Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future
Before Michael J. Fox teamed up with Doc Brown in Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 sci-fi hit Back to the Future, the studio had someone else in mind for the lead. After learning their first choice of Michael J. Fox was unavailable, the president of Universal Studios Sid Sheinberg insisted they go with little known actor Eric Stoltz. Sheinberg went as far to promise to cover the cost of reshoots if Stoltz didn’t work out, something he would ultimately regret.
After five weeks of production, Zemeckis did not see Stotlz as the lead for the film and moved forward with firing him. Zemeckis later stated firing the actor was “the hardest meeting I’ve ever had in my life” and adding, “I broke his heart.”
After striking a deal with Michael J. Fox to simultaneously shoot BTTF and his commitments to Family Ties, the studio was also faced with recasting his on-screen girlfriend. The original casting of Melora Hardin, who stands 5’7″, worried the studio that she would tower of Fox who is 5’4.” They ultimately recast her with Claudia Wells to make the pairing more believable.
All-in-all, the recasts and setbacks cost the production over $4 million to get back on track.