Kids growing up since the 1980’s have imagined riding a bike towards the moon thanks to a famous scene in the classic film E.T.(extra-terrestrial). The little boy that was immortalized during that iconic journey was none other than Henry Thomas.
Since that time, Thomas has peddled his way to other successful acting ventures, and has dabbled in other creative realms as well.
Henry Jackson Thomas’ story begins on September 9, 1971 in San Antonio, Texas. He grew up on a farm with his parents Henry Thomas Sr. and Carolyn Thomas. They were focused on maintaining crops and harvesting, but young Henry would take interest in other things.
As a boy, Thomas would attend neighborhood plays in the San Antonio area, and eventually would begin to act in them. He also cited a special on the acting profession that he watched as an eight year-old that sparked his interest in the industry. He had a special place in his heart for the Indiana Jones movies as well.
Thomas would have roles in two movies in 1981 that would kick off his acting career. He played Harry in Raggedy Man, and a kid in the TV movie The Steeler and The Pittsburgh Kid.
Thomas’ big break would come shortly after his introduction into acting, as Steven Spielberg found him to be the perfect child actor to play the role of Elliott in E.T.. It was a meteoric rise for the 11 year-old, who still remembers the level of detail Spielberg would give him to this day.
Thomas has talked about the type of points and notes the acclaimed director would provide him during filming, and how dedicated he was to telling the story of the extra-terrestrial.
He remembered how his life changed drastically after E.T., due to his immense fame. His parents weren’t sure how to handle it either, being that they were committed to a rural way of life. Thomas would eventually become accustomed to his profile, but was very cognizant of not letting the attention get to his head.
As a dad later in life, Thomas showed the film to his children, who he claims were unimpressed by the movie.
What did he do after E.T.?
Henry Thomas continued to have a successful career in film and television after E.T. Some of his notable roles include appearances in films such as Cloak & Dagger (1984), Fire in the Sky (1993), Legends of the Fall (1994), Suicide Kings (1997), All the Pretty Horses (2000), Gangs of New York (2002), 11:14 (2003), and Dear John (2010).
He was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the television film Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1997).
In addition to his acting career, Henry Thomas has also made some contributions to the music industry. During the 1990s, he was a songwriter and guitarist for a band based in San Antonio, known as The Blue Heelers.
One of his songs, “Truckstop Coffee,” was featured on the soundtrack for the film Niagara, Niagara in 1998, under the label V2. In 2003, Thomas collaborated with Nikki Sudden to create music for Mika Kaurismäki’s film, Honey Baby. In this project, Thomas took on the role of the fictitious musician Tom Brackett, writing and performing four original songs.
What is Henry Thomas doing now?
Henry Thomas continues to be active in his acting career. More recently, Thomas has collaborated with filmmaker Mike Flanagan, appearing in the films Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016), Gerald’s Game (2017) and Doctor Sleep (2019) as well as the television series The Haunting of Hill House (2018) and its follow-up series The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020). In 2021, he had a main role in Flanagan’s horror series Midnight Mass.
2022 was a relatively busy year for the former child star as well. He played Robert Mitchell in the movie Crawlspace, and Ron in a film called Sam & Kate. He also made an appearance on a TV series called The Midnight Club, where he played Freedom Jack.
Thomas has lived most of his life in front of the camera, but has taken to the challenge of expressing himself with a keyboard and a pen. Perhaps his involvement with E.T. stoked his imagination for events in the outlandish and extreme realm, but Thomas was always enamored with the fantasy genre. He wanted to author something a little different than the type of content that was already out there, which is what motivated him to write The Window and The Mirror in 2019. Thomas mentions he would like to write a series of books that build off of his first project.
Reflecting on E.T.
Despite not having watched the movie in 20 years, Thomas appreciates its universal appeal, attributing its longevity to its message of human compassion. He also shared his experience of sudden fame as a child and how it was initially a shock, but he eventually came to appreciate being associated with the film and its director.
Thomas also reunited with Drew Barrymore on her daytime talk show in 2022 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film and reminisced about their experiences during the filming. They reflected on their on-set dynamics, acknowledging that they sometimes acted like typical siblings, including instances where Barrymore, the youngest, was left out of the “gang.” Despite this, Barrymore described the experience as the best in the world.
Thomas is hoping that the third time will be the charm for his love life. He was initially married to Kelly Hill for just under two years before they separated. He was then hitched to Marie Zielcke for about three years before they were divorced, but this union produced one child, Hazel.
After two years, Thomas found companionship once again, this time with Annalee Fery. They’ve been together since 2009, and have two kids together, named Evelyn and Henry.
Interestingly enough, Thomas has said that he would prefer that his own kids pursue a career other than acting, because the profession makes children have to grown up too quickly.
Ironically, Thomas now lives on a farm in Oregon, as he values family life away from the commotion of Hollywood.
He has an Instagram where he post regularly about his life.