Crispin Glover Comes Clean Why He Didn’t Play George McFly In BTTF 2 & 3

Film cult figure Crispin Glover has come clean about why he wasn’t in the Back To The Future sequels in an interview with the AV Club. Who knew, after all this time, that it all boiled down to that spiffy new set of wheels Marty got at the end of the film! Here it from Glover’s mouth in a way he can only explain!…

Glover: “The reason that [I wasn't in the sequels], essentially—it’s more complex than this, but when we were working on the first Back To The Future, Michael J. Fox wasn’t the original actor. It was Eric Stoltz. He was fired right before Christmas vacation. We had shot about six weeks. I’d shot most of my character with Eric Stoltz playing it. And the last thing that we shot with Eric Stoltz was the alternate return to the future. In the original screenplay, I won’t say what it was, but there was a slightly different element in the ending. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only person that said something about it, because it did get changed. But I said, “Look, if we have this in our characters, if this happens, it will not be liked by people at large.” They did change that element. But I went on beyond it, because it was related to this subject matter. I had a conversation with Robert Zemeckis about it and I said, “I think if the characters have money [in the updated timeline at the end of the film], if our characters are rich, it’s a bad message. That reward should not be in there.” People love the movie, and of course who am I to say—I was 20 years old, though. And again, I was stepping into it from a time period of questioning. But Robert Zemeckis got really angry. Essentially, he did not like that idea. He was pissed.

We’d shot a slightly different interpretation of how I played the character, in the returning alternate future. Eric Stoltz was fired, and the next thing we shot with Michael J. Fox was that alternate future. Robert Zemeckis had been nice to me in between [those shooting segments]. But he made it very clear to me that he was not happy with how the character had been played. I was 20 years old, and of course they had just fired another actor. The lead. So I didn’t want to get fired! I wanted to work! I was scared when we shot that alternate future. Essentially, I would call it acting from the spinal cord. It was different from how I had interpreted it initially, and essentially, I was re-auditioning. I felt that if I didn’t do it exactly as I was being instructed, that I would get fired—which is fair enough. But I was acting from a point of view of fright, basically, which is not exactly my favorite way to work.

I don’t know that anybody would notice it. I’ve only seen the film once since it came out. I was working on At Close Range when it was released, and that summer, it was actually a very fast release. I saw it that one time, and I still think the same way. I know there are all kinds of people that would disagree, and people love the film and all that, and I understand that. It’s not that I dislike the entire film. There are things about the structure that are very solid, and there’s good writing behind it. But I still would argue all the things that people love about the film would still be there, and I think there would be a better message if, instead of the son character pumping his fist in the air or whatever, jumping up in the air because he has a new truck [in the new timeline], if instead the reward was that the mother and father characters are in love with each other. And that there’s the potential that money comes in. I think [equating their new riches with moral success] is a bad message. And this is aligned to those things in film that I’m saying serve the interests of a corporate element.

Now, I don’t know that Bob Gale or Robert Zemeckis necessarily intellectualised that, although that conversation has started to mention, on some level—I do think there’s an intellectualization. There’s an understanding that if that portion, that kind of carrot dangled out in front of the American populace that money is going to make you happy, you should borrow money to do things, this serves corporate interests. Whereas being in love with somebody, on a pure level, doesn’t necessarily serve corporate interest. Somehow that was an understanding, a knowledge, that if that interest didn’t serve the people that were hiring the movie, that maybe it wouldn’t be as well-released by those interests. I still believe that that film, if it was just people in love, if it were released as well as it was, my hunch is that it would still have made as much money as it did. But it’s more about whether the interests were served by the people that were releasing it would be served.”

Glover goes on to explain that “there was an understanding that I had questions,” and claims that parts of the elder McFly character that do appear in the sequel were designed to make his experience undesirable.

“They offered me—I hate talking about this. It sounds so crass, but because they made it into this issue, I’ve got to say what really happened. They offered me $150,000 to be in—it was a long screenplay. Like, a 200-something-page screenplay. I could tell they would split it into two movies. But Lea Thompson was making something like $650,000, and Tom Wilson was making something like $325,000 or $350,000, so it was less than half of what my fellow actors were making, coming back for similar-sized roles. And my agents knew it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t like I was saying I needed to make more money. I just basically, at that point in the negotiation, I just wanted to be fairly compensated. Also, if you look at the character, George McFly, in the sequel, the character’s hung upside down. It’s been said that that’s an obfuscating technique. [In one scene, Glover’s character is dangling upside down, supposedly as an orthopedic treatment; it’s been claimed that the filmmakers thought it would be harder to tell that the impersonator wasn’t Glover if his face was inverted. —ed.] Well, if you think about it, when I read the screenplay, that was in there. And the character’s supposed to have a bad back, and he’s hung upside down. Why would you hang somebody upside down if they have a bad back? What was apparent to me was, if I was going to return to be in the film, they wanted to make me physically uncomfortable, and monetarily, there was a punishment too. Because I had asked questions.”

“I would have been okay with doing the hanging-upside-down part, if I was fairly compensated for it. I actually switched from my agency—I was at William Morris agency—and I was paranoid. I didn’t understand why there was not a normal negotiation going on. And I found out that my agent was, her roommate was working at Universal Studios, and she was, I guess, in some part of the negotiation. I switched over to a completely different agency, where I remained for 20-something years. Gerry Harrington was my agent. He called up—Bob Gale was the person doing the negotiations—Bob Gale made it exceedingly clear that they felt they had paid Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson too much money, and he even said they were paying Michael J. Fox too much money. And that they were not going to make the same mistake by paying me what they thought was too much money for Tom Wilson and Lea Thompson. The only person that brought up Michael J. Fox’s salary was Bob Gale, and I know this from my conversation with my agent. I wasn’t in on the conversation, but he reported it to me.

They had, before this conversation, split the screenplay into two different films. Two different screenplays. They came back and said, “The offer is now $125,000.” They went down $25,000! It was very clear they didn’t want me in the film. It was clear they already had this concept that they were going to put another actor in prosthetics. They thought that was funny. They knew that they could basically torment me, either financially or by this mean-spirited, what ultimately was an illegal thing to do. I’m sure they laughed and joked about it. In fact, I shouldn’t go into so much detail, but there was testimony that specifically had to do with my name being used as—again, this is not the proper platform. But it’s not a pretty picture. And it’s not something—I’ve been very careful to not talk about it. But at this point in time, especially since this person is continuing to do it—it would be one thing if he’d stopped doing it after the first thing. But he did interviews as recently as last year, and it’s total falsification. And I’ve gotta respond.”

WOW! So there it is. Straight from the REAL George McFly himself. To read the entire interview, where Glover discusses IT IS MINE, the long-awaited third part to his film trilogy, head HERE.

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