JOE's Film Flashback... Back to the Future (1985) 7 years ago

JOE's Film Flashback... Back to the Future (1985)

JOE's Spoiler Series... Back to the Future.

Welcome to JOE's Spoiler Series, where we take you behind the scenes to some of motion picture's finest. This is your *SPOILER ALERT* warning, no more excuses now.


Ready? Then follow us as we find out all there is know about the legendary action comedy, Back to the Future.

Title: Back to the Future

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Irish release Date: December 20, 1985


Worldwide Box Office: $381,109,762

Irish Certificate Rating: PG

Tag Line: "Where we're going, we don't need roads".

Back to the Future


Plot's it all about?

"Change the name to 'Spaceman from Pluto'".

This was the advice of Universal Pictures when they saw the title of the movie. Thankfully, the director Robert Zemeckis stuck with Back to the Future - it proved to be a wise move.

The time travel action comedy classic was the highest grossing film in 1985, is regularly included in the list of best movies, spawned two sequels and launched the career of Michael J. Fox.


Creating the script after looking through his father's high school year book and wondering if he would have been friends with his dad in school, chief writer Bob Gale was inspired to pen the sci-fi adventure.

Back to the Future is a barrel of laughs that sees Marty McFly (Fox) accidentally transported 30 years back in the time-travelling DeLorean that his friend and mad-cap scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) invented.

While back in 1955, Marty must do everything he can to ensure that his parents meet and fall in love so he can secure his own future and return home.

With the synopsis sorted, here is some killer trivia about this modern day classic…

The original script was rejected on a number of occasions


... 40 times, to be exact.

steven spielberg

Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Pictures, felt that people wouldn't watch a movie with the word 'future' in the title. He wrote to Zemeckis and suggested the 'Spaceman...' alternative, which is where Steven Spielberg came in.

The legendary director was involved in production and responded to Sheinberg's request by applauding a great "joke memo."

Sheinberg, allegedly too proud to admit otherwise, insisted that the memo was always a joke and that he was indeed happy with the original title.

Michael J. Fox was the meat in a McFly-casting sandwich

The Karate Kid star Ralph Macchio turned down the lead role.

Michael J. Fox was second choice to play the film's protagonist, the problem being that the future (eh?!) Spin City star was caught in a scheduling conflict.

Fox was already committed to Family Ties, so Zemeckis replaced him with Eric Stoltz and actually shot several scenes with the new lead.

Clip via Arthur Bluvstein

But Stoltz - who you might recognise as Vincent Vega's drug dealer in Pulp Fiction - couldn't nail the part.

He wasn't delivering the required laughs so Zemeckis called Fox back and convinced his bosses at Family Ties to allow their star to jobshare.

This meant that Fox would shoot Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future through the night.

Even though he was severely sleep deprived, the Canadian turned in a seriously good performance that went down in history.

giphy (32)

DeLorean's short-term success had a lot to do with the film

Zemeckis initially considered using a fridge and then a tank as the time travel machine. He eventually went for something a bit more mainstream.

John DeLorean, the owner of the car company who would eventually be arrested on drug charges, personally thanked the producers of Back to the Future for choosing his car.

That's because sales of DeLoreans, which were actually manufactured just outside of Belfast, skyrocketed after the movie was released.


The director decided to use a DeLorean model (three were used in total during filming) as the time travel machine because, in 1955, a car with wing doors would appear like a spacecraft.

The choice certainly resonated with people.

The result was that many DeLorean buyers requested a custom-made body kit to make their car look like a time machine.

Clip via Movieclips

It wasn't all smooth sailing though; the scene where Marty bangs his head repeatedly off the car was actually improvised because the door kept on jamming.

There was a merry-go-round when casting the rest of the actors

It's hard to picture anyone else playing Doc Brown, but it turns out that Christopher Lloyd was far from first choice. We know, we're shocked too.

giphy (35)

John Lithgow was actually offered the part but was unavailable, while Dudley Moore and sexy Jeff Goldblum auditioned to play the mad genius.

Lloyd nicked the gig and based his character on Albert Einstein, who was the inspiration when naming the dog in the film, which was supposed to actually be a chimp but Sid Sheinberg ditched that idea when discovering upon research that the use of chimps in films had never previously made a profit.

Meanwhile, Tim Robbins auditioned to play the bad guy.

Tim Robbins And Morgan Freeman In 'The Shawshank Redemption'

The Shawshank star read for the role of Biff Tannen, but Thomas F. Wilson was ultimately chosen. Billy Zane also made his big screen debut by playing one of Biff's cronies, the silent Match.

Finally, although never seriously considered, a very young Johnny Depp and John Cusack tried for Marty McFly.

Even the President loved the film

The US President at the time, Ronald Reagan, was a massive fan of Back to the Future.

As well as keeping a copy of the flick in the White House for regular viewing, the leader of the Free World even mentioned the film in this speech by using one of its famous tag lines.

Clip via SeenReadHeard's channel

On a sidenote, when test audiences were invited to preview they were never told that Back to the Future was a comedy.

The atmosphere in the theatre was allegedly very tense when Einstein was used to test out the time machine as they were afraid something awful was going to happen to the dog.

*No animals were harmed during filming, only enhanced to legendary status.*

Bonus Super Happy Fun Fact: Christopher Llyod had to hunch down throughout the film as he was considerably taller than Michael J. Fox. 

back to the future

Song of the Movie: 'Johnny B. Goode' - Marty McFly

This is arguably the most recognisable scene from the entire Back to the Future series.

Johnny B. Goode perfectly encapsulates the tone of the film - energetic, edgy, endearing and ultimately full of fun, with the charismatic lead at the centre.

Interesing (and possibly childhood-ruining) fact: Michael J. Fox wasn't on vocals, his voice was dubbed by Mark Campbell.

Fox learned the exact chords of the riff, but the solo was actually played by guitarist Tim May.

Clip via Movieclips