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The Harrison Ford Cameo We Never Got To See In E.T.

Back in the summer of 1982, a squashy little alien conquered the world, as well as the box office. Director Steven Spielberg's intergalactic smash "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" created a bigger stir than recent military reports of actual UFOs in our skies. Totaling about $435 million in domestic ticket sales (per Box Office Mojo), which, when adjusted for inflation, is closer to $1.33 billion (and factoring in current inflation it jumps to $7 kajillion), the movie was a massive cultural event. The little squashy guy was everywhere, and millions of people were imitating his "phone home" bit to be the life of the party. We didn't have the internet then. Or much else to do.

The sweet story of an abandoned, plant-loving alien befriending a lonely boy won over audiences and critics alike. The film currently stands at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes – with 1% of critics being declared dead inside. "E.T." was so big, in fact, that it completely overshadowed another classic alien movie that was released around the same time. "John Carpenter's The Thing" (with an 82% RT rating) only managed $19.6 million at the box office, even though it is now widely considered a sci-fi masterpiece. On the other hand, the invading creature in that one was decidedly less friendly, so maybe that had something to do with it.

It's hard to imagine how "E.T." could have been any bigger, but it almost was. That's because mega-star Harrison Ford was actually in an early cut of the movie. That's right, Spielberg at one point added Han Solo into the mix (insert wide-eyed emoji here). So what the heck happened?

Indiana Jones was kind of in E.T.

Harrison Ford, who, at that time, was coming off star-making turns in "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (the latter of which happened to be directed by, you guessed it, Steven Spielberg), was recruited to play the principal at Elliot's (Henry Thomas) school in "E.T." According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, Ford agreed to do the cameo role thanks to his relationships with both Spielberg, as well as "E.T." screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who he would later marry. So, yeah, that part makes a lot of sense.

What makes less sense is why we never got to see it. Supposedly, the scene featuring Ford took place after the whole "Free the frogs!" incident at school, a memorable bit where Elliot is intoxicated due to his other-worldly connection with E.T. (drunk children were funny in the '80s). The boy is sent to the principal for a reprimand, which is delivered by Indiana Jones himself. Well, not as Indiana Jones, but that's what it would have felt like to moviegoers. Which was likely part of the problem. Spielberg worried the cameo might be too distracting, and ultimately decided the scene was unnecessary, so he cut it. 

Fair enough. But come on, he could have at least thrown it back in for a special edition, or as a deleted scene on Blu-Ray! Throw us a bone! Who doesn't want to see Harrison Ford in "E.T."? Alas, we'll have to settle for the beloved film as is — and it's still pretty great.

At least we know it happened.