E.T. Was To Be Evil Alien Sequel To Close Encounters of the Third Kind
NIGHT SKIES has been something of a curiosity for a few friends and me for many years. For those of you that don’t know, Spielberg’s E.T. actually started out as a sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The story goes that Spielberg heard of a report about a Kentucky family that was terrorized by a group of aliens in the 1950s and he was interested in showing that side of extraterrestrials. Sure you get lured in with the friendly waving and music, but then what?
Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 9.01.05 PMIn April 0f 1980, with Spielberg producing, Rob Cobb (conceptual artist, production designer of Conan the Barbarian) was set to direct a script by John Sayles know then as Close Encounters 2. Later it became Night Skies, a film that would rely on 11 unique, believable, extraterrestrial designs. John Landis suggested Spielberg talk to Rick Baker, who was then working on An American Werewolf In London. When the two met to discuss the project Spielberg described a script along the lines of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs with creatures that needed distinct personalities. Baker was eventually given character descriptions. A few were Scar (a badass), Squirt (a cute little guy) and Buddy ( a creature like the eventual E.T.).
Well, while off shooting Raiders of the Lost Ark and melting Nazis Spielberg found he was having doubts about such a hostile alien story. Melissa Mathison was in Tunisia visiting her boyfriend, Harrison Ford, and Spielberg talked to her about a different type of story involving a little, lost, friendly alien. She apparently wept. Previously this tactic had been used to get out of speeding tickets. This time it really paid off!