Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly? Your favorite '80s 'could've been' stories?

Fans of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly will want to watch the clip below from the bonus features of the Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Trilogy collection out Oct. 26. We get a peek at what the movie would have looked like if director Robert Zemeckis didn’t realize after five weeks of filming that Eric Stoltz, who was originally cast as the teen time traveler, had different “comedy sensibilities” than himself and his co-writer Bob Gale. As executive producer Steven Spielberg recalls in the clip, Zemeckis showed him some footage and said he didn’t think they were getting the kind of laughs they wanted. Zemeckis had to make what he refers to as the “horrific decision” to recast the role after the studio agreed to let him reshoot those five weeks worth of film. Stoltz, of course, went on to get his big break in 1985’s Mask — and both he and Fox earned Golden Globe nominations that year.

While you ponder a Back to the Future with Eric Stoltz, think back to all the trivia you’ve collected on beloved ’80s films over the years and share your favorite “could’ve been” stories. I’ll start: We’re still waiting for 1989’s Weekend at Bernie’s to get a tricked-out DVD release, so when the movie hit shelves in 2005 with the trailer as the only bonus feature, we phoned Jonathan Silverman to create our own extras. He told us it was supposed to costar Jon Cryer, not Andrew McCarthy: “They had us screen-test for both roles, so all we knew was that one of us would be playing [Richard] and the other would be playing [Larry], and we’d start shooting in a few weeks,” Silverman said. “I’m not sure what happened. Then it became me and Andrew.” Another ’80s classic that could’ve been different? 1986’s Pretty in Pink. According to the 20th Anniversary DVD, the role of Blane was originally scripted as a square-jawed jock for which Charlie Sheen was considered — not McCarthy. And as for Duckie, Robert Downey Jr. was up for the part, which Cryer has admitted he didn’t know at the time. “I knew Fisher Stevens was up for it,” he told EW in 2006, “because he and I were hopping from show to show: He was doing Torch Song and I was doing Brighton Beach, and then I was doing Torch Song and he was doing Brighton Beach. There was this whole cottage industry of young male actors who were, basically, either understudying for or taking roles from Matthew Broderick at the time. And knowing that Fisher was a really tremendously gifted guy, I thought, Oh, I’m in trouble.” Your turn! 

Comments (132 total) Add your comment
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  • Jen

    Eddie Murphy as Winston in “Ghostbusters.”

    • Martin

      The part of Dr Venkman was originally written for John Belushi, but because he died, the role was given to Bill Murray.

    • Sam and Freddie FOREVER

      All of these trivia things are not new info, the footage is new – I am just glad Eric Stoltz was able to star in the greatest 80s movie of all time – Some Kind of Wonderful!!!!!

      • Bianca

        I agree with you. That is seriously one of my favorite movies.

        ps I also agree with your screen name :)

      • Ashley

        One of my faves!!

    • Shane

      All of these remakes piss me off. I suppose if you repackage the same thing again and again, a few morons will always show up with their wallets open expecting something fresh & new.

      • Josh M

        Breaking news: Shane can’t read.

      • Joshua

        There’s no remake. Read the article, THEN comment.

      • Jason

        Remakes aren’t new. The problem with these current remakes, is that the originals are not in Black and White, so it seems like they shouldn’t be remade. Granted, I have yet to see a recent remake that was better than the original, but most of the originals are over 20 years old. For example: Both The Breakfast Club, and Back to the Future are 25yrs old. In the 80’s, if they remade a movie, it was usually from the 60’s- no one whined then. At least they are waiting nearly 30 years now.

      • Jason

        Joshua : there is a remake in the works, and they are still trying to get the script “updated”. It is still in the “idea” phase, but is being worked on. Check your facts, then comment, D Bag

  • S.O.

    Wasn’t Tom Selleck offered the part as Indiana Jones & he turned it down? Imagine if he didn’t.

    • Robert

      He didn’t turn it down. He couldn’t get out of his CBS contract (for Magnum, PI), and then Harrison Ford was cast.

      • Chris

        This is how you know God is REAL.

      • ally

        THAT’S how you know god is real? LOL.. Yeah, because god, if he even exists, gives a crap about movie casting…

    • mondo182

      Selleck HAD to turn it down after CBS wouldn’t let him out of his contract for Magnum P.I. But you don’t have to leave too much to the imagination, there’s a screentest of Selleck as Indy - Stuart Townsend being replaced by Viggo Mortensen for Aragorn is another example that comes to mind.

      • mondo182

        Oops, ’80s movies only. Forget Aragorn then. How about Sylvester Stallone as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop?

      • I think Curt Russel . . .

        Also read for Han Solo

      • I think Curt Russel . . .

        No wait he read for Luke. One of the two anyway.

    • TImothy

      Yes he was want as the lead part , but do to the Fact he had just started magium P.I he had to turn it down , so not knowing what to do at the last minute George lucas called his old friend to fill the spot (they didnt realy want Harrison ford as Star Wars triogy was still in the making

  • Mac

    Back to the Future without Michael J. Fox?! No way. It’s crazy to think that Tom Selleck was going to step into the role of Indiana Jones before Harrison Ford took the role.

    • llevinso

      Agreed. Michael J. Fox IS Marty McFly. Loved those movies when I was younger.

    • WTF?

      Melora Hardin, aka Jan from The Office, was originally going to play Jennifer, but when they recast Michael J. Fox, she was too tall for him!

