JoBlo covers the Back to the Future cast reunion at the London Comic Con!
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis' BACK TO THE FUTURE, and Universal was kind enough to fly me to jolly ol' England to cover the cast reunion (which was also for the Blu-ray box set that will be hitting shelves this fall) at the London Film and Comic Con. The three-day event was held at the Olympia Conference Centre, and although the building was hotter than an overheated flux capacitor, it didn't seem to bother the throngs of fans who were there to see the stars of the sci-fi comedy, and non-BTTF guests from the world of movies, television, and more, like ALIENS cast members Sigourney Weaver and Bill Paxton, several Game of Thrones actors, and TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman.
But this was really BACK TO THE FUTURE's show, and things kicked off with a press conference on Friday, July 17th at the LFCC's Super Stage, with everyone from James Tolkan ("Mr. Strickland," who yes, still doesn't have any hair) to "Earth Angel" crooner Henry Waters Jr. taking the stage before the big three were introduced: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson.
After the other BTTF players left the stage, the trio stayed behind to answer a few questions. There were some mic issues, so at times it was hard to hear what Fox was saying, but he says he believes the reason why Marty McFly is such an important character is his curiosity, and how he serves as a "cipher for the audience," representing "everyone's reaction to what was happening."
As most of you probably know, Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly, but was let go five weeks into filming, and Fox went on to describe reshooting Stoltz's scenes.
I was just 26 and stupid and really happy to be there. It was just crazy. I was aware that I was replacing Eric and that he had done a lot of stuff. Somebody else in the scene was reacting to Eric and I am in there trying to do my own thing but elicit the same response that Eric got, in a way. It was strange, it was a puzzle, but I was so excited to be there and so happy to redeem myself after Teen Wolf. I liked Teen Wolf, but you had that yak hair all over your face.
Lea Thompson says one of her most memorable days from filming BTTF was the car sequence outside of the school dance, since "I had to fall out of love with him (Marty), I had to get ravaged by Biff, then I had to fall back in love with George, and I remember how nervous Bob Z. was because these were big plot points we had to sell with acting. And for me, that was really major. And I got to kiss Michael, so that was good times!"
We're now in the same year as the future scenes from the sequel, and Fox says the one thing the second installment got right was his receding hairline ("They nailed that"). Thompson made a crack about how she still has small boobs, and both agreed though that at the time, 2015 seemed very far away.
Christopher Lloyd thinks the reason why people love Doc Brown so much is that "everyone dreams about time travel" and how his character kind of "capsulizes on that," as well as Doc's mentor relationship with Marty. Fox then recounted what it was like working with Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg.
Bob is a force of nature, he is an amazing guy, has an amazing mind and amazing energy. We would be doing a scene and it wouldn’t be working and we couldn’t figure out how to do it and he would just stay there all night. People would go, ‘We are going to shut this down while he figures this out’, and we would say, ‘No, he is going to go all night long until he figures this out’. It could be something as simple as a prop in the wrong place. He was just a stickler for detail, and I think Steven was a perfect mentor for him. Steven never imposed himself on the process, he was just hanging in the background. I think he had a great relationship with Bob and it came off successfully.
The showcase event of the London Film and Comic Con, the BACK TO THE FUTURE cast reunion Q&A panel, was held on Sunday, with Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson returning for another round of questions, as well as James Tolkan, Henry Waters Jr., Claudia Wells ("Jennifer Parker"), Marc McClure ("Dave McFly"), Donald Fullilove ("Goldie Wilson"), Frances Lee McCain (“Stella Baines”), Jeffrey Weissman ("George McFly" from Part II and Part III) and Ricky Dean Logan ("Data" in Part II and a Needles gang member in Part III). 2,000 fans were in attendance for the reunion at the LFCC's Super Stage, which thankfully was better air conditioned than the rest of the building.
Fox first realized BACK TO THE FUTURE had a legacy after “kids who weren’t alive when it opened started to come up to me," and got a laugh from the audience after saying he doesn't think his own children have watched it yet, while Lloyd became aware when children who had seen the first movie "were now parents with kids who were seeing it, who then became parents with kids." Meanwhile, Thompson said she knew the film was big "when I tried to get out of the trailer I shared with Michael, and it was wrapped in love letters from girls."
Fox was asked about Marty McFly's nerdiness, since he called himself Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan after waking his dad up by playing a rock song at full volume, and is pals with a much older scientist. This was the first event of this type for the actor. He said attending it had filled him with "warm feelings," before calling the fans "the most genuine people I’ve met," and “If that’s what a nerd is, then that’s what Marty is too.” So there ya go guys, Marty McFly is a fellow nerd!
Fox also called the Delorean “the worst thing to drive," and said he accidently hit his head countless times with the door of the vehicle. So what else would make a good time machine, besides a Delorean and train? Fox's response: "A hot tub, apparently."
Christopher Lloyd has reprised his Doc Brown role several times outside of the trilogy, and Lloyd says he loves how the character is "passionate about discovering things."
In the opening sequence of the film, he’s got this mechanical automatic dog can opener, he’s got these clocks all over the place, this music system that blows Marty away. He’s got that gizmo he’s got on his head once trying do some kind of telepathy. His mind doesn’t stop thinking.
Lloyd later said that his favorite installment is the third one because it is set in the Wild West and Doc finally got a love interest, and talked a bit about the the dance sequence featuring ZZ Top, which took three nights to film.
Thompson told the crowd that she would sing "Mr. Sandman" to get "that weird, horny energy going all the time” to play Lorraine (while also revealing it's her favorite role) since the actress wasn't like that in real life, and laughed about how she “finally got to marry my son,” in the final movie.
There were a lot of fun moments during the panel, from Waters singing "Earth Angel" for a fan to Fox admitting his Irish accent for Seamus McFly in Part III wasn't fantastic. But the funniest was Claudia Wells swearing up and down that Fox definitely attended the 1985 premiere of BACK TO THE FUTURE, with Fox repeatedly telling her and the crowd "I was in London!" which for some reason made me think of Ross' "We were on a break!" from Friends. Fox couldn't make it to the opening night because he was shooting a special for a television series, but Wells was insistent that he was there.
Fox again touched on Marty and Doc's relationship, and I think his comments on how significant it is to the movies is the best way to wrap up our coverage of the BACK TO THE FUTURE cast reunion panel.
Doc was his mentor, and a way to channel his energy into curiosity and an exploration, and discovery, and seeing that everything isn’t as it appears to be...When you’re 17, 18 years old in high school, a lot of things don’t seem possible. You keep running against what you can’t do, and who you aren’t, and where you don’t fit in. To have this mentor who was not like any adult he knew, but was really special and invited him to share his ideas, and his adventures. I’m sure it resonated with people looking for someone to accept them as they are.
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