Eric Stoltz was famously cast as Marty McFly in Back To The Future and shot for over a month before being replaced, but will his footage ever be released? Back To The Future was a project created by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) and creative partner Bob Gale, and told the story of a teenager accidentally sent back in time. Zemeckis had always wanted Michael J. Fox for the lead role of Marty, but the actor was busy filming a TV show when production was set to start. Eric Stoltz was cast instead, but after filming most of the movie, Zemeckis and Gale realized Stoltz wasn’t right for the part.
They showed assembled footage of Back To The Future to Steven Speilberg, who concurred the actor felt miscast. The team made the difficult decision to fire Stoltz from the project, and a gap in Fox’s schedule allowed him to quickly jump on and take over. Since Stoltz appeared in nearly every scene, almost the entire movie had to be reshot with Fox. While this added millions to the budget, the shoot went smooth once Fox came on and the movie would later become a beloved classic that spawned two sequels.
While stills of Eric Stoltz in Back To The Future have hinted at what the movie could have looked like with him playing Marty, no full sequences of him have ever emerged. The closest fans have come to seeing Stoltz in the movie came from a brief, wordless montage of footage found on a 2010 Blu-ray release where the actor appears in key scenes that were later reshot with Fox.
Zemeckis and Gale have both praised Eric Stoltz over the years, stating that while he gave a great dramatic performance, his intensity clashed with the tone they were trying to achieve. There have been conflicting reports over just how much of Back To The Future Stoltz had shot before being replaced; some stated it was a month, and while others put it closer to the movie almost being wrapped.
Either way, that leaves a lot of unused footage of Eric Stoltz from Back To The Future sitting in a vault somewhere. Producer Bob Gale confirmed the footage wasn’t destroyed and still exists, and they didn’t include more on the 2010 Blu-ray out of respect to Stoltz. Gale also refused to rule out releasing more footage on a future release but nothing is planned. Theoretically, it would be possible to assemble Stoltz’s footage into a brand new version of Back To The Future – which would almost feel like a bizarre alternate timeline in itself – but there are currently no concrete plans to release it.
While Back To The Future fans have been dying to see more footage of Eric Stoltz’s take on Marty, there’s a good chance it will remain locked away. There was a reason it wasn’t used in the first place, so the creatives involved might want to keep it under lock and key.
Next: Why Back To The Future 4 Never Happened (& Never Will)