In the end, Spielberg dropped the scene because much of the film was shot from a child’s perspective and there are no adult faces to be seen—except for Elliott’s mother, Mary, played by Dee Wallace—until the last part of the film.
Spielberg has mentioned another connection the star had with “ET”: Ford was dating screenwriter Melissa Mathison at the time. The director said he “came up with the idea for the film while shooting ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark'”, but according to IndieWire needed a writer.
While filming “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in Tunisia, Spielberg asked Mathison, who was visiting Ford, to write the script, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “I went to Harrison and said, ‘Your girlfriend rejected me. She doesn’t want to write my next movie,” Spielberg said. “He said, ‘Well, let me talk to her.'”
Mathison eventually wrote the screenplay for the famous film and married Ford in 1983. They stayed together until 2004 and Mathison died in 2015.
Even through Ford’s scene that didn’t make the movie, someone was over the moon about the star’s appearance: Henry Thomas, who wanted to meet the man who played Indiana Jones.
“When I met Steven, the first thing that came out of my mouth was that I thought, ‘I love ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,'” and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas told EW in 2012.
“I was really just excited to meet Steven in the hopes of meeting Harrison.”