Random Trivia For This Title:
- Actors [?] Lino Ventura and [?] Yves Montand were considered for the role of Lacombe.
- According to the book Reel Gags by [?] Bill Givens, The Grateful Dead singer [?] Jerry Garcia was an extra during the scenes in India, and he can be seen in a crowd shot.
- Lacombe is François Truffaut's only acting role in a film that he did not direct.
- The John Williams score was created before the film was edited. Steven Spielberg edited the film to match the music, a reverse of what is usually done in film scoring. Both Spielberg and Williams felt that it ultimately gave the film a lyrical feel.
- François Truffaut's English was not strong. In order to get through some of his scenes, he stuck pieces of paper with his lines on them on various objects where he could read from them but the camera would not pick them up. In one case, as he arguing stands face to face with an Army officer (who has his back to the camera), he is in fact reading his lines off a card pinned to the man's chest. (He had shown the same trick being used with an actress who was having trouble with her lines in his own Day for Night, in which he played the director of the movie-within-the-movie.)
- Opened in the same week that Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope overtook Jaws to become the biggest blockbuster of all time.
- Steven Spielberg had approached Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, and Gene Hackman for the role of Roy Neary. Jack Nicholson was also considered. McQueen turned the role down because he said he wasn't able to cry on film.
- François Truffaut was continually trying to improve his English during production, and he was self-conscious of his heavy French accent. When he delivered the line "They belong here more than we" (after he learns the Army plans to dust the mountain with nerve gas), several crew members thought that he had said "Zey belong here, Mozambique." Several T-shirts were printed with this quote as a joke. When he heard about this, Truffaut supposedly burst out laughing. Steven Spielberg mentioned on a laserdisc documentary for E.T. that Truffaut later used a variation of the line in a congratulatory telegram after E.T. was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. The telegram to Spielberg read, "You belong here more than me."
- During the dinner scene just before Roy piles on the mashed potatoes, you can hear the little girl say, "There's a fly in my potatoes." This was unscripted and almost caused the rest of the cast to laugh. The scene was kept as-is.
- It is possible to see an upside down R2-D2 in part of the large spacecraft that flies over Devils Tower.
- Stanley Kubrick was so impressed by Cary Guffey's performance that he wanted him for the role of Danny Torrence in The Shining. Cary Guffey's performances were so good that they only ever had to do one or two takes of each shot he was in. He became known as One-Take Cary on the set, and Steven Spielberg had a t-shirt printed up for him with the phrase written on it.
- The iconic five-note melody was a chance arrangement that both John Williams and Steven Spielberg happened to like out of hundreds of different permutations.
- Meryl Streep auditioned to play Veronica.
- Steven Spielberg has confessed that if he had a chance to make this movie today, Roy would never have abandoned his family to go to outer space. Source: "Spielberg on Spielberg", 2007, TCM.
- The small aliens in the film were played by local girls aged between 8 and 12 years old. Girls were used instead of boys because Steven Spielberg felt that they moved more gracefully.
- Barry is shown to be surprised by the extraterrestrials. Director Steven Spielberg had two crew members hide in boxes off camera, one in a clown suit and one in a gorilla suit. One popped out, then the other as the cameras rolled, catching young Cary Guffey's bewildered reaction. Spielberg then whispered to the gorilla to remove his mask, eliciting a smile from Guffey.