An Interview With Henry Thomas

IMG_6061At Knoxville’s Fanboy Expo, Andrew and Kinsey did an impromptu interview with the man, the myth, the legend, Henry Thomas!

You may know him from “E.T.” but later this year, he will appear in a Netflix series “The Haunting of Hill House.”

Let us know what you think!

How has it been reuniting with your former cast-mates this weekend?

It’s great. I’ve been friends with Robert McNaughton ever since we filmed “E.T.”, so these conventions are actually a great excuse for us to get to hang out.

An interesting thing at the “E.T.” Q&A yesterday was all of the young kids asking questions. Does it surprise you that “E.T.” continues to attract a new audience?

It does surprise me. I’ve done over sixty something movies. I’ve done so many films and they disappear and people forget them. The ones you think that are gonna stick, never do. It’s been a real blessing because people will always remember “E.T.” and they love it.

There’s a famous video from your audition for “E.T.” You do the scene where you burst into tears and Spielberg basically gives you the job on the spot. Do you remember how you were able to get to that emotional state?

Oh yeah. Even then Spielberg had this onus about him and some heat to his name. He was successful. If somebody said Steven Spielberg wants you to read for them, it was a big deal. I think it was not really technical skill. It was mostly fear at that point in my life.

Another great director you worked with in the 80s was the late Miloš Forman in “Valmont.” Do you have any memories of what it was like working with him?

Miloš was great. I was frightened of him as well. This was during the days before video assist, so there was no playback. Miloš would sit directly underneath the lens of the camera and he habitually smoked two cigars a day. He carried them in a little leather case in his front pocket. But when he would watch you underneath the camera, you couldn’t help but notice him. It was kinda distracting at first because he was so into it: his face would come alive after he would call action. He really hated to be on set. He loved to be in the editing room and he wasn’t very kind to actors. His demeanor on set was very gruff. He wanted it his way and that was it. If you could deliver that without too much hassle, then it was no big deal.

That sounds nerve wracking.

But it was great. He’s a brilliant director and I was so sad to hear of his passing.

Another movie I (Andrew) love that is actually turning 15 this year is “11:14.” Do you have any fun anecdotes from filming that?

I love that film. I thought it was so amazing. I was just so sad that it got lost in a studio kerfuffle, but it’s nice that people can get it on DVD and everything now.

How did the opportunity to be in “Dear John” come about for you? I (Kinsey) love that book and the movie.

I auditioned for “Dear John” and Lasse Hallström liked me and brought me back.

Have you read the book?

I have not read the book, but I did meet Nicholas Sparks when he came to the set. I think that guy has the whole market cornered for the rest of his life. He’s got the formula. He can jerk your heartstrings.

I recently saw you in “Gerald’s Game” and thought you were great. Was it difficult to get into the headspace of such a dark character?

It’s no fun to play people like that. I mean, it’s fun in theory, but you know when you’re on set, it’s just emotionally difficult to do because I don’t like sexualizing young girls.

That’s a good thing! Since we are at Fanboy Expo, is there anything you consider yourself to be a fanboy of?

Star Wars. I saw Star Wars in the theater when it came out. I was five and it just blew my mind.

Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?

Yes! I have a series on Netflix coming out around Halloween called “The Haunting of Hill House” and it’s a ten episode series directed by Mike Flanagan who I worked with on “Gerald’s Game” and “Ouija.” I’ve collaborated with him on the last three or four projects I’ve worked on and it’s great.

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