E.T. did not phone Harrison Ford.
The megawatt movie star was supposed to be in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster — which turns 40 on June 11 — but his scene ended up on the cutting-room floor.
Fresh from the success of Spielberg’s 1981 “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Ford had agreed to a cameo as Elliott’s school principal. Played by Henry Thomas, Elliott is the young boy who befriends E.T. before trying to help him get back home.
In the deleted footage, Ford admonishes Elliott for freeing frogs in class.
“Elliot is in the principal’s office after the frog incident,” Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly. “We don’t ever see Harrison’s face. We just hear his voice, see his body.”
The darkly lit scene was an “odd sequence,” reporter Anthony Breznican noted.
“I see the pot, the pills, the angel wings,” Ford, as the school principal, drones on in the cut footage, lecturing Elliott on drug use.
In the film, Elliott and E.T. are psychically linked. “So as E.T. is lifting all of the communicator paraphernalia up the stairs, Henry starts rising off the ground in the chair until his head hits the ceiling,” Spielberg said.
Harrison’s back is turned so this feat remains unnoticed.
Ultimately, Spielberg dropped the scene because much of the movie was shot from a child’s perspective and no adult faces — except for Elliott’s mom, Mary, played by Dee Wallace — are seen until the last part of the movie.
Spielberg has called out another connection the star had to “E.T.”: Ford was dating screenwriter Melissa Mathison at the time. The director said he “came up with the idea for the movie while shooting ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’” but needed a writer, according to IndieWire.
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 turned me down. She doesn’t want to write my next movie,’” Spielberg said. “He said, ‘Well, let me talk to her.’”
Mathison ended up writing the famous film’s screenplay — and marrying Ford in 1983. They stayed together through 2004 and Mathison died in 2015.
Even through Ford’s scene didn’t make the film, 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 out of my mouth was I think, ‘I love “Raiders of the Lost Ark,”’ and my hero was Harrison Ford,” Thomas told EW in 2012.
“I basically was just excited to meet Steven in hopes that I would meet Harrison.”