Interview: BMX Rider Robert Cardoza From E.T.

BMX rider Robert Cardoza has had a legendary career in the world of BMX racing. About 40 years ago Robert Cardoza got the chance to play a role in one of the most iconic movies of all time, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. Cardoza was a stunt rider in the film and helped to choregraph the memorable bicycle sequences.

Cardoza helped Shoe Palace with its brand new E.T. apparel collection, which releases tomorrow, 12.15.

I spoke to Robert Cardoza about the film and how working with Shoe Palace reunited him with a beloved prop from the film.

How did you get involved with E.T. the Extra Terrestrial?

I worked for Everything Bicycles. Everything Bicycles was the bike suppliers for the movie. When the E.T. team came to Everything Bicycles I quickly became the go between for the studio and Everything Bicycles. One day I was at the studio, and they were explaining what they wanted the kids to do in the film. I told them I didn’t think the kids could pull the stuff off they wanted on bicycles. I knew it would be too difficult for amateur riders. I told them they needed professional riders like me to pull that stuff off. I thought I was going to be just the mechanic on set, but I ended up being the stunt rider for the character Greg.

What was the cast like? Were you guys able to bond at all?

We were the second unit. We were doing all the stunts without any of the principals there.

Was there any bike stunts that you wanted to happen in the film that didn’t? Anything you wish you could have done?

We didn’t have any say in the stunts that were filmed. We would give suggestions. There are plenty of stunts that we did that just didn’t make it in the movie.

They hired a real stunt man that was a short guy, he looked like a kid. They wanted to do a stunt where a bicycle would fly out a window onto a pile of boards and then onto another pile of boards. The stuntman went out the window straight on his melon. We knew he couldn’t do it right then. He tried it again… and he fell on his head again. So, then we asked, us professional riders, if we could try it. David Lee, one of the stunt performers in the film, did it in one take perfectly. Unfortunately, that stunt didn’t make the final film.

Robert Cardoza, in the red hat, performing a stunt in the film.

E.T. is often credited as raising the profile of BMX and bicycle riding as whole. Do you agree with that?

I think it changed a lot of things. It made the sport of BMX something bigger. In other countries it was even a bigger deal. BMX was young when E.T. came out. A lot of Olympians say E.T. was their biggest influence. The film didn’t show bicycle racing, but it showed kids on bikes having fun and that was big.

Do you have a favorite memory of working on the film?

The whole thing was a special memory. When I was working on it, it was called A Boys Life. E.T. didn’t become the name until the end. The whole movie is just iconic.

Cardoza in a photo shoot for Shoe Palace, with the original bike from E.T.

When you worked with Shoe Palace on their upcoming E.T. collection you got reunited with the original bike you rode in the film. What was that like?

It was weird that the bike survived. It didn’t have all the original parts, but it was the bike. I know I was on that bike at one point. It was amazing to me that I got to see it and I know who owns it now. I would love to know how it survived and got to where it was. It was found days before the Shoe Palace shoot in the middle of the Central Valley. The guy who had it just had a bunch of stuff. Who knows how it got there… there are so many stories about stolen bikes and other things. It’s just amazing.

Carodoza with the bike last month in a Shoe Palace retail location.

Be sure the grab the limited edition Shoe Palace x E.T. collection here.