    • BG 17

      Imagine if this happened on a current movie set: if they recast the lead after 5 weeks of filming, the movie would be labeled as problematic and the media would then pick apart everything that occurred afterward. There is something to be said about not knowing every detail about a movie before it is released…

  • Mole

    This is a ’70s one, but I always wonder what Star Wars would’ve looked like with Christopher Walken as Han Solo. Actually, thank you Kevin Spacey and SNL for fulfilling that curiosity.

    • MsSuniDaze

      Cindy Williams was considered for the role of Princess Leia.

      • Ian

        She wasn’t really considered for it. She just happened to audition for it, along with a ton of other people.

  • talnhess

    Fascinating to finally see footage of Stoltz as McFly. They’ve kept it so tightly under wraps I didn’t think we’d ever see it.

  • Mac

    Molly Ringwald in Pretty Woman…

    • llevinso

      Wasn’t Demi Moore supposed to play the lead in that but turned the part down? Hadn’t heard about Ringwald…

      • Susie

        I don’t think Demi Moore was ever cast in the role, but I do know that Molly Ringwald was originally supposed to be in Ghost also. She made some *interesting* career decisions.

    • JFWilder

      Yeah…Molly got all full of herself and started getting picky. An instant relegation to C list actress.

      She’s slowly resurfacing after years and years. Too little, too late. Susie…you were being too kind with “interesting” career decisions. More like totally igoranant.

  • JD

    Casting is such a huge part of making good movies. This a textbook example of casting that completely changed the film. Even though Stoltz is a fine actor, he wasn’t right for the part.

    • Meli

      Maybe not, but Stoltz is actually a fine comic actor. His role in Pulp Fiction as Travolta’s dealer was absolutely hilarious.

    • K

      Just those few scenes, it looks much more like a drama than a comedy. Very interesting. Casting is everything here.

      • LibbyP

        It feels almost wistful.

      • Lisa Simpson

        It looked like a much darker movie.

  • Meli

    It may have come out in 1991, but imagine Michelle Pfeiffer as Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. She was originally offered the role and turned it down.

    • harry

      For really!! hell naw!!

    • Nathan

      Michelle could’ve pulled it off in Silence of the Lambs

      • shdrew

        Not in a million years. Michelle Pfeiffer is nowhere near as talented as Jodie Foster.

    • Pietra Gunn

      Didn’t they also offer the Hannibal Lecter role to Alan Rickman at first? That would’ve been a totally diff. movie.

      • Imagine if . . .

        Brian Cox actually reprised the roll. I think Gene Hackman was in the running too.

      • Regan

        Huh. I guess it’s like swearing in church saying this, but I think Alan Rickman would have been a better choice.

      • Pietra Gunn

        @ Regan: Oh, defnitely. I didn’t mean differet in a bad way. It’d be really interesting to see Rickman go that direction. Many of the baddies he’s known for are on a less psychological level. I think the closest he’s ever come was in Closet Land, where he was amazing to watch.

      • Pietra Gunn

        Meant to type *definitely and *different.

      • Hisdroogness

        brian cox played the role 1st in manhunter the best of all adaption’s

  • CatBoreal

    I just watched Fringe where they had a marque from the alt-universe that had Back to the Future with Eric Stoltz. Seems that wasn’t as random a choice as I originally thought.

    • LoveBug

      OMG – that is right! Awesome. How good is Fringe? Its the details baby!!!

    • Lisa London

      I noticed that too and it made me giggle!

  • Big Bill

    O.J. Simpson as the Terminator!

    • harry

      That didn’t happen

    • Mr. Holloway

      That’s my favorite one! Can you imagine?

    • Or Lance Henrik (Spelling?)

      As the terminator.

      • JFWilder

        OJ was a terminator…unfortunately in real life.

  • harry

    Eric Stoltz seems more dramatic in his portral of Marty McFly.

  • andy

    sandra bullock took over for demi moore in while you were sleeping. julia roberts took over for meg ryan in steel magnolias. richard gere took over for john travolta in An Officer and a Gentleman, American Giggalo and Chicago.

  • andy

    and actually, Kim Basinger had pretty woman before julia roberts.

    • Bride of Chucky

      I thought that was Sleeping with the Enemy

    • SLT

      Actually Molly Ringwald turned down the role in Pretty Woman…

  • Nathan

    Jennifer Grey almost got the lead for Flashdance. She showed them didn’t she (w/ Dirty Dancing).

    • Zach

      And DWTS!!

  • mbm

    -Robert Downey Jr. almost got the role of Ferris Bueller
    -Michael Douglas almost won the role of Eliot Ness in The Untouchables
    -Robert Redford was initially cast in Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    -Robin Williams was considered for the Joker in Batman
    -John Travolta turned down both American Gigolo and An Officer and a Gentleman
    -Sharon Stone auditioned for Fatal Attraction

    • Mike

      hmm, I thought Robin Williams was considered for the RIDDLER in batman forever (instead of Jim Carrey). Maybe it was both?

      • Devin

        i’m pretty sure it was both. he’s been trying to get into the batman movies forever… i think
        i don’t actually know seeing as i’m not actually robin williams. i know your shocked the resemblence IS uncanny.

    • reel_deal

      Before the studio went into panic mode after Michael Keaton was cast as Batman and they brought in Jack Nicholson, Tim Curry and James Woods were considered for the Joker, Robin Williams only ever lobbied for the part, as he did again for Christopher Nolan in the Dark Knight and apparently he is lobbying to play The Riddler in the next installment. Essentially, Robin Williams wanted to, but the directors/ studios didn’t want him

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