In this 30th anniversary year of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’s release, the tape of young star Henry Thomas landing the lead role of Elliott remains a Hollywood highlight. To wit, a weekend YouTube posting of the footage has quickly racked up 65,000+ views.

FishbowlLA decided to take the opportunity to check in with the film’s celebrated casting director Mike Fenton, whose voice can be heard off-camera reading with Thomas. Sure enough, there was much more to this momentous day than what appears in the clip below.

“What Thomas’ agent neglected to tell us was that he and his mom lived about five hours from the closest major airport in Texas,” Fenton recalls via telephone. “So on that particular Friday, Henry got up at 4:30 a.m. and by the time he was having lunch with me at the studio commissary, he was very quiet, his head was drooping.”

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