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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical ‘Back to the Future’ remake

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: Back to the Future, the classic 1985 Robert Zemeckis science fiction comedy about a time-travelling high schooler who accidentally changes his family’s past… and so threatens to wipe himself out of existence.

The original cast featured:

Marty McFly: Michael J. Fox
Doc Brown: Christopher Lloyd
Lorraine Baines (later McFly): Lea Thompson
George McFly: Crispin Glover
Biff Tannen: Thomas F. Wilson

Let’s say our remake is shooting for a 2010 release. If the new Marty is to travel 30 years into the past, he’ll land way back in the distant era of 1980. Man, we’re gettin’ old.
Here’s my dream cast for the remake:

Marty McFly: Shia Labeouf
Doc Brown: Bruce Campbell
Lorraine Baines McFly: Amber Tamblyn
George McFly: James McAvoy
Biff Tannen: James Franco

Who’s in your dream cast?

Oh my god, check out how… retro the trailer is:



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  • Bill

    Marty McFly: I’ll take Shia Labeouf, too.
    Doc Brown: Sam Lloyd
    Lorraine Baines McFly: Zoey Deschanel
    George McFly: Zach Braff
    Biff Tannen: John C. McGinley in makeup? Or Casey Affleck. Just as long as Ashton Kutcher doesn’t show up in this movie, I’m good.

  • Zach Braff is a good one for George… but i prefer Emily to Zooey…

  • JoshB

    Marty McFly: Shia Labeouf is a shoo in.
    Doc Brown: Hugh Laurie
    Lorraine Baines: Leighton Meester
    George McFly: Was gonna say Tobey Maguire, but James McAvoy is a better choice
    Biff Tannen: Actually, I dunno. Can’t think of anyone with the physical qualities and comedy chops.

  • Accounting Ninja

    I love how the trailer shows absolutely nothing about the movie. In fact, it makes one of the greatest movies ever look like a B movie!

    I don’t know about Zooey…I love her lots, but her world-weary-for-her-years cynical vibe doesn’t mesh with the character of Lorraine. Lorraine has a gleeful innocence about her “naughtiness”: like, she’s into sex and drinking and stuff, but seems like she really has no clue what they are all about, kind of like a pre-teen girl’s fascination with a porno mag.

    This is a really tough one! The characters are all so iconic, it’s really hard to imagine anyone else capturing them correctly.

  • PaulW

    What about Haley Joel Osment for Marty? Shia’s a little too… spastic. In fact he’d be better to play George McFly.

    I’m torn between Bruce Campbell and Hugh Laurie for Doc. Bruce! would bring the off-kilter energy but Hugh could sell the Asperger-ish emotional disconnect.

    Biff has to be a bulky jock type, Franco is too surfer cool.

    I have no idea who Lorraine’s gonna be. Prolly one of the Disney t.v. show rejects. Bleh.

  • Ken

    Let’s say our remake is shooting for a 2010 release. If the new Marty is to travel 30 years into the past, he’ll land way back in the distant era of 1980.

    Don’t do that. It hurts.

    I don’t know enough young actors to suggest anything decent that hasn’t already been said (maybe Justin Long—from the Mac vs. PC commercials—as George?), so I’ll just add that at the dance, Marty should “invent” hip-hop, which the kids love, and give them a taste of gangster rap, which they don’t know what to do with.

    Since there’s been no new posts for a bit in the Greatest American Hero thread, I’ll say here that while watching BSG, it occurred to me that Jamie Bamber would make a great Ralph.

    Do “The A-Team” next.

  • Bill

    It is tough. Michael J Fox is a unique presence. MAJ has really thrown down the gauntlet. However, I do think Zooey can pull off Lorraine. My first thought was Sarah Paulson, but I suppose she is too old for the part.

  • MaryAnn

    Franco is too surfer cool.

    I think the Spider-man movies prove he can be menacing. He’s not physically large, but I think he could be an effective biff.

    Justin Long as George would be awesome.

