Henry Thomas, who played Elliott Taylor in "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," reflected on the film celebrating its 40th anniversary this year by telling "Good Morning America" he's "very proud" to have been a part of such a classic film.
"I think it has a universal theme of compassion and friendship and nurturing of those things, so I think it speaks to our very human nature," he told "GMA," adding that "it's a very personal story" for everyone who watches it.
The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the heartfelt tale of E.T., a lost alien trying to find his way home, and Elliot, the 10-year-old boy he befriends along the way. "E.T." was nominated for nine Oscars at the 1983 Academy Awards, ultimately winning four.
To celebrate "E.T." turning 40, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released a new 40th anniversary edition available to own on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital. This release, out now, features over 45 minutes of all-new bonus features as well as all the original bonus features.
Thomas, now 51, said being in the biggest film of 1982 as a 10-year-old was a "strange feeling."
"I didn't see it coming, and then suddenly you're famous and you're not anonymous anymore," he said. "I don't think I really knew how to deal with it very well."
Thomas called the next few years "pretty overwhelming" and said for a period of time the film was all he was remembered for. Though he said he initially tried to separate himself from "E.T.," he ultimately embraced the movie's legacy.
Over the years, he has appeared in films like "Legends of the Fall," All the Pretty Horses" and "Gangs of New York," most recently collaborating with filmmaker Mike Flanagan in various projects in the horror genre.
Thomas said showing "E.T." to his three kids for the first time didn't go exactly as planned, saying they weren't really "bowled over" by him being in the beloved movie.
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"I thought that they would be much more impressed. I guess I had built it up in my mind, but the reality was that they were just watching it like anything else," he said. "I'm famous to them as an adult, not as a kid."
Thomas recalled being in awe watching Spielberg in the director's chair on "E.T." and praised "how focused he was on telling the story."
"He talked through the entire performance and would give you notes on the fly -- so much so, that I thought I could hear his voice when I first saw the film in theaters," he joked. "I thought that they hadn't taken him out of the sound, but it was my imagination."
Thomas said meeting Spielberg during his audition for "E.T." was a big moment for him as a kid because he was a "huge fan" of the director's 1981 film "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
He remembered his childhood dream at the time, saying, "I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I was 10 years old."