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Genre demigods Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd peeled up to New York Comic Con in their time-traveling DeLorean for a look back at their career-defining roles in the Back to the Future film trilogy.
The panel kicked off with the actors recalling how Fox was famously tapped to replace Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly a little over a month after principal photography had officially begun. In particular, Lloyd remembered the announcement (made by director Robert Zemeckis, executive producer Steven Spielberg, and the other production bigwigs) was made after several arduous night shoots dedicated to the sequence at the Twin Pines Mall, where Doc Brown reveals he has finally cracked the code to time travel.
"The announcement — at one o' clock in the morning after we were shooting for six weeks — was that the actor playing Marty would no longer be playing Marty, and that tomorrow, we would start shooting with Michael," Lloyd recalled to generous applause from the sizable crowd. "I felt that I barely made it through the [first] six weeks and now I was gonna have to do it again?!"
Fox's mother didn't want him to accept the job, worried that he'd be too exhausted with his commitment to Family Ties. But the opportunity was just too good to pass up and he ultimately decided to board the history-making film. While this resulted in a hectic filming schedule spread between the worlds of film and television, his choice turned out to be the right one. The relationship between Marty and Doc is what holds the entire piece together, and the last-minute casting change could not have been better. "The chemistry was there from the first scene we had, it was alive, and it remained that way for three movies," Lloyd noted of their collective onscreen presence. "It hasn't gone away, by the way."
"All I had to do was just react," said Fox, referring to his co-star's performance. "Just take it in and let it wash over me. I thought he was brilliant. That was the whole thing: be with Chris and let it be Chris, and enjoy it ... It was a thrill. Anytime I got to work with him, I knew it was gonna be a good day."
A stage musical based on the original movie is currently playing in London, with the plan to have it arrive on Broadway next year. "I don't see how they could have done it better," Lloyd said. Fox also praised the show: "It was fantastic. They could have fallen into the trap of imitating us, but they didn't. The characters were fully-realized on their own. I thought the play was really well-written, the music was great, and I'm gonna go when it comes to New York." Bob Gale (co-writer of Back to the Future with Zemeckis) penned the musical and "put his whole heart and soul into it," Fox added.
Despite his decades-long battle with Parkinson's disease, Fox reaffirmed his commitment to showing up in person for the fans.
"You guys have given me my whole life," he declared, later admitting that he would not change his diagnosis if given the chance; that helping others has given his life a profound new meaning. "The best thing thing that happened in my life was this thing. Parkinson's is a gift. I've said to people it's a gift and they say, 'You're nuts.' I say, 'Yeah, but it's the gift that keeps on taking.' But it's a gift and I wouldn't change it for anything ... It's not about what I have, it's about what I've been given."
At the very end of the panel, Fox and Lloyd were asked to leave the crowd with nuggets of wisdom. Lloyd appropriately chose a Doc Brown line from the end of Back to the Future Part III, stating, "Your future is what you make of it, so make it a good one!" Fox opted for an oxymoronic line from his favorite movie, Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove: "You can't fight in here, this is the war room." His takeaway? No matter how crazy things become, just "suck in your breath, go ahead, and carry on."
Click here for all of SYFY WIRE's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022.
The entire Back to the Future trilogy is now streaming on Peacock.