Saturday’s Six: Things You Might Not Know About Back to the Future

Think you know the voyages of Marty McFly and Doc Brown through time like the back of your hand?  Then read down the list of these six lesser-known facts about the franchise, and see how many you’ve missed!

1. The original Marty McFly was played by Eric Stoltz

When the BTTF crew started ramping up production on the project, their initial choice for the lead role was, of course, one Michael J. Fox.  Unfortunately, Fox was tied up with his obligations to Family Ties, so the producers went ahead and hired Eric Stoltz to be Marty McFly.  They shot over five week’s worth of material — over 40 minutes of the film — before deciding that Stoltz wasn’t exactly cut out for the part (plus, he looked quite a bit older than a high schooler), which prompted them to make a second grab for Fox.  This then, happily, succeeded.  While photos of Stoltz’s performance remains, the video footage has been destroyed, and the whole topic is a sore one with him and the filmmakers to this day.

2. George McFly was replaced in Parts II and III by Jeffrey Weissman, since Crispen Glover was unhappy with how few scenes he got compared to the first movie.

Some could argue that our favorite Peeping Tom, George McFly, was as central a character to Back to the Future as Marty.  Crispen Glover sure did, and was subsequently miffed when the filmmakers for Part II and III asked him to reprise his role as a virtual cameo compared to his role in the first film.  It probably didn’t help his case that Glover wanted as much money as Michael J. Fox to come back on as George McFly, either.  In any case, Jeffrey Weissman — under a liberal dose of prosthetics — was brought on board as the new George, and a few of the original film’s scenes were reshot to accommodate the new actor.  Glover ended up suing the studio, so I guess there’s a happy ending for everyone!

3. The trilogy had a sequel, of sorts, with Back to the Future: The Animated Series.

Originally aired on CBS for two seasons, from 1991 to 1992, Back to the Future: The Animated Series sort of continued the film series.  Only this time, there was Doc Brown’s whole family, the time traveling train, and an upgraded DeLorean.  Christopher Lloyd returned to do live segment as Doc Brown (although his cartoon version was voiced by none other than Dan “Homer Simpson” Castelleneta).  Also returning were Mary Steenburgen and Thomas F. Wilson to voice Clara and Biff, respectively.

4. Hill Valley’s downtown area was a Universal Studios backlot used by hundreds of other films.

The Courthouse Square is a famous part of the Universal Studios backlot tour, and was not only used in the BTTF series, but in hundreds of other movies, including Gremlins, Sneakers, To Kill A Mockingbird, Batman and Robin, and Bruce Almighty.

5. Robert Zemeckis started the “Hoverboards Are Real” urban legend.

The story goes that Zemeckis got sick and tired of being asked how the hoverboard scenes were done in Part II that he snappishly replied, “What do you mean, how did we do it? It’s a real hover-board. It flies. Michael  just practiced a lot.”  From that point on, perhaps due to a sick, sick sense of humor, Zemeckis continued to confirm hoverboards as a real technology that was being held back from release to the general public.  To this day, the rumor persists as fact, which Snopes clearly denies is true.

6. Back to the Future Part II successfully predicted 11 future trends.

BTTF2’s vision of 2015 might seem downright goofy — and very 80’s — compared to the world today, but the filmmakers actually did a decent job predicting the future.  TV glasses, flatscreen TVs, video games you can play without controls and a baseball franchise in Miami in the World Series are only the tip of their predictive iceberg.

10 Comments

  1. michael j fox did marty mcfly better than eric stoltz because BACK TO THE FUTURE was a #1 hit movie and it is still selling the generations will see michael j fox be in it until he dies and after but i hope he never does die! I love him in this and all the movie even if they are not #1. He rocks and he was so cute back then.

  2. That’s a pack of lies. Crispin Glover didn’t want to be in the film because he disagreed with the moral of the story. He sued them for putting another actor in prosthetics of his cheek bones & other facial features because THEY DID IT WITHOUT HIS CONSENT. Eventually everyone came to a mutual decision and the dispute was settled outside of court.

    Money was the reason he didn’t want to do the film in the first place BECAUSE he thought LOVE* should be the moral of the story, NOT MONEY* If an actor disagrees with the screenplay he has ever right to say so and not do a film if he wants.

    Do some research before slandering another person’s name like that. Crispin Glover is a decent guy!

    • Yeah, but … his whole dispute with them WAS over not getting paid enough, or as much as other actors who he thought had the same screen time as him.

      So he was a damned hypocrite. His own love of money cost him a bigger place in film history.

      He’s difficult to work with. Difficult to direct. He believes taking direction means he’s not a good enough actor. He believes taking less money than other actors is also disrespect.

      Basically he’s not a good actor who thinks he’s a genius, and he holds contradictory views over what others do versus what he himself does.

      Time and history has borne out that Crispin Glover is just a very difficult, insecure, hypocritical asshole that no-one can be bothered working with anymore.

      • You ARE wrong about Crispin wanting more money. It wasn’t about money at all. He didn’t refuse because of a disagreement over pay or anything other than the moral ending to part 1, as the post earlier states. The producers lied to make him sound and look bad to the public and other producers, to slander his name, credibility and to hopefully end his career. Luckily it didn’t work.

        And yes some people have opinions, and a different view of how things should be done…yes this may cause conflict between actors and directors but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are wrong. It just means that others are narrow minded and so stubborn that they are unwilling to see any other way of doing something, especially if it wasn’t their own idea.

        I think you are the one that needs to get your facts straight before calling anyone a hypocritical asshole….

    • And no, they weren’t offering Glover a bit-part cameo.

      Actually, if anything, the role for Crispin Glover WAS to be huge in Parts II and III and his whole attitude and trouble-making helped convince Bob Gale that he just wasn’t worth two more film-shoots worth of hassle. So no, Crispin, no money for you. You’re not as crucial as you thought. They simply cut down George McFly’s part and gave Michael J Fox more screen time… especially the Sheamus McFly role, which would have been Crispin’s.

      Producers don’t LIKE doing this stuff. It was a hassle to re-cast. It was a hassle to re-write. It was a hassle to go to court.

      But Crispin Glover is nothing if not a hassle.

    • Read this interview with the guy who replaced Crispin, and he specifically mentions that producers called him “Crispin… without all the trouble”.

      Directors don’t like actors that complain about the script when they’re already on set shooting.

      Producers don’t like actors that point to other actors’ salaries and demand more money.

      All filmmakers want actors like Michael J Fox who show up, make friends with everyone, do their best, and don’t make unnecessary trouble.

      Michael and Crispin’s different career successes demonstrate what kind of actor gets more work and more acclaim.

      Q.E.D.

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