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E.T star Matthew De Merritt,reunites with film’s cast and Steven Spielberg 40 years on

E.T star Matthew De Merritt,reunites with film's cast and Steven Spielberg 40 years on 2

The real star of 1982 blockbuster movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial reunited with the cast and director Steven Spielberg on Thursday,

Matthew De Merrit, one of the three actors who spent time inside the actual E.T. suit, attended LA’s  The Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Festival for a very special 40th Anniversary screening.

Matthew, who was born with no legs, was just 11-years-old when he was invited to play E.T., playing the alien in some of the movie’s most enduring scenes. 

On the red carpet: The real star of 1982 blockbuster movie E.T. Matthew De Merritt, reunited with his co-stars and director Steven Spielberg on Thursday at a 40th Anniversary screening

On the red carpet: The real star of 1982 blockbuster movie E.T. Matthew De Merritt, reunited with his co-stars and director Steven Spielberg on Thursday at a 40th Anniversary screening

Attending Thursday’s screening Matthew was pictured on a skateboard which he uses to get around, as he mingled with Spielberg and cast members including Dee Wallace (Mary Taylor), K.C. Martel (Greg), Robert MacNaughton (Michael Taylor).

Matthew played E.T. from inside the 4ft rubber suit, which he dubbed ‘an old sausage skin,’ and which was also inhabited for various scenes by two people with dwarfism – ‘Little Pat’ Bilon and Tamara De Treaux. 

He has remained largely anonymous in the 40 years since the movie’s release but in a 2002 interview with the UK’s The Mirror newspaper to mark the film’s 20th anniversary, he explained how he landed the part.

Matthew revealed how he was undergoing physical therapy at UCLA medical centre at the time, when Universal Studios got in touch with his doctors, keen to find people to fit inside the rubber suit which was used on set along with various sized models.

E.T star Matthew De Merritt,reunites with film's cast and Steven Spielberg 40 years on 3

Teamwork: Matthew De Merrit, one of the three actors who spent time inside the actual E.T. suit, along with ‘Little Pat’ Bilon and Tamara De Treaux (pictured on set in 1982) 

Screen role: He revealed how he was undergoing physical therapy at UCLA medical centre at the time, when Universal Studios got in touch with his doctors, keen to find people to fit inside the rubber suit

Screen role: He revealed how he was undergoing physical therapy at UCLA medical centre at the time, when Universal Studios got in touch with his doctors, keen to find people to fit inside the rubber suit

‘There was a fitting and they took all my measurements and they filmed me walking on my hands,’ he explained.

‘I’m not sure what they were thinking when they got me down there. I’d never demonstrated to anybody that I could walk on my hands, and I don’t see how they could think I could comfortably fit inside a costume and walk around and make a convincing alien – but it kind of worked out that way.’

Matthew was cast along with ‘Little Pat’ Bilon and Tamara De Treaux, but he landed one of the movie’s most iconic scenes thanks to his ability to walk on his hands. 

Icon: Matthew has remained largely anonymous in the 40 years since the movie's release, and went on to teach English in college after his only major big screen role

Barely a mention: The film credited Matthew as 'Special E.T. movement,' and it was his only major big screen role

Icon: Matthew has remained largely anonymous in the 40 years since the movie’s release, and went on to teach English in college after his only major big screen role 

Star in the making: 'I don't see how they could think I could comfortably fit inside a costume and walk around and make a convincing alien - but it kind of worked out that way,' he later said

Star in the making: ‘I don’t see how they could think I could comfortably fit inside a costume and walk around and make a convincing alien – but it kind of worked out that way,’ he later said

Hot and awkward: Matthew played E.T. from inside the 4ft rubber suit, which he dubbed 'an old sausage skin,' pictured with Henry Thomas who played Elliot

Hot and awkward: Matthew played E.T. from inside the 4ft rubber suit, which he dubbed ‘an old sausage skin,’ pictured with Henry Thomas who played Elliot 

‘Spielberg asked me to do all the scenes where E.T. fell over or walked awkwardly. I had an awkward walk compared to Pat and Tamara because I was on my hands,’ Matthew said. 

He added that ‘any scene where they wanted E.T. to fall over, they would use me,’ including the infamous sequence where the alien gets drunk on beer. 

