Alternate Time-lines: Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly from BACK TO THE FUTURE!

Of all the re-casts in cinema history the one that has always fascinated me is Eric Stoltz originally playing Marty McFly in Robert Zemeckis' classic 'Back to the Future', which is currently on re-release across the U.K. I grew up with the time travel trilogy and was totally unaware that Zemeckis had shot five weeks worth of footage with Stoltz before realising the movie wasn't turning out how he'd hoped until, probably, the late nineties. Since then I've semi-regularly googled Eric's name in regards to 'BTTF' in the hopes that someone, somewhere had uncovered those five weeks' worth of footage and uploaded them online. With the brand new BTTF Blu-Ray they haven't quite gone the whole hog, but they've been oh so tantilising in showing us - in a documentary clip currently up at The Hollywood Reporter - that the footage of Stoltz performing in those iconic scenes still exists in pretty good form. It's apparent from the footage that Stoltz definitely lacked the light comic touch that made 'BTTF' the blockbuster mega-hit and enduring classic it is. I saw the re-release at the cinema last night and adored it all the more, noticing new details and stylistic touches that had bypassed me through years of small-screen familiarity.

Stoltz is clearly, in these frustratingly mute glimpses, giving Marty's dilemma a somewhat more dramatic edge, which is more befitting his own slightly skewed indie-persona. It's oddly sadistic that I want to see more, get a taste of what this footage would have felt like cut together into coherent scenes, I mean, how much of the movie did they shoot in five weeks? Here we have Marty meeting his father for the first time; Marty and Doc first discussing his 1.21 gigawatt predicament; Marty wandering round the 1950's Hill Valley and there are stills of Stoltz and Christopher Lloyd filming the first time travel sequence where Copernicus is sent a minute into the future. For me, this is an incredible peak at an alternate reality where Zemeckis wasn't granted the chance to reshoot those five weeks by Universal, where he was forced to suffer through with a creative compromise and deliver a very different version of 'Back to the Future' that, I'm sorry to say Stoltz, probably wouldn't have been receiving an enthusiastic re-release on its 25th anniversary. It's a strange thought that regardless of the quality of a screenplay, and 'Back to the Future' is one of the finest, it can all be down to the casting of one - albeit absolutely key - character that can utterly determine the fate of a motion picture. It makes you think about what kind of topsy turvy world we'd be living in if Christopher Walken was cast as Han Solo.

We need more writers about Movie News, Back To The Future, Eric Stoltz and Alternate Timelines! Get started below...

Create Content and Get Paid


Owain Paciuszko hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.