Steven Spielberg had the idea, but it was Melissa Mathison who wrote the story.
Mathison, whose screenplay for E.T.: The Extra-Terrestial was nominated for an Academy Award, has died at the age of 65 after suffering an unconfirmed illness. Along with her career as a screenwriter, she was notably married to Harrison Ford for 21 years before they divorced in 2004. They had two children together.
Spielberg said of his departed collaborator, “Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love, and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T.” Speaking of the script she wrote for him, Spielberg said in a Special Edition DVD interview, “Melissa delivered this 107-page first draft to me and I read it in about an hour. I was just knocked out. It was a script I was willing to shoot the next day. It was so honest, and Melissa’s voice made a direct connection with my heart.”
Perhaps fittingly, Mathison’s final produced screenplay will be seen next summer in Spielberg’s next film, The BFG, based on a book by children’s author Roald Dahl.