Melissa Mathison, the screenwriter of Steven Spielberg’s, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, died on Wednesday from an undisclosed illness in Los Angeles. She was 65-years-old.
Mathison first wrote the adventure film, The Black Stallion (1979) before she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay for E.T. in 1982. Spielberg credits her as a big part of the film’s success. “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,” he said on the DVD special edition.
Spielberg worked closely with the Los Angeles born scribe when conceptualizing the film and made a statement saying, “Melissa had a heart that shined with generosity and love and burned as bright as the heart she gave ET.”
Mathison met Harrison Ford on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The pair were married from 1983 to 2004.
The screenwriter went on to pen Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, a biodrama about the exiled Tibetan Dalai Lama. She became friends with the spiritual leader in 1990, and was a member of the board of the International Campaign for Tibet.
Mathison’s last screenplay credit will belong to The BFG, an upcoming fantasy-adventure film directed by Spielberg.