  • Martin

    Since we’re stepping on hallowed ground (I’m wearing my newly acquired BTTF T-shirt as I type this):

    Shia is a good choice for Marty.
    For Doc Brown, I’m trying to think of an elder comedian to do the part and I keep coming back to George Carlin but that seems a tad unlikely. Stephen Fry might be an interesting choice as someone that’s intelligent yet welcoming and very funny.

    Can’t really think of anybody for George/Lorraine/Biff because I haven’t seen many young actors that have the chops to pull off such roles, although McAvoy is a good choice for George; nerdy seems to be something lacking in Hollywood these days (without being a Napoleon Dynamite-esque joke).

  • Paul Hayesl

    I doubt they’ll be able to resist releasing a remake in 2015, wherein our hero travels back to 1985. It’s just too obvious for Hollywood not to do it.

  • MBI

    My favorite moments of Spider-Man 3 are when Franco is being a complete bastard, but I still don’t see it. Biff Tannen is a bully — big, dumb, angry and mean. Franco can be evil, but I don’t think he can be a bully.

  • Henry

    It just so happens that I could play all the parts, as I have this movie memorized…quite by accident.

    Marty McFly: Michael Cera (though I like the idea of Shia LeBouf too)
    Doc Brown: Michael Caine
    Lorraine Baines McFly: Rachel McAdams
    George McFly: Jon Heder
    Biff Tannen: I’m stumped. Franco’s a little bit wiry, or something, but I can’t think of anything better.

  • i know he’s a tiny bit older than perhaps Biff would be (but he looks so good) but how about Brendan Fraser? i think he’d be hilarious.

  • ecostarr

    Brenden Frasier? Are you high? He’s way too old to play a high school student.

    I think Amber Tamblyn as Lorraine is a good call or Ellen Page. As for the others, who can replace Fox? I think MacAvoy would be good as Marty or George, with my preference leaning toward Marty. As for Doc Brown, I like Hugh Laurie. I like his crusty quirkiness and think it would be a good fit.

    No comment on the others.

  • Martin

    Ellen Page? Now that’s a good suggestion.

    But aren’t we forgetting the other central character of BTTF?

    What is the time machine going to be?

    I know that by 2010/2015 (yes, it should be released in 2015, as far as I’m concerned, that whole year is BTTF with October 21st being a huge party) there’ll be new cars to use but what cars today would make a good time machine? Something unique, with character and would fit into a futuristic look for the 80’s.

  • Bill

    Good question, Martin. My first though was maybe a Plymouth Prowler. However, I think maybe this is a case where we should bring back the original and cast the DeLorean as the DeLorean.

  • Ferox

    There’s just no way to recreate the DeLorean in 1985. The movie made the DeLorean its own punchline, completely by accident.

    The closest modern equivalent I can think of is a PT Cruiser. Maybe a Honda Element.

  • Martin

    I’ve always thought the Chrysler Crossfire would make an interesting BTTF time machine.

    I seem to remember Universal using the Toyota Celica as an updated time machine but it looked rubbish.

  • Ken

    What does “Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan” become? What science fiction reference is so iconic that general movie-going audiences would recognize it, yet new enough that people in 1985 wouldn’t? The only thing that comes to mind is “Neo from the Matrix”

    While they’re worlds away from being as cool as the Delorean, a Hummer or Avalanche might have the appropriate fish-out-of-water look in 1985.

  • Hdj

    You know I was going to watch “Back to the future” the other night just to watch that scene were Doc scares the hell out of George Mcfly With the so called scary rock and roll music. Then I backed out, also the whole Mcfly Shoe kinda got me in the mood as well. But I still backed out, some movies I dunno, seen them to many times.

  • Hdj

    Teen Wolf, now thats something I could rewatch that I didn’t watch enough of. Ya’ll would probably pick Shia to start that role as well.

  • Martin

    I think ‘Neo from the Matrix’ would be a good one to use, you could get some sly references to the unpopularity of sequels too.

    And you’d need to make some cultural jokes about computers too. Can’t imagine what someone from the 80’s would think a facebook was and where Myspace is.

