Drew Barrymore Had A Wild Belief About E.T. As A Child

Drew Barrymore thought the E.T. puppet was really alive.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

Drew Barrymore believed that the E.T. puppet that was used to portray the title character in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was actually alive, according to the actress herself. In a clip from her CBS talk show The Drew Barrymore Show, the Charlie’s Angels star revealed that she had thought the puppet was actually real, though according to another anecdote, she was also aware that they were acting. The clip was in support of the movie’s 40th anniversary and included several other actors from the groundbreaking, enormously influential film. 

It will also help to remember that Drew Barrymore was about five years old when E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was filmed, though she has actually been acting since she was 11 months old (coming as she does from a famous show biz family). According to her co-star Henry Gibson, at one point, Drew Barrymore asked a wardrobe assistant to get a scarf for E.T.’s neck, because the set was very cold.

However, according to co-star Dee Wallace (who played both Barrymore and Gibson’s mother in the movie), she tried to tell Drew Barrymore that E.T. was just pretending to die, to which the pint-size actor told her she knew how acting works. Apparently, she also asked Wallace “do you think I’m stupid?” which seems pretty cutting for a five-year-old.

Again, given that Drew Barrymore was barely old enough to attend school when Steven Spielberg’s massively successful blockbuster was filmed, it is not all that surprising that she thought the complex puppet could actually be real. According to Dee Wallace, Spielberg actually instructed two puppeteers to operate it when Drew Barrymore was around, even when not filming, just to keep the illusion up. Just goes to show that Steve Spielberg’s reputation for childhood sentimentality is not undeserved.

The 40th anniversary of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is bringing the film back to public consciousness, with it being re-released in theaters, IMAX, and a new 4K version of the film hitting the market. Given that Steven Spielberg’s movie has never really stopped echoing in pop culture in everything from Stranger Things to the Jurassic World series of films. For many years,  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial reigned as the highest-grossing movie of all time, and these new re-releases might actually give it a chance to reclaim the title from upstarts like Avatar.

After starring as Gertie in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Drew Barrymore went on to star in a number of other 1980s hits, including the Stephen King film Firestarter (which was recently remade with Zac Efron) and Cat’s Eyes. In the 1990s, she began taking more adult roles in films like Poison Ivy, and appeared in the iconic opening scene of the first Scream movie as a doomed teenager.

Since then, Drew Barrymore has built a nice little cottage industry of romantic comedies with Adam Sandler, a horror-comedy series on Netflix with Timothy Olyphant, and her current popular CBS talk show. Most likely, she does not still believe that E.T. is really alive, but who knows? Let’s let her believe a little while longer.