Although Steven Spielberg had been working on “E.T.” for a while, Mathison helped transform early iterations of the alien into the creature that we’ve come to love. Most notably, she was the one who came up with the idea for E.T.’s telekinesis — a small detail, but one which would make the high-stakes finale all the more exciting. She also made a lot of smaller changes and helped Spielberg bounce ideas around. By the time the first draft of the script was complete, the collaboration had already paid off: Spielberg was incredibly pleased with Mathison’s work and barely made any adjustments before filming began.
As it turns out, Harrison Ford was rewarded for his persuasiveness, too: he was given a brief cameo in “E.T.” as Elliot’s principal. Curiously though, you might be hard-pressed to identify him on-screen. The “E.T.” crew made it a point to only show most adults’ faces near the film’s finale, a decision that would eventually present the grown-ups as out-of-place in a kids’ world. Unfortunately, this meant that Ford’s role was essentially a voice cameo. Even still, he and Mathison certainly got to leave their touch on the magical movie.