E.T. was Latina: The "galactic" life of Margarita Farrell
She was the acrobatic Ewok of the Star Wars saga and played the most famous alien of all time, but few know this tiny great Hollywood actress.
Margarita Farrell loves golf. Every year in July, she and her husband attend the American Century Championship at Lake Tahoe. They interview the celebrities who participate in the tournament and make analyses and comments like many other reporters. However, this three-foot-tall journalist is one of the most iconic characters in Hollywood history and also one of the least known, at least undisguised.
When Margarita was still "Fernandez", her maiden name, one day at lunchtime someone stopped her in the middle of the street and asked her to take a picture. She, who cares as little about her short size as she does about fame, accepted without giving it much thought, but two years later that photo crossed her path again:
"They called me and told me to pack. If I had a passport, I was on my way to London," Farrell told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. "And that was the beginning of my Star Wars episodes."
At the time, the George Lucas saga was being recorded in secrecy. But as soon as she set foot in Europe, Margarita was transformed into an... Ewok! In fact, many of the stunt scenes in Return of the Jedi, shot in 1982, were performed by her, who was an excellent gymnast in high school.
"When you do a stunt you have to listen to the stunt coordinator, cross the T's and dot the I's because something can go terribly wrong at a certain point," said Farrell, who also had to perform all of these moves with little visibility because the Ewok's eyes would steam up over and over, and she had to memorize the route beforehand.
"It wasn't as heavy as uncomfortable because it was bulky and hot," said the actress, who recalled that underneath the costume she wore much more clothing and was padded, plush and finished in leather.
However, it wasn't half as hard as what was to come.
Actors usually have huge egos, but nobody talks about the self-confidence that professionals should have who are "devoured" by the character rather than embodying it.
Margarita Farrell touched the hearts of billions of children by masterfully playing the tender alien E.T. in a costume so convincing-albeit heavy and uncomfortable-that even little Drew Barrymore believed the alien to be real. "She thought it was 100% real, but that's what Steven (Spielberg) wanted," said Farrell.
Her unstoppable career as Hollywood's most unknown and smallest actress led this Latina to participate in productions such as Willow, Batman Returns and Mars Invaders, as well as a multitude of commercials. She even made a cameo as E.T. during the 1990 Super Bowl.
This summer, in Tahoe, if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn't avoid it, you'll be able to see her and her husband, the Paralympic champion and actor Douglas Farrell, again reporting on a golf tournament for celebrities who, by her side, are little more than Padawans.