October 12th, 2010
09:21 AM ET

Michael J. Fox wasn't the original Marty McFly

Do you remember seeing “Back to the Future” for the first time? Take a little trip in your mental time machine to that moment, and then picture Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly instead of Michael J. Fox, as it turns out that Stoltz was the original actor tapped to play the role.

We have a first look at the never-before-seen footage from the first five weeks of filming “Back to the Future,” in which Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg and Bob Gale explain why Stoltz first landed the part and why they ended up replacing him.

Spielberg says in the clip that when he was shown some of the early footage, he agreed with Gale and Zemeckis that they weren't "getting the laughs" that they wanted to get with Stoltz as McFly, which led to what the team calls a "heartbreaking" decision.

The 25th anniversary "Back to the Future" trilogy will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on October 26, 2010.


Filed under: movies

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. efred

    I think that Topher Grace would be perfect to do any role that called for a MJF-type of comedy style. Watching some scenes in "That 70's Show," and you can see he has very similar comedic style and timing to MJF. I just don't know why he keeps on doing roles that fight against his strong sense of comedic timing; if he would just do action comedy like he was born to, he would be a much more popular actor.

    October 13, 2010 at 10:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Andy

    I knew this from trivia on VidTaggr (they even have a pic of Stoltz with Doc!) ... http://vidtaggr.com/taggs.aspx?v=vtd0888571-ab

    October 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lynn

    I'm no expert! But, just looking at the footage that was shot with Eric Stoltz, it's pretty clear he wasn't the right choice for the role. He's a good actor, but they needed someone who is naturally funny, easier to read and who could do the physical piece. The audience had to be able to know immeidately what Marty was thinking and Eric was a bit stiff. Michael J. Fox was a perfect fit!

    October 12, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DBOX

    The next big thing,,, underground hip hop ! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH4zZctQPb8

    October 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Moe

    They should use Stoltz for BTTF part 4 as Marty, since MJF is retired due to his illness.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Be Quiet

    Actually, Bea Arthur was originally cast as Marty McFly, but then was offered The Golden Girls. The producers then cast Geri Jewell in the role, but she had to back out due to the demands of her role as Cousin Geri on The Facts of Life.

    October 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Styles

    Why is this news? All of this stuff was on the special edition DVD that came out a few years back.
    Anyone who owns or has rented that DVD has see all of this stuff before.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack mcghee

      It was mentioned on the DVDs, and a few still photos were included, but this is the first time any actual moving footage has been released, or even leaked as far as I've ever heard.

      October 12, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. biff

    i knew about this a long time ago. this is old news but unless you are a movie buff then you probably didn't know about it. now everyone knows and the producers hope you will go buy the 25th anniversary DVD. plain and simple!

    October 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kyle

    Never before seen? Isn't this on the special edition DVD???

    October 12, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SubwayMary

    Originally, C. Thomas Howell (star of Coppola's THE OUTSIDERS and good friend of Stoltz) was cast as Marty. This is true. However, he was fired before principal photography began. Stoltz gets the call up and five weeks later is telling his friend, "You're not gonna believe what just happened to me..." MJF then does double duty, Family Ties by day and BTTF by night. The rest is history.

    October 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. zappafrank

    Wow, Stoltz is a dead ringer for Crispin Glover in some of those shots. (Plus, at times he reminds me of Jason Bateman).

    October 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. you wasted everybody's time with your post

    Haha-ugh. From lame comment to lame comment 2.0.

    October 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. realisticexpectations

    From Marty McFly to THE Fly 2.0

    Hehe

    October 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DC

    This is such old news, literally. I read about this 20 years ago.

    October 12, 2010 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JT

    Hey! Does anyone else think that Eric Stoltz looks a lot like Eminem, on the last scene of the clip that shows him crossing the street? I caught the resemblance right away!

    October 12, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Andy

    The original BTTF was one of the best movies ever made, but a quarter of a century later, who cares if MJF was originally cast or not?

    October 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      ...the people who are trying to sell a "new" re-hashed version of what BTTF fans most likely already own.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  17. otto

    News Flash! Buddy Ebsen was actually the original Tin Man in the Wizzard of Oz until he became sick due to the .... Uh, better save this chestnut for another slow news day.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  18. RJ

    Funny considering how much alike Stoltz and MJF look.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  19. mattmchugh

    That's nothing. The original choice for Doc Brown was Anthony Hopkins. (imagine your best Hannibal Lecter voice): I'm sorry, Martin, but the only power source capable of generating 1.21 gigawatts of electricity is a bolt of lightning. Unfortunately, you never know when or where it's ever gonna strike."

    October 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Gonzo

    Don't get me wrong, Stoltz is a great actor, but he just doesn't "do funny". He's even a funny and likeable guy at cons (OK, my geek is showing.) but he'd be way out of place in a comedic role.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  21. B

    I love Back to the Future. All of them. One of the best movies ever. Its on TV about once a week and I watch it every time.

    October 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  22. acw

    Michael J Fox IS, WAS and ALWAYS WILL BE the ORIGINAL Marty McFly

    October 12, 2010 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  23. vegasmama

    BIG FAN OF BACK TO THE FUTURE MOVIES AND YOUR WORK ,HOPE YOUR HEALTH IS DOING BETTER, U HAVE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY,GOD BLESS U ALL OUR PRAYERS R WITH U

    October 12, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  24. ShingoEX

    Amazing how I've managed to see this "never-before-seen footage" ages ago.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  25. Jeremy

    This is old news.
    Season 1 or 2 of Fringe showed this fact as well in the alternate reality world – it was posted at the movie theater on the other side.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • MarcyD

      Well, if it happened on Fringe, then it must be real.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • FNN

      I thought the Fringe News Network got canceled.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      @MarcyD, You laugh now but wait until the mercury-filled shapeshifters come to get you. Then we all know who will be laughing: Walter Bishop. Because he's nutbars.

      Anyway, the Eric Stoltz Back to the Future reference in Fringe was great.

      October 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  26. The_Mick

    Stoltz might have been tabbed, but he never shot the scenes, so the headline is wrong: Michael J. Fox was the original Marty McFly. To argue otherwise would be like saying the manager of the team originally planned to have Player A bat first, but then changed his lineup and lead-off with Player B: so Player A was actually the first player in the game. It doesn't work that way.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • The_Mick

      Correction – whoops – I mean't he didn't film any "official" scenes. It's like the batter who warms up on the on-deck circle and is replaced before he gets to the plate – the replaced hitter doesn't get credit for an at-bat.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Wigwamsgirl

      He shot 5 weeks worth of scenes...so he was the first pick, he basically got canned partway in...so I have to disagree

      October 12, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      The headline is correct. Stoltz was cast for the role and filmed for FIVE WEEKS, therefore he WAS the original Marty McFly. You baseball analogy is a bad analogy for this scenario.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Are you serious? He filmed for 5 weeks. Did you not watch the video and see the actual scenes Eric Stoltz shot?

      October 12, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • guest

      I thought that MJF was orginally cast as Marty but couldn't do the movie becuase of family ties. Then they realized that Stoltz wasn't cutting it so they then convinced MFJ to reconsider and he fit it into his schedule. So MJF was originally cast as Marty. Then Stoltz was cast second, failed at the job and MJF reclaimed the role.

      October 12, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Adria

      Beg to differ I just saw the footage with Stoltz. They did shoot 5 weeks worth of work with Stoltz and scrapped it.How about if you read and watch before you shoot off your mouth lol

      October 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/at-the-movies/a277054/bttf-week-stoltz-leaves-fox-arrives.html

      October 12, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      Guessing you didn't watch the video that clearly shows Stoltz in the scenes...

      October 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      If you're going to run your mouth and act like you know what you're saying about articles ... make sure you read the whole article and the video which PROVES that you didn't do either. Nice try though!

      October 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lou Costello aKa: Mr. Speed

      Wait...
      So who's on first???
      Who's pitching tomorrow???
      I don't know!!!

      October 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Madia

      Christ, he corrected his post mere minutes after he made the error. Give the guy a break. Hasn't anyone else ever hit send before they meant to?

      October 12, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred L. Fraud

      Holy crap! Everyone here get in my car and let's go feed a homelss person! Jeezuz Cryst!!!

      October 12, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  27. citizenUSA

    It's funny because I can't see anyone else being Marty. MJF did a great job in all three.

    October 12, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Lawrence

      I agree, MJF seems to have that chemistry required to do 50's rock and play someone who is a slacker.

      October 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |

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