Confession: I used to mow the lawn while listening to a cassette of the Back to the Future soundtrack. There’s all the great Huey Lewis and the News a pre-teen could ask for, plus that score that brought you right back to Hill Valley. I could step back (or ahead) in time with one of my favorite movies, and thanks to Marty (who had a Sports poster in his room), became a Huey Lewis fan overnight. So when Christopher Lloyd was announced to hold a viewing and conversation with an audience at Proctor’s Theater, naturally this was a can’t miss event for myself and nearly 2000 other Doc Brown fans.
Before the Doc came out, we were treated to some film trivia and the full movie beforehand. Having seen the other two movies in the series nearly as many times as the original, revisiting the original, devoid of time-twisting and altering events from the sequels was like seeing the film for the first time. When the film ended and the curtain lifted, two chairs and a small table were on the stage, to which Christopher Lloyd was welcomed by the audience with a standing ovation.
He shared with the audience general thoughts on the film, as well as responded to audience submitted questions. He recounted that people who have met him over the years have told him that the movie was a life-changing event, shifting their careers towards science, engineering, physics and the like. But the movie may never have had the iconic Doc Brown without giving the script a second look while on film location in Mexico City. When he met with director Robert Zemeckis shortly thereafter, they discussed the role, who Doc was and what he would look like. Lloyd revealed that Doc’s look, particularly his hair, was derived from seeing an animated, white haired conductor at a performance of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets.”‘
With regard to the casting of Michael J. Fox, after 6 weeks of filming with Eric Stoltz as Marty, Lloyd recalled the recasting led to “chemistry that was automatic between us. He was perfect, and it worked out.” Among the three films, his favorite was the finale of the trilogy, partially due to his love of westerns and gaining a love interest in the film. He wishes that not only were true hover boards around today but also that big apparatus Doc is wearing on his head when he first meets Marty in 1955, as well as Mr. Fusion for the conservation aspect.
Stepping away from Back to the Future, Lloyd began to discuss other iconic roles, including one that he said he would love to play for the rest of his life, Uncle Fester, from The Addams Family, the comic of which he was a fan of at at early age, and spoke highly of co-star Raul Julia, remarking he was both ‘intelligent and gracious.’ On Taxi, he played Reverend Jim Ignatowski, initially a one-off appearance where he would marry Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman) to a prostitute so that he would have a Green Card to remain in the country, but he ended up being a recurring character, and cited the ‘Yellow Light’ scene as one of his personal favorites. Kaufman, he said, “went to the beat of a different drummer” and could be irritating and odd on the set because that’s who he was. He loved the 1998 biopic Man on the Moon.
A theater actor originally, Lloyd said it felt like home to him. He ended up in two or three musicals as well, including singing at 1976 Tony Awards. Theater led to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and eventually to Back to the Future, and the rest is movie history.
Christopher Lloyd still sees Michael J. Fox and will meet up with him for a benefit soon for his foundation to promote Parkinson’s Research. Speaking of his friend, “He is so brave, he has so much courage and he does not stop. He just keeps going.” He used an example of the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Fox appeared as himself, and used his Parkinson’s as an excuse to the ire of Larry David. “I admired him being able to do that scene.”
Finally, when asked if he could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself. Given that he was recently married just before Christmas to a woman he had lived with for 12 years, and being married four times prior, he said “I wish I had more wisdom about who I hung out with prior.” If only there was time to change the past…