Why Crispin Glover Hated Back To The Future And Refused To Return

Crispin Glover had a moral issue with the ending of Back to the Future which ultimately led to him not returning for the sequels.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Crispin Glover in Back to the Future

Crispin Glover is a strange actor that takes on on strange roles and directs strange movies on purpose. Ever since starring in Back to the Future, he’s sought to tell stories that were not easily digestible on a simple axis of good vs. evil. In an interview with the A.V. Club, the star goes into great detail about why his time on the hit Robert Zemeckis film soured him on corporate moviemaking, explaining his famous absence from the sequels.

Back to the Future is the greatest time-travel film of all-time with its simple, yet effective premise, paired with amazing performances from Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. Crispin Glover plays George McFly, Marty’s dad, back in the 1950’s and his performance was an immediate star-making turn thanks to his portrayal of the dweeby, yet lovable nerd. Behind the scenes, Glover raised issues he had with Zemeckis’ choice of a ending for the film, which started the ball rolling towards a landmark lawsuit.

The ending of Back to the Future sees Biff (Thomas F. Wilson), the high school bully now a valet working for George McFly. Implied in the ending is that as a result of changing the past, now the McFly’s are rich and have been rewarded with money in addition to their moral victory. Crispin Glover took issue to the choice of having the family’s actions be rewarded with wealth, believing that sent a bad message to the audience.

That one artistic choice from Zemeckis, and Crispin Glover choosing to stand up to the director because of his own morals, resulted in the Wilfred star never being asked to come back for the sequels. Instead, the producers cast Jeffrey Weissman as George McFly and went so far as to use prosthetics to make him resemble Glover. The resemblance was so similar that fans didn’t realize the part had been re-cast.

Biff (Thomas F. Wilson) and George McFly (Jeffrey Weissman) in Back to the Future II

Beyond the artistic differences, that was what angered Crispin Glover and led to a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the studio and producers for using his likeness without permission. To this day studios can not digitally recreate an actor without receiving permission because of Glover’s hugely successful lawsuit. A question of morals was the catalyst for one of the largest lawsuit settlements in history.

Since then Crispin Glover has forgiven Robert Zemeckis and the two even worked together decades later in Beowulf: The director cast Glover as Grendel in the CGI film. The Charlie’s Angel star has still not attended any of the cast reunions for Back to the Future as he still holds a grudge against the film’s co-writer, Bob Gale. When explaining why George McFly was being replaced, Gale famously said that Glover had asked for a million dollars to reprise the role, and that’s why the studio let him go.

Crispin Glover disputes this claim and as a result will have nothing to do with the classic franchise. Instead, the eccentric actor has taken to directing his own artistic films that have messages he’s morally comfortable sharing with the world. As a performer he most recently appeared in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities in the “Pickman’s Model” episode.