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Christopher Lloyd at 85: His best movie roles

From Back to the Future to Taxi, Yahoo UK looks back at the iconic actor's career

Christopher Lloyd has made some incredible films over his lifetime including Back to the Future (Alamy).
Christopher Lloyd has made some incredible films over his lifetime including Back to the Future (Alamy).

On 22 October Christopher Lloyd celebrates his 85th birthday, and while the milestone is special for him it gives film fans the opportunity to also commemorate one of the great American actors.

Born in 1938, Lloyd first began as a theatre actor in the 1960s and carved a formidable career for himself on stage before turning his sights to the starry lights of Hollywood in 1975 and, decades later, he is still going strong.

Read more: Christopher Lloyd says he's glad there's never been a 'Back to the Future 4'

He cemented his status as one of the titans of the entertainment industry in 1985 after he appeared in the Back to the Future trilogy as Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown opposite Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly.

Lloyd may be best known for his role as Doc, but the actor has given a number of memorable appearances on the silver screen in his lifetime.

With that in mind, let's look back at Lloyd's best movie roles in his long and illustrious career.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest | 1975

USA. Christopher Lloyd  in a scene from ©United Artists film : One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).  Plot: A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.  Ref: LMK110-J6583-120620 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Christopher Lloyd wowed in his first film role in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Alamy).

Lloyd came straight out the gate in top form, making his cinematic debut as patient Max Taber in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

The actor starred opposite Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito in the drama but more than held his own, taking the skills he'd learned in the theatre and applying it to the profanity-laden role of Taber.

He lent the character a nervous almost excitable energy that is most memorable in a scene where he repeatedly asks another character to "play the game".

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock | 1984

STAR TREK III: THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, Stephen Liska, Christopher Lloyd, John Larroquette, 1984, (c)Paramount/courtesy Everett
Stephen Liska, Christopher Lloyd, and John Larroquette in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Paramount)

Lloyd is perhaps the most unrecognisable in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, in which he played Klingon villain Commander Kruge who are keen to steal a device known as Genesis.

The actor landed the role as Spock star Leonard Nimoy, who directed the film, was impressed with his ability to play strong villains and his standout roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Taxi.

In an interview with the A.V. Club, Lloyd said of the role: "To this day, I don’t know why they cast me, because I hadn’t done anything that I can recall that bore any resemblance to the character of Captain Kruge."

Anastasia | 1997

Bartok & Rasputin Film: Anastasia (USA 1997) Characters: Bartok & Rasputin  Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman 14 November 1997   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of 20TH CENTURY FOX and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To 20TH CENTURY FOX is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
Rasputin and Bartok in Anastasia, Lloyd voiced the film's villain (20th Century)

As well as his roles on screen, Lloyd has also doing a lot of voice work in his time and his most memorable role is in the 1997 animation Anastasia.

The movie follows a fictional story centred on the legend of Russia's Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II. She was part of the Romanov royal family who were killed during the Russian revolution in 1918, but years later there were claims made that she had survived — which is what the animation suggests happened.

In the film, Lloyd lent his voice to the villain Grigori Rasputin, a controversial figure in history who is depicted as a man set on finding and killing Anastasia in the animation. The actor gave a marvelously malevolent performance as the character.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit | 1988

RABBIT,LLOYD, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, 1988,
Christopher Lloyd in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Alamy)

Another iconic villain of Lloyd's is Judge Doom in the beloved live-action and animation crossover Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which saw him reunite with director Robert Zemeckis after Back to the Future.

Read more: 'Roger Rabbit' screenwriters reveal the secret origin of Jessica Rabbit: 'Pretty sexy for a cartoon'

Judge Doom is a sinister figure who acts as he superior court judge of Toontown, where Roger Rabbit hails from and who goes after the animated character over the course of the movie.

Lloyd once again delivers a terrifying yet mesmerising performance which he has described as being "fun to play" because of how over the top and nasty the character is.

