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"I'll be right here." E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial has one of the most emotional endings in Steven Spielberg's entire catalogue. E.T. bids farewell to the humans he has befriended, before climbing back into his alien craft and taking off. Elliott (Henry Thomas) and his family turn their eyes to the skies, and John Williams' score reaches a thunderous crescendo. I'm reaching for a tissue just writing about it, 35 years after it happened. And yet, this almost wasn't the ending of the movie, as original star Robert MacNaughton -- who played Elliott's big brother, Michael -- now confirms:
The last scene in the movie wasn't supposed to be the scene that ends up in the movie. The last scene was going to be all of us playing Dungeons and Dragons again, except this time, Elliott's the dungeon master. Because he was the one that found ET, he sort of got in with the group. And so that was supposed to be the final scene, it was in the script and everything, and then they would pan up to the roof and you'd see the communicator and it's still working --- in other words, Elliott is still in touch with E.T.. But after they did the score, the music, and they saw what they had with the spaceship taking off and everything [laughs] --- how can you follow that? I mean, it was a wise choice.
Robert MacNaughton, who is opening up about the process of filming E.T. as the movie celebrates its 35th anniversary, was telling Yahoo Movies about how Dungeons and Dragons was integral to the audition process of Steven Spielberg's movie. MacNaughton says that he played D&D at Harrison Ford's house while auditioning -- Ford was with E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison at the time -- and the game had a larger role in the overall movie. To the point where Spielberg and Mathison apparently cooked up this different ending. But even in his quote above, MacNaughton explains why NOT ending E.T. as they did would have been a huge mistake.
Grab a tissue and revisit the extremely powerful and emotional ending right now:
The conversation of Dungeons and Dragons isn't totally out of left field, as it was discussed in relation to Stranger Things, a Netflix program that took almost all of its cues from either Steven Spielberg Amblin movies or early Stephen King books. Mind you, those are excellent reference points. Read the rest of Robert MacNaughton's talk with Yahoo Movies. He provides great insight into the making of a masterpiece from man of our childhoods. Then do something cool to celebrate E.T.'s anniversary. Like, drink a beer, set a bunch of frogs loose, then kiss your childhood crush.