E.T. used to be unassailable. Or so it seemed, at least, in the early days. It was a kids movie about a kid world, and suffused with an under-ten sensibility. I remember when just publicists and press and their friends were onto it in the weeks before the June 1982 opening — it was this little E.T. club. But I look at clips now and it seems so wretchedly calculating. The E.T.-wearing-the-wig scene is intolerable. Now, honestly, I wonder if I can even stand to watch the 30th Anniversary Bluray.
I wrote an Us magazine cover story about E.T., called “E.T.’s Tiny Heroes.” I distinctly remember sitting down in a Manhattan hotel room with my cassette recorder and interviewing Henry Thomas, 10, Drew Barrymore, 7, and Robert McNaughton, 15. And I remember being told by my Us editor, Stephen Schaefer, that a decision had been made by Universal publicists and magazine editors alike to concentrate on Henry and Drew and downplay poor Robert. “But he’s so good in the film!,” I remember replying. That may be true, I was told, but he’s too old and not cute enough — the story will be about Henry and Drew.
McNaughton is now 45 years old. The following appears in his Wiki bio: “As of 2002, MacNaughton had given up acting and worked as a mail handler in Phoenix, Arizona where he and his girlfriend lived with their son, Noah. Robert transferred to the NJ Bulk Mail Center in Jersey City as of 2011. On July 2nd, 2012 he married the actress Bianca Hunter in New York City.”