It is interesting how a movie like Back to the Future - which, of course, is all about time travel and is widely considered the finest of all time travel movies - has become something of a time capsule itself. Fans all over the world revel in going back to relive the adventures of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) in the DeLorean and also get a taste of what it was like to live in the 1950s. For a taste of what the future (and the present) holds for the Back to the Future cast, you do not need to speed up to 88 miles per hour to find out. Just read on!
Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly)
Michael J. Fox’s exhausting commitment to both Family Ties and Back to the Future paid off with a successful film career, including horror-comedy movies like Teen Wolf, earnest dramas like The American President, and voice acting roles like title character of the Stuart Little movies. The five-time Emmy winner has an arguably more prolific TV presence, having also led the Spin City cast and his own short-lived, self-titled sitcom, as well as his impressive recurring spots on dramas like Boston Legal, Rescue Me, The Good Wife, and its spin-off The Good Fight.
Fox reprised Marty McFly in a 2020 Lil Nas X video, voices Michael J. Bird in the upcoming star-studded animated movie Back Home Again, and will receive the AARP Purpose Prize in December 2021 for his longtime advocacy for researching Parkinson’s, which he was diagnosed with in 1993.
Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown)
Inventing time travel in Back to the Future could be Christopher Lloyd’s peak of fame, but he also had a successful, Emmy-winning run on Taxi after making his screen debut in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975. He played another professor (Plum) in 1985 for Clue, re-teamed with Robert Zemeckis for 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, played Uncle Fester in two Addams Family movies, and has reprised “Doc” many times - such as in the Back to the Future animated series and a 2011 Nike ad.
Following his recent turn in Nobody and a stunning live-action Rick and Morty promo, the 83-year-old shows no signs of stopping, with many interesting projects, including playing another time-traveling scientist in Time, the Fourth Dimension and starring in Next Stop Christmas with his Back to the Future co-star, Lea Thompson.
Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines)
Speaking of Lea Thompson, the actress was already on a steady path to stardom after starring in Jaws 3-D and 1984’s Red Dawn before playing Marty McFly’s mother in Back to the Future skyrockected her to fame, later earning her roles in producer George Lucas’ Howard the Duck movie, writer John Hughes’ Some Kind of Wonderful, and in the Dennis the Menace cast and Beverly Hillbillies cast in 1993. Years after leading her own sitcom, Caroline in the City, she would be cast in a starring role on the teen drama Switched at Birth, and in Oscar-nominated films like Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, and Little Women from director Greta Gerwig.
Thompson’s upcoming romantic comedy, Unplugging, is set for a 2021 release and Ten Tricks (a comedy from first-time writer and director Richard Pagano) is now in post-production.
Crispin Glover (George McFly)
As Lea Thompson’s future husband in Back to the Future, Crispin Glover gave a performance that entertainingly reflected his eccentric, real-life personality. He would continue to channel that unique persona (and other definitively distinguishing characteristics) into most of his best-known subsequent roles - including Andy Warhol in The Doors, the title character of the 2003 horror movie remake, Willard, #6 in the visually stunning animated film 9, the Knave of Hearts in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland remake, Grendel in Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf movie, and a parody of Willy Wonka in the 2007 spoof Epic Movie.
Glover more recently played Mr. World on American Gods, joined the star-studded cast of upcoming horror TV show Red Bird Lane, and his currently untitled third directorial effort is now post-production.
Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tannen)
In addition to the bullish Biff Tannen in the first Back to the Future, Thomas F. Wilson brilliantly channeled various personas into his multiple roles throughout the movie franchise and the animated series, which led to a prolific career in voice acting on shows like Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, to name a few. The actor’s most prominent live-action credits include a high school gym teacher in the Freaks and Geeks cast, a police captain in 2013’s The Heat, Bo Burnham’s onscreen father on the MTV comedy Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, and Time Bureau director Henry Heywood for the Legends of Tomorrow cast on The CW.
The stand-up comedian’s most recent claim to fame is reprising his SpongeBob SquarePants role as Patrick’s real father (apparently named Cecil) on the spin-off, The Patrick Star Show, on Nickelodeon.
