The Back To The Future Star That Took On Hollywood And Won

By Zack Zagranis | Published

Most people would assume that taking on a major Hollywood studio like Universal would be career suicide. Then again, Crispin Glover isn’t most people. The Back to the Future star not only fought back against Robert Zemeckis for using his likeness in Back to the Future Part II, but actually won!

Back To The Future’s Runaway Success

The overwhelming success of Back to the Future prompted Universal and Zemeckis to create a sequel. The producers invited everyone from the original movie back to reprise their roles, but two actors declined: Claudia Wells and Crispin Glover. Wells was replaced by Elisabeth Shue, who stepped into the role of Jennifer Parker, looking, well, like Elisabeth Shue. Crispin Glover, on the other hand…

Universal Stole Crispin Glover’s Face

We’re just going to put it bluntly: The makers of Back to the Future Part II did Crispin Glover dirty. Like Christina Aguilera during her Xtina phase Dirrty. Universal didn’t just hire a different actor to play George McFly as they did for Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer. No, the actor chosen to replace Crispin Glover—unknown Jeffrey Weissman—was given prosthetics to make him look more like Crispin Glover.

Robert Zemeckis had makeup artists take a mold of Crispin Glover’s face from the first Back to the Future and used that to literally give Jeffrey Weissman the same features. It was a blatant attempt by Universal to trick the audience into thinking that Glover was back for the sequel without paying him what he asked for to make an actual appearance. Allegedly, Glover asked for $1 million to appear in Back to the Future Part II, and Universal swiftly turned him down.

Crispin Glover Lawyered Up

Instead, they used makeup to turn Jeffrey Weissman into Crispin Glover and then allegedly joked around about screwing him over. At least one report claims that executive producer Steven Spielberg jokingly referred to Weissman as Glover on set and remarked that he must have finally gotten his $1 million. Despite the callous chuckles on the Back to the Future Part II set, it was Glover who would get the last laugh.

Glover hired attorney Doug Kari to represent him and filed a lawsuit against Universal and Amblin Entertainment. The suit claimed that the studio used Crispin Glover’s voice and likeness without the actor’s permission. The actor argued that he had the right to control where and when his likeness was used on screen.

Shady Studio Succumbs To Six-Figure Settlement

Universal, for its part, acted exactly as you would expect an entertainment conglomerate of its caliber to act. The Studio claimed that they owned the George McFly character, and since George McFly happened to look like Crispin Glover, they should be allowed to use his likeness in perpetuity as it relates to Back to the Future. It’s the same shady tactics that Hollywood studios are trying to pull right now with AI.

Contrary to what most people believe, Crispin Glover did not win that lawsuit. Don’t worry, though; he didn’t lose either. Instead, Universal settled out of court for $760,000 and emphasized that by doing so, they were in no way admitting any wrongdoing. Sure Jan.

Crispin Glover Changed The Game, And Won

crispin glover

In reality, everyone knew Universal had done something reprehensible and was called out for it while working on Back to the Future Part II. By settling, the studio sent a message to the rest of Hollywood: don’t use actors’ likenesses without their permission. A message that seemed to be more or less taken seriously until recently. New improvements in AI technology have actors more worried than ever about protecting their identities.

Thankfully, Crispin Glover set a precedent for fighting back against Hollywood identity theft over thirty years ago. Hopefully, his landmark lawsuit will make at least a few movie execs think twice before pulling the same tricks.