Melissa Mathison, the screenwriter behind E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and several other films, died Wednesday in Los Angeles after battling neuroendocrine cancer for several months. She was 65.
Mathison received an Oscar nomination for E.T., which she said she wrote in a tiny office in Hollywood. Steven Spielberg worked closely with Mathison to develop the concept of the film. In a statement released Wednesday, he said: "Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave E.T." In the DVD commentary for a special edition of E.T., Spielberg said Mathison, who was also an associate producer on the movie, delivered a 107-page first draft of the film, and he read it in about an hour. "I was just knocked out," he said. "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."
Mathison recently worked with Spielberg again, writing the screenplay for an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, now in post-production, Variety reports. Her other credits include Martin Scorsese's 1997 movie Kundun; the 1979 film The Black Stallion; a segment of 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie; and 1995's The Indian in the Cupboard. From 1983 to 2004, Mathison was married to Harrison Ford, and had two children with him: Malcolm and Georgia.