Matthew Demeritt: The Actor Who Brought ET to Life in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Did you know that a human played E.T. in the sci-fi classic? Although it sounds surreal, it’s true, and Matthew De Meritt is the individual behind all this.

The 54-year-old (born on April 21, 1970, in Los Angeles County, California) is best known as the performer who gave E.T. its movement.

Key Takeaways

  • Matthew De Meritt, a man born without legs, was inside the costume of E.T., the popular science fiction movie, where he would operate the alien by skating with his hand.
  • He was 12 years old when he performed that role and is now 54, living most of his life outside the spotlight.
  • However, the actor is often featured on Comic Cons, such as Omega Con.

Puppeteers with animatronics controlled the face of the beloved alien, and for its body, three people were involved.

Two little people, Tamara De Treaux and Pat Bilon, and then 12-year-old Matthew DeMeritt, were responsible for wearing the alien costume.

Wearing the alien costume was no easy task, and the actors had to take turns depending on the scene being filmed.

In fact, during all of his scenes where it walked awkwardly or fell over (E.T. gets into the kitchen and falls over drunk), DeMeritt walked on his hands.

It was because the actor was born without his legs.

When Meritt was 11, he was undergoing physical therapy at a California hospital. There, Spielberg contacted him through the UCLA Medical Center to do a screen test.

In an interview, he mentioned how he was selected: “There was a fitting, and they took all my measurements, and they filmed me walking on my hands.”

He added, “I’d never demonstrated to anybody that I could walk on my hands, and I don’t see how they could think I could comfortably fit inside a costume and walk around and make a convincing alien – but it kind of worked out that way.”

Reminiscing about the shoot, Demeritt said there were slits in the chest from where he used to look out, and the puppet’s head rested on top of his head.

Where Is He Now?

Two years ago, during the Film’s 40th Anniversary, Matthew made a rare appearance on the red carpet outside the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

He was photographed alongside Steven Spielberg, Dee Wallace, and other personnel associated with the movie.

Lately, he has lived a retired life with no visibility in the limelight, but he does give his presence once in a while.

If you want to meet the living legend, you can catch him at “Omega Con” on May 25, 26, and 27 at Fresno Fairgrounds, CA. There, he will discuss his iconic role and provide many behind-the-scenes details.


What Planet Is E.T. From?

The beloved alien is from Brodo Asogi (The Green Planet) and has abilities such as telekinesis, telepathy, and healing.

Is E.T. OK For A 5-Year-Old?

The movie may contain scenes that may be too intense for younger viewers. Hence, kids under five are advised to watch under their parents’ supervision.

Who Was E.T. Inspired By?

The film was inspired by director Steve Spielberg’s childhood, where he created an imaginary friend after his parents’ divorce.


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