‘Spielberg wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get hurt,’ he said of filming the beer scene. 

‘He said: ‘Is there any way you could just walk straight into that cabinet there and just kinda fall on you butt and get back up, turn around and for the grand finale fall smack on your face?”

Expert: Matthew landed one of the movie's most iconic scenes thanks to his ability to walk on his hands, explaining that 'any scene where they wanted E.T. to fall over, they would use me,' including the infamous sequence where the alien gets drunk on beer

Expert: Matthew landed one of the movie’s most iconic scenes thanks to his ability to walk on his hands, explaining that ‘any scene where they wanted E.T. to fall over, they would use me,’ including the infamous sequence where the alien gets drunk on beer

Stars: Robert Macnaughton, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote are pictured on the film's 20th anniversary in 2002

Stars: Robert Macnaughton, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote are pictured on the film’s 20th anniversary in 2002 

Team effort: Alongside Matthew, others lent their skills to bring the extra-terrestrial to life on screen. The beloved alien was voiced by Pat Welsh, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, giving her the distinctive raspy voice

Team effort: Alongside Matthew, others lent their skills to bring the extra-terrestrial to life on screen. The beloved alien was voiced by Pat Welsh, who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, giving her the distinctive raspy voice

The film credited Matthew as ‘Special E.T. movement,’ and it was his only major big screen role. 

He appeared in some straight-to-video sci-fil films in later years and also went on to teach English at college and play wheelchair basketball.

For a time after shooting, Matthew stayed in touch with Henry Thomas, who played Elliot, and Robert MacNaughton, who played Elliot’s elder brother Michael, but the group drifted apart over the years.

Alongside Matthew, others lent their skills to bring the extra-terrestrial to life on screen. 

Four mechanical E.T.s constructed of fiberglass, polyurethane and foam rubber, were created for the film and designed for different functions. 

‘Little Pat’ Bilon, who was born with dwarfism, operated one of the 20 kg costumes  that was needed for scenes where the alien ‘lurched’ across the floor.

He was later credited by Fred Skidmore, a spokesperson for Universal as taking on most of E.T.’s scenes, while Spielberg called Bilon ‘E.T.’s biggest helper’.

Bilon also appeared on the big screen in 1981 comedy Under The Rainbow alongside Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher. The actor’s career was cut short though when he died just one year after E.T’s release aged 35 of complications from a blood infection after a bout of pneumonia.

Tamara De Treaux also featured in the movie after being spotted by Spielberg at one of her singing group’s performances. Verified as the shortest ever actress, she also John Newland’s horror TV movie Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973).

In 1990, she died at age 31 from respiratory and heart problems. 

Reunited: E.T. Spielberg reunited with stars such as Dee Wallace (Mary Taylor), who starred as the matriarch Mary Taylor at Thursday's screening

Reunited: E.T. Spielberg reunited with stars such as Dee Wallace (Mary Taylor), who starred as the matriarch Mary Taylor at Thursday’s screening

The beloved alien was voiced by Pat Welsh, who took over from actress Debra Winger, who spoke the lines for Spielberg’s rough cut of the film.

Welsh smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, giving her the distinctive raspy voice. 

16 other people and various animals were also recorded to create E.T.’s ‘voice’ including Spielberg himself, sound effects creator Ben Burtt’s sleeping wife sick with a cold, raccoons, otters, and horses. 

Matthew also worked closely with Caprice Rothe, who made and performed the hands for E.T.’s close-ups.

E.T. was an immediate blockbuster right from the start, staying atop the box office for its first six weeks and setting a record for having 16 weeks at #1.

It ultimately grossed a then-record $359 million in North America and $619 million worldwide, a record that would stand for 11 years until another Steven Spielberg blockbuster dethroned it, 1993’s Jurassic Park.

Older: Robert MacNaughton (right), who played Michael, Elliot and Gertie's older brother, was also in attendance but Henry Thomas, who played Elliot was missing

Older: Robert MacNaughton (right), who played Michael, Elliot and Gertie’s older brother, was also in attendance but Henry Thomas, who played Elliot was missing 

Brother: Robert retired from acting in 2002  but returned to screen work in 2013

Brother: Robert retired from acting in 2002  but returned to screen work in 2013

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