Dee Wallace: From 'E.T.' Star to Author and Motivational Speaker

The single mom from E.T. reminisces about the 1982 film, dishes on the new Blu-ray edition, debuting October 9 in honor of the film's 30th anniversary, and shares what caused her to recreate her life.

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
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More: Has it really been 30 years since the making of E.T.?
Dee Wallace: I know—staggering, isn’t it?

More: How did playing the role of Mary change your life?DW: I don’t think it changed my life, but it changed a lot of my business. When E.T. came out, Dee Wallace was a name everyone knew, but in a different light. WhenE.T. became the biggest blockbuster of all time, then it upped my money, my possibilities and my professional opportunities.

More: With the movie’s massive success, did you let fame go to your head?
DW: I was raised as a good old Methodist girl from Kansas City, Kansas, and my roots are pretty strong. I never forgot who I was, and I didn’t change my life too much either. In fact, I didn’t even move to a bigger home.

More: What strikes me as so interesting is that your character was a single mom struggling to raise three kids, a storyline rarely addressed back in the early 80s.DW: Yeah, I was the first single mom in a major film. I have had so many people come up to me and say, Thank you for helping me make it through my childhood. Back then divorce was not as common as it is today, so if someone’s parents were splitting up, many times they thought they were an outcast, not accepted, or they were embarrassed about their situation. We showed them it was OK, to be raised by a single parent and have good values.

More: Do you still talk to your onscreen children?
DW: Every once in a while.

MoreFess uphow many times have you watched E.T.?
DW: I think I have seen it over 150 times, and I still cry and laugh.
More: Do you remember the lines?
DW: Like “penis breath”? (laughs)

More: Do you believe there is life on other planets?
DW: Absolutely. I think we would be terribly naive to think they were not here. I do a lot of healing work, and I believe they are here to help us, guide us and protect us. The alien you saw in the movie is much closer to the truth than the aliens you see in other films that are trying to attack and blow up Earth.

More: Before E.T., you had some experience as a horror movie actress?
DW: I did The Howling and The Hills Have Eyes. Then after E.T., Cujo and other horror films continued to follow.

More: A special section of the disc, called “TheE.T.Journals,” features never-before-seen footage from the set of the film. Dish on some of the secrets from behind the lens.
DW: It is so awesome because it makes you feel like you are on the movie set with us. Now you will see how some of those famous scenes were shot. One great example is Steven Speilberg directing Gertie, Drew Barrymore’s character, when she is talking to E.T. dying in the incubator. You will also see Steven directing Henry Thomas as Elliott, and of course you will see how the famous bike scene was shot.

More: In addition to acting, you are also an author and a motivational speaker. Tell me about how that happened.
DW: At one point I dropped to my knees and said, I don’t want to be angry anymore. I decided I wanted to recreate my life and recreate myself.

More: Did recreating yourself help you overcome tragedy in your life? [Wallace’s second husband, Christopher Stone, died of a heart attack in 1995.]DW: Yes, except that most people define tragedy as if they were the victim, and that keeps them locked in the hole of still being the victim. Where we all want to get is to say, “Shit happens, and it happens to everyone.”

More: I am sorry it happened to you.
DW: There is a bunch of poop, and you need to go and look for the pony that made the mess and then try to figure out the lesson you learn in all of this.

More: What did you learn?
DW: I thought, How can I go out and empower myself? I began asking, How can I make myself better instead of shutting myself down to protect myself from what just happened?

More: You made reference to being angry. Given your successful Hollywood career, what could Dee Wallace possibly be angry about?
DW: Read my book. I started out in a very poor family with an alcoholic father who went on to commit suicide.

More: Point made.
DW: We have all been betrayed, raped, abandoned and disappointed at some moment in our lives, and we keep blaming them for not being the joy and love we want them to be. I wanted to be happy and enjoy the gifts I have.

Click here to read How Wendy Williams Got Fierce and Fabulous.

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First Published Tue, 2012-09-25 13:07

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