Matthew De Meritt, Actor Who Played E.T., Makes Rare Appearance for Film's 40th Anniversary

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E.T. has phoned home -- to the red carpet. 

On Thursday, Steven Spielberg, Dee Wallace and more people associated with the beloved science fiction hit, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, appeared on the red carpet for a screening in honor of its 40th anniversary. Among those who posed for photographers outside the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood was Matthew De Meritt, who is credited as one of the performers who helped give E.T. its movement.

Matthew De Meritt
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

De Merritt was reportedly 11 years old and undergoing physical therapy at a California hospital after being born without legs when he was contacted to do a screen test. 

"There was a fitting and they took all my measurements and they filmed me walking on my hands," he reportedly recalled to The Mirror in 2002. 

"I'm not sure what they were thinking when they got me down there," he added. "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." 

While viewers couldn't see De Merritt, it's likely they remember one of his scenes -- when E.T. drinks beer.  "It was hot and Spielberg came up to me and asked if I was all right. Then he wanted to make sure I wouldn't get hurt and he said: 'Is there any way you could just walk straight into that cabinet there and just kinda fall on your butt and get back up, turn around and for the grand finale fall smack on your face?'" he reportedly described to The Mirror

Henry Thomas talking with ET in a scene from the film 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial' 1982
Universal/Getty Images


"Any scene where they wanted E.T. to fall over, they would use me. The suit was made of rubber and they sprayed it with something to make it look sticky," he explained. "There were slits in the chest for me to look out of and the head sat on top of my head."

In addition to De Merritt, late actors Tamara De Treaux and Pat Bilon -- both had dwarfism -- are credited with E.T.'s movement. 

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