GREAT SCOTT! This year, the 21st October 2015 will come and it will go, and there will be no hoverboards, self-fitting clothes, self-tying shoes or entire meals that come in pill form. That was what was promised. That’s what Robert Zemeckis and Michael J. Fox teased us with, and they didn’t deliver. In all fairness, we shouldn’t have been surprised - after all, these were just predictions made of the future (our present) back in 1985. If film predictions all came true then we would have lost this world to the machines back in 1997 - thank you James Cameron for those nightmares. Back in 1985 a gigawatt was such a foreign idea Doc Brown mispronounced it - repeatedly - throughout the movie and no one knew. This is the reality we live with everyday, the reality that all we want is a fantasy.
There’s not a lot we haven’t learnt about *ahem* the greatest movie ever made (!) in the 30 years since its birth - the cast are still alive and working, and even Eric Stoltz, the actor MJF infamously replaced partway through production, gets a gig here and there. Zemeckis is still a famed and revered director and co-writer Bob Gale... well, he’s pretty much still cashing in on the whole 'BTTF' thing. Good for him.
With three decades worth of knowledge in our back pocket we now know everything about the making of this trilogy, down to the smallest detail, like how shooting completion to cinema release was just 10 short weeks - unheard of back in 1985, unspeakable by today’s standards, even for an indy. So instead of looking back at a past that’s already happened and a "future" that never will be (Except for the hoverboard. The hoverboard is real, I’m telling you! We just need more time!), how about imaging a time that could have been.
What if... Eric Stoltz had completed filming? Not quite possessing the comedic chops Zemeckis wanted for his genre-bending time-travel spectacular, Stoltz was given his marching papers just five weeks into production and replaced by original first choice MJF. Michael was of course already a bonafide TV star at the time thanks to ‘Family Ties’, but without 'BTTF' where would he have gone? Stoltz has always been a consistent actor but never quite the big wave maker of Hollywood. Could Fox have become the star of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’? Could Stoltz have voiced Stuart Little? Won critical praise for ‘The Secret of My Success’? Or perhaps won over TV viewers playing the deputy mayor of New York?
Now try this one on for size - only a year before Marty McFly, the world was captivated by another kid by the name of Daniel LaRusso. Portrayed by Ralph Macchio who since his Karate Kid days has gone on to do... um... well... he was in that one episode of ‘How I met Your Mother’, he turned down the role of Marty thinking the movie was lame and only about a kid, a car and some plutonium pills. Whaaa!? Geez, luckily the Karate Kid thing worked out for him because he don’t seem too bright.
What about Doc Brown - no one, and I mean no one could have played Doc Brown other than Christopher Lloyd, or could they? He's younger, more handsome and hindsight tells us he can play a convincing mad scientist - ladies and gentleman, the role of Doctor Emmett Brown will now be played by Jeff Goldblum. The chaos! Lucky for us and Lloyd, Goldblum came, he saw, but he did not conquer his audition. After playing Doc Brown maybe Jeff would have turned down future eccentric scientist rolls such as Seth Brundle, Ian Malcolm or, dare I say, David Levinson. But as a wise man once said, “Life finds a way.”
And finally, to the last member of this holy trinity - the DeLorean. An expensive embarrassment to the automotive world, only 9,000 were ever made before the motor company went belly up. Chosen for its spaceship-like appearance, the first two drafts of the 'BTTF' screenplay saw the time-travel machine as a laser device and a - wait for it - refrigerator. Imagine spending the last 30 years of your life lusting after a Fisher & Paykel 320L instead of what is now known as the coolest car ever (next to the Batmobile). Ultimately the fridge idea was scrapped because the filmmakers decided they needed the machine to be mobile. Luckily for us, Steven Spielberg made refrigerators cool again back in 2008 thanks to Indiana Jones. *pause for thought*... *pause for forehead slapping*.
If ‘Back the the Future’ taught us anything, it’s that changing the past changes the future. Goldblum, Macchio, a fridge... chances are 'BTTF' wouldn’t have even seen a ‘Top 100 Greatest Films of all time’ list, let alone two more sequels. Alas, the perfect cast eventually found its way into history, two more sequels did eventuate completing one of the greatest trilogies of all time, and the car that never should have existed been became the car everyone wanted. As for the rest of it - the clothes, the hoverboards, 19 Jaws sequels and 3D holographic billboards - well, perhaps even more time will tell if they ever see the light of day or whether they will remain, as they always have been, in our fantasies, where we don’t need roads.