Thirty years ago today, Steven Spielberg released his sci-fi, tearjerker adventure flick, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which became the highest grossing film for the next decade and catapulted its cast into cinematic and pop culture history. To celebrate this 30-year milestone, Biography.com explores what notable projects the cast members have done post E.T. and how they’re doing today.
Henry Thomas. After playing the role of lonely 10-year-old Elliott in E.T., Thomas returned to his hometown of Texas, where he focused on school and took on film and TV roles sporadically. In the 80s and 90s, he returned to acting, most notably cast in Legends of the Fall (1994), Gangs of New York (2002), and most recently as leading man Hank Williams in The Last Ride (2011). Besides acting, Thomas, 40, is also big into the music scene. In the 80s and 90s, he sang and performed with the Texas-based band, The Blue Heelers, and continues to rock out with the Los Angeles band Farspeaker.
Robert MacNaughton. Before playing Michael, Elliott’s annoying athletic big brother, MacNaughton started out in a few TV movies, most prominently Angel City (1980), which also starred a young Jennifer Jason Leigh, along with Big Bend Country (1981), and the Ray Bradbury adaption, The Electric Grandmother (1982). After E.T., he focused his career primarily in theater, although he did add to his TV credits with appearances on Amen, Newhart, and Vietnam War Story for HBO. In the early oughts, MacNaughton, 45, gave up acting and started a new life as a mail handler in Phoenix, Arizona, with his girlfriend and young son. In 2011, he transferred jobs to Jersey City, New Jersey.
Drew Barrymore. Who could forget Barrymore’s high-pitched screaming as cherubic-faced, pig-tailed Gertie? After her much-publicized battle with alcohol and drugs as a youth, the 37-year-old actress has bounced back dramatically, finding mainstream success in films like Boys On the Side (1995), Never Been Kissed (1999), Charlie’s Angels (2000), 50 First Dates (2004), He’s Just Not That Into You (2009), and HBO’s Grey Gardens (2009). Ever a chameleon both in her image and career, Barrymore has also found major success behind the screen as a director, screenwriter, and producer. These days, the actress has been busy focusing on her personal life. She is reportedly pregnant with her first child and just married her fiancé, art dealer Will Kopelman, on June 2, 2012.
Dee Wallace. Besides playing flustered single mom Mary on E.T., Wallace has kept busy in Hollywood, appearing in over 100 films. She’s garnered cult icon status in the horror flick genre, with roles in The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983), and more recently, Halloween (2007). A widow since 1995, Wallace was married to actor Christopher Stone, whom she co-starred with in Cujo. Outside of acting, the 63-year-old actress is a motivational public speaker and a self-help author.
Peter Coyote. He may have played the mysterious scientist/government agent "Keys" in E.T., but long before that in real life, Coyote was a prominent force of the counter-culture theatrical movement in San Francisco in the mid 1960s to 1970s. Since 1975, Coyote has been a practitioner of American Zen Buddhism and later became an ordained lay priest in Zen in the Japanese tradition. A part from his spiritual philosophies, the 70-year-old actor has appeared in over 120 films, including Bitter Moon (1992), Kika (1993), and Erin Brockovich (2000). Also known for his extensive voiceover work, Coyote is an Emmy award-winning narrator, who can be heard in projects like Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, PBS’s Torturing Democracy, Apple’s iPad campaign, and over a dozen National Geographic Explorer series.
C. Thomas Howell. His small role as Tyler—one of Elliott’s friends who helped E.T. evade authorities—was a precursor of big things to come for Howell. Many moviegoers remember him from a string of cinematic 80s hits like The Outsiders (1983), The Hitcher (1986), and Soul Man (1986). But besides being a film and TV actor, Howell has worked with Francis Ford Coppola behind the set as a producer, screenwriter, and director for various projects. He’s also dabbled in reality TV, appearing on a game show called Celebracadabra in 2008, of which he won and was crowned the Greatest Celebrity Magician. Howell is set to appear in this year’s anticipated blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man.
Erika Eleniak. Who knew that the ethereal blonde-haired girl whom Elliott had a crush on would turn out to be a Playboy Playmate a mere seven years later? Besides being a cover girl and centerfold for Hugh Hefner, Eleniak, 40, is remembered for her TV appearances in Charles in Charge, Full House, and Baywatch, as well as her film roles in The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and Chasers (1994). Eleniak’s also been seen on reality TV, notably The Real Gilligan’s Island and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club. These days she splits her time between Los Angeles and Calgary, Canada, where she shares parenting duties with her boyfriend to their six-year-old daughter.