Image via FLIM
Henry Thomas knows he’ll always be Elliot, the 11-year-old protagonist of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to the millions of fans that grew up with the childhood classic. He’s a fan of the film himself, and its moving story of a young boy that helps an extra-terrestrial being return to the stars — which may be why, just like his fans, he isn’t particularly fond of the changes that were made to the film when it was re-released for its 20th anniversary in 2002.
Compared to CGI changes by some other blockbuster directors, Steven Spielberg’s changes to the original were fairly minimal. The most commented-upon change was the use of CGI to digitally alter weapons used by federal agents in the film into walkie-talkies in an effort to make the family classic, even more, family-friendly. But that wasn’t the change that sat so poorly with Thomas. Speaking to Screenrant, Thomas objected to the digital “enhancement” of ET’s expression — a choice he felt made many scenes look and feel totally different.
“I’m a fan of the original, and I didn’t like the changes. I wasn’t as concerned about the guns and walkie-talkies, but I didn’t like the comedic E.T. expressions that seemed out of place. I’m glad that they went back to the original version. It didn’t marry up with the other performance, it’s like two different actors.”
— Henry Thomas
Thomas absolutely makes a point. And it’s doubtful any director would have changed the expression on a living actor’s face no matter how many laughs it gets. And most fans confess that they prefer the original movie which almost completely lacks any computer-generated FX and relied entirely on the practical screen effects that dominated genre moviemaking during the early 1980s.
Since his years of childhood stardom, Thomas has remained busy in the industry and has become something of a “Scream King” actor appearing in multiple Horror movies and TV series and becoming a stock player in Horror master Mike Flanagan’s works with appearances in Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep and the TV series The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass.
Thomas will next appear in Mike Flanagan’s upcoming The Fall of the House of Usher miniseries, due out on Netflix next year.