Billy Zane (Match)
Making his acting debut as one of Biff’s goons was Billy Zane, who would soon make a name for himself in movies like the 1989 thriller Dead Calm, the 1993 western favorite Tombstone, the ‘90s superhero movie The Phantom, and, especially, 1997’s Titanic, as Cal Hockley. James Cameron's Oscar-winning, box office smash would become the defining moment of the actor’s career, which was later made up with smaller roles in films like Uwe Boll’s BloodRayne, recurring parts in TV shows like Samantha Who?, and fun cameos as himself in both Zoolander movies and the darkly comic superhero series, The Boys, on Amazon Prime.
His biggest projects now in the works are Waltzing with Brando (in which he plays Academy Award-winning screen legend Marlon Brando) and the upcoming MacGruber TV show (in which he will play the arch nemesis of Will Forte’s titular, bumbling spy).
James Tolkan (Stanford S. Strickland)
The biggest threat to Biff’s bullying or Marty’s “slacking” (as he calls) is Principal Stanford S. Strickland, played by James Tolkan - whose biggest credits before Back to the Future include the 1973 cop drama Serpico, the 1979 horror movie classic The Amityville Horror, and the technophobic classic, WarGames, from 1983. His biggest roles after were the original Top Gun, 1990’s Dick Tracy, a far less disciplinary teacher in Problem Child 2 from 1991, and 2015’s Bone Tomahawk, opposite Kurt Russell.
Writer and director S. Craig Zahler’s horrifyingly brutal western was actually Tolkan’s last role in a feature film and he has since only returned to acting to play Mr. Strickland in a Back to the Future fan film made in 2020, and a security guard very similar to Strickland in the Discovery+ plus special, Expedition: Back to the Future, the following year.
Claudia Wells (Jennifer Parker)
Before she was recast by Elizabeth Shue in the sequels, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, Jennifer, was played by Claudia Wells, which was also her theatrically released feature-length debut after making waves in a series starring another famous car, Herbie, in 1982. In 1986, she would follow-up the sci-fi blockbuster with a series adaptation of another hit ‘80s movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, ironically, as a replacement to play Linda Barrett, whom Phoebe Cates played in the original 1982 comedy.
Wells would also revive her Back to the Future character in a 2015 short called Back to the 2015 Future, is currently filming the upcoming crime drama Quinn, will star alongside Jason Voorhees actor Kane Hodder in the upcoming horror movie Room and Board, and is also set to star in a horror movie parody called Bristled.
Donald Fullilove (Goldie Wilson)
While stuck in 1955, Marty meets a diner employee named Goldie Wilson (years before he grows up to be the mayor of Hill Valley) who is played by Donald Fullilove, who actually made his debut as the voice of Michael Jackson in the animated Jackson 5ive TV series in 1971. In addition to a guest spot on the original 21 Jump Street series and a small role in 1992’s White Men Can’t Jump, voice acting would actually become his main gig - most notably in animated Disney movies like the original Mulan, the 2009 Pixar classic Up, and the Nickelodeon TV show Bob the Builder.
In 2021, he become one of several Back to the Future cast members to reprise his famous role in the aforementioned Discovery+ special, Expedition: Back to the Future, and lent his voice to two episodes of one of the most popular animated Marvel TV shows, What If…?
Huey Lewis (High School Band Audition Judge)
Someone who lent his voice to two hit songs on the Back to the Future soundtrack and appears in the movie as a faculty member is Huey Lewis. The funny cameo was the musician’s first try at acting, which he would do again in films like 2000’s Duets, as Gwyneth Paltrow’s father, or the 1998 sci-fi flick Sphere as a helicopter pilot, in a recurring spot in the One Tree Hill cast, or as himself on a 2021 episode of The Blacklist and a Funny or Die short poking fun at American Psycho’s use of his song, “Hip to Be a Square.”
Lewis also continues to voice junkyard dog Bulworth on Disney’s Puppy Dog Pals, put out his latest album with the News, Weather, in 2020, but does not tour anymore since Ménière's disease has left him unable to hear well enough to sing.
Luckily, the Oscar-nominated music of Huey Lewis and the News will, thankfully, live on in this sci-fi classic along with the rest of Back to the Future cast, no matter what they are known for doing today, and will always be remembered for their contribution to pop culture simply by starring in this phenomenal film.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.