12/20/2010

Back to the FutureEveryone knows the classic 1985 film Back to the Future featured a boyish Michael J. Fox in a winning performance as Marty McFly. But Fox was not the original McFly. In fact, Eric Stoltz (best known to sci-fi fans as Daniel Graystone in Caprica) was five weeks into shooting the famed McFly role when director and co-writer Robert Zemeckis made a drastic production decision - changing his lead actor. The rest is pop-culture history, but how and why did it happen?

It seems that they wanted Fox from the get-go, but Gary Goldberg, the producer of Fox's hit TV show Family Ties, wouldn't let Fox go to work on the movie simultaneously. Instead, the movie studio cast Eric Stoltz, but it seems Zemeckis was never really happy with him. According to Zemeckis, the problem was that Stoltz was playing Marty McFly as if it was a dramatic role, not a comedy. The studio approached Fox and Goldberg again, and worked out an agreement with the network to free up Fox's schedule. Stoltz was fired, and Zemeckis was able to convince the studio to let him reshoot five weeks of work with Michael J. Fox in the career-defining role. Back to the Future, released on Oct. 26, 1986, would go on to gross $381 million worldwide and lead to two further sequels. Details of the shocking Hollywood switch and never-before-seen footage of Stoltz as McFly are part of the extras package for the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy released on Blu-Ray on Oct. 26.

Stoltz was introspective when asked by Moviehole in 2007 how he felt about being replaced. He seems to have decided that he was better off on a personal level not being a huge star because of Back to the Future. He says, in part, "If I had become a massive star, I don't know if I wouldn't have gone into therapy."

Would Stoltz have been better or worse as Marty? Take a glimpse at some of the footage and judge for yourself.


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