Interesting tidbit in a piece over at the AV Club:
My father got a phone call to bring me in to meet with Spielberg for E.T., partially because they knew I was a physical kid, and I was known in the business somewhat as a stunt kid, and I could do all the bicycle riding. The other actors who were riding were being doubled, and I think Steven wanted to be able to cut to one of the actors on the bikes eventually, and not always be using the doubles, so that was part of the reason why I went in. Secondly, they had already cast somebody in the role of Tyler prior to me, but unbeknownst to Steven, the kid was Mormon, and that character had to smoke a cigarette. And, of course, the kid’s mother wouldn’t let that happen. So they decided it’d be best if they made a change.
Bold mine, italics in original. Let’s just be clear about what happened here: According to C. Thomas Howell, Steven Spielberg found out a kid he had cast was Mormon and then fired him because he was Mormon. Now, I can’t imagine there will be much outrage on this issue, in part because it happened some 30 years ago, in part because the kid’s religion kept him from performing his job. Frankly, I don’t think there should be much outrage on this issue! If an employee or an employer can’t work with each other over a religious conflict—or, say, have a religious conflict over a health benefit—then they shouldn’t work together. It’s a free country, right?
If only everyone were as tolerant and open-minded as I.