Ever since Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown hopped in their DeLorean time machine in 1985 and blasted Back to the Future, we were all spellbound. Before we knew it, we were all transported on an action-packed time-tripping adventure like no other. As the pair try to alter the past, they became mixed up in a time-altering chain reaction that affected the present and future.
The epic trilogy kept us on our toes as it bounced between 1985, 1955, 2015 and 1885, and the multi-layered wonder franchise was filled with running themes, futuristic special effects, and pop references. It has since become a cultural phenomenon. So let us transport you back to the future to relive the magic all over again with these rare behind the scenes photos, and see the details you probably missed the first time around.
This incredible shot was captured on the set of Back to the Future Part II, set in the future in 2015. If it wasn’t mindblowing enough that this is now in our past, these scenes were filled with futuristic predictions like hoverboards, the internet, and self-drying jackets. As the hoverboards are almost there, we’re now just waiting for those jackets.
In the “hoverboard” scene, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, hopped on his board to try escape Biff and his gang, and the sequence was full of twists and turns. We now feel like we’ve entered an alternate universe, as we realize he had three other stunt twins to share the load. The other Marty McFlys that helped saved the day were Kevin Holloway, Robert Bennett, and Charlie Croughwell.
Marty and Jennifer’s Love Story
Throughout the trilogy, fans were treated to a lot of pull-at-your-heart strings-style romances. But one of the interweaving elements to the plot was the romance between Marty McFly and Jennifer Parker. Here they are preparing for the Clock Tower scene in the first installment in the franchise.
Although Jennifer did play more of a back seat role in the trilogy, she was a ray of light for Marty. In Back to the Future II, we discovered that Jennifer later becomes his wife. She even meets her future self. Of course, while young Marty is more concerned with time-traveling and his music career, in the future Jennifer plays more of a central role in Marty’s world.
The Eccentric Doc Martin
Of course, one of the central protagonists of the story and the reason why they were able to travel through the “time-space continuity” was the eccentric, lovable and misunderstood scientist, Doctor Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd.
After years of research, Doc Brown eventually transformed his DeLorean car into a time-traveling machine with the help of the “flux capacitor.” He then enlisted the help of the young student, Marty McFly to accompany him on his adventures. He was also joined by his faithful dog, aptly named, Einstein. So here he is, chilling on the set of the second installment in the trilogy, looking as eccentric as ever, with his loyal pooch.
The Clara Effect
In Back to the Future Part III, Clara Clayton-Brown jumped into the spotlight as the love interest of Doc Brown. Marty and Doc first met the warm-hearted school and independent teacher as she was standing at the top of Shonash Ravine and about to fall. Luckily, they saved Clara from her fate and she became one of the biggest protagonists of the plot.
Doc later found out that he altered history by saving Clara that day. She had originally fallen down and they had renamed it Clayton Ravine in her memory. And just as Doc altered her fate, Clara also altered Doc’s fate. Marty traveled to 1885 to save Doc from the past, but Clara later became the reason that Doc wanted to stay. So here are the three heroic protagonists, saving each other and changing the world in the wild wild west, circa 1885.
The Dream Team
This might seem like a regular photo of Marty and Doc posing with fans on the DeLorean. But let us introduce you to the masterminds behind the entire Back to the Future franchise. Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd were clearly the stars that brought the movie to life, but let’s shine a light on the crew.
In this awesome photo, we can spot Neil Canton, who was the legendary producer behind the trilogy. The snap also features the award-winning screenwriter Bob Gale who co-wrote the plot with Robert Zemeckis. Robert was also the genius director, and this dream team helped produce one of the greatest movie franchises of all time.
An Alternate Reality
In one of the most mind-melting plot twists of the entire movie, it was later revealed that Michael J. Fox was almost never cast as Marty McFly. Although Michael was the first choice for the role, he couldn’t ask for time off his show Family Ties. So, they picked another actor, Eric Stoltz, who began filming the scenes for around five weeks.
It seems like we’ve stepped into an alternate reality, but here we can see Eric with fellow actress Lea Thompson on set. Thankfully for Fox, they soon realized Eric took the role a little too seriously and was more of a method actor, so they asked Michael to replace him. Michael was only able to film the scenes on one condition, that he filmed Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night!
Back to the DeLorean
In the second installment of the trilogy, we all saw Marty and Doc swoop in on the DeLorean, land on the road and continue to drive through the neighborhood. For years, fans wondered how they pulled off futuristic scenes like these, and how the car went from flying to driving without the advantage of computer-generated imagery.