The Addams Family | 1991

Christina Ricci, Christopher Lloyd, Jimmy Workman Film: The Addams Family (1991) Characters: Wednesday Addams,Uncle Fester,Pugsley Addams  Director: Barry Sonnenfeld 22 November 1991   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of PARAMOUNT and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To PARAMOUNT is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from th
Christina Ricci, Christopher Lloyd, Jimmy Workman in The Addams Family (Paramount Pictures)

Before there was Wednesday there was the classic '90s Addams Family movies, the first of which came out in 1991 and saw Lloyd take on the role of Gordon Craven, who is later revealed to be Uncle Fester.

The film centres largely around his character who Gomez Adams (Raul Julia) believes is his brother Fester but in actual fact is a con artist, that is until he truly becomes Fester later in the movie after it is revealed he was suffering from amnesia.

Lloyd gives a delightfully camp performance throughout the film, and the actor went on to reprise the role in Addams Family Values in 1993.

Clue | 1985

CLUE, Christopher Lloyd, Lee Ving, Tim Curry, 1985, (c)Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection
Christopher Lloyd, Lee Ving, Tim Curry in Clue (Paramount)

Lloyd brought his unique acting to the murder mystery genre albeit one of a comedic genre in Clue, where he took on the role of Professor Plum opposite Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Madeline Kahn and more.

Based on the iconic board game of the same name, the film charts the events that take place when six strangers arrive in a secluded mansion and murders begin to take place.

Speaking to the A.V. Club about the film, Lloyd gushed: |What a cast. I mean, what an ensemble. I can’t recite the names of everybody, but it was just a wonderful group of people.

"The script was a lot of fun. The director [Jonathan Lynn] was very good. And it was still one of my earlier films. That was a great experience."

Eight Men Out | 1988

EIGHT MEN OUT (1988) CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, JOHN SAYLES (DIR/WRI) EMO 015
Christopher Lloyd in Eight Men Out (Alamy)

One of Lloyd's most beloved films is the sports drama Eight Men Out, in which he played Bill Burns, a gambler who conspired with the Chicago White Sox to intentionally lose the 1919 World Series.

The film also starred John Cusack, Charlie Sheen and John Mahoney amongst others and it became critically acclaimed for its performances including Lloyd, who once again played a memorable villain.

Taxi | 1978 - 1983

TAXI, Carol Kane, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch, 1978-83
Christopher Lloyd starred in Taxi opposite Carol Kane, Danny DeVito, Tony Danza, Marilu Henner, Judd Hirsch from 1978-83 (NBC)

Lloyd hasn't often forayed into TV over his career but when he did, he did it well. This is best represented by his role in the comedy series Taxi which reunited him with DeVito.

The actor played former drug addict and minister Reverend Jim "Iggy" Ignatowski in the series, first in a guest role before becoming a main cast member from season 2 to season 5.

His performance in the comedy series, which follows a group of employees at a cab company, was lauded by critics and earned him two Emmy awards for a Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

Back to the Future | 1985 - 1990

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox in Back To The Future (Credit: Universal)
Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox in Back To The Future (Credit: Universal)

Any list about Lloyd would be incomplete without the Back to the Future trilogy, the movie that Lloyd is likely to be remembered for in decades to come in the entertainment industry.

From delivering Doc's quirky dialogue — such as "great scott" and "1.21 gigawatts" — in memorable ways to his dynamic chemistry with Fox, there's a lot to love about Lloyd's performance.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox speak onstage at the Back to the Future Reunion during New York Comic Con 2022 on October 08, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ReedPop)
Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox speak onstage at the Back to the Future Reunion during New York Comic Con 2022. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for ReedPop)

Robert Zemeckis' film series spanned three movies, one set in 1985, another in 2015, and the third and final film in 1885. While the first film is by far the best, all three movies will be fondly remembered as some of the best sci-fi films ever made.

Watch: Christopher Lloyd meets the Back to the Future: The Musical cast