E.T. was one of the biggest films of the 1980’s.
But what happened to Robert MacNaughton who played the older brother? Where did he go?
E.T. wasn’t MacNaughton’s first role. He began in a few TV movies. The most notable of these was the excellent 1980 migrant worker drama, ANGEL CITY. This was also one of the first major roles of Jennifer Jason Leigh.
He starred in a couple more TV movies, 1981’s BIG BEND COUNTRY and the Ray Bradbury adaptation THE ELECTRIC GRANDMOTHER in 1982.
Then, there was E.T. It was an instant classic both with critics and audiences. MacNaughton was very good as the older brother of Elliot and Gertie.
Drew Barrymore is now a megastar. Henry Thomas is still acting and appears regularly in films. Their mom, Dee Wallace Stone, is in a lot of commercials. Even C. Thomas Howell was an 80’s icon and just turned up on 24.
His follow up film in 1983 was playing the lead in an adaptation of the Robert Cormier novel I AM THE CHEESE. The book was republished with MacNaughton’s picture on the cover (my 5th grade classroom had a copy), but I never once saw the film play in theatres, or even on VHS. It is now on DVD.
He starred in an Afterschool Special as well as a couple TV movies. In 1987 he starred in VISITORS, a Dennis Potter scripted drama for the BBC.
His final acting role was an episode of NEWHART in 1987.
So, what ever happened to him?
MacNaughton never really saw himself as an actor. He moved to Phoenix, tried to do theatre, but moved away from that.
Today, he is a mail handler in Phoenix. Just think, for those living in the Southwest, your mail is being sorted by a film star!
Married, he has a son.
In interviews, he sounds happy with his life, and his family, far away from the Hollywood spotlight.