That scene was made possible by the masterminds at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) who used their magic, “repeatable” camera moves and advanced skills to make it happen. You see, they hid a split-screen between the footage of a miniature DeLorean on wires against a blue screen which featured a live-action shot of the full-sized DeLorean. Sounds pretty heavy right?
The Futuristic Town
In Back to the Future II, Marty and Doc blasted into the future to 2015 to stop Marty’s future son from getting involved with Biff’s gang. So as Marty poses as his future son, he tried to escape Biff’s angry gang by hopping on his futuristic hoverboard. As Marty was chased across the town square, it became one of the most iconic scenes in the franchise.
To make it seem more realistic, they actually constructed a real future town, with real hustle and bustle in the background, and paid a ton of attention to every detail. This made it possible to film Marty from any angle and make it realistic. They also positioned the camera on rails to film a tracking shot of Marty.
Marty’s Future House
When Marty traveled to 2015 and visited his future house, the screenwriters imagined every fabulous and futuristic piece of technology that could possibly exist. While many of the futuristic gadgets seemed revolutionary at the time, we now take many of them for granted.
From videoconferencing on large flatscreen TVs to biometric scanners on the front door, the writers really were ahead of the times. The film also predicted microwavable dinners, Google glasses, and Alexa. So, this photo features Robert Zemeckis directing the scene with Lea Thompson, Wendi Jo Sperber, and Marc McClure and we really think Robert deserves a Science Award.
That Dramatic Train Scene
In the final chapter of the trilogy, the story reached a climax as Doc thought that he had lost his love Clara and decided to go back to the future with Marty. To do this, Doc thought of a cunning plan, which involved hijacking a steam train to push the DeLorean car to 88 miles per hour. Once it reached that speed, the DeLorean would blast them into the future.
The scene took around seven weeks to produce and was filled with twists and turns. The main twist was that Clara decided to stop Doc, and hopped on a horse and jumped on to the train. So as Clara clung to the side of the train in 1885, Marty passed his futuristic hoverboard from 2015 to save her from falling. This complex sequence was made with the help of advanced camera techniques and visual effects and it was groundbreaking for its day.
A Shape-Shifting Reality
This shape-shifting family photo features all the familiar characters from the second installment of the franchise outside Marty’s future home in 2015, with a few surprises. Here we can see Marty, his arch-enemy Biff, his future daughter, and his parents. Aside from the fact that Marty is dressed like he’s from 1885, there’s another interesting twist.
In the first movie, Marty’s father, George McFly, was played by Crispin Glover. While he was asked to reprise the role, he had some reservations. So they replaced him with actor Jeffrey Weissman, who wore prosthetics over his nose, chin, and cheekbones to resemble him. They then used advanced filming techniques to make the transition smoother, but here we can see everyone together in one shape-shifting photo.
What Could Have Been
While the movie was filled with twists and turns, as we can see, the production of the movie was also filled with drama. This throwback photo was captured on the set of the first movie in the franchise. At first glance, it looks just like a regular scene from the film.
However, if you glance a little closer, you might realize that Michael J. Fox is not even in this scene. In fact, the scene was shot with the previous actor for the part of Marty McFly, played by Eric Stoltz. We can also see Crispin Glover as his dad, George McFly, who was also later replaced as well, and it’s almost too much to take in.
Throughout the movie franchise, we were introduced to some of Marty’s passions. These included his ever-loving girlfriend Jennifer, sports, and his guitar. It became clear that Marty was a huge sports fan when he bought the Sports Almanac, which listed all the results of all the major games from 1950 to 2000.
Of course, when his enemy Biff found the Almanac, he then traveled back in time to give it to his younger self and get rich, which is a whole other story. Another of Marty’s passions was his prized guitar, and he had dreams of making it big. He then tried to stop his future self from being involved in an accident that could crush his music career. Of course, none of these passions would mean a thing without his future wife, Jennifer.
Another star of the movie franchise that deserves to be in the spotlight is Doc Brown’s adorable canine companion, Einstein. The sheepdog was actually named after Albert Einstein, and he became the world’s first time-traveling dog.
Einstein was affectionately referred to as Einie and when Doc Brown traveled, he was sure to take his loyal pooch along for the ride. This photo was captured on the set of Back to the Future II, in front of the town hall, when Doc took Einstein with him into the future.
Behind the Lens
This photo of Michael J. Fox gazing in wonder at a vintage TV might seem very retro, but it was actually state of the art for its day. You see, while the moviemakers are credited with predicting future innovations, they also used pretty advanced filming techniques using Panavision cameras to bring the movies to life.
