Most of E.T.'s voice work was performed by an elderly woman named Pat Welsh, whose two-pack a day smoking habit gave her voice the deep quality Spielberg had envisioned. However, there were 18 contributors to E.T.'s voice in total.
To create sounds ranging from E.T. talking and breathing to snorting and drunkenly burping, the contributors included Spielberg himself, sound effects creator Ben Burtt's sleeping wife who had a cold, a burp from a University of Southern California film professor, raccoons, sea otters, horses and actress Debra Winger's signature husky voice. (You can't make this stuff up.)
Winger also has a cameo in "E.T." during the trick-or-treating scene. She's dressed as a doctor wearing a monster mask carrying a poodle in a clown costume. (You really can't make this stuff up.) Spielberg gave Winger the "E.T." script and had her record every single one of E.T.'s lines into a tape recorder.
In the scene where government agents have taken over Elliott's home, real doctors from USC Medical Center were recruited to play the doctors who try to save E.T., because Spielberg felt that actors talking about technical medical matters didn't seem natural.
In addition, Spielberg cut a scene featuring Harrison Ford as the headmaster at Elliott's school.
Spielberg recalled receiving "stacks" of congratulatory telegrams upon "E.T.'s" premiere during the Cannes Film Festival in June 1982, but the most treasured one came from Francois Truffaut, who said, "You belong here more than me."
At a White House screening, Spielberg sat next to President Reagan and noted that "the president's face became very childlike. His mouth was open, his eyes were wide, and I suddenly saw a 10-year-old boy."
Thomas added that he is "pleasantly surprised" by the film's resonating success.
"I never really thought when we were filming that it would ever be a success. It literally took until about 10 years ago for me to realize, 'Wow! This "E.T." thing isn't going away.' "