In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Back To The Future, the entire trilogy was re-released on a special edition Blu-ray DVD this week. In addition, AMC theatres held select screenings of the original film on 158 screens in over 40 cities.
Fans of Back To The Future came out to celebrate and revisit the iconic characters created in the films: Chistopher Lloyd as the lovable mad scientist, Doc Brown; Crispin Glover as the quintessential geek-hero, George McFly; Thomas F. Wilson as the equally quintessential bully-who-gets-his, Biff Tannen; Lea Thompson as Marty’s (sometimes disturbingly) super-sexy mom, Lorraine; and of course, Michael J. Fox as the young, old and young again, Marty McFly.
Michael J Fox’s career spans nearly 40 years and includes some of the most memorably charming characters ever to be captured on celluloid (well, back then it was mostly still celluloid). From Alex P. Keaton to Brantley Foster to Spin City’s Mike Flaherty, Michael J. Fox is always somehow relatable and likable, even when his characters are committing what may be some less-than-savory acts. Those qualities are what made him the perfect choice to portray the appealing, and often excitable, Marty McFly.
He captivated audiences with his portrayal of the every-man/boy, and it’s hard to imagine any other actor in that career-defining role, but, as has oft been discussed of late (and as all of us BTTF nerds know), Michael J. Fox took over the role of Marty five weeks into production on Back To The Future.
Although Fox was always the first choice, scheduling conflicts with Family Ties forced director Robert Zemeckis to hire Eric Stoltz to play the role. A little over a month into production, Zemeckis felt that he wasn’t getting what he needed from Stoltz, and made the switch to Fox. As part of the Back to the Future anniversary Blu-ray, the film’s creators talk about the casting shift, and why Fox was so fundamental to the success of the franchise.
Take a look at this clip from the feature:
Robert Zemeckis compares Fox to Jimmy Stewart, and the likening feels apropos. Fox has a quality that illustrates, and inspires us to believe in, the best parts of ourselves. He is not a mythic and out of touch hero, but an ordinary man who is living his life in extraordinary ways.
The Power Of Love:
Michael J Fox represents the opposite of the Emo-lethargy of so many angst-ridden teenage characters and tales today. Whatever he did, he did enthusiastically. An Alex P. Keaton sans Michael J. Fox’s humor may have been an insufferable stuffed shirt, but with it, Alex became the most dynamic and beloved character on Family Ties.
In a New York Times article about the DVD release of the sitcom (which ran on NBC from 1982-1989) writer Susan Stewart theorizes that the show “probably wouldn’t have lasted two seasons without Michael J. Fox in his defining role as the Reagan-loving, tie-wearing teenager Alex P. Keaton.”
The series was created as a vehicle for Meredith Baxter-Birney and Michael Gross, who played Fox’s ultra liberal, ex-hippie parents, charged with raising some traditional-to-outright-conservative children. None of the children were more conservative, or more hilarious, than the big business and Nixon-worshiping Alex.
He was silly, and charming. and smart. He did not just love money, he loved money as some might love a puppy…or their newborn. Everything he did was underscored with a genuinely affectionate nature, that affable quality combined with his quick-wit and comedic timing swooped in to steal the show.
Take a look at this clip where Alex inspires a brand new generation of Republicans: