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30 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Back To The Future Trilogy

October 23, 2015 5:52 PM

backtothefuture 1280 30 Things You Probably Didnt Know About The Back To The Future Trilogy
Think you know everything there is to know about the “Back To The Future” trilogy? Think again! We’ve compiled a thorough list of the things you probably didn’t know about one of the world’s greatest and most iconic films.

 

1.) The Studio Originally Wanted To Name The Film By Another Title
If you can even imagine it, the head of Universal Pictures Sid Sheinberg thought that any film with the title ‘future’ in it was doomed from the start. Instead, he suggested to Director Robert Zemeckis that the film be titled “Spaceman from Pluto”. We all have Steven Speilberg to thank that Sheinberg’s suggestion didn’t make it on the final cut and they wen’t with “Back To The Future” instead.


(Photo by Frazier Harrison//Getty Images)

(Photo by Frazier Harrison//Getty Images)


2.) Michael J. Fox Is Actually Older Than The Character That Plays His Father
Michael J. Fox is actually 3 years older than Crispin Glover, or the character that plays his father in the film. It might not seem like it though because Michael J. Fox is 5′ 4″ in height, or just because he looks young. By the time Fox shot part II and III, he was just 28 years old, even though he was playing a 17 year old.


3.) The Guy That Played “The Karate Kid” Turned Down The Marty McFly Role
Can you even imagine the “Back To The Future” trilogy without Michael J. Fox? Of course not, right? Well, it turns out that he wasn’t their only choice in selecting the starring role. The actor, best known for his role in “The Karate Kid” series, Ralph Macchio, turned down the role of Marty McFly because he thought the plot to be too lame.


(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)


4.) Actor Crispin Glover (Marty’s Dad) Technically Wasn’t In Parts II & III
Thinking he deserved more money for “Back To The Future II,” Crispin Glover (or Marty McFly’s father) actually refused to keep playing the part after the original film. The feud between him and the studio developed because the studio was paying him less than half of what Lorraine (Marty’s mother) and Biff Tannen received. So, when he refused to go with the salary offered to him, the movie went on without him and the show went on. If you see him in parts II & III, it’s actually archival footage from the first film, as well as another actor that looks similar to him. Crispin Glover actually tried to sue Steven Spielberg and the other producers for using his likeness without permission also.


5.) The Script Was Rejected Over 40 Times By Every Major Studio
That’s right. One of the best films of all time almost never made it to the big screen. According to director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale, the script was rejected over 40 times by every single major studio and some more than once. Gale notes, the studio’s didn’t think a film about the future wouldn make any money. Eventually Steven Spielberg took an interest to it, becoming the first non-Speilberg directed movie to be made at his new company.


6.) Doc Brown Was Supposed To Have A Pet Chimpanzee
According to writer Bob Gale, in the original script, Doc Brown didn’t have his pet dog Einstein by his side. Instead, he had a pet chimpanzee. The head of Universal Pictures at the time, Sid Sheinberg, said that no film with a chimpanzee ever made any money and rejected that idea.


7.) Michael J. Fox Filmed “Back To The Future” Basically On His Spare Time
Because Michael J. Fox was a full-time cast member of the hit TV show “Family Ties,” he actually filmed most of the “Back To The Future” scenes at night or on the weekends. Zemeckis remembers that it was one of the hardest parts of making the film. Michael J. Fox basically never slept because all daytime exterior shots were on the weekend and the other parts were done at night when he wasn’t filming “Family Ties”.


(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


8.) President Ronald Reagan Got Quite A Laugh Out Of The Film
When President Reagan saw the “Back To The Future” scene where Doc Brown laughs off that Ronald Reagan the actor was going to be president, he liked it so much that he had the scene replayed for him.


 (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)


9.) Christopher Lloyd’s First Name ‘Emmett’ Wasn’t Chosen Randomly
It turns out that Christopher Lloyd’s character’s first name, Emmett, was chosen for a reason. If you pronounce “Emmett” in syllables backwards, it spells “Time” (em-it).


10.) Several Other Characters Were Considered For The Role Of Marty McFly
Michael J. Fox wasn’t the studio’s only option to play Marty. It turns out that C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, John C Cusack and Corey Hart were also in the running for the main character. Without Michael J. Fox, it would’ve been a totally different film though!


(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)


11.) The Nike Shoes Marty Wears Actually Went Into Production (Kind Of)
The Nike shoes that Marty McFly wears in the scenes from the future were eventually made by Nike and were available for sale in 2008. The only difference was that the technology for self-lacing hadn’t (and still hasn’t) been invented, so they didn’t offer that feature.


12.) Make-Up Takes Time

When you see Marty as an older man, it took a ton of time to apply the make-up so that it would make him look legitimately older. Up to 4 hours in fact.


(credit: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock)

(credit: Jaguar PS/Shutterstock)


13.) Elijah Wood Made His First Movie Appearance In Part II
In Part II of the trilogy, Elijah Wood makes his movie debut. You’ll find him in the scene where Marty and Biff meet in the diner. He’s one of the kids in the background dressed in futuristic gear.


(credit: Erin Cadigan/Shutterstock)

(credit: Erin Cadigan/Shutterstock)


14.) The DeLorean Is Named For The Inventor Of The Car
John DeLorean was a rising employee at General Motors Company in the 1960’s. In fact, he’s credited as conceiving the idea for the popular Firebird and GTO models. But, he decided to scrap all of that and start the DeLorean Motor Company instead in 1975. The company eventually went under in 1982, but because of the “Back To The Future” movie series, the Delorean brand, and especially the DMC-12 has taken on cult status.


(credit: Getty Images)

(credit: Getty Images)


15.) The Time Machine Was Originally Supposed To Be A Refrigerator
Nope, it’s not a typo. You heard it right. In an early version of the script, the time machine was actually supposed to be a refrigerator, and needed to use the power of an atomic explosion to return home. Fortunately for everyone (and the DeLorean Motor Company), director Robert Zemeckis was afraid that kids might try to go back in time themselves and lock themselves in refrigerators. Instead, they opted for a mobile time machine. The DeLorean DMC-12 was chosen because they thought the design looked more believable and the car looks pretty futuristic (especially when it was chosen in the 80’s).


16.) Speilberg’s Son Makes A Cameo, Sort Of
When Marty McFly is almost eaten by the animated shark, you’ll notice that Jaws 19 is directed by Max Speilberg, the real life son of famed director/producer/movie exec Steven Spielberg.


 

17.) Actor/Comedian Tom Wilson, Who Plays Biff Tannen Improvised Some Of His Famed Lines
With films, the lines and scenes are usually set in stone these days leaving no room for improvisation. But, that’s in fact what went on with Biff’s most famous lines. The term “butthead,” and “Make like a tree, and get out of here” were coined by Wilson and improvised.


 

(Leon Neal/Getty Images)

(Leon Neal/Getty Images)


18.) Johnny Depp As Marty McFly?
According to historical record, the now infamous actor Johnny Depp auditioned for the role of Marty McFly, but he was turned down.


19.) Christopher Lloyd Wasn’t The Only Person Considered For Doc Brown
Jeff Goldblum (famous for many films now), John Lithgow (now known for roles in many movies and plays), as well as the English actor Dudley Moore were also considered for the role of the Doctor Emmett Brown.


20.) Michael J. Fox Almost Suffocated In “Back To The Future III”
Remember the scene when McFly gets dragged through the streets of the wild west town by horses and then is roped up to be hanged? Well, in Michael J. Fox’s memoir “Lucky Man,” he said that he was really suffocating and actually lost consciousness for a few seconds.


(credit: Getty Images)

(credit: Getty Images)


21.) Clint Eastwood Had To Give His Permission To Use His Name
These days, you can’t just use someone’s name in a film apparently. In “Back To The Future Part III,” Marty McFly disguised himself with the name ‘Clint Eastwood’. In order to use the name, Clint himself had to give his permission for Marty to use the name for his 1885 alter ego.


(Photo credit Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)


22.) Budget Constraints Made The Film A Better Movie
Originally, Robert Zemeckis had planned for the end of the film to be take place in Nevada so that the 1.2 gigawatts needed for time travel would be provided by a nuclear test site. But, because over over budgeting, they decided to put a clock on the courthouse, which kept the scene in Hill Valley, saved a ton of money and made the lightning strike the way the time machine would time travel. In the end, everyone’s in agreement that it made it a better ending.


Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)


23.) No Part IV
According to both Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, putting together a part IV of the “Back To The Future” film series would just be overkill.


24.) Tim Robbins Was Supposed To Play Biff Tannen
As with most movies, directors and the rest of the staff look for options for characters. In Biff Tannen’s case, Tim Robbins was once in the running to play the antagonist. Somehow the movie just wouldn’t be the same with Robbins playing the snarky, mean, evil and snide Tannen character.


25.) During The First Film, Crispin Glover Lost His Voice
Crispin Glover, better known as Marty McFly’s father George McFly, actually lost his voice during filming and they had to dub dialogue into the film during editing later on.


(Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)

(Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)


26.) Highest Grossing Film Of 1985
“Back To The Future” set all kinds of records, but most notably, it was the highest grossing film of 1985. It earned $210 million in America alone that year. Since then, the “Back To The Future” trilogy has gone on to make millions more. As of June 2011, the series was the 14th highest grossing trilogy of all time at the domestic market level, and the 13-highest grossing trilogy of all time worldwide. It also set major records when it was re-released on October 21, 2015, or the date Marty and Doc set the clock in the time machine to go back to the future.


(credit: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock)

(credit: Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock)


27.) The Film Was Billy Zane’s First Screen Role
As one of Biff Tannen’s goons in the series, Billy Zane made his first big screen appearance. Since the film went on to public acclaim, he starred in the huge hit known as “Titanic” and others.


28.) Why The Name Biff Tannen?
Biff Tannen was actually named after someone at Universal Pictures who put out the film. The executive, Ned Tanen, was particularly unpleasant to Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale during a script meeting for another film, so they decided for some good ol’ payback.


29.) Marty McFly’s Character Was Named For Someone
How does one come up with a name “Marty McFly”? Well, it turns out that he was named after an assistant Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had worked with and known from the set of “Used Cars.”


30.) The Famous Hill Valley Clock Tower Was Used In Other Films Too
The famous Hill Valley clock tower, which was so important to the plot of the “Back To The Future” film series, actually sits on Courthouse Square on the Universal backlot. It was used as a backdrop in films like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Gremlins.” And, after its use in “Back To The Future,” the TV series “Buffy The Vampire Slayer and even the movie “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carrey used it in parts of their scenes.


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