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Christopher Lloyd Talks Back To The Future’s Success, And When Its Impact On Fans Really Sunk In

Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown in Back to the Future
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Christopher Lloyd has played a lot of memorable characters over the decades, including Jim Ignatowski in Taxi, the never-blinking Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Uncle Fester in the ‘90s Addams Family movies. It’s safe to say, though, that Dr. Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future film series is among his most popular roles, if not at the top of the list. Over two and a half decades after the first movie’s release, it’s still a treasured cinematic classic, though it didn’t take nearly that long for Lloyd to learn about Back to the Future’s impact on fans. 

The actor recently met up with GQ to talk about some of his most iconic roles, so naturally some time was allowed for Doc Brown. Here’s what Christopher Lloyd had to say about when he realized just how popular Back to the Future had become:

You know, three or four or five years, it sank in that this just doesn’t stop [laughs]. I mean, kids who saw it when the film first came out, grew up and had kids who they began their lives with. And so many people have come up to me and say how I made their childhood or the film made their childhood, or they became engineers or scientists or surgeons or whatever, from the effect of the film on them. And nothing else I’ve done has had that kind of impact.

Sometimes certain movies are released, enjoy some time in the limelight and then either fade into obscurity or are infrequently brought up. Not so with Back to the Future; along with the 1985 time travel movie performing so critically and commercially well that two sequels followed in 1989 and 1990, it’s continues to expand its fanbase with each new generation. Throw in Lloyd’s observation that there are some people who were so taken with Back to the Future that they decided to pursue careers in science and medicine, and you have more than just a good movie; you have a touchstone of pop culture. 

During the interview, Christopher Lloyd also talked about he was initially concerned about Michael J. Fox taking over the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future after Eric Stoltz departed. His “biggest fear” was that having a new costar would interfere with the worked he’d poured into getting Doc Brown just right, but luckily, he and Fox ended up having great chemistry that “lasted the whole time.” While there’s zero chance of Back to the Future 4 ever happening, at least we got to see Lloyd and Fox reunite back in 2020.

In addition to the three Back to the Future movies, Christopher Lloyd also reprised Doc Brown for Back to the Future: The Animated Series’ live-action segments, Back to the Future: The Ride, Back to the Future: The Game and even an amusing cameo in A Million Ways to Die in the West, among other projects. You can currently see the actor in Amazon’s The Tender Bar, and he also appeared as Rick & Morty’s Rick Sanchez, who was inspired by Doc Brown, in some Adult Swim TV spots last fall.

Adam Holmes
Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.