  • MaryAnn

    What does “Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan” become? What science fiction reference is so iconic that general movie-going audiences would recognize it, yet new enough that people in 1985 wouldn’t? The only thing that comes to mind is “Neo from the Matrix”

    Nah, ya gotta mix up yer references. Now, “Mesa Jar Jar Binks from the Matrix” might work. :->

  • MaryAnn

    Yeah, Fraser’s too old to play a high school student, but he would be hilarious as Biff. This is a time-travel story, after all: perhaps he could have an accident with the DeLorean (or whatever car it is) that ages him.

  • Ken

    Why not just bring back Thompson and Glover, and switch the part of the movie where they get the makeup caked on to change their apparent age?

  • Oh man oh man, if I weren’t afraid that a remake might turn out atrociously, I’d almost love to see one made.

    Going back to 1980… Yikes. Imagine: no iPods, no Internet, gas rising above $1 for the first time, knowing Vader was Luke’s father…

    (Love the blog, by the way)

  • FilmDude

    Okay, I think Shia LeBoef is too old for Marty, how about Zac whats-his-name from the High School Musical movies? BTTF was about one step above a Disney flick anyway.

    As for Doc Brown, I like Hugh Laurie a lot but let me just say two words: Bill Murray. Murray can do anything and would bring a unique re-imagining performance to Doc B I think.

    How about replacing the DeLorean with… A DeLorean? Why change it? Really? The new punchline would be that in 1980 no one notices the car is totally retro, or looks like a space ship.

    BTW – Marty lampooning Neo (or Morpheus) from The Matrix films to replace the “Darth Vader from planet Vulcan” scene is genius!

    A word on music for the 80s: Forget Huey Lewis and the News… Go Eurythmics!

  • MaryAnn

    FYI: Zac Efron is only a year younger than Shia. And they’re both younger than MJ Fox was when he starred in the original. :->

  • matt

    johnny depp as doc

  • joedirt

    if they cast that piece of crap Zac Efron as marty mcfly i would boycott that so fast, thats like letting uwe boll direct the remake

  • Steve

    There would be to much at stake to make a remake of these. Just like when they remade willie wonka. But if I could choose the cast. I would stay Shia as marty, rachel mcadams as lorraine, I think Gary busey as doc brown. He is crazy enough in real life. He could pull doc off. As for biff, john cena would be dumb enough… Johnny Knoxville as George, or maybe toby mcguire.

  • Chris

    Wish I had seen this sooner:

    Marty: After this weekend it has to be Chris Pine
    Doc: Simon Pegg (sucks he would be too short in real life but he is such an excellent comedian)
    Lorraine: Rachel McAdams
    George: Tobey Maguire
    Biff: Dane Cook

  • arun phagura

    Shia Labeouf as:marty McFly
    jeremy piven as: doc emmett brown
    Justin Chatwin as: biff tannen
    Benicio Del Toro as:George McFly
    megan fox as:jennifer

  • jack dorsey

    tom criuse as: Mr. Strickland or sam worthington
    as: Mr. Strickland

  • john

    same bttf car

  • harry

    or jessica alba as:jennifer

  • nixen

    drake bell as: 3D Guy

  • al

    maybe only maybe on or Seann William Scott 3D guy him

  • al

    maybe only maybe on or Seann William Scott 3D guy him

  • max

    (back to the futureREMAKE)
    ben barnes as:mayor ben mchamilton

  • gibbs grifith

    still directed by steven spielberg
    &prodoce by bob gale

  • ron

    I tryed to get john cusack as: biff

  • Ken’s point about the music reminds me that most evolution in American pop music (so far as I know) has been driven by black artists, while the face of American white popular music is just a bunch of pretty white kids singing beige music.

    So if we’re going to keep the musical subplot, then you should remake it as a black version, like “The Wiz” as opposed to “The Wizard of Oz.”

