Henry Thomas’s tearful audition for E.T. is well known, and in a new Academy Originals video Marci Liroff explains how the team behind E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial got to that moment in which Steven Spielberg could say, “Okay, kid, you got the job.”
Liroff explains that they had focused on another boy who they thought would play Elliott, and had found most of the kids to play his friends. But they wanted to see how the kids would interact, so they invited them over to the writer Melissa Mathison’s house to play Dungeons & Dragons. “In about three minutes it became very clear that nobody liked this little boy,” Liroff explained. She continued: “He became very bossy. It just showed that he was not our kid. So I basically had to start over.”
Ultimately, director Jack Fisk led Spielberg and Liroff to Thomas, who had appeared in Fisk’s Raggedy Man, and the rest is history.