Back to the Future: Bob Gale, Harry Keramidas Test Popular Fan Theory

There's no question Back to the Future remains ironically one of the most culturally relevant and timeless tales in pop culture. When director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale auditioned actors for the lead role of Marty McFly, they originally wanted Michael J. Fox. Still, the actor couldn't commit due to his obligation to the television sitcom Family Ties. They cast Eric Stoltz in the role instead of shooting the bulk of the film before deciding the actor wasn't going to work. Zemeckis and Gale made another attempt to secure Fox into the role and finally came to an agreement. To Fox's sleep-deprived detriment, he shot the TV series during the day and spent most of the night onset of the film with little time in between. The gamble paid off despite having to exhaustively reshoot all of Stoltz's scenes with Fox to complete Universal's deadline. The rest they say is history, or is it? Gale and editor Harry Kermamidas spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on a loose end they may have missed caught by fans.

Back to the Future: Bob Gale, Harry Keramidas Test Popular Fan Theory
Christopher Lloyd as Doc and Michael J. Fox as Marty in Back to the Future (1985). Image courtesy of Universal Pictures

Since Back to the Future's release, a theory emerged online involving the diner scene when Marty (Fox) meets 1955 Biff (Tom Wilson) for the first time. When Marty creates a distraction after being grabbed, he lands a sucker-punch to Biff's head. The scene clearly shows a point-of-view shot from Marty making contact with his face, but fans don't believe that's Fox's fist rather Stoltz's. Wilson confirmed the theory telling fans of how he was physically when he shot the scenes with Stoltz during initial filming. When the re-casting was announced, production was well behind schedule, forcing cast and crew to work far longer where Wilson admitted the grueling reshoots took a physical toll on his body. He acknowledged being more exhausted during the Fox scenes than he was in the Stoltz's scenes. Gale broke down the scene in question.

Back to the Future: Bob Gale, Harry Keramidas Test Popular Fan Theory
Eric Stoltz as Marty and Crispin Glover as George in a previous cut of Back to the Future. Image courtesy of Universal

"Editor Harry Keramidas who cut the scene pulled his notes, which show that the punch was reshot, but the printed takes were labeled 'OK' as opposed to 'Good," Gale said. "So that could still be Eric's fist. I think the only way we would know for sure is to check the actual edge numbers on the negative, but no one will risk damaging the negative by doing that. The workprint edge numbers might reveal the truth, but no idea if that even exists." Aside from the diner scene, both discover another scene where Stoltz was left in. "After Marty jumps over the hedge, there's a shot of him from behind approaching the pedestrians coming down the courthouse steps," Gale continued. "It could be Eric, or it could be Per Welinder who did Fox's skateboarding, or it could be Bob Schmelzer, who was Eric's skateboard double." Back to the Future grossed $385 million at the box office worldwide. Its success spawned two sequels, and the franchise ended up making a combined $962 million. Most of the surviving cast sans Crispin Glover, who played George McFly in the 1985 original, came together via Zoom on Josh Gad's web series Reunited Apart. You can watch the original theatrical cut of the diner scene below.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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