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It was the year 1985 and ″Return to the future”Was released after experiencing several stumbles on its way. The first of these was to convince the movie studios that the story of time travel would work. Once this impasse was overcome and with the filming in progress, the next stone in the shoe was dealing with the hiring of Eric Stoltz, the protagonist of the film who did not measure up for the role. This great problem led to the subsequent dismissal of the actor and the hiring of Michael J. Fox as its replacement.

What followed then? With the release date just around the corner, Stoltz’s various scenes had to be reworked while at the same time, the editors juggled to finish the film before July, the scheduled release date.

LOOK | “Back to the future”: the story of Ben Stiller as Marty McFly and other secrets of the famous saga available on Netflix

Once the film was released, the results could not be better than anyone could imagine. ″Return to the futureIt became the most successful film of that year, raising more than 380 million dollars, catapulting its protagonists to fame and would end up being, five years later, one of the most successful and popular trilogies in American cinema.

Trailer for "Back To The Future".  (Source: Diffusion)
Trailer for “Back the Future”, released in 1985 and starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd.

The protagonist who never was

It was only in 2010, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of “Return to the future“It was revealed that before Michael J. Fox, Eric Stoltz had shot almost every scene in Marty McFly, the same ones that were included in the bonus track of the Blu-Ray edition of the tape.

From then on, rumors about the causes of Stoltz’s replacement were on the rise. Much was said about the lack of charisma of the actor and the discontent of the director Robert Zemeckis.

Eric Stoltz during the filming of "Return to the future", in the classic cafeteria of the tape.  Photo: BTTF.  com
Eric Stoltz during the filming of “Back to the Future”, in the classic cafeteria of the film. Photo: BTTF. com

And it is that not only the director but also the writer Bob Gale just as the entire production team realized that even though Stoltz was a good dramatic actor, he was not giving the project that “charm” that the story needed.

Uncertainty and discontent ended up bypassing Stoltz – who had been nominated for a Golden Globe that year for his role in the movie “Mask” – and replacing him with Michael J. Fox, a youthful face that everyone loved from the beginning but whose commitment to “Family Ties”, the sitcom he was filming at that time, prevented it.

A difficult actor

In the book “We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy”, its author Caseen Gaines, revealed how difficult it was to Eric Stoltz as a filming partner supported by statements from the actors who were part of the project.

“Eric was a very different actor and it could be very difficult. At that time, all young actors wanted to be like De Niro and Pacino. I think it was not the right movie to behave like this. Eric was so intense. He saw drama in things. He wasn’t really a comedian, and they needed a comedian. It’s super fun in real life, but he didn’t approach his job like that, and they really needed someone who had those skills, “said actress Lea Thompson, who played the mother of Marty McFly on tape, in an interview included in Gaines’ book.

A little less than five years ago, Thomas F. Wilson, the actor who plays the evil Biff in the film, spoke without mincing words about his bad relationship with Stoltz during the filming of the film.

“I worked with Eric for almost six weeks. We shot almost the entire movie and there were problems on set. Eric was not easy, all the time with his acting method, you know. ‘Everybody call me Marty except Lea (Thompson) who plays my mom and who I’m trying to kiss off camera ‘Wilson revealed.

Erick Stoltz and Lea Thompson off the set of "Return to the future".
Erick Stoltz and Lea Thompson off the set of “Back to the Future”. Photo:

At another point in the interview, the actor also revealed that he was happy when they let him know that Stoltz would no longer be part of the project and related how he took advantage of the cafeteria scene to push him too hard.

“A few days before I was fired, we had a problem in the cafeteria scene because Eric pushed me so hard with his performance of the method… It was hard against my collarbone, he was really pushing me. And I said to him during the cut: Hey Marty, this is a movie but he pretended not to listen to me, “he said.

Eric Stoltz and Thomas F. Wilson filming a scene from "Return to the future".  Photo:
Eric Stoltz and Thomas F. Wilson filming a scene from “Back to the Future.” Photo:

In 2015, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of “Return to the future“, Magazine “Vulture”Published details of the dismissal of Eric Stoltz and among these he describes Christopher Lloyd’s reaction to the news.

“Each of the members of the production team would inform the main cast about the lead change a little before the big announcement for the rest of the production. Bob Gale spoke with Crispin Glover (George McFly) and Thomas F. Wilson while Neil Canton (producer) was responsible for speaking with Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson. On the other hand, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy called Eric Stoltz’s agents. Robert Zemeckis broke the news to Stoltz himself while Spielberg, who was one of the film’s producers, waited behind the scenes.

“Exactly what happened between the director and his outgoing lead during their conversation held between the two, but Zemeckis later acknowledged that the actor took the news calmly. For Canton, the night he assumed would be filled with unhappiness got off to a surprisingly joyous start when he received a much-needed laugh from his longtime friend Christopher Lloyd. “I knew Chris because we had worked together on Buckaroo Banzai,” quotes “Vulture.” He was funny. When I told Chris that we were going to replace Eric in the movie, he looked at us and said, ‘Well, who is Eric?’ I said, ‘Marty,’ and he said, ‘Oh, I really thought his name was Marty.’

Eric Stoltz in another classic scene from "Return to the future".  Photo:
Eric Stoltz in another classic “Back to the Future” scene. Photo:

A few months later, when asked again about Stoltz’s firing, Lloyd declared: “All the producers and Zemeckis were going to make an announcement. It was very sad, you know. No one had bad feelings towards Eric, but something had to be done. It was not a celebration, we were all happy to go in the direction it had to go, but it was a bit sad, “said the actor who plays the beloved Doc in the film.

Stoltz’s version

In an interview with the Moviehole portal, Eric Stoltz He spoke of his passage through “Return to the future“And revealed that if he had continued in the film, perhaps his career would have turned towards a very different scenario than he had planned.

“You know, it was twenty-some years ago and I rarely look back, if at all, but in hindsight I think just getting through that difficult period helped me realize how liberating it really was,” she said.

Erick Stoltz during the filming of "Return to the future".  Photo:
Erick Stoltz during the filming of “Back to the Future”. Photo:

“I went back to acting school, I moved to Europe, I did some plays in New York and I actually invested… in a way that was much healthier for me. If I had become a massive star, I don’t know if I wouldn’t have entered therapy. On the other hand, it would have been extremely rich, which would have been wonderful! (added between laughs) “

Stoltz, who is currently retired from acting and dedicating himself fully to directing, revealed that he “no longer sees himself as an actor.” “Some people would say that I never was. I consider myself a director at the moment. I like to perform. But honestly, I rarely look back at something I’ve done in the past. I am too busy and interested in what is happening right now to care. “

The “Back to the Future” trilogy is available on Netflix.



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Back to the future | Back to the future | Netflix | Eric Stoltz, the original Marty McFly, whose firing was celebrated by all | Michael J. Fox | SKIP-ENTER