In an interview with presenter Simon Mayo at BBC Radio Five Live, Attenborough said that Gandhi was a wonderful story "because it's about a wonderful man". But ET was "an infinitely more creative and fundamental piece of cinema" than Gandhi. "[Business partner] Diana and I went to see ET in Los Angeles shortly before all the awards and we used language, when we came out, to the extent of saying ''we have no chance - ET should and will walk away with it," BBC quoted him, as saying.
"Without the initial premise of Mahatma Gandhi, the film would be nothing. Therefore it's a narrative film but it's a piece of narration rather than a piece of cinema, as such. ET depended absolutely on the concept of cinema and I think that Steven Spielberg, who I'm very fond of, is a genius. I think ET is a quite extraordinary piece of cinema," he added.
Talking about his standing ovation he received at the 1983 Academy Awards, Attenborough said that it was a career milestone. "It was when they stood up - the entire huge auditorium stood up at the end of the show - and the fact that I'd got best film and so on and I didn't weep...," he said. "I had difficulty speaking in that I was, what is known as, choked up a bit," he added.