Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Surprising Star Wars Legend Spielberg Has To Thank For E.T.

He might well be one of the greatest storytellers of our time, but even Steven Spielberg needed a hand with some of his greatest movies on occasion. From his struggle to make a shark look scary in "Jaws," to F1 driver Jackie Stewart introducing him to the king of Jordan so the final scenes from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" could go ahead (via Sky News), Spielberg has called in plenty of favors of the years. Thankfully for him (and us), they paid off, leading to some of the greatest cinematic spectacles in the history of film.

There was one particular film in Spielberg's pantheon of diamond-cut classics, though, that was given a massive push by a star from one of his other tentpole movies. Way back when, Spielberg was toying around with the idea of a lonely kid dealing with his parent's divorce, who ends up making best friends with a visitor from outer space. The movie was, of course, the classic sci-fi "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." If it wasn't for a pal of Spielberg's that would take the lead in three of his most beloved action movies, E.T. might have never phoned home at all.

Harrison Ford saved E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter celebrating the 40th anniversary of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," Steven Spielberg revealed that because of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" star Harrison Ford, E.T. found his way home and into movie history. The director explained that he had a blueprint of the adventure between a boy and his best friend with light-up fingers, but he needed a scriptwriter to get it all down. During the filming of "Raiders of the Lost Ark," he passed the idea to Ford's then-partner, Melissa Mathison, only for her to decline his offer.

"She said, 'Well, I'm retired from writing. I don't write anymore. I'm not interested in writing anymore, it's too hard,'" Spielberg recalled, deciding to make another pass by way of his adventurous frontman. "I went to Harrison and said, 'Your girlfriend turned me down. She doesn't want to write my next movie.' He said, 'Well, let me talk to her.'" The conversation paid off, as Ford's pitch won Mathison over. Spielberg revealed, "He talked to her and she came to me the next day and said, 'OK, you got Harrison so excited about this. What is it that I missed?'"

Upon reflection, Spielberg had a rough idea why his initial conversation didn't work out, highlighting a fault that seems almost unthinkable for an icon like him. "I think I hadn't told her the story very well because I told her the story again, and she got really emotional and she committed right there in the Tunisian desert."