- Why E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Could Have Been Very Different
- Harrison Ford Convinced His Ex-Wife To Write The Script For E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
In the year 2002, Harrison Ford first started dating the actor Calista Flockhart. After that, Ford and Flockhart went on to get married in 2010, and they have been together ever since.
Long before Flockhart became Ford’s wife, she starred in the highly successful legal comedy-drama Ally McBeal. At the height of that show’s success, it became so popular that fans still want to know how much Ally McBeal’s cast is worth two decades later.
Since Flockhart was so famous at one point, and she has been married to Ford for more than a decade, some people have forgotten he had other wives in the past. Before Ford married Flockhart, he walked down the aisle two other times.
Amazingly enough, many of Ford’s fans have no idea that one of his ex-wives penned the script for one of the most successful movies of all time. On top of that, Ford’s ex-wife never would have worked on that beloved movie if he didn’t convince her to take the job.
During Steven Spielberg’s lengthy career, he has helmed so many cinematic classics that he is widely considered one of the best filmmakers of all time. As a result of Spielberg’s legendary status, some people forget how many collaborators have helped make his movies so great.
To Spielberg’s great credit, he has always praised his collaborators including John Wiliiams and Verna Fields. In 2015, Spielberg yet again paid tribute to one of his collaborators when Melissa Mathison passed away from cancer.
When Spielberg talked to Entertainment Weekly about Mathison, he revealed the story about how she came to pen the script for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
When Spielberg and Harrison Ford were hard at work making creating one of their most beloved and fascinating characters, Mathison visited the set of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Involved with Ford at the time, Mathison would later marry the movie star in 1983 before their 2004 divorce.
When Spielberg met Mathison, they had a fascinating conversation as Steven described to Entertainment Weekly in the aforementioned interview.
“I said, ‘Well, what do you do?’ She told me, ‘Currently, I’m a failed writer.’ I began to laugh and she began to laugh. Then I said, ‘What have you failed at?’ She said she had written a number of scripts that she wasn’t really happy with, and only one got made.”
“When I realized she had written The Black Stallion, it stopped me in my tracks because it’s one of my favorite movies. Then I started asking her a lot of questions about The Black Stallion.”
Since Mathison wrote the script for one of Spielberg’s favorite movies, he immediately was interested in working with her. As a result, he began to pitch her the premise for a movie he wanted to make.
“Before she was even finished answering them, I said, ‘I have a story about this alien that gets stuck on Earth with a family of divorce, and … would you be interested in writing this with me?’”
By that time, Spielberg was already famous for movies like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Amazingly enough, however, Mathison instantly turned down the chance to work with Spielberg.
“She said ‘No, no, no. I’m retired from writing now. I need to find another way to live my life.’ I started telling her the story of E.T. that I had thus far, not down on paper, but in my head. She heard it and said, ‘That’s really sweet and interesting, but I’ve retired.’”
After Steven Spielberg was rejected by Melissa Mathison, he told Harrison Ford what happened and the Star Wars actor had an amusing response.
“I went back to the set and shot a couple scenes with Harrison and told him this curious story of bumping into Melissa while she was picking up seashells in the middle of the Tunisian desert. I told him I had offered her a chance to write a movie with me and she turned it down. Harrison said, ‘Sounds like Melissa…’”
Still interested in working with Mathison, Spielberg asked Ford for help. “I asked, ‘Can you help me?’ He said, ‘Let me talk to her tonight.’ And so the next day Harrison came into work, and the first thing he said was, ‘I think she’s had a change of heart.’”
Thanks to Ford, Spielberg, and Mathison sat down to discuss working together. Hilariously enough, Mathison revealed to Spielberg that she barely listened during their first conversation, so he needed to explain his idea again.
Given that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial has a lot in common with Spielberg’s other movies that have nothing to do with Mathison, some people may think she just put his ideas to paper for him. However, Spielberg explained that Mathison had a huge impact on the movie from the start.
“She started to brainstorm with me and added all kinds of new ideas to the mix. And that’s when I knew that I had a partner. Melissa was back in the writing game.”
When Spielberg was working on Raiders of the Lost Ark’s post-production, Mathison joined him in the editing room multiple times a week. During those sessions, Mathison and Spielberg worked together to figure out E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial’s story.
Then, Mathison went off on her own to write the script and when Spielberg read it, he was very impressed even though they went on to do revisions. “When I finally read the script, I pretty much said, ‘I could shoot this movie tomorrow.’”
Of course, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial was so successful that it became the highest-grossing movie of all time when it was released. On top of that, Mathison was nominated for Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
Due to his role in making E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, it seems right that Harrison Ford filmed a cameo for the movie even though it was cut. On top of that, it is awesome that just before Mathison passed away, she collaborated with Spielberg for a second time when they worked on the script for The BFG together.