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Drew Barrymore's Special Relationship With Steven Spielberg On E.T. Explained

Child actors don't always have positive memories of their time on set or go on to have long and happy careers, but Drew Barrymore and her experience as a seven-year-old on "E.T." is a particularly notable exception. Steven Spielberg's 1982 tale of an alien who befriends a group of young children brought in $359 million domestically, making it the highest-grossing film of all time until "Jurassic Park" came along in 1993. Barrymore, the daughter of actor John Drew Barrymore, formed a close bond with Spielberg while filming "E.T," and the two remain close to this day. Barrymore told Vulture that Spielberg became more of a father figure to her than her own father, who was physically and emotionally abusive.

According to Vulture, her mother, Jaid, went in the opposite direction with her parenting, treating Drew like a friend instead of a daughter. Jaid took her young daughter to parties and clubs, and as a result, Drew developed alcohol and drug use disorders. During this rocky period in her early life, Spielberg offered Barrymore some much-needed guidance and gentle nurturing, and she called the filmmaker "the only person in my life to this day that ever was a parental figure." Spielberg said he even made adjustments to filming to maintain some suspension of disbelief for his young "E.T." star, separating her from the crew that operated the alien creature. He sometimes would have the puppet sit for lunch and chat with Barrymore during breaks in filming.

Spielberg even took Barrymore on trips to Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, and invited her to stay with him and his wife on weekends. He also gave her a cat, Gertie (the name of Barrymore's character in "E.T."), as a gift.

Drew Barrymore's co-stars confirmed Steven Spielberg's parental influence during filming

Drew Barrymore had her "E.T." co-stars Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, and Dee Wallace on her talk show "The Drew Barrymore Show" to discuss working on the film, and they all confirmed how Steven Spielberg took careful measures to keep Barrymore's sense of wonderment alive on the film's set. Barrymore confessed that she truly believed that E.T. was real. "I really, really loved him," she said. "In such a profound way."

Dee Wallace, who played Gertie's mother, Mary, then described finding Barrymore chatting with the puppet during a break in filming. This prompted her to alert Spielberg, who immediately assigned two puppeteers to keep E.T. constantly animated so he could interact with Barrymore whenever she approached him.

Barrymore then explained that she genuinely saw her co-workers as stand-ins for family members who were unable or unwilling to act in traditional familial roles.

"When I came on to the set," she said, "I was like, 'This is my family. Steven can be like my dad, you can be like my mom, and you are my brothers.' You guys were, like, so good to me."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.