Back in Time trailer

Robert Zemeckis has never talked much about recasting Eric Stoltz in Back to the Future. The actor was completely wrong for the movie, and after a few weeks of shooting, Zemeckis decided to recast the role. To see the director of this weekend’s The Walk discuss the casting change, check out the video after the jump.

In the upcoming Back to the Future documentary, Back in Time, Zemeckis touches on why he cast Stoltz, and why he had to replace him. Universal pushed for the actor after seeing his performance in Mask, but Zemeckis, from day one, knew he wasn’t the right actor for the job. The young visionary made a deal with the studio that, if he wasn’t pleased with the actor’s performance, he could fire him — and Zemeckis did just that.

Here’s the director discussing the casting change, courtesy of EW:

Eric Stoltz in Back to the Future would’ve sunk the movie. On the set, the actor requested to be called “Marty McFly” at all times, by the cast and the crew — which the crew definitely did not appreciate. Even when they’d run through the script before shooting, Stoltz, a serious dramatic actor, would often misunderstand the story’s humor. Some of the actors admired his commitment to the role, with the exception of Thomas F. Wilson. In one scene, Stoltz kept pushing Wilson way too hard, over and over again, and the Freaks and Geeks actor was having none of it. Wilson planned on getting even with Stoltz when it was time for Biff Tannen to go after McFly, but that taste of revenge never came, as the lead actor was let go before that part of the shoot.

Zemeckis had a tough one-on-one conversation with Stoltz, which, understandably, the director has never revealed too much details about. Back in Time likely focuses a good deal of time on the casting change, but so does Caseen Gaine‘s “We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy,” an in-depth look at the three Back to the Future films. The book is a must-own for any Back to the Future or Zemeckis fan; it does a really good job of explaining the insane level of attention-to-detail the director and his co-writer, Bob Gale, put into those movies.

By the way, if you’ve been disappointed with Zemeckis’ recent films, then you’ll be pleased with The Walk. This isn’t saying much, but it’s his most emotional film since Cast Away — and maybe the most emotional film he’s ever directed. The first act is rough, but when the story and pacing picks up some momentum, The Walk turns into a moving and exhilarating movie, reminding us, once again, why Zemeckis is so beloved.

Back in Time opens in limited release and on VOD October 21st.

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