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Watch: Crispin Glover Discusses The Morally Questionable Ending Of ‘Back To The Future’ (Again)

by Edward Davis
February 28, 2014 5:43 PM
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It’s become practically mythic folklore at this point and arguably old hat. A famous lawsuit went along with it too. Crispin Glover was so “difficult” on the set of “Back To The Future,” or so the story goes anyhow, that director Robert Zemeckis and the producers decided to replace him for the two sequels. As you probably know by now, said film execs made the poor decision of “replacing” Glover with actors who wore prosthetics to look like him and interspliced that with old footage to create the illusion that it was still Crispin Glover (SAG rules now call this a no-no because of the lawsuit, which Glover filed and won).

In the past, one of the producers claimed that the reason Glover didn’t make it into “Back To The Future II” was because he asked for an exorbitant raise (the same amount of money Michael J. Fox was making), but Glover has refuted that several times over the years. Truth be told, the story has been told a dozen times by Glover and other people (this AV Club interview is pretty definitive), but if you’d like to hear it told in a relatively succinct eight minutes, IGN just talked to him about the debacle once again.

To hear it from Glover, his biggest issue was the moral ending of “Back To The Future” and the fact that he had the gall to bring it up. The actor who played George McFly had no problem with the characters falling in love as they should have or even Marty’s family being more functional back in the “new” present, but as a 20-year-old actor he questioned why the family all of a sudden had to be extremely successful and wealthy. He thought this sent the wrong message.

“I thought the moral aspect ends up being that money equals happiness. And I questioned that and it was met with a lot of hostility and upset. I was a 20 year old idealistic actor… I’m certain [my not being invited back to the second film] had to do with my questioning of these things.” The story, as Glover himself says, is more complicated than just that (Glover in fact turned down the role because he was being offered a pittance; something he assumes was the producers way of getting rid of him), but the fact remains the actor did not make it into the sequels. (Is this why they're no good?)

Thoughts? Did the morality of the ending ever rub you wrong at the time? Does it matter at this point? Watch below and or also watch a recent SiriusXM interview about the same subject and judge for yourself in the comments.

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  • a | March 1, 2014 5:08 PMReply

    Also of note: He and Zemeckis re-teamed in 2007's Beowulf, so there was certainly no bad blood between them over the ordeal.

  • kris | March 1, 2014 12:41 PMReply

    Why does he remind me of Jamie Lannister here?

  • equipmentguy | March 1, 2014 12:12 PMReply

    Thought Glover in BTTF (first one) and also "Rivers Edge" just after was a really fascinating actor with some interesting choices going on. He was unique. Compared to so many other bland young actors then and now. Obviously he sunk his own career going up against the Spielberg machine, too bad. I don't even remember the sequels to BTTF. But his and Christopher Loyds character were iconic.

  • Brad | February 28, 2014 11:19 PMReply

    Zemeckis himself has criticized the ending for being too much of a product of its era, so this idea that Zemeckis and co. blackballed Glover for questioning the ending seems more than a little dubious. Glover was probably just a very eccentric and ambitious (as well as gifted) young actor who over-estimated his importance in Hollywood, and has paid the price subsequently (he was't wrong to sue Amblin, though). Zemeckis and Glover have mended fences subsequently, so bringing up this obvious horseshit seems baffling to me.

  • JZ | February 28, 2014 6:53 PMReply

    I love the trilogy, but it always bugged me how Marty was ok with having an alternate timeline family. He doesn't know any of these people, he has no memory of anything they've done in the past.

  • Jonathan | February 28, 2014 6:20 PMReply

    Uh... the sequels to "Back to the Future" don't suck, buddy. They're both pretty awesome.

  • SP | April 27, 2014 7:57 PM

    The third one sucked period...not every exciting, little charm and flimsy storyline.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | February 28, 2014 7:40 PM

    Yeah, that bit was baffling, given that a vast number of people seem to reflect on both as great films and never bat an eye regarding whether the dynamic in either would have changed if Glover had remained with the film(s).

    Glover shot himself in the foot fairly hard. He may have won a lawsuit and got some cash out of the giant mess but look at his career currently. Hell, he was relegated to taking a backseat in both Charlie's Angels films and never spoke a single word of comprehensible dialogue in either (and given that the first film had shameless LL Cool J and Tom Green cameos in it, that really has to put things into perspective).

    The ending of the first Back to the Future, with the family being successful (or otherwise better off than they were when you see all of them collectively at the beginning before Marty travels back to the 50s) didn't really need a moral resonance. George McFly before was a complete doormat to Biff working beneath his capability, Lorraine was a few drinks shy of a bathtub date with a shotgun and her toe on the trigger and the other McFly siblings that weren't Marty were likely doomed to become mirror images of their parents respectively.

    If there's anything to be outraged over it's the fact that Marty, pre-time travel, was the only member of the McFly family with any type of characterization that suggested he was unhappy with his life and was desperate for it to change.

    But no, how dare the story end on such an outrageous note like that. It's not as if they'd take the darker turn with the sequel or anythi- OH WAIT, that's exactly what they did.

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