Great Scott! The iconic movie is now more than 30 years old but do you know everything about Marty, Doc and the flux capacitor? Here are some incredible facts about the time travel classic and you might not know yet, even if you’re a big fan.
Eric Stoltz wasn’t the only guy who almost played Marty
Everyone knows how Stoltz was hired and then fired partway into production, but less known is that after original Michael J Fox turned them down, the filmmakers also auditioned C Thomas Howell for the role. “Tommy’s screen test was terrific,” writer/producer Bob Gale told Empire. “But [the studio head] said, ‘it’s got to be Eric Stoltz.’”
Christopher Lloyd wasn’t first choice either
John Lithgow (Cliffhanger) turned down the role before Lloyd took it. The back-up plan was Jeff Goldblum.
Tony Hawk didn’t choreograph the skateboarding
The skate legend is often credited with co-ordinating the cool skateboard chases in the movie – unfortunately it’s not true. According to the man himself on Twitter, that honour actually goes to Swedish boarder Per Welinder and Bob Schmelzer.
Some of Biff’s best lines were improvised
George and Marty’s nemesis was played by Thomas F. Wilson, who is a comedian. He admits he came up with classic idiotic lines like, “Make like a tree and get out of here.”
The baddie from Titanic is in it
Billy Zane, aka Rose’s douchey fiancé in Titanic, had one of his earliest roles as part of Biff’s entourage. His official character name is Match.
Michael J. Fox hated his own performance
Fox had to juggle shooting sitcom Family Ties with making Back To The Future, which meant that he was constantly tired. As a result, he initially thought that he did a bad job on the movie.
Michael J. Fox was also sleep deprived for most of the film
Not just the scenes in the parking lot, but many of the interiors were actually filmed overnight because of Fox’s TV commitments. Most of the time he would survive on three or four hours of sleep a day.
Einstein was originally a chimpanzee
In early drafts of the script, Doc Brown’s canine sidekick Einstein was a great ape, but that was changed when the studio said that no-one would come and watch a film featuring a chimp.
The iconic DeLorean wasn’t in early scripts
It’s impossible to think of the movie without it now, but the car wasn’t always the time machine. Producer Steven Spielberg remembers reading a draft where the machine was a fixed device, “a bit like a car wash”.
There’s a nod to Dr. Strangelove
Writer/director Robert Zemeckis is a big fan of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical war movie which you can see from the presence of CRM114 on the amplifier that Marty uses at the beginning of the film. CRM114 also shows up in Dr. Strangelove as a piece of airplane radio equipment which breaks, meaning the pilots don’t hear the recall order before they drop their nuclear bombs on the USSR.
The idea for the movie is based on Bob Gale’s dad
The writer was perusing some old high school yearbooks when he came across a picture of his father as a student. It started him wondering about whether they would have been friends if they’d happened to go to school together.
Disney turned it down because of the, er, Oedipal stuff
“Everybody told us the movie was sweet and nice and we should take it to Disney,” Bob Gale told Yahoo Movies in 2014. “And when we finally did take it to Disney, they were horrified that we’d written a script about incest.”
Don’t worry, Biff and his boys didn’t actually drive into real manure
A recurring motif throughout the whole trilogy, the stuff that Tannen and co. are covered with after their unsuccessful pursuit of Marty around the town square is actually a mixture of peat moss, cork and dirt, combined with a food agent to make it sticky.
Eric Stoltz wasn’t the only lead fired – so was his girlfriend
Melora Hardin (who you might recognise as Jan from the US version of The Office) was even more unlucky than Stoltz. Having been cast as Jennifer opposite the original Marty, she hadn’t started shooting her scenes when Michael J. Fox took over. She was in her parents’ kitchen when she was informed that since she was taller than the diminutive star, she too would have to go.
Marty’s letter to Doc: mistake or Easter egg?
If you notice, the warning letter Marty writes Doc in 1955 not only has different spacing than the Sellotaped one in 1985 (check out the single vs. two-word last line), but the handwriting isn’t the same either.
Now you could put this down to a continuity error…or maybe it’s something else? Did Doc receive a letter from someone other than Marty desperate to keep him alive after he tore up the first one? Did another future Marty pen the letter and time-travel to 1955 to make sure his mentor damaged the space-time continuum for some greater purpose? The truth is out there!
Photos: Giphy/Rex_Shutterstock/Everett/20th Century Fox/Universal/Getty