The franchise featured some complex scenes, so the Industrial Light & Magic engineers also developed new techniques to make it all happen, which we’ll talk about later. So just as we were amazed by the trilogy, Michael is also just taking it all in as he studies each scene on his advanced yet retro TV screen.
Behind The Wonder Franchise
This throwback photo captures the production team behind the wonder franchise that is Back to the Future. The photo features Michael J. Fox and all the legends that made the movie happen, including Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Neil Canton, and of course, the Executive Producer Steven Spielberg.
Interestingly, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale were asked about what sparked their idea for the movie. Robert said, “When you were a kid, did your father or mother ever tell you all the tough things they did as kids?” Wouldn’t it be interesting to go back and see if they really did walk through those blizzards?” Spielberg added how the movies are “an excursion into the ultimate Zemeckis-Gale imagination.”
The Miniature DeLorean
To shed some more light on how they managed to film those futuristic and flying DeLorean scenes, these eye-opening behind the scenes shots might give you a few clues. The DeLorean soon became one of the most iconic props from the movie and fans were baffled about how they made the car fly.
Well, many of the advanced scenes were made possible with the help of intricately-scaled miniature models of the real props. Again, over time the ILM engineers perfected their techniques and they even won a Technical Achievement Academy Award for their efforts in 1998.
An Unlikely Duo
In the movie, Doc Brown was an aging and eccentric scientist who thrived on his eccentric inventions and lived with his dog. Marty McFly was an average high school student, who loved sports, music, his family, and his girlfriend. They actually make the most unlikely duo, and we just took it for granted that they were pals.
Well, one of the screenwriters, Bob Gale explained how they both met. Marty had always heard about a “dangerous…lunatic” scientist named Doc Brown, so he was curious to find out more. Naturally, he snuck into Doc’s lab and was amazed at all his super cool inventions. Doc was happy that Marty simply accepted him for who he was and asked him to be his assistant. And thankfully for us, the rest was history!
The Perfect Choice
When Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale decided to replace the lead actor Eric Stoltz with Michael J. Fox, they later explained how it was a difficult decision to make. They had already begun filming for five weeks with Stoltz and changing the lead actor meant they would have to reshoot all those scenes all over again.
However, they finally decided to replace him with Michael, they knew they made the best choice as he would add more of a comedy element to the role. So they were more than happy to reshoot all those scenes again. They were even prepared to film through the night because of Michael’s TV commitments. As you can see, Michael clearly made an impression on the cast and the crew and we now couldn’t imagine them filming with anyone else.
Where We’re Going We don’t Need Roads
Who could forget when Doc Brown hopped into his flying DeLorean and told Marty “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” He then blasted into the future, and we all just took it for granted at the time. However, as photos like these show, the visual effects team went to the next level to make it happen.
To create some of the flying sequences, the Industrial Light and Magic Visual Effects team didn’t just build a 1/15 scaled model version of the DeLorean. They also ensured it was fully articulated and could be operated by remote control. This made those scenes even more realistic and mesmerizing for fans.
We’ve mentioned before that the wonder franchise was ahead of its time in many ways. However, while it was a science fiction movie that predated many future inventions, the engineers also invented new filming technology to meet the complex demands of the script.
One of these inventions was the Vista Glide. This was designed as a portable, motion-controlled dolly system. The Vista Glide enabled the director, crew and the stars to record and review their work instantly, and allow actors to play multiple parts in a single scene, which was pretty groundbreaking for the 80s.
Getting Steven Spielberg on Board
In this incredible shot, Michael J. Fox is pictured with his arm affectionately around the legendary Executive Producer of the franchise for Part II and III, Steven Spielberg. However, this almost didn’t happen at all either. Spielberg had previously worked with the movie creators, Zemeckis and Gale on three earlier productions.
Although Steven had been impressed by their work, these had all been box office flops. So the moviemakers decided to go elsewhere but were met with over 40 rejections. Zemeckis then directed the hit Romancing the Stone, and many studios were suddenly interested in him again. However, he chose the one man who still believed in him, Steven Spielberg.
Behind the Trilogy
It’s fair to say that the creators of the franchise, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis took a risk with the first installment of Back to the Future. While they knew that they had a winning story and all the ingredients for success, the script had been rejected so many times before filming had even begun. So they just had to wait to see how it would be received by the public.
Thankfully for them, and us, it was a blockbusting success. So the studio told Robert and Bob “We must have a sequel.” As they excitedly got to work, they realized that the script for the second movie was too long. But they couldn’t find a way to shorten it. So they split it into three as “the third one makes sense of the second – it all connects up.” And we’re grateful they did!
