7-Year-Old Drew Barrymore Ad-Libbed Two Of Her Best Lines in E.T.

Drew Barrymore ad-libbed two of her lines, including the instant cultural touchstone "Give me a break", in her breakout role as Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

By TeeJay Small | Updated

From her very first days on the set of a dog food commercial to making rom-coms with Adam Sandler, to her now hugely successful CBS Media talk show, The Drew Barrymore Show, Drew Barrymore was meant to be a star. This is perhaps most evident by her breakout role as young Gertie in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. According to the IMDb trivia section, she ad-libbed two of the film’s funniest and most iconic lines, at just 7 years old!

The trivia entry specifies that Drew Barrymore ad-libbed the line “I don’t like his feet” upon first seeing the animatronic E.T. puppet, which had a series of wires dangling from its legs, off-screen. She also improvised the line “Give me a break!” in response to Elliott stating that only little kids can see the M&M-craving alien creature. Barrymore’s adorable contributions to the film helped to cement the Steven Spielberg classic in cinema history, eventually inspiring modern classics such as Stranger Things.

Born into an acting family, Drew Barrymore secured her very first role before age one, appearing next to a dog in a dog food commercial. Before long, Drew Barrymore would have a huge career break with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which became the highest-grossing film of the 80s, propelling her into the spotlight as one of the biggest child stars of all time. When asked what prompted him to choose Barrymore for his film, director Steven Spielberg specified that her imaginative spirit and grave-calm demeanor were precisely what he was looking for in a child actor.

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Drew Barrymore in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

The 1982 classic family film follows a group of small children, led by Elliott (Henry Thomas), as they discover a gentle alien creature stranded on Earth. After spending some time learning about the minutiae of the extra-terrestrial species, such as its ability to heal the wounds of others, and its affinity for chocolate candies, the alien falls ill and becomes subject to government interference. The film’s final sequence shows Drew Barrymore’s Gertie assisting Elliott and company with escorting E.T. to his spacecraft on their bikes, returning the creature safely home to the stars before the government can perform further experiments.

Though Drew Barrymore experienced many hardships due to her childhood fame, such as struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, she still retains fond memories of filming E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and marks the film as a positive point in her life. Barrymore would go on to detail her issues in her 1990 autobiography Little Girl Lost, before going on to write a series of other books, such as 2015’s Wildflower, as well as her 2021 lifestyle and cookbook Rebel Homemaker: Food, Family, Life.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial marks one of many collaborations between Spielberg and composer extraordinaire John Williams, who also famously composed the Star Wars theme that surely just became stuck in your head. The film became an instant hit, earning nearly $800 million at the box office in the 1980s, which would be $1.33 billion today, and catapulting the then 7-year-old Drew Barrymore into stardom. Drew Barrymore would go on to star in over 80 credited roles after E.T., such as 1996’s Scream, 1998’s Ever After, and 2000’s Charlie’s Angels.