Before Michael J. Fox hopped into the famed DeLorean and went Back to the Future, director Robert Zemeckis shot five weeks of footage with a young Eric Stoltz as his parentally obsessed time traveler.
Director John Frankenheimer used to say that casting is 65 percent of directing. The right actor can form a bond with the audience that supersedes the quality of the filmmaking and elevates the whole enterprise. The flip side of that is that if a director picks the wrong actor, that choice—one of a million a director must make—can sink it.
And that was the predicament facing Zemeckis while he was shooting his first big-budget sci-fi movie: Eric Stoltz was the wrong guy.
Of course, history—and hundreds of millions of dollars—would prove Zemeckis right. Stoltz's five weeks of McFlydom would become Hollywood lore; he joined a list of actors replaced by people who'd make their roles famous, including Jon Finch as Alien's Kane, Genevieve Bujold as Star Trek: Voyager's Janeway and James Remar as Aliens' Hicks.
(Via Hollywood Reporter)