  • jackie

    david hasselhoff as:doc emmett brown

    michael richards as:george mcfly

    shia labeouf as: marty mcfly

    john cusack as: biff

  • jackie

    david hasselhoff as:doc emmett brown

    michael richards as:george mcfly

    shia labeouf as: marty mcfly

    john cusack as: biff

  • rob

    christorpher walken as:doctor emmett brown

    Macaulay Culkin as:marty mcf

    rowan atkinson as: biff

  • hon

    Macaulay Culkin as:marty mcfly

  • fub

    Mark Harmon as: doc emmett brown

    Tom Welling as: marty mcfly

    john cusack as: biff

  • rick

    maybe just maybe sacha baron cohen as: doc

  • jubby

    same bttf car

  • Linda

    BLAKE LIVELY AS JENNIFER (MCFLY’S GIRL) JIM CARRY AS THE DOC

  • JoshDM
  • I saw this post earlier today. I could only come up with one casting choice, but I think it’s pretty great: Nicolas Cage as Doc Brown.

    All I’m hearing in my head is, “When this baby hits 88 miles per hour…you’re gonna see some serious shit.”

  • ahrl

    Michael Chiklis as: doc

    ben affleck as: biff

    James Roday as: marty

  • Leela

    I think blake lively sounds great for mc fly’s girl and I could already see jim cary as the doc
    or rowan atkinson!

  • TommyB

    How about John Lithgow as Doc Brown?

  • osmay

    kate beckinsale as: Lorraine Baines

    zac efron as: marty mcfly

    jessica alba as: jennifer parker
    jeremy piven as: doc emmett brown

  • vince

    robert downey jr as: biff tannen

  • ahrl

    Michael Chiklis as: doc emmett brown

    ben affleck as: biff tannen

    James Roday as: marty mcfly

  • Linda

    NO NOT ZAC EFRON

  • linda

    drake bell as mc fly

  • arnold

    clint eastwood as:doc emmett brown
    Cillian Murphy as: marty mcfly
    use the toyota as: back the Future car

  • rick

    Leslie Nielsen as:doc emmett brown
    drake bell as:marty mcfly

  • ed

    cedric entertainer as:doc emmett brown
    ice cube as: marty mcfly
    Nia Long as: JENNIFER

  • angel

    Bruce Willis as:doc emmett brown
    Hayden Christensen as:marty mcfly

  • utlj

    the grexriro

    clint eastwood

    Sylvester Stallone

    Matthew Broderick

    Benicio Del Toro

    bruce Willis

    rock dwayne jhonson

    steve austin

  • sam worthington as:doc emmett brown
    Shia Labeouf as: marty mcfly
    seth rogen as: biff
    Benicio Del Toro as:George McFly

  • tom cruise as:doc emmett brown

    Tom Welling as: marty mcfly

    SETH ROGEN as: biff

    Benicio Del Toro as:George McFly

    the rock dwanye johnson as: mayor

  • Bill

    “tom cruise as:doc emmett brown”

    i like it.

  • Robert Pattinson as:marty mcfly

    ben deltoro as:George McFly

    johnny knoxville as:doc emmett brown
    the rock dwayne johnson as:mayor Goldie Wilson

  • Guest

    Tom Hiddleston as doctor emit brown

    Tom welling as Marty mcfly

    Jennifer Lawrence as Jennifer Parker

    Dwanyne Johnson as mayor Goode willson

    Aaron Eckhart as George mcfly

    Zoe Saldana …
    Neytiri ( as Lorraine Baines )

  • Arun

    I think if they did remake it I wouldn’t be surprised if they included the latest dubstep, rap, and/or pop in it.

  • Guest

    Justin Chatwin as biff

  • Guest

    Back to future remake cast
    Tom welling as Marty mcfly
    Adam sandler as:doc emmett brown
    the rock dwayne johnson as:mayor Goldie Wilson
    Aaron Eckhart as George mcfly
    Snooki as JENNIFER Parker
    tom cruise As Western Union Man

  • Bob

    Daniel Radcliffe as Marty McFly
    Nicole Polizzi as Jennifer Mcfly
    Johnny Depp as George McFly
    Zach Galifianakis as Biff Tannen
    Adam Sandler as Doc Brown
    Jim Carry as Western Union Man

  • Bob

    Make part 1,2and3

  • Bluejay

    Six years and counting, and this thread Just Won’t Die. Amazing! I think it should get some kind of award.

  • Danielm80

    The reward is: They actually make the movie. Starring the Muppets.

  • Bluejay

    Does this count?

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