The Magical Vista Cruiser
We’ve already mentioned that the Industrial Light and Magic Team perfected some of the flying DeLorean scenes using the Vista, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye. The revolutionary Vista Cruiser crane was first developed by a special effects company during the filming of Star Wars.
The special effects camera system was then developed over time and integrated for motion control shots in numerous movie hits. The Vista was used to shoot the famous flying scenes in E.T and perfected further during the filming of Back to the Future. The Vista is now an important relic in production movie history.
What’s in a Name
Before the movie was even in production, it’s clear to see that there were a few teething problems. But even after the script was rejected 40 times, the creators didn’t give up. Thankfully it was finally accepted by Universal and the team could finally get the show rolling. There were just a few more roadblocks in their path.
One of these issues was the movie name. As most would agree, part of the appeal of the franchise lies in its name. As simple as it seems, Back to the Future sounds just like a great time-traveling wonder tale. However, after Universal agreed to take on the movie, an executive suggested they change the name to Spaceman From Pluto as “nobody would see a movie with future in the title.” Thankfully Spielberg put a stop to that quickly enough!
A True Team Player
When Michael J Fox took over the mantle of Marty McFly, it’s clear he was made for the role and the production team and cast were thrilled to welcome him to the team. While Michael was excited too, it also meant he also had to contend with a grueling dual shooting schedule.
Fox recounted how on a typical day, “a teamster driver would pick me up at 9:30 a.m. and take me to Paramount” to film Family Ties. He added how “Then at 6, another teamster driver would pick me up and shuttle me to Universal Studios ” where they would film until sunrise. So we have to give kudos to Michael for starring in one of the greatest franchises of all time on almost no sleep!
Some Running Gags
As super fans might be aware, there were a few easter eggs and running gags throughout the trilogy, which you probably missed the first time around. One of these running themes revolved around the Statler Toyota. In the first movie, the Statler Toyota is mentioned in a radio ad in the opening scene.
There is also a car dealership advertising a Statler Toyota truck, and Marty later buys one for himself. The producers then ran with the Statler theme and advertised the Statler Studebaker in 1955, Statler Pontiac in 2015 and Statler’s Fine horse in 1885. If you watch really closely, you’ll see plenty more of these interweaving themes, which we’ll delve more into later.
That Interesting Plot Twist
Throughout the series, Lorraine McFly, played by Lea Thompson, formed an essential and interweaving element of the plot. Since the original concept of the movie was to “go back in time and see your parents in high school,” that’s exactly what Marty did. However, when Marty traveled back to 1955, posing as Calvin Klein in the first movie, he accidentally altered history.
In one of the most mind-melting twists in the story, Marty accidentally saved his father George from being hit by a car and his mother Lorraine thanked him. Naturally, she then developed a crush on her future son, Marty. So Marty had to try everything in his power to get his parents together so that he could be born. It does sound like a crazy plot twist, but it made perfect sense the first time we watched it!
We Have To Talk About Biff
Another recurring character in the franchise was the notorious Biff Tannen. In every generation, Biff is reincarnated as a not very bright but villainous figure that got a kick out of taunting the McFly’s. But the future Biff really came into his own in Part II, when he stole the sports Almanac from Marty McFly. He then hopped in the DeLorean to travel back to 1955 to alter his own history.
In 1955, Biff gave the Almanac to his younger self and used it to bet on every sports game, as he knew the outcome. He then created an alternate present in 1985 where he became rich and powerful, started a casino hotel and used his money to influence crime, the police, and politics. The story reminded us about the dangers of time-travel and what could happen if the DeLorean got into the wrong hands. So we’re glad Marty and Doc could save the day!
The Delorean Debris
If you’ve never watched the nostalgic ’80s franchise, you might just think this was any old debris. However, superfans will know that this is one of the most bittersweet moments of the trilogy. This shot was captured on the set of one of the closing scenes of Back to the Future III.
After Marty McFly traveled back to the Old West in 1885 to try and save Doc Martin from the grips of his old villain, “Mad Dog Tannen,” Marty then returns back to the present. At least that was his present, in 1985. In another gripping twist, as soon as he lands, the Delorean is struck by a train and immediately destroyed, which understandably left fans hanging on the edge of their seats to this day.
In Robert and Bob’s re-imagined future in 2015, there really was no need for roads. That’s because it was commonplace to see flying cars overhead. When Doc, Marty, Jennifer, and Einstein first blasted into the future to 2015, they flew straight into a busy skyway with floating skyway signs.
