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Legless Man Who Played ET Reunites With Cast 40 Years Later

Daisy Phillipson

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Legless Man Who Played ET Reunites With Cast 40 Years Later

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is officially 40 years old this year and to mark the occasion, the real star of the 1982 family favourite attended a special anniversary screening. 

Matthew De Merrit, who was born without legs, was one of three actors who spent time inside the suit of the infamous extraterrestrial. 

As the real star of the film, it goes without saying that he was invited alongside the rest of the cast at LA's The Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Festival to watch a special screening of the movie this week. 

On Thursday, 21 April, he joined Dee Wallace (who played Mary Taylor), K.C. Martel (Greg), Robert MacNaughton (Michael Taylor), not to mention director Steven Spielberg, in the celebrations. 

Matthew De Meritt attends the opening night after party during the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival. Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM
Matthew De Meritt attends the opening night after party during the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival. Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM

Photos show Merrit on the red carpet, arriving on a skateboard which he uses to get from A to B.

Merrit was born in 1970, making him just 11 years old when he was asked to play E.T. in some of the most significant scenes. 

He detailed how he would have to portray the character from inside the 4ft rubber suit, which he described as ‘an old sausage skin’. Lovely. 

Alongside Merrit, 'Little Pat' Bilon and Tamara De Treaux were also invited to play the character. 

Although Merrit remained under the radar for many years, in 2002, when the film turned 20, he opened up about the role in an interview with The Mirror.

Matthew De Merritt on the red carpet of the E.T. reunion. Credit: Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock
Matthew De Merritt on the red carpet of the E.T. reunion. Credit: Jim Ruymen/UPI/Shutterstock

He said: "There was a fitting and they took all my measurements and they filmed me walking on my hands.

“I’m not sure what they were thinking when they got me down there. 

“I’d never demonstrated to anybody that I could walk on my hands, and I don’t see how they could think I could comfortably fit inside a costume and walk around and make a convincing alien – but it kind of worked out that way.”

Merrit, 'Little Pat' Bilon and Tamara De Treaux all portrayed the infamous extraterrestrial. Credit: Amblin Entertainment
Merrit, 'Little Pat' Bilon and Tamara De Treaux all portrayed the infamous extraterrestrial. Credit: Amblin Entertainment

The opportunity for the role first came up when Merrit was getting physical therapy at UCLA medical centre and his doctors were contacted by Universal Studios.

While filming, Spielberg catered the scenes to each actor, with Merrit adding: “Spielberg asked me to do all the scenes where E.T. fell over or walked awkwardly. 

“I had an awkward walk compared to Pat and Tamara because I was on my hands.

“Any scene where they wanted E.T. to fall over, they would use me.”

That being said, he did note how the Hollywood director wanted to ‘make sure he didn’t get hurt’.  

And the efforts paid off, with E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial going on to be one of the most successful movies in US history. 

Featured Image Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TCM

Topics: TV and Film

Daisy Phillipson
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