How the Experts at Legacy Effects Brought E.T. Back to Life

Legacy Effects making E.T. come to life.
Legacy Effects making E.T. come to life.
Image: Screencap via YouTube

E.T. got a sequel, did you notice? Well, of a sorts, in the form of a lavish holiday commercial that brought Eliot back and recreated the vibe of the classic Spielberg film, complete with a puppet version of E.T. himself. Turns out, that puppet was an elaborate construction built solely for that commercial, a full reconstruction of the original. In a new video, the people behind that recreation, Legacy Effects, talk about how they did it.


As you might imagine, the video follows a dramatic arc that begins with the shock, excitement, and terror of having to recreate such an iconic character, and doing so with an incredibly tight turnaround: four weeks. But Legacy, having built a version of E.T. before for another client, had just enough resources to pull it off. They managed to create a puppet that not only satisfied themselves but impressed the producers and felt, well, like the original. It’s quite a feat.

It’s a bit bizarre that a property like this got resurrected for a commercial—sign of the times, I suppose—but it is extremely satisfying to see these craftspeople rebuild E.T. with such fidelity and care. Animatronic puppetry is a fascinating, impressive art, and it’s been responsible for some of the coolest things to ever show up on screen. E.T. is no different.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.


While fascinating, that this doesn’t involve giant Tesla coils and a guy in a lab coat cackling maniacally is somewhat disappointing.