Yes, that’s right, in 2015, the skyways were just as busy as the high ways. and all the cars had been converted into flying cars. As you can see, they used sophisticated technology to create the illusion that the flying cars were landing on the street, involving a giant crane. And while the prototype of a flying car has now been developed, we’re now just waiting for yet another Future prediction to come true.
Deluxe Taxi Cabs
Along with the flying cars, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale also imagined the future of taxis. You see in the future, taxi cabs would still exist, but they would bigger, better and bolder than ever before. Obviously, they would be able to fly like the other vehicles, but there was more.
In one of the most gripping scenes, Biff hops in the Luxor Cab to follow the DeLorean to Marty’s future house to steal the Almanac. The taxi was also filled with futuristic technology. It featured its own entertainment system with “a 200 local channel stereo, mobile phone, food, beverage, and snack dispensing systems.” While this futuristic technology now exists, we can’t wait for all Uber’s to be kitted out like that!
The Age of Technology
Throughout the franchise, it’s clear that the filmmakers predicted future technology. They also went to incredible lengths to recreate technology from different periods in time. If you re-watch the movies again, you’ll see just how much time they spent ensuring that attention to detail was placed on recreating each era.
There were even running themes that tracked the development of technology. In 1885, Doc and Clara used a state of the art telescope to gaze at the moon. Then in 1955, Marty uses his state of the art binoculars to spy on Biff and try and retrieve the Almanac. In 2015 Doc used a state of the art binocular card to take pictures and keep track of Marty’s future son!
Low Tech Experts
Back to the Future was clearly saturated with sophisticated technology and futuristic effects. As we can see, the film was also produced with some ingenious and creative and low tech methods. We mentioned before that Marty had an army of shoe tying experts to tie his futuristic “Air Mags.”
Here, we can that team stretched on the cold ground, in all their shoe-tying glory. We have to admire their dedication and patience, as they actually helped create one of the most crowd-pleasing effects of the movie. We’re pretty sure the same team were behind Marty’s self-drying jacket!
A Magical Trio
Both on paper, in real life, and in the movie, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd were different in almost every way. This included their acting style. Christopher was a trained theatre actor and rehearsed every line before the shooting began. Michael was already a sitcom star, so he was used to learning lines ten minutes before each scene.
Amazingly, there was an interesting dynamic between the pair and everything just flowed perfectly. The producers loved how Christopher could memorize scientific jargon and “big words.” Similarly, Michael would throw in comedic ad-libs and help bring the script to life. Of course, Einstein the pooch made the perfect companion for the time-traveling duo.
A Glitch in the Matrix
We have already delved into the fact that Eric Stoltz was the original Marty McFly before he was replaced by Michael. However, there was another element to the story that later came to light. You see, it was assumed that all the records of Eric in the movie had been erased without a trace.
It was later revealed that the producers did keep one scene in the movie, that featured Eric Stolz. It’s the kind of footage where if you blink you might miss it, but Eric appears in one iconic scene in 1955, where he punches Biff square in the face.
Cars, Cars, Cars
This incredible shot of Marty was captured when he traveled back to 1955. While we have to appreciate this shot for its awesomeness, it also reminds us of another running theme throughout the trilogy, as it also tracks the history of automobiles.
As you can see, the producers pooled all their efforts to recreate the most historically accurate automobiles for each era and the results were spectacular. In 1885, the steam tricycle was the earliest example of a car and in 1955 the movie featured popular vintage cars like Chevrolets. In 1985 the DeLorean and Toyota were featured and in 2015, flying cars were our future.
Marty and Einstein
As you can see, Michael J. Fox had a great rapport with the cast and the crew during filming. Marty also had a great rapport with Doc’s favorite fluffy canine companion, Einstein. Here you can see Marty and Einstein casually hanging out together on the set and they really make the ultimate time-traveling team.
During the trilogy, it’s easy to forget that Einstein proved to be an essential element to some of the plot too. He even saved the day in Back to the Future II when he helped Doc and Marty track down Jennifer, who had passed out in the street and been taken to her future home by the police. So for that, we have to give kudos to Einstein as well.
The Truth About Marty’s Kicks
The sci-fi franchise is credited with being at the forefront of technology and predicting many futuristic innovations. Although many of these ideas have already come to light, one of the most memorable futuristic inventions in Back to the Future II was Marty McFly’s Nike “Air Mag” with self-tying laces.
With the help of groundbreaking special effects, we were all under the illusion that these futuristic garments were pretty much real. However, it was later revealed that Marty was helped by an army of shoe-tying experts. And to be honest we’re still taking it all in.