Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022, Steven Spielberg’s 1982 family-friendly sci-fi E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial remains a pertinent Hollywood classic, with the director recently coming out to say that the film was inspired by the divorce of his parents in 1966.
Sharing the revelation during an appearance at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, Spielberg also explained how the divorce had also gone on to influence his ending for the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
“What if that little creature never went back to the ship?” the director recalled, adding: “What if the creature was part of a foreign-exchange programme? What if I turn my story about divorce into a story about children, a family, trying to fill the great need and creating such responsibility?”.
Turning his attention to the beloved 1982 movie, Spielberg explained, “A divorce creates great responsibility, especially if you have siblings; we all take care of each other. What if Elliott, or the kid – I hadn’t dreamt up his name yet – needed to, for the first time in his life, become responsible for a life form to fill the gap in his heart?”
In addition to inspiring particular aspects of his iconic 20th-century movies, Spielberg also recalled how his parent’s divorce encouraged him to work on “an actual literal script” about the life-changing incident, adding: “I had been working on ideas about that and what it did to my sisters and myself”.
Continuing to influence the landscape of modern filmmaking, Spielberg most recently released West Side Story with Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and David Alvarez, with Ariana DeBose, playing Anita in